A Favorite Place

Although I usually work at home at my computer, this summer I discovered (or more accurately, re-discovered) a wonderful working space.  It’s the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands, California.  Established in 1894 through the generous donations of Redlands’ philanthropists, brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley, it has held onto its original, “old-fashioned library” style with wooden floors, tables, and bookshelves, and even a beautiful rose window.   It’s a cool oasis on hot days and, most of all, it’s quiet !

The other libraries in this area are now “media centers,” “teen centers,” or “children’s activity spaces,” noisy and bustling, all valuable in themselves, no doubt, but not a place that’s conducive to writing, at least not for me.  This island of calm in downtown Redlands is the perfect place to work. A number of years ago the Smiley library did switch from the traditional card catalog to a computerized version, and I do sometimes feel like a dinosaur as many around me work on their laptops while I still use a notebook and pen.  Nonetheless, its timeless architecture and ambience give me the motivation I need to get the job done.

For example, on my most recent morning there, I planned to work on a short story that I want to submit soon.  I had done “Nancy’s interviews” (in which the writer “interviews” each main character by asking a number of basic questions about him or her, vital statistics, hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc. to get a better “feel” for what the character is like and add depth to the story), the word wall, and other pre-writing exercises.  When I sat down to work, however, the dreaded writer’s block set in.  I didn’t know how to begin or how I wanted to say what was tossing around in the back of my mind.  I’m sure if I’d been home, I would have answered a few e-mails, read some blogs, thrown another load of wash in the machine, walked down the driveway to the mailbox, maybe even made a phone call of two.  But, since I was there and nothing else was calling to me, I forced myself to stay seated and write something. Before long I was covering pages with ideas, paragraphs, and dialogue.  In about 3 hours, I had a very workable first draft.  And, I felt refreshed and very satisfied.  I made myself a promise to repeat this experience often.

Since I’m not a resident of Redlands, I do have to pay $25.00 per year for a library card, but I believe it’s money well spent!

Marjorie Flathers


10 responses to “A Favorite Place

  1. Margaret Albertson

    I enjoyed your blog. The Claremont colleges have several beautiful libraries. You have to pay a year’s fee also.

  2. Marge, this sounds so beautiful. And what an amazing amount of productivity you had, even after battling with writer’s block! -Nancy

  3. Shirley Shibley

    I love my library (free) too, and your testimony of how it helped get you going and what you accomplished was an inspiration.

    From distraction to dedication–very good!


  4. Marge, my library is noisy. Still I use it but I would love to have a place like the Redlands library! Glad you were so productive!

  5. Marge, what a lovely article. I could imagine myself sitting at a nearby table in that lovely old place. One of the things I love about that library is that there are places to “hide.” Little nooks and crannies where you are surrounded by books. What a wonderful place to work! I’m going over today and renew my membership.


  6. Marge, this is a lovely post. I’d like to “wish” myself there right now! The Library—what a concept in today’s world. It’s still a wonderful resource and yours seems to be a place of beauty as well. Nicely done, Marge (o;

  7. Thanks, Margaret, for reading my post and for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’m glad to know there are other libraries like the Smiley. I’m sure the Claremont libraries are wonderful, too.

    And thanks, too, to Nancy. Shirely, and Gloria for your great comments. The Smiley is a special place, and I was glad to share my experience. Hope to get back there very soon!

  8. Thanks, too, to Marilyn and Shirley.
    Marilyn, I know you love that place as much as I do…and Sherri, I just wish you could see it. There’s really something to be said for these “old-fashioned” places that are just “semi-tech.” Thanks for your nice comments.

  9. Marge,
    This sounds like such a wonderful library, and a great place to write. I love architecture that inspires and promotes deeper thought. It sounds like your library is one of those places.

    Although I have spent too much time at the Central Library in downtown L.A., the children’s section is also an “old-fashioned”, quiet place to enjoy books. The dark wood, soft lights and beautiful murals are so inviting and comforting.

    Happy writing!


  10. Thanks for your comment, Veronica. I’m glad to know there are still some “old-fashioned” libraries left, with great architecture and quite spaces, especially in the children’s section 🙂


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