Westport Library Serves All Types

Westporters take pride in our cutting-edge library. The Maker Space, 3-D printer — if it’s creative and new, Maxine Bleiweis and her staff are all over it.

But sometimes you just need a typewriter.

Again, the library rides to the rescue.

An old IBM Selectric sits all alone in a cubicle overlooking Jesup Green, just waiting for someone to peck away.

Kids: Do you know what this is?

Kids: Do you know what this is?

Still, the library draws the line somewhere. Long ago, the wooden card catalog went to that great reading room in the sky.

(Hat tip to Fred Cantor)


16 responses to “Westport Library Serves All Types

  1. Brings back memories of using this when I launched my first company in the early 90’s
    Typing documents one page at a time & sending them via snail mail or fax, before the instant era of emails & texts….

  2. Speaking of our great library……..I enjoyed your post a few days ago on the Remarkable Gift Shop at WHS. I always do some Christmas shopping there and love it. Also of special note is the gift shop in the library. What a treasure trove of clever useful items and beautiful jewelry. I went there three times this year for Christmas shopping, always remembering another item for another person when I got home. I’ll pop in there again today after the Yale Brass concert this afternoon. Whoever is the buyer for the shop’s inventory is doing a superb job!

    Thanks for your daily posts which we enjoy immensely. Molly Alger

  3. The wooden card catalog has actually been repurposed and is used in the library cafe. Cute and clever.

  4. Maxine Bleiweis

    Dan, actually one of those wooden card catalogs became the perfect holder of salt, sugar, forks, spoons, mustard and mayonnaise packets at the library cafe. When we tell younger people to look in the card catalog for those items, we get a quizzical look.

    Similarly, one day we overheard a group of 11 year old boys encircling the typewriter you mentioned. One said, “What is that?” Another said, “I dare you to touch it.” At that, the bravest figured out how to turn it on and tapped a key. They heard the sound so common to many of us, shrugged unimpressed and walked away.

    But it’s a lifesaver when library users have that occasional old fashioned form that has to be filled in. Good eye, Fred!

    • Yeah, but what happens when there’s a power outage too? If you were a real full-service library, you’d have a manual typewriter there! 🙂

      And perhaps papyrus and reed brushes.

  5. Loretta Santella Hallock

    We all had those same typewriters at Town Hall. I remember giving Peggy Klein and Pat Scully typing tests. Miss Hastings was our typing teacher at Staples High. Those were the days!!

  6. Loretta, your comment brings to mind something I had been wondering about for a while. Typing classes were part of the Staples curriculum back in the day and I took a class sophomore year. (I don’t think typing classes were available in junior high, although I could be wrong about that.)

    But, today, kids are typing on laptops, iPads, etc starting at a young age. Are there typing classes taught these days in elementary school (instead of penmanship) since I assume younger kids are turning in typewritten assignments instead of handwritten assignments?

    And, Maxine, the typewriter certainly gives an added dimension to the term “full-service library” which I know you and your staff work so hard to provide.

    • Jocelyn Barandiaran

      I believe the Westport public schools are still teaching typing, but on computer key boards instead of typewriters. When my daughter was at Greens Farms Elementary School (just a couple of years ago), typing instruction was (and I imagine still is) part the computer class. There’s a neat on-line program called “Type to Learn” that they were using. And, yes, a lot of my daughter’s assignments at GFS and BMS were typewritten rather than handwritten. That’s probably a plus for teachers who no longer have to try to decipher hieroglyphs/pre-teen handwriting. (Although I’m still a major proponent of handwritten letters, cards and thank you notes.)

  7. As part of a Historic Structure Report I was working on I recently got a court order to release the psych records for a woman with no living issue who died at the Hartford Institute for the Insane (now Hartford Hospital) in the mid-19th century. Filled in the blanks on the required paperwork with that bad boy. Kinda looked like Son of Sam when I was done, hey, it worked. Thanks Westport Library for kickin it old school.

  8. Michael Calise

    FYI those “old” IBM’s and many knock off’s are still doing extra duty in many offices and they are still being cleaned and repaired locally. Its pretty hard to replace utility

  9. Adam Schwartz '75

    I worked for a large oil company in downtown Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’d and the two things I remember most are the sound of numerous typewriters being used at the same time no matter what floor you walked on and the second being all the smoke you had to put up with before smoking was not allowed indoors. Then those stupid little table fans became popular so all that smoke got pushed all over the floor to be shared by everyone!

    P.S. I actually had to use spellcheck because I forgot how to spell t-y-p-e-w-r-i-t-e-r ! ! ! Beats Whiteout…

  10. The IBM Selectric was one of the all time greatest inventions. I’d go to the library just to type on one again!

  11. Joyce Barnhart

    Can anybody out there tell us how to address an envelope using a computer and printer?

    • maxine bleiweis

      Joyce, come in to the library any time and one of our tech help staff will be happy to show you. Also, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, we offer special tech help for all your devices.

  12. Marcy Anson Fralick

    I still have the IBM Selectric II that my husband used in 1975 when he started his law practice, and the two little snap-in, letter font balls that go with it ~~ Courier 12, and Times New Roman 12. I also have a ribbon cartridge in it that’s probably dried up, and a correction ribbon tape for typing over typos. Many, many school reports were written by our kids on that typewriter in Dad’s office! Nowadays, my grand children take “keyboarding” in school, as all the school work, reports, tests, in-class quizzes and homework are done on school provided personal tablets. Sadly, they’re not taught cursive anymore….everything’s electronic.

    • Speaking of cursive: not only do students today not know how to write it — they have difficulty reading it! It’s like deciphering the handwriting of our Founding Fathers for them. Crazy but true.