Exploring Plainville: Plainville Public Library

Located a short distance from the center of town on South St. (Route 1A), the Plainville Public Library is a center for information gathering and learning for all ages. Library users are no doubt familiar with the inside of the building, but there is much for keen observers to notice on the grounds of the library property.

Birds and other Animals

Though not what I'd consider a hot spot for bird activity, there are certainly birds to be seen and heard at the library. American Crows can cause heads to rise as they loudly mob a Red-tailed Hawk. During the summer, American Robins hunt for worms on the extensive lawn that surrounds the library. Check the shrubs behind the building (north-side) for Gray Catbirds and Northern Cardinals. In winter, listen for flocks of Cedar Waxwings or observe soft-voiced Dark-eyed Juncos as they flit about and play in the snow.

During the daytime, Gray Squirrels can be found moving through the trees and scurrying across the open spaces. Planted gardens near the library's entrance can attract butterflies and other insects. Take a seat on a bench and see which creatures you can spy.

Trees, Shrubs, and Plants

There are many trees to see at the Plainville Public Library. Along the road, there are young planted Kentucky Yellow-woods (Cladrastis kentukea) and Sweet-gums (Liquidambar styraciflua), and you can find an older White Ash (Fraxinus americana) on the left as you turn into the parking lot.

Lining the south side of the parking lot are large spreading Oak trees (Quercus sp.), which I've yet to identify to a particular species. They appear similar to both Scarlet and Pin Oaks, and may very well be some kind of planted cultivar. In any case, they are large Oak trees.  Update: Upon further investigation, the oak trees are Pin Oaks (Quercus palustris).

To the left of the entrance walkway, there is a Honey-locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) that most years drops a significant crop of black, flattened pods. On the north side of the building, you can find another tree with long pods – Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa). The pods of this tree are not flattened and spiraled like Honey-locust, but rather look like long green beans which turn dark brown when mature.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadenis) – a coniferous tree with short needle-leaves – can be found on the north side of the building, along with a few White Mulberry (Morus alba) and Kousa Big-bracted-dogwood (Benthamia japonica, unripe fruit pictured above) trees. If you time it right, you might even be able to sample the edible fruit of the last two species.

Public libraries connect users with books, films, and all sorts of other resources, and they provide public spaces where people can collaborate or simply find a quiet corner to relax. Next time, before you head inside the library (whether in Plainville or in the town you live) to look up a mystery in your favorite field guide, spend a few minutes checking out the open spaces outside. You might be surprised by what you'll find.

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