Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2012

Woodmoor Reminiscences

Remembering the Very Popular Four Corners Library

By Jacquie Bokow

It was 1952 when Four Corners Library moved into Woodmoor Shopping Center.  It was an unusual spot for a lending library, but it worked.  Many long-time residents recalled it fondly.

“The Four Corners Library was a tiny place as far as libraries go, but for the amount of square footage they had, no one had a better selection of children’s puzzles and toys for the kids,” said Ron Haley (Woodridge Ave.).  “Very well maintained, too:  clean, organized, and the puzzles complete.  It was just right for keeping my little girl occupied long enough for me to peruse their surprisingly good selection of LPs.  Apparently this was a well-kept secret, as good music in like-new condition was frequently available.  I also liked the library’s compactness for its ease of locating books — everything within a few steps away.  Certainly a far cry from the imposing stacks of an archive or research library; just a real cozy and friendly place, yet roomy enough to accommodate a dozen or so patrons.  Our community was sorry to see it go.”

The Four Corners ‘Popular’ Library was different because of its storefront location at Woodmoor and its ‘bookstore’ layout.

“We used to love taking our kids to the 4C library,” said Ed Levy (Thistle Drive).  “Everything was kid-sized and there were comfortable places to sit and read to them.  It was also very convenient as we could park once and go to the library while we picked up videos and groceries.  A really poor decision by the County when the branch was closed as the branch was staffed by volunteers and cost a minimal amount annually to operate.”

“I remember walking up there every Saturday and at least once a week in the summer,” said Caryn Cochran (formerly of Belton Road and — in full disclosure — sister to the editor).  “I don’t know how old I was, under 10, I’m sure.  Probably eight or nine?  That would have been second or third grade.  I think I read every single book in the children’s section.  The one series I remember — I can even picture the covers and where the books were on the shelves (just to the left of the counter) — was Little House on the Prairie.  I read all of them more than once.  I think I even went back to one of them when I got older and the librarian asked me, “Aren’t you too old for these?”  I checked it out anyway.  There was a series of short biographies I went through; I remember reading about Jim Thorpe, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, and Clara Barton.  I don’t recall ever going there to research anything for homework; I went to Wheaton for that, but I always felt lost there.  Probably because it was too big.”

The remodeled ‘popular’ library was set up like a bookstore and held mostly paperbacks, boosting circulation by 35 percent.

“I remember the library as a part of many other things,” said Susan Hatchell (formerly Caryn’s neighbor on Belton Road).  “Being dropped off there in front by my mother, or Caryn’s mother, or a sister, or whoever.  Walking up and going to the library, and buying penny candy from Doc’s and People’s and Larry’s Five and Dime.  Going to Four Corners with my mother, stopping at the library and going to the bakery.  Going to Four Corners with my father to the hardware store.  It was a huge part of my growing up.  It seemed we were always up there doing something, and it usually included the library.  I remember Barbar the Elephant, and Madeleine, so we were much younger than eight and nine when we started going there, [we were] probably eight and nine when we were allowed to walk by ourselves.

“When my mother died, I returned some books [she had taken out], and they were so sad to hear that she died.  The Librarians sent a [condolence] card and made a donation to the Wheaton Rescue Squad” in her mother’s name.

“Commemorative bookmarks were made in an attempt to convince the county to spare [the library],” said Ron Haley.

“When the full-sized Long Branch Library opened in 1977, it was planned to close the storefront Four Corners Branch,” reports Board member Carolyn Van Dyck (Ordway Drive), who’s a librarian herself.  However, due to an enormous outpouring of community support, the Four Corners Library remained open.  But the space needed remodeling, so MoCo Public Libraries budgeted $20,000 to try something new:  make the library look like a bookstore.  The Dewey Decimal system was scratched, and books were arranged by topics of interest.  Large signs designated sections and open, face-out shelving — like a bookstore would use — was installed against the walls.  Circulation went up by 35 percent that year; by 1982 they were circulating 7,000 books a month.

The storefront library remained in operation until 30 December 1992 when, during another time of County budget deficits, it was finally closed for good.   ■

   © 2012 NFCCA  [Source:]