Fairy doors have begun appearing on the grounds of the East Lansing Public Library. For anyone not familiar with the legend of fairy doors, the doors are said to be gateways, or magic portals, to the world of fairies. They can appear and disappear at random. There may be a small space in front of or behind the door where notes, wishes, and gifts can be left for the fairies.
The fairy doors at the Library were part of an effort to update the landscaping as the interior was undergoing renovations. According to Catherine DeShambo, Environment Services Administrator with the Department of Public Works, she was looking for “simple and inexpensive ways to convey excitement, discovery, imagination—those vital experiences that libraries and reading provide us with.”
A happenstance walk through the Glencairn neighborhood led her to notice “a tiny fairy garden that a resident had installed in their landscaping near the sidewalk—it was delightful, simple and I could imagine a similar concept working at the Library. She credits the Public Works staff with doing a nice job on the landscaping and is glad that residents are recognizing their efforts.
Above: the fairy garden that started it all
Public reaction to the doors has been “very positive,” says DeShambo. She says she was expecting a positive reaction from children, but the response from adults has been equally positive. She believes this is because “we all respond to a little bit of whimsy in unexpected places.”
Glencairn residents, Nancy Boyse, Lisa Berg, Jennie Allswede, and Elinore Morin who walk through the neighborhood almost every morning confirm this belief. They describe the gardens they happen upon as “whimsical” and “magical” and say the gardens make them feel happy. Berg explains, “Happening upon a fairy garden makes me joyful because it reminds me of when my kids were young - their sense of awe and wonderment at finding something unexpected.”
Asked if the City has plans to expand the fairy gardens, De Shambo said “We will be adding new touches here and there throughout the year-I love the idea of children revisiting the doors and discovering something new that has been added or finding new doors in another location at the Library. I can't help but think back to when my children were young and we spent many, many hours at the library-we would have had fun with something like this and I hope that is the case with families visiting the library today. Our library is really a community treasure.”
She also said that she could definitely see this being done at other locations around the City. Her parting words were “stay tuned.”