So first of all, I’d just like to discuss the word athenaeum. It’s really just a fancy word for library, but I swear, the amount of head space that I have devoted to this word in the past week is insane because I a) have no idea how to pronounce it to actually sound well-read and literate and b) have to double-check the spelling about a hundred million times because I have no way to sound it to help me spell it. But alas! It’s really just a fancy word for library, and Providence has basically the best one ever.
The Providence Athenaeum Library is one of the oldest libraries in America: it was founded before the Constitution was even signed! Originally founded as the Providence Library Company in 1753, it became the Athenaeum and a independent, member-supported library open to the public in 1836. That basically means that although it operates as a non-profit and is open to the public to browse, books can only be checked out by members who pay annual dues to cover operating expenses. We went in for a wander (well, my boyfriend sat and read his Kindle as he warmed up from the cold–can you spot him in the picture above?) and I was completely enamored with the building and collection and the whole shebang. Bibliophile paradise!
This was a tourist guide to Paris in the 1940s! I have a weird interest in out-of-date guidebooks, especially to cities I know well–and this one was SO AMAZING. It was so neat to read about the Marais neighborhood and different streets that I know well–so, so, so much has changed over the last half century! Wouldn’t this be a dream place to study?! What’s your favorite photo of the Providence Athenaeum?