Wayland Free Public Library’s Raytheon room: A connection between pages

The Wayland Free Public Library’s  (WFPL) Raytheon room works to incorporate different aspects of the community into one small room. Although the programs in the room change, some constant fixtures of the Raytheon room include the WFPL Friends book sale and a gallery displaying the work of local artists.
The Wayland Free Public Library’s (WFPL) Raytheon room works to incorporate different aspects of the community into one small room. Although the programs in the room change, some constant fixtures of the Raytheon room include the WFPL Friends book sale and a gallery displaying the work of local artists.
Credit: Bella Schreiber

Nestled within the Wayland Free Public Library (WFPL), the Raytheon room sits, waiting for new friends to discover it. The Raytheon room has been a part of the library ever since it was first remodeled in 1987. It has been a home to hundreds of books, as well as a venue for the several local artists and programs that are featured at the library each month.

The Raytheon room is maintained by the WFPL Friends, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the Library. However, keeping this room alive is a group effort between the artists, performers and programs that cycle through the room. In recent years, the Raytheon room has become a permanent location for book sales put on by WFPL Friends. All proceeds from the book sales go back to the library and help fund programs and projects, such as the new teen’s space on the second floor of the library.

To donate a book to the WFPL Friends program, one should place it in the baskets located just outside of the Raytheon room in the hallway of the WFPL. (Credit: Bella Schreiber)

“[Our fundraiser] is a good way for people to recycle books that they don’t want anymore and [donate] them to somebody else that will take them,” WFPL Friends Volunteer Carole Schneider said. “Everybody wins in the end because the library gets money and people find new homes for their books.”

The Raytheon room sees a variety of different genres as books are circulated in and out of the room. According to WPFL Friends President Meredith Tobe, some of her personal favorite donations have been books on mid-century modern architecture and old children’s books from the 1950s. Tobe believes that part of the charm of the Raytheon room books is that they have already been lived through, and there is more to the story than just what was printed onto the pages.

“It’s fun when you get a book and it might have a message written in it for someone else,” Tobe said. “It’s like a little piece of history that you’re passing on.”

According to WPFL Friends President Meredith Tobe, the Raytheon room book sale is organized more similarly to a Barnes & Nobles so that it’s easier for patrons to find what they are looking for. “I feel like there might even be a book that you’re looking for at the library that might be checked out for a while, that you may be able to find downstairs [in the Raytheon room],” Tobe said. (Credit: Bella Schreiber)
The books in the Raytheon room aim are meant to allow people to forge connections and create memorable experiences. The books in the room are sometimes used for summer reading projects, gifts and programs for learning English as a second language. WFPL makes it their mission to include the youth as much as possible in order to encourage everyone to enjoy the books in the Raytheon room.

“I love seeing the kids come in,” Schneider said. “During the summer, we did a program with the children’s librarian, [where] if the kids read enough books, they got a ticket to come in and get a free book. The [kids] would come in here and pick out a book and be so excited.”

The room not only hosts books, but art galleries as well. Each month, a different local artist is spotlighted by the Library, and their art is displayed above the bookshelves. For December, Wayland resident Rahul Ray volunteered to display some of his favorite paintings with the community.

“The connection between literature and art is that both are actually creative and diverse,” Ray said. “One has to open his or her mind to see and feel the things around them.”

December Artist of the Month Rahul Ray’s art hangs above the WFPL’s book sale. According to WFPL Friends Volunteer Carole Schneider, the WFPL Friends intentionally used shorter bookshelves in the Raytheon room to maintain the shared space. (Credit: Bella Schreiber)

In his gallery, Ray has a variety of works on display. Some of his paintings are inspired by local nature, such as the Sudbury River, while others are more abstract. According to Ray, he hopes that the diversity in his work will appeal to all audiences.

“I sold [a woman] a painting that was a still-life of a bowl, a few apples and oranges,” Ray said. “I didn’t know her, but she bought it. It was from a group exhibition, and she picked that [work] of mine [to buy], and I was wondering why she chose that [painting.] She said that the painting reminded her of her mother’s kitchen in London. These are the personal connections that one makes in order to appreciate [art].”Ray’s gallery matches the diverse spirit of the Raytheon room, which has a variety of books and programs to appeal to different people’s interests. The WFPL website has a calendar for upcoming events such as “Storytime with Obie the Dog,” a “Cookbook Group” and a “Family Game Day.” The multifaceted room functions as a community space meant to bring people together with different passions.

“We need music, literature and arts to make us feel fuller, in [a way] that not only satisfies our physical needs, but also our mental needs,” Ray said.

Some community groups use the center table of the Raytheon room to host their meetings. According to WFPL Assistant Director Andrew Moore, these groups can vary from book groups to opera singers to exotic animals for children. (Credit: Bella Schreiber)
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