2011-07-07 / Local News

Family completes one-year journey through library system

by KATE MOCKLER Reporter


Al Jafarjian looks at his family’s blog in the Clarence Library, while 11-year-old Anna, left, his wife, Stacey, and 8-year-old MaryGrace look on. The family spent a year visiting every branch in the Buffalo and Erie County library system. 
Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Al Jafarjian looks at his family’s blog in the Clarence Library, while 11-year-old Anna, left, his wife, Stacey, and 8-year-old MaryGrace look on. The family spent a year visiting every branch in the Buffalo and Erie County library system. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com When Al and Stacey Jafarjian watched the film “Julie and Julia,” it inspired a yearlong experiment and blog of their own.

Rather than cooking every recipe in “The Joy of Cooking,” the Jafarjians, along with their daughters, 11-year-old Anna and 8-year-old MaryGrace, decided to visit every branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System, a total of 37 stops.

They organized the project based on the seasons and things to do in the nearby community.

“We went to the Elma library when we were going sledding at Elma Meadows,” Anna recalled. They coordinated their trip to the Hamburg library with a visit to the Erie County Fair. In Riverside, they drove past the childhood homes of their grandparents. Some days, they did “hat tricks,” visiting three libraries in one day.

At each stop, the girls introduced themselves to a librarian and got his or her signature on a log. They took photos, received tours and recorded it all on the family’s blog, www.opera tionreadingroadtrip.blogspot.com.

“Every library, the staff was just so pleasant and helpful,” Al Jafarjian said.

“The librarians, too, were always very excited to tell us about their building,” said his wife.

At Boston, they learned that the converted schoolhouse was haunted by the benevolent ghost of a janitor. The Lackawanna library, one of many Carnegie libraries nationwide, had a fireplace in every room and the Steel Plant Museum in the basement.

Al Jafarjian was taken by the four-sided fireplace in the Lancaster branch, and Anna liked the large windows in the children’s section of the Newstead branch. MaryGrace was impressed by the architecture of the Lakeshore branch.

“It was blue bricks because it was right by the ocean,” she said.

Stacey Jafarjian could not choose a favorite, but the entire family was impressed by the comprehensive tour of the downtown library.

“We got to see the closed stacks,” she said, referring to the area where the facility stores books with a lower circulation rate.

The family has always enjoyed libraries and reading. They consider the Clarence branch their “home library” but said that nevertheless, their yearlong experiment opened their eyes.

“Now we know how much they help people,” Anna said. “People don’t realize how much they do help people.” She noted that at every library they visited, the computers were busy. The free Internet access was even a help to the Jafarjians when their home Internet crashed and the girls had homework to complete.

Stacey Jafarjian says she now has a different perspective on libraries.

“A library can really be a destination. It’s not just an errand to run,” she said. The family added that on recent trips to Boston, Mass., and to Florida, they went out of their way to visit a local library.

“They’re very vital. We still need our libraries,” Al Jafarjian said. “There’s something here for everybody, even if you’re not a big reader.” email: kmockler@beenews.com

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