In the heart of A.K. Smiley Library, a silent centenarian has quietly celebrated a milestone – the circulation desk, installed in 1923, recently turned one hundred years old. This robust piece of furniture has been a steadfast witness to a century’s worth of California history, from the Roaring Twenties to the digital age.
While modern circulation records don’t go back to the beginning, Smiley currently circulates an average of 239,217 books per year, meaning potentially tens of millions of books have passed over the circulation desk since its installation. Beyond the sheer volume of books it’s seen, the circulation desk has also observed numerous transformative moments in Redlands over the years.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Redlands as a community was largely against entering World War
The desk has been present through many major architectural changes at the Library itself, including the additions in 1926, 1930, and 1990. It was here when the Library was painted off-white in 1939, and it was here when the iconic brick-red color was redone in 2002. After the 1933 Long Beach earthquake when the Library Tower was removed, the circulation desk remained and was there when the Tower was rebuilt in 1999.
Beyond the walls of the Library, the desk has witnessed cultural shifts, technological advancements, and societal changes. In the era where radio dramas once captivated living rooms, the circulation desk was a community hub to share the magic of storytelling. As television claimed its place in the household, the circulation desk anchored readers in a world of books amidst the glow of screens. In the digital age, the desk seamlessly transitioned to becoming a metaphorical gateway to a vast expanse of information. From the advent of radio to the rise of the internet, our circulation desk has endured as a permanent fixture in the community of Redlands’ pursuit of knowledge.
Approach the desk not just to check out a book or movie but as a participant in a tradition spanning generations. Simply by borrowing from the Library, we contribute to a legacy of resilience, adaptability, and community spirit that A.K. Smiley proudly carries forward into the next century. The next time you bring a book to the circulation desk, remember – you’re not just returning a book, you’re engaging with a piece of living history, a century-old companion in our collective journey of reading and learning.