Captain Ahab would feel right at home at the Atheneum – the island’s only public library located in the heart of Nantucket at 1 Indian Street. It was original built in 1834 but burned down during the Great Fire of 1846. The present building was completed shortly after the ashes cooled and has been here with very few changes ever since. The classic Greek Revival style architecture was designed by Frederick Coleman. Stately, regal and powerful the building still has a very delicate aural about it. An architectural paradox and contradiction.
The library holds approximately 40,000 books, which includes some very rare Nantucket historical documents. Since the building opened back in 1846 the library has had only 6 main librarians, reflecting the conservative and timeless quality of the island. The library offers a good selection of books and movies and if you can’t find what you are looking for they usually can get it from another library. Another bonus is there is free WiFi and laptops available on the second floor. The building has three floors and lots of room to spread out and read or research in comfort.
What really makes the Atheneum special is the interior decor: an antique winding staircase, large paned windows, interesting proscenium, and unexpected hallways. Figureheads and statues from old whaling ships and old portraits and paintings are hanging from the walls and located in corners. It’s almost more of a museum than a library. Fredrick Douglas spoke here as did other inspiring luminaries so just soaking up it’s historical atmosphere makes a visit to this venerable place worth it.
Outside the building is the library garden and a newly added children’s wing. The Weezie Library built in 1996 offers a wide variety of story times, music and craft activities, visits by authors, illustrators, and performers, outreach to area preschools, and the summer reading program. If you have children make sure to bring them to the children’s section with it’s painted tables and fun animal chairs to enjoy story time, craft activities, or live music. You might even want to sit on the lawn of the garden under the fragrant viburnum trees and read a chapter of Moby Dick!
During the Summer evenings there are free concerts and poetry slams (upstairs). Among the poets hosted: Franz Wright, Clayton Eshelman, Galway Kinell.
|Tuesday||10 a.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||10 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Thursday||10 a.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|Friday||10 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Saturday||10 a.m.||5 p.m.|
Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival is July 20 – July 25, 2015.
Enjoy a week of programs related to ballet. The festival began in 2007 and has featured principals and soloists from the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Royal Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Paris Opera Ballet and has become a major fundraising event for the library. Tickets are available beginning July 1 at the library box office from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday through Saturday, or online.
Free programs for the community include a lecture/demonstration with artistic director Tyler Angle, youth master ballet classes taught by members of the dance festival company, and a children’s program. The festival ends with evening performances on Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25.