From Just One Book to a Brand New Music Garden

The Bethlehem Public Library, founded in New Hampshire in 1877, is said to have been started by a Mrs. Presby of Littleton with $1.00 and just one book. Fast forward to 2022, Mrs. Presby would be astonished at the transformation of the library, which today boasts not just considerably more books but also ‘StoryWalk®, a perennial garden, and a new ‘music garden.’

The library has taken advantage of its outdoor space and encourages patrons to use their backyard actively. The library recently installed a ‘StoryWalk® which the Friends of the Library Group established. As library users walk in the garden, they can discover a story by reading the many podiums placed in a loop on the path – each has one page of a book that forms a story when read in order.

The library wanted to add more activities to its ample outdoor space, particularly since the pandemic. The team had noticed that many patrons were not entering the building due to health worries. Laura Clerkin, Director of the library, had seen outdoor musical instruments on a river walk in her hometown and thought they would be the perfect fit for Bethlehem Public Library’s backyard.

The library installed the Calypso Quatro Post, and today parents bring children to the library to play and begin to learn about making music outdoors. Specifically chosen because they are easy to play and always sound soothing, Laura says, “I chose more bell tones because I knew we’d have a lot of kids playing them, and they always sound nice no matter how you play.”

Keen to install outdoor musical instruments because of their inclusivity, Laura says, “people of all ages enjoy playing our outdoor musical instruments, and we aim to expand our Music Garden soon with three more instruments.”

Alongside the Music Garden, the library plans to create a ‘perennial garden,’ with benches and picnic tables.

“We are proud of how far our library has come since the founding of it over 100 years ago. As well as the wealth of books inside the library, users can now experience and discover a range of activities outside in our garden, and we’d hope the founder, Mrs. Presby, would approve of the way we’ve brought together words and music”.