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29 Responses to Mark Twain Branch

  • If I were a Poet Laureate, I’d show up wearing gloves and a breath filter. I’d scrub the books, restore them using my sweat for cleanser and my blood for ink. I’d tear my clothes to ribbons, cloth for polishing covers, and for making flags. I’d carry them out, crate by crate. Pitch a tent. Set them inside. I’d cough, come down with the flu. Live on chicken soup, soda crackers. I’d talk to the walls, in my delirium. People in the street would stare. Hurl encouragements. I’d offer them soup, crackers and a dry place to read. I’d get sick. My blood would turn to poison, and then maybe my children would get how important these places are, but I’m not a poet laureate. My heart though, is just as broken. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for compelling work. I don’t have a comment for this, though I will do all that I can, to help make it right.

  • Our weekly rag here in LA did a story on library closures last week and compared us to Detroit.

    http://www.laweekly.com/2011-02-24/news/l-a-s-library-measure-l/

  • Thanks for the real story Eastside Al. Ive been watching Mark Twain for years, waiting for signs of life, or at least of better mothballing. These are not the results I wanted to see, not at all.

  • I’m horrified by these pictures of what was the library of my childhood. I spent many happy hours sitting and reading in the children’s room here while my mother tended to other business in the grown-up books section or at the nearby Sears store.

    I’m also furiously angry. The reason why there are so many books left here and so much furniture is that this library was only supposed to be temporarily closed. The people in the neighborhood just wanted the roof and the heat repaired swiftly, but the DPL insisted that they should do a major renovation and that we’d all have a beautiful like-new library when they were done in about a year. If anyone here remembers the late ’90s “empowerment zone” years, the money seemed to be there to do it then.

    Well, a year dragged out to 2 then 3, and little progress was made. There were apparently “contractor problems” Some of the books were moved to the “annex” library in a nearby church hall, after people in the area complained and complained. And then asbestos was “discovered” (what, they didn’t know it was going to be there in a 70 year old building?) which was used as an excuse to discontinue all work. We were all promised that this stoppage would be temporary too, while they worked out a plan to deal with the asbestos. Yeah, right.

    Then the building sat… and sat… and sat… and the library people and the city stopped answering our calls, and acted like they’d never heard of the building when we did get ahold of them. The interior got progressively more damaged by the original problem that had never been fixed – a leaking roof – and then, of course, the scrappers and ‘explorers’ came, and it ended up in the state you see today.

    This city can make me so sick sometimes.

  • According to another Web site, they were packing up the library when they discovered asbestos. I guess everyone had to leave due to the dangers of asbestos. It costs more to demolish or restore the building due to the asbestos, and I guess they didn’t, and still don’t have, any money to do anything about it. I wonder if they would need to do something to the books because they have been exposed to asbestos. Maybe that is another reason the books were not relocated. This Web site has a couple of pictures of the library in the 1940s – it was so beautiful!

    http://detroiturbex.com/content/parksandrec/twain/twain.html

  • I agree with that – all needs to be rescued. I disagree with the notion that DPL has no money for plywood and some screws. At least board it up better.

  • The whole building and all of it’s contents needs to be “rescued”…

  • Jeff – I do not know what your point is there.

  • sort of old news then, isn’t it?
    Oh, and DPL has NO MONEY for Capital Expenditures.

    http://www.detroit.lib.mi.us/mark_twain/mark_twain_index.htm
    Mark Twain Annex opened in June, 1998 to fill the need for a library in the area after Mark Twain branch (located on Gratiot and Burns) closed for major repairs.

    Located in Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, its outreach and circulation has doubled over the years, serving children and adults in the Empowerment Zone and beyond.

    This Branch offers a reference services and a collection of fiction, non-fiction, adult and children’s books, as well as audio books. Current and past issues of magazines are also available.

  • I prefer “rescued” for the record. Nailhed is not a looter, he is a preservationist supreme.

  • *ahem* i have stolen books…

    …or rescued if you prefer.

    lol that would be one way to do it, vigilante style; snag a bunch of salvageable titles, then deposit them in the return slot of a still-functioning Detroit library. Then type a press release to the papers calling yourself the Robin Hood of books

  • There are books and items that were removed some time ago before it was wide open.

  • It looks like someone has vandalized the library, but no one has stolen the books.

  • “mind cemetery” is from ‘Bulls on Parade’

    I dont think anybody had offered any blame for librarians, they certainly do not do administration for the DPL system.

  • I like the phrase from hairysasquatch, “mind cemetery” because there truly has been a death in this neighborhood. As for the books on shelves, please don’t blame the local librarians. For all we know, they were given their last paycheck and told to hit the door.

  • I agree convivia – I would volunteer for things like that, and I know other people would too.

    And for the historical record, the building bears his name in direct commemoration of the man – by that I mean he was given the honor in person. His daughter Clara Clemons (she was married to the director of the DSO) lived in Boston Edison, and Mark Twain was therefore a person who was associated with Detroit during that time period. I believe the building itself deserves historic protection due to its history, as well as being a Wirt Rowland design.

    Not everything can be saved even when it should. Detroit has bigger problems at the moment. But why not relocate the books and furniture and equipment ?

  • To be fair to Mayor Bing, this is something thats been going on since before he was in office – and there certainly are people in the DPL system who are direct overseers of these buildings. It is those people who I would question about these conditions. The Mayor is still somewhat new, and I dont have any strong opinions to offer about his administration. They certainly were handed a huge plate full of crap to deal with, so I can understand how this may go over looked.

    Just hire an auction company to liquidate these places rather than allow contents to be destroyed. Am I over simplifying ?

  • I was really hoping after starting the vid that the books would have been cleared out but I should have known better – ugh – another mind cemetery documented by the one and only dfunk!

  • Very sad. The books left behind and the buildings condition. Does Mayor Bing know about this? Does he even care?!!!

  • Shocked! Horrified! Couldn’t the library or the city find volunteers to assist? These could have been taken out to a book sale. What apathy! Could it be lack of community support? Wouldn’t the library users want to take action? How long has this been abandoned? There’s a horrid irony in the name “Mark Twain” being made such a travesty. What would he say?

  • So your’re telling me they just leave books, chairs, and other usable items behind?? What a wasteful thing to do!

  • Disgusting. What is wrong with these people?

  • Wow, all of those books left behind makes Chris Rock’s joke all the more real:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRwK_XVfm0I

  • Idiots, at least sell the books, fast, before more water damage occurs.

  • wow the plaster in that one corner got real bad over the winter

  • What an entirely disgraceful abandonment…

  • That’s so crazy how they just left all the books in there!