All Articles » Libraries Ride the Holiday Train

Libraries Ride the Holiday Train

Model train at Ocean City branch of Worchester County Public Library

Each year, libraries across the country get into the holiday spirit with festive displays, educational and entertaining programs, and vital outreach and food drives for their communities. One thing that we particularly love seeing from libraries this time of year is simple but provides joy for patrons of all ages: trains.

That’s right. Trains.

Model train displays are annual traditions for many libraries during the holiday season. They provide wonderful escapism, allowing visitors to vicariously experience new imaginary worlds created for the trains to roll through. They can serve a historical purpose, as well, with some train landscapes being modeled after the library’s hometown.

We love them all, from the trains that roll along 448 square feet of tracks at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to the model trains that run through replicas of legacy Southwest Louisiana businesses at Calcasieu Parish (La.) Public Library's Sulphur Regional Branch, thanks to the Southwest Louisiana O Gauge Model Railroad Club. Here are a few highlights from this year.

Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library

For the past 10 years, Columbus Metropolitan Library has featured the Huntington Holiday Train at its Main Library location. The 600-square-foot display includes multiple miniature trains that run on more than 280 feet of track in the library’s atrium. The trains wind through dozens of miniature buildings made from natural materials like leaves, bark, pine cones, and moss, a 6-foot-tall cathedral, an 8-foot-tall castle, and a waterfall that pumps 600 gallons of water per hour. The display also uses 50 pounds of artificial snowflakes! It can be viewed through January 7.

Worchester County (Md.) Library

The Ocean City branch of Worcester County Library is hosting its Winter Train Garden again this year. Provided from the personal collection of local resident and train enthusiast Dennis Moore, the display features interactive buttons that allow visitors to play different sounds and activate accessories. It will be on view through January 5.

Deschutes County (Oreg.) Public Library

For almost 25 years Michael Lavrich has delighted thousands with his trains, which he sets up almost every December at the Downtown Bend Library of Deschutes County Public Library. The sprawling, looping network of train tracks and stations takes days to construct and requires two dozen tables pushed together to stage the display.

Lavrich told Oregon Public Broadcasting that some of his trains are worth thousands of dollars, but that doesn’t mean he wants to hide them away.

“Most collectors would have them behind glass on a shelf … and I just decided to share mine. To me, at this point, the joy is in sharing,” he said.

This beloved Bend tradition returns to the library after a four-year hiatus and can be viewed through December 23.

Subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter! You'll get monthly updates on library news, advocacy updates, book interviews, book info, and more!


Photo: A model train rides along a track inside the Winter Train Garden display at Worcester County (Md.) Library's Ocean City branch.

Scroll to Top