The moment I stepped into Long Branch Library, I was drawn to the “Once Upon a Time” display in the lobby. A librarian had painstakingly assembled large colorful storybooks that rested on stands, and underneath them lay a magical collection of characters and objects from the collective unconscious.
With auburn hair flowing wild, Sleeping Beauty lay on her life-in-death bed, the fateful spinning wheel nearby — all entangled in vines upon vines of roses. One glass slipper waited near Cinderella, and a sorely tested princess tried to sleep on top of nine multicolored pallets. Finally, a castle glowed inside a snow globe near a dragon, a unicorn, and a pop-up castle book in three dimensions.
Moving into the main body of the library, it cheered me to see how it upheld the artistic standards of the enchanted lobby. In this respect, Long Branch reminded me of Woodside Square, and not only because it had windows with same nautical flair as their Scarborough cousins. What made Long Branch’s interior so stylish, even glamorous, was a combination of aesthetic details: walls the dun color of Lascaux-cave horses, lava lamps in the teen zone, and gorgeous light boxes in the style of Charles Rennie MacIntosh.
With gray skies outside and dim lighting within, a groovy moodiness prevailed, making the act of browsing the Polish and ESL sections seem downright cinematic. I wanted stay longer at Long Branch, but I needed to visit another library before Saturday got away from me.
As I walked to the front entrance, I passed a black ceramic panther preparing to pounce from a tall shelf. And when I went outside, I admired a sculpture over the door that embodied the state of complete absorption in a book. Even the letters of the Long Branch sign lilted artistically over the entrance, welcoming readers into a sanctuary for the imagination.