Old library holds special place in hearts

The richest person in the world -- in fact all the riches in the world -- couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.

-- Malcolm Forbes

It's been a big weekend, opening the new library down on Telfair Street.

Like anything big and new, we look at it and marvel.

Still, the old library across the street was a special place for many of us over the past half-century, including Neina Thompson, of Augusta, who shared this story, which I will share with you.

"Thoughts of the 'old' Greene Street library and Talking Book Center carry me back to the early 1970s," Neina wrote.

"My preschool children and I often visited the large main building. However, the special attraction to the downtown library for us was that its campus also held the Audiovisual Department.

"My son Jamie was born legally blind and later lost his remaining sight. The Audiovisual Department housed the Talking Book Center, with a nice selection for use by the visually impaired.

"The Talking Book Center, as well as the larger library building, became a regular place for us to visit. Not many days went by that my son Jamie did not listen to his talking books. In fact, I am certain he is the main reason many of them are worn out. He would listen to a favorite part over and over by constantly rewinding and starting again. The books and machine traveled with us almost every time we got in the car or RV, whether on a short or long trip.

"People who worked in the Talking Book Center became long-term friends. At one time, Gary Swint , now library director, worked in the Talking Book Center.

"Others, such as Mary Maxwell , June Gay and Audrey Bell were always so friendly and helpful.

"Jamie enjoyed visiting the center to request his favorite Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew books, and especially liked talking to everyone who worked there.

"Jamie became ill last year and died after a brief illness. However, his talking book machine and books went to the hospital with him to provide a familiar comfort."

Thank you, Neina, and thanks to all those folks who worked at the old library over the years. We have created a photo gallery of images of the library and staff from the past 50 years.

Here's hoping the next 50 years will give us as many warm library memories.

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