Wednesday, 2 July 2014

"Every[one] will leave Stowe knowing beauty for the rest of [their] life"

Stowe School
This visit had to be, by far, my favorite of all of our class visits so far. Stowe School was a new class visit for this summer. Our class liaison, Mr. Doerr, had a contact and was able to set up a unique visit for our class to a school library.  From what we were told, this was the first time the LIS class had visited a school library before.  I will be honest, I was afraid that this library would be just like the school libraries I had worked at back home, and it wouldn't be anything as special as they were making it seem. Boy was I proven wrong!

Stowe House was owned by the Temple-Grenville family from the 17th Century until it was sold in 1921. Stowe House was remodeled many times during the ownership of the Temple-Grenville family, which eventually lead to the debts the family owed on the house as well as the eventual need to sell the property itself.  In 1922, Stowe House is purchased in order to be made into a school for boys. When the house was sold as a school it was virtually empty of all furniture and artifacts.

The Stowe library had many different uses before it became what we saw during our visit. In the 1730s it began as a ballroom. It was converted into two separate rooms in the 1760s, and was again opened into one room as a library in 1797. The library was absolutely gorgeous. The pictures I posted below do not do this room justice.  Not only is the library a historic site, but the librarian explained to us that it is a regularly used room by the students. She mentioned that the library is used for both lessons and individual research, and during exam times it can be extremely busy with students studying.  The librarian is continually trying to bring students into the library as well as create outreach opportunities to give a face to the library so the students can know that it is available for them to use.

This library was definitely not like any of the school libraries back home, though I did recognize some familiar books! They had the World Book Encyclopedia, and many other reference materials I fondly remember from both Adams Elementary and Norman High School. The look of the library made it seem like a historic place, but I could definitely tell that it was well used and loved by its students and teachers.

Our guides, the librarian Carol Miller and the Preservation Trust research manager Anna McEvoy, gave us a wonderful tour of the library and the house, then let us loose to tour the monuments and temples around the grounds.

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