Connecting with our users is always a key thing for any type of library. Figuring out what they need, and how we can provide it, will always be the right way to go in providing great service. And the Folger Shakespeare Library is not only providing some great materials – but also great service!
“In the reading room of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., researchers might spend hours carefully paging through a 16th-century pamphlet or the only surviving quarto edition of Titus Andronicus. (“If one good deed in all my life I did, I do repent it from my very soul.”) But they also have access to another unusual—if more informal—collection. Behind the reading room desk there is a vault where the staff keeps a small lending library of handmade shawls.
Three of the shoulder coverings are knitted and two crocheted. The blue one is longer and lighter; the brown one, the newest addition, has pockets. One circular shawl has rings of different colors, and another with light, spring colors is a little bit thicker and larger. The original shawl, the one that started the collection, is a sandy brown. All five are the work of Rosalind Larry, the room’s head of circulation, who made them, often on her lunch hour, during her many years at the library.
Larry started knitting the first shawl in the 1980s, after the library was remodeled and the reading room expanded. Not long before, she had seen a colleague making baby booties and thought she might like to learn to knit. “She showed me how, and at first I was terrible at it,” Larry says. But soon she grew more ambitious, and when she had some yarn she wanted to use up, she thought she might make herself a shawl, since it always felt cold in the reading room.”
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