Town Column : Aquinnah
On Saturday a giant mouse visited Aquinnah. Maisy, who is the title character in many children's books, came to the Aquinnah Public Library to play with and be hugged by as many kids as possible. Head librarian Jen Christy said it was a great success; about 30 people came throughout the morning. Events like this one at the library are drawing more and more people, with attendance at the library up 8 percent in January. It doesn't seem to be slowing down even as people take their winter vacations. Each class held at the library is full and events like the one with Maisy and potluck movie night really bring people in.
Which leads us to the topic that everyone in Aquinnah is talking about and seems to have an opinion on: Should the library stay in its "temporary" home or move back to the little red school house once the renovation is complete? The temporary space seems to be drawing more crowds and, with its large main room, is better suited for events. It's more open and less cramped than the schoolhouse. Right now, the temporary space is housing 30 percent of the total collection, but Jen estimated that with built-in bookshelves it could house 90 percent. It has a great kitchen, better bathrooms, and another backroom that could be turned into a quiet study area. It does seem to be a space that is better suited to the needs and wants of the community.
There are some drawbacks or issues that would need to be discussed and resolved before the library could stay where it is now. What would we do with the little red schoolhouse once its renovation is complete? Why couldn't it be expanded? Will the town lose income if it's not able rent out the old town hall for events in the event that it becomes the permanent home of the library? Also, the building is an emergency shelter for the town - would it complicate matters or violate some requirement if the library were there? I was told that because of its historic nature the opposition to expanding the schoolhouse would be great. So, what could we do with it? Could it become a library annex housing the Wampanoag collection or other reference materials? Could it become a museum in its own right? Could this be the space for the Aquinnah coffee shop that Lisa Vanderhoop and I dreamed up a few weeks ago? Think about it. It has that fabulous porch and it's already wired with Wi-Fi.
But I digress. Back to the library. The Vanderhoop homestead at the circle was renovated expressly for housing events and Jen told me that many towns use their libraries as emergency shelters. There has been no official discussion about this matter yet, but you can rest assured there will be and I will keep you posted as the debate unfolds.
Nanauwe Vanderhoop and Skyler Ignacio-Cameron were in the charter school's Fourth Grade Theater Project at the Playhouse a couple of weeks ago and I had the pleasure of talking to Skyler about his experience. He and Nanauwe both played chickens. He said that they had feathers painted on their face and chicken headdresses on with a chinstrap that "kind of itched." When I asked how many performances they did, he kindly explained, "You only do it once, when you're in the fourth grade. That's why it's called the Fourth Grade Theater Project." I persisted, "How many times did you perform your show?" We finally established that there had been two performances on Saturday and a dress rehearsal on Friday morning that many kindergarten classes were invited to. Skyler said it was a lot of fun. I'm sorry I missed it. I bet he and Nanauwe made great chickens.