York Town Square

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York’s Martin Library asks community: What to do with those old doors?

York’s Martin Library CEO Bill Schell dates Martin Library’s old doors to 1935, the year the library first opened. Here, they rest on the floor inside Martin. Background posts: York County libraries offer serendipity – and have done so for decades and Colonial York, Pa.? No, try Victorian York, Pa and York County library site brings together links for local research.

For years, some people struggled to open those weighty mahogany doors leading into Martin Library.
Their replacement with lighter doors leads to the question of what to do with the older ones.
Library officials have put that out to community.
The best answer is: Keep them. Or at least make sure they’re publicly displayed somewhere.
Those are not just any doors… .

The new, lighter doors resemble those heavy doors previously in place.
They’re symbols of what books and reading and libraries mean to a community.
Open library doors represent an open mind. The more people avail themselves to the reading material – books, magazines, Web sites – the more likely they are to be self-aware. They are more likely to be open to the views of others – and occasionally, if not more often – realize that their own views need to be adjusted.
And for years, a diverse community opened those doors. The doors excluded no one, even providing a place for the homeless who found the reading room a refuge against the elements.
Historically, those doors welcomed residents during the Great Depression when they first opened. They provided a beacon for those who were without jobs, without hope. They provided free entertainment – and information for those seeking a change in occupation.
After World War II, military men and women informed themselves about the possibilities of what would be next. What they learned helped shape them into the Greatest Generation.
Those doors have been threatened over the years. Hate groups took advantage of the access they offered and met behind them. Most recently, the institution the doors led to – a free public library – have been threatened by the recession and the subsequent choke hold the downturn has placed on its funding.
But interestingly, libraries are busier during recessions, and the new lighter replacements must be allowed to open for at least another 75 years. Their light weight must not not suggest — or signal – that limitations should be placed on Martin for funding or other reasons.
Those old doors.
No, they’re just not any doors.

To help

Have an idea for what to do with Martin Library’s old doors? Want to donate for the replacements? Contact Karla Heberlig at kheberlig@yorklibraries.org.