Growing up in the North End, Esther (Dolgoy) Korchynski was a devoted user of St. John’s Library. This is the second of two fond memories she has of this library that she shared with us. You can also read the first one here.
“When I was young, the children’s library was in the basement at St. John’s, and the adult library was upstairs. Now personally, I thought that kids’ books were boring and I didn’t care for the children’s library much at all. So I made a decision that I would wait until I was twelve to join the library, since then I could use the upstairs library, even though I thought the librarian downstairs was very nice and hoped that she would be working upstairs by the time I was twelve.
“When the day finally came and I joined the library, I remember that I spent several hours looking around at all the books. I found it very confusing, and I didn’t think to ask a librarian for help in finding something I wanted to read. Very few of the books had dust jackets with summaries or descriptions on them, so it was difficult to make a decision.
“The book I finally selected was Orphan Paul by Maxim Gorky. It struck me as interesting because I had been taught at home to be concerned for the poor and downtrodden. I read it, and then read everything else in the library by Gorky, since I knew where they were on the shelves. This led me to reading other Russian writers, which even though I didn’t much care for them (they were too hard to read) definitely influenced my literary tastes. I became a bit of a book snob, taking pride in my selections and looking down on my sister’s preferences for mysteries by Agatha Christie!
“Even though I never did truly develop a taste for Dostoyevsky, St. John’s Library set me on a lifelong path of reading and a love of books.”