Standing on the street in front of the Joliet Library, you can sense that there’s more to this building and the area surrounding it than what is seen with the naked eye. Is it the look of the building? Is it the way the grounds are maintained? Is it the books that are housed in the great building? Or is it the statue of Louis Joliet, the founder of the city known as Joliet, Illinois?
Whatever it is, the feeling is almost physical. This building, which was originally build in 1903 and later expanded in 1991, had its beginnings in 1876. There’s a history here. And that history is hinted at by the bronze statue of Louis Joliet. Joliet who was educated as a Jesuit Priest turned explorer and fur trader and finally an educator. Joliet seems to be an excellent choice as a sentinel for this library – this place of knowledge and exploration.
I find myself daydreaming, not daring to enter, knowing that I may not want to leave. Knowing that a place like this will bring out the explorer in anyone who steps through it’s doors. Sitting on the grass; cooled by the shade of the trees that surround this building which covers half a city block, I relax and start eating my lunch. With the look and feel of an old university, I think about how nice it is to be able to live in a place that is large enough to provide a city feel, but able to provide places of solitude and reflection.
I finish eating my lunch and now, overcome by curiosity, I get up and decide to venture into this place that seems to entice people to learn its story and begin their own exploration into other lands. Stepping through the door, I’m immediately taken aback by the size of the place. The view from the outside only whispered of its vastness and its contents. Finding the history section, I feel drawn to learn more about this place. And what I find only inspires me to make this a regular stop on my lunch break and any other time that I can.
From a mere 750 books in the original library to a usable shine housing more than 300,000 books including over 1000 books on the history of Joliet, magazines, microfilm and a media center equipped with several networked computers, the Joliet Library has grown and continues to grow.
The tranquility that greeted me outside of the library’s door was only more comforting inside. How that can be, given the size of the facility and its busyness is a wonder. Being the middle of the day and being crowded, there were people everywhere. Yet, unlike many places that are full of people, the atmosphere of this place was quiet, respectful – almost reverent. Yes, this is a place I could, not only get use to, but get lost in.