A Massachusetts man wrote a love letter that was published in his local newspaper, the Salem Evening News, in late August—but it wasn’t your normal love letter.
As a stay-at-home Dad to two young children, Sean Devlin soon learned that the historical downtown library (which opened in 1913) had a fantastic children’s program.
“I personally never used a public library as a child or as a young adult,” he told GNN. “So this is where the love letter starts—describing our wonderful experiences going there hundreds of times—even to this day…”
The letter in full: It was a beautiful late August morning with a hint of fall in the air. I sat on a black, metal bench at the Beverly Commons across the street from the Beverly Public Library. With my notebook in hand I began writing my love letter to the library. It was long overdue.
We had dropped off our daughter, Natasha, at college yesterday and our son, Rory, recently graduated college last May. They both do really well academically. They deserve most of the credit, but some must go to the Beverly Public Library and of course their parents who brought them there.
When they were just babies, Rory and Natasha would crawl around the Children’s Room at the library. Soon enough the wooden train whistle would blow and they were lining up to go to Story Hour and to make crafts in the craft room. They both would take out big stacks of book to bring back home.
My wife, Michele, would read to them every night. There were books everywhere. By now the librarians were like family and the library itself was a home away from home. We were even going to retirement goodbyes and memorial services, one being for our dear friend and children’s librarian, Nancy Bonne.
Eventually, Natasha and Rory started volunteering at the library and participated in fundraising events for the new Bookmobile and they also helped with the library book sale. The Election Day book sale was always fun with books and people everywhere and all the excitement of the election.
We even went on a library tour in the North End with the author, Stephen Puleo, who had written about the great molasses explosion of 1919.
When Rory and Natasha entered high school they both got jobs at the Children’s Library. They were now the ones checking out books and preparing the crafts, working with the same librarians who had once read to them during Story Hour. Their library job helped them save for college. Luckily, they both got jobs at their college libraries. So not only did their library experience help them get into college, but it also helped them pay for it.
So this is my love letter to the Beverly Public Library and all their staff both living and dead. I finished writing, clicked my pen and placed my notebook back in my bag. When I stood up from the bench a young mother and her child walked by. The child looked up to me and said. “I’m going to the library.”
Sean told us later that the reaction from the librarians and staff to the love letter was “wonderful”.
“They were so appreciative—even the custodian thanked me. One librarian cried.”
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