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Published: Monday, 8/20/2001 - Updated: 1 year ago

`New' library debuts with rave reviews from public

BY REBEKAH SCOTT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Some went to ooh and ah.

Others wanted a nice day out with the children.

More said they wanted to see what their $45 million in bonds, donations, and government funds had bought.

Almost all passed through the streamlined aluminum front doors on Michigan Street. But it's a safe bet few of them looked up above that doorway to admire the bas relief images cast into the aluminum lintel. Up there are two youngsters, a boy and a girl, gazing at a globe they hold between them.

Tables made from old light fixtures attract visitors in the Popular Library, where new acquisitions will be displayed. Tables made from old light fixtures attract visitors in the Popular Library, where new acquisitions will be displayed.
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The girl is Virginia Hannaford. The boy is Ken Mueller. Back in the spring of 1940, while the finishing touches were going onto the building, Czech-born sculptor Anthony Vozech submitted a winning design for a front-door plaque. He needed “a handsome couple” to pose for the piece. Miss Hannaford was a shoo-in. The daughter of a Toledo Times artist, she'd posed for Mr. Vozech's studio classes. She introduced her DeVilbiss High School boyfriend to the artist.

“He said `ooh, yes, yes!' Mr. Mueller recalled yesterday. “I can use you both!”

Mr. Mueller remembers posing about six times for the artist “It was tough on the leg muscles,” he recalled. “You look at that sculpture now, and you'll see some straining in the legs.”

But the results were striking. “My mother used to have people down there from far and wide, showing them, `that's my son up there!'”

Mr. Mueller graduated from high school that spring; Miss Hannaford was a year younger. University and a World War passed, and the pair grew apart.

Mr. Mueller became a business executive, and proved the prophetic power of that globe-gazing sculpture boy by traveling to more than 43 foreign lands. He is now semi-retired and lives in Perrysburg Township.

Diamond Sierra, 9, reads in the new children's section. Diamond Sierra, 9, reads in the new children's section.
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Miss Hannaford finished college and became an artist for Lasalle's and Lamson's department stores. She married and raised two children and continued producing commercial portraits. She still lives in the area, Mr. Mueller said, but she missed the grand re-opening ceremonies this weekend - she is out of town.

Mr. Mueller missed the parties too. He's been away as well and returned home Saturday. He forgot about them.

“I'm 79 years old,” he explained. “I still drive by the library now and then, and when I look up there, I say to myself, `By George, that looks just like us!' Virginia still looks a lot like that too.

“Time doesn't do anyone any favors, but it's treated us both OK. Just don't compare my waistline with the one on that boy. You won't recognize me.”

Age is no excuse for missing a day out, said 92-year-old Esther Barbara Schultz. She dressed in a pretty orange dress and pearls for yesterday's open house. She uses a walker to get around and found the building perfectly accessible.

“I like reading biographies mostly, but today I spent most of my time in the children's section,” she said. “That impressed me, I'll tell you.”

The children's library was packed with youngsters standing in line for a chance to sit in the front seat of a chopped-off golden Cadillac.

Heather Raska, 15, said she lives across the street from the Point Place branch library, but she loves the big downtown building. “It's really, really big. You can get lost in here, there's so much to look at,” she said.

In The Blade Rare Books Room, curator Michael Lora explained to visitors who Horace Walpole was (an 18th century English wit and writer) and why his books are an important part of Toledo's collection (early editions of Walpole diaries are very rare).

Out in the local history section, Diane Wolter, a Whitehouse resident, paged through a history of Hardin County, looking for long-ago relations.

Behind her, a boy surfed the Internet on a computer terminal, finally settling on a listing of rap lyrics from the late Tupac Shakur.

Downstairs in the Popular Library, 14-year-old Rachel Radwanski marveled at a floor-to-ceiling shelf packed with Harry Potter books. She's read them all four times, she said.

Out in the Wintergarden, Muhammad Qawi admired the wide-open space.

“It's really nice and spacious,” he said quietly.

The downtown library closed Aug. 6 to prepare for the open house weekend; it reopens today.



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