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Christina Platt: North Amherst Library needs wizardry


Wednesday, November 08, 2017
North Amherst Library needs wizardry

Once upon a time — 1893 actually — a charming little library was born smack in the center of North Amherst.

Townspeople oohed and aahed over her fetching clapboard Queen Anne-style beauty and decided to call her NAL, short for North Amherst Library.

Fortunately, NAL had an optimistic nature since, for over a century, she had a difficult life. Although she had a cozy fireplace, her only bathroom and many books were in the gloomy basement, down a flight of stairs too dangerous for townspeople to use. Worst of all, not everyone who loved the little library could come in to browse and borrow books because NAL’s front door was at the top of seven severe steps.

When NAL was 97, something magical happened. In a place far, far away, it was decreed that people in wheelchairs or on crutches or in some other ways challenged, could no longer be kept out of NAL by the seven severe steps.

NAL was so excited. Soon her older sibling, Amherst Town Hall, was fixed so that everyone who wanted to could visit (during certain hours, of course).

When NAL was 117, her stone foundation was reinforced, her basement and main floor were insulated and she got a glorious coat of paint.

But, still not everyone could come in to browse and borrow. NAL was becoming sadder and sadder.

Finally, when NAL was 124, the people who loved her declared “enough is enough.” It had been 27 years since the decree had come from far, far away and it was so past time to do something about those seven severe steps.

Friends of NAL asked all their friends and neighbors for help. Some belonged to a powerful council of wizards called Town Meeting.

When Town Meeting heard how long NAL had been waiting, the wizards pushed their magical buttons and a new entrance with no steps at all appeared behind NAL, near her parking lot. Now everyone could come inside. Once in, a little elevator whisked them past a spiffy new bathroom open to all in the basement, up to a delightful meeting room in the old attic.

Did the seven severe steps melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West? No — but nobody cared. They were too busy browsing and borrowing from NAL anytime they wanted (during certain hours, of course).

Christina Platt

Amherst