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The Yankee Express

Oxford’s Free Public Library is for Everyone

Oxford Library's children enjoying themselves

By Janet Stoica

Ah yes, your local public library!  It’s free and quiet and not used very much anymore, is it? If you happen to visit the Oxford Free Public Library though, you’ll have to keep those preconceived thoughts to yourself. This place is hoppin’ jumpin’ and jiving like you haven’t seen in decades. Their entire second floor is entirely dedicated to the children of our area, you know who I mean … the next generation who will soon become members of our town committees and leaders of our government. As a child, I lived at the library in the summer. I could drive there blindfolded on my bike with its flowing handlebar streamers and my brother’s old unwanted baseball cards clothes-pinned to my wheel spokes so they’d make that crazy flapping noise. After parking my transport, I’d enter through the well-worn oak doors and return the books I’d just read to the check-in desk and begin my search for more adventures which I’d happily find and then plop down in a chair to read the first few pages determining if this book would be one of my borrowed choices. Your local library is brimming with things to do. All you have to do is visit and take a look.
The second annual Community Art Show will soon be appearing at the Oxford Library. All age groups will have fascinating displays of photos, quilting, and other artwork including an interesting seamstress display from the 1970’s. “For the Love of Art” sponsored by funding from the Mass. Cultural Council will also feature various artwork like sculptures, knitting, and painting. Something for everyone to see and admire. Local artist displays will run from July 1st to August 10th. Art in the Yard begins on June 15 and will be shown through the fall months. There will be 8 pieces of artists’ creation all with their own QR codes that can be scanned by visitors’ cellphones and will describe the outdoor works. Art in the Yard is sponsored by a grant provided by The Janet Malser Humanities Trust.
“This year, the library will also be partnering with Project Bread to provide meals all summer for all Oxford school children aged up to 18 years,” said Cathleen Sullivan, Assistant Library Director, “lunch will be available from 11:10 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. The program begins on June 24 and runs through August 16 (no lunch the week of July 1st due to the July 4th holiday). There will be four sites with two sites at the schools for breakfast and lunch, another site at the Orchard Hill Apartments, and the last site at the Oxford Library. There’ll be picnic tables outdoors along with lawn games. We’re excited to be able to partner with our school system for the lunch program. The summer reading program begins soon and what better way to enjoy a book or other library activity.”
Ms. Sullivan lives in Oxford and has always brought her children to the town’s  library. She began her library affiliation as the Evening Circulation Clerk in the Children’s Room. “It’s the best hidden secret job,” she said, “people come in for services that are fun and informative. I worked evenings and Saturdays while home-schooling my children so the schedule worked well for me for 15 years.” Since 2017, she’s been the Assistant Library Director and the teen librarian.
“A few years ago, Ted Reinstein from Boston Channel 5’s Chronicle show came to the library to give a talk about his and Anne-Marie Dorning’s recent book “New England’s General Stores.” The site describes the fun and engaging publication as “exploring the fabric of America over hot coffee and penny candy. Step through the wooden doors of a New England general store and step back in time, into a Norman Rockwell painting and into the heart of America. A nostalgic picture of this colonial staple and, fortunately, steadfast institution of small towns from Connecticut to Maine. This is where children of each generation take their first allowance to buy their very own penny candy. In tough times, the general store treated customers like family, extending credit when no one else would. Stubborn as New Englanders themselves, the general store has refused to become a mere sentimental relic of an earlier age.”
“My husband and I decided to take our vacation time and visit each of the general stores listed in the book,” said Ms. Sullivan, “we’ve visited spots in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Soon, we’ll be finishing up our adventure by visiting five stores in Vermont. Each store was very different and brings us into small-town communities. In each town, we also visit their local library. Places we never would’ve known about. We recently visited the actor Steve Carell’s General Store in Marshfield MA. He has a store manager who runs the place for him.” Sounds like a great adventure, for sure.
The library has received awards for its Children’s Room. The area community has also voted the book haven “Best Library” and why not? With the attentive staff, collections, and ongoing educational programs, it’s the absolute best place to simmer in the summer while also cooling off and entering the fascinating worlds of adventure. There’s nothing like a good book!
Oxford Free Public Library, 339 Main Street, Oxford MA 01540. Phone: (508) 987-6003. Check out their website for more details and hours: www.oxfordmapublicli