“Welcome Back!” a handwritten sign declares on the door of the Roxborough branch of the Free Library.
Roxborough residents started their summer without convenient access to book stacks and card catalogues, as their branch closed May 26 because of a broken air conditioner.
The building’s windows are sealed shut, so the temperature inside was topping the 80-degree limit a city ordinance sets for its employees’ indoor workplaces. Roxborough staffers were temporarily assigned to other locations while they waited out the repair at their home base.
Today, exactly three weeks after the closing, staff and patrons were cool once more in the building at the corner of Ridge Avenue and Hermitage Street. By the noon re-opening, a small crowd of local regulars had already gathered, anxious to stock up on summer reading.
“Thanks for coming back,” Library Manager Bruce Siebers said as he checked out a stack of books for a woman with a canvas bag.
“I’m so glad you’re open again,” she replied.
“We’re so excited to be back,” Siebers says. “It’s almost like the first day of kindergarten for me. A lot of people are very happy.”
Library visitors in the first half-hour included a mother and her young son, who dashed up the staircase to the children’s section as soon as he came through the doors.
Roxborough resident Madeleine Walsh, a recent high-school graduate, lives within walking distance of the branch. Within an hour of the re-opening, she and her 7-year-old brother Ethan were curled up among the children’s shelves as she read aloud to him from a book about state birds.
They came to the library last week, not knowing it was closed, and went home disappointed. They are both avid readers who missed the library while it was shut down.
“This is a famous library for us!” Ethan announced. He prefers “thin books” while his sister reads books that are “this thick” – he spread his hands to indicate a prodigious number of pages.
The Walsh family is made of readers – two more sisters browsed the adult shelves downstairs. Now that the branch is open again, Madeleine and Ethan plan to return every week of the summer.
Siebers was pleased to tackle the library’s drop-box, overflowing with returned books in the weeks the library was closed. He was glad to see some regular patrons wasting no time in coming back, though overall re-opening day was pretty quiet.
“It will take a little while for word to get out that we’re open again,” he said. “It’s such an important part of the community.”
The Roxborough branch is open Monday through Friday; normal hours are noon to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.