Tuesday, August 14, 2012

88. Hennepin County, East Lake branch, Minneapolis

With large windows facing north to Lake St., and to the east and south, this spacious, open branch is full of natural light. Numbers, both numerals and words, lead in at the door from the parking lot. A scattering of shapes with words in them brightens the floor in the children's area, for example, the word "moon" written in an orange diamond. This could lead to all sorts of learning games. I like the attractive framed signs on the end of each shelf, describing the contents of that shelf. The children's seemed to be roughly a long triangle, with windows on two sides. Padded benches and bookshelves run under these windows; in one place, the view is of plants and a large stone sculpture. Perhaps the best, most unusual, item in the kids' area is a round table with phrases from a Shel Silverstein poem laminated like the spokes of a wheel. It's an "endless poem," so you could go around and around the table reading it. Very cool.

Picture books are shelved on low shelves with markers indicating the first one or two letters of authors' names--like the often-seen picture book bins, but with shelves. A sign advises that "Books are roughly organized so don't worry about putting one back in the wrong place." I discussed this with someone on staff and we talked of the pros (easier for patrons, easier shelving) and cons (harder to find requested books).

Two quiet study areas are available, one to each side of the door to Lake Street. In one, a counselor from Goodwill Industries was standing by to talk to job seekers. He's there one day a week, and sometimes, I was told, he has many patrons; he didn't happen to when I was there. The library opened in 2007, and is always very busy, as it was today.

This is the first place where, when I said "I'm visiting MELSA libraries..." the response was "Oh, are you Ellen?" That was pretty cool.

8/14/12  light rail, walking, then home by bus



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