Saturday, September 29, 2012

116. Great River Regional, St. Cloud

This four-year-old library is really impressive, starting with the unusual bike racks, then the glass panels in the lobby (see picture), and continuing through both floors. I went upstairs first, and found Teen Central looking like a great teen hangout, with tables, couches, computers, and many teen books. Continuing from there, a long, curved window wall is lined with study tables and chairs, and an inner row of upholstered chairs. There is a large reference section, including pamphlet files (which don't seem very common these days). A sign asks that patrons seek help from staff in using these files.

A sign on the computer room asks that patrons take "phone calls, loud conversations, and unhappy children" away from the service desk and the computer room. Good idea, and the first place I've seen "unhappy children" included in such a list! A large area of adult books includes meeting rooms of various sizes and updated-classic tables with study lamps. Bookshelf ends are translucent with a design of small letters on them; these seem to add to the lightness of the area. Several signs ask patrons to "Relax, leave the shelving to us, thank you!" but I didn't see specific areas for leaving unwanted books. I should have asked someone about that.

Staff at the information desk were very helpful in tracking down the age of the building, and also tipped me off to an unusual sculpture outside; it uses recycled materials to screen the mechanical systems. See the picture, which doesn't do it justice.

Downstairs, the first floor houses media, hold shelves, and a huge children's area. There was so much to see. I spoke to a staff person (children's librarian?) who asked what I liked best. Where to start? Quilted book bags for use in the library; ten computers for "children 12 and younger," and room for more; a sign "Ask about our free children's programs;" the play area with Legos, a wooden train set, and a pretend boat. I think my favorite was the book display with a sign "Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!" I imagine that it draws kids right to it!

Even the restroom was great, with gleaming white, red, orange, and yellow glazed tiles. The bright colors and high ceiling... Well, every library I've visited has had a clean restroom, but this one has to get top honors.

9/29/2012, car

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