Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BIG Books

I stopped by the Friends of Hennepin County Library bookstore today, in the atrium of the Minneapolis Central Library. I bring them my periodicals as I read them: New Yorker, Smithsonian, etc., and I look around to see if there is anything I "need." Today, what a find, for a crazed person with a blog called "Every Library I Can"--a two volume set, the 64th edition of the American Library Directory! 520 cubic inches, many pounds, of library listing in the US and Canada!

Do I need this set? No, of course not! But did I buy it? Of course! A great bargain at $8.00; what else can you get for only 1 1/2 cents per cubic inch? It's a nice blue color, with the title in gold. Now I can really go after the 16,000 plus USA libraries, and the Canadian ones as well. With a bucket this big, I only need one list for the rest of my life!

And are the books interesting? Well, to a certain library nerd, you bet! I was up well past my bedtime, browsing for this library and that, marveling that one sister's town library has more books than I would have guessed, the other's town has no library! Endless time could be spent...

Friday, October 19, 2012

121. Great River, Annandale

A reading corner with upholstered chairs and a large oil painting creates a warm greeting. A neat feature of the adult area is spinners of paperbacks at the end of each shelf of books. Nicely crafted wooden bases for the spinners make them look classy. There are also classic-looking wooden tables here and there, and original art (for sale) on the walls.

Something I haven't seen anywhere else is a set of "Wanted" posters showing cartoonish characters "caught reading." Perhaps someone reading this will add a comment telling the rest of us whether these are available, and where. Please?

The children's area features a large rounded window with a stained-glass insert. This creates a very warm, light, inviting area. (See the first picture, and the far-left of the second picture.) I got so involved talking to a staff person that I rather fell down on the note-taking in this area!

A large plaque lists library supporters at various levels, making it clear that community support for this library is considerable. Above this display is a quotation from Andrew Carnegie: "A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people." A good reminder every time one walks in.

This library shares a building with town offices, seen at the right in the second picture.


120. Great River, Paynesville

When I entered, I first saw the YA "den," with beaded strings hanging in front of a window, a couch, and a boom box with headphones, as well as books. It looked very teen-friendly.

There are US and world maps on the wall, which I always like to see. I also noted that biographies have their own section. Classification is DDS and 920 is "collective biography," but the true biographies are at the end of the 900s, labeled "B". I think there are many biography fans who appreciate this practice.

The reference section includes several old volumes of Stearns County history, and there are about five public computers.

When I got to the children's side of the space, I was surprised to see a large "log cabin" as the central element--see the picture. I talked to the staff person about it and learned that she and her husband built it for another purpose, then brought it to the library "temporarily." Of course, children love it so much, it has to stay! She said that they find books and head straight to it to settle in and read.

I also learned that this relatively small branch has a large circulation. On any given day, they receive 150-300 items to fill patron requests. The whole collection "floats"--that is, items "live" where they are returned, unless collections get severely out of balance. I don't recall whether this was the entire Great River system, or a sub-system; perhaps someone reading this will add a clarifying comment. The advantage of this practice is that patrons coming here do not always find the same titles by Patterson or Grisham, for example.

There is art on the walls that changes monthly, and a magazine exchange in the lobby, a nice practice for smaller libraries.

Off the subject of libraries somewhat, but a reflection of Paynesville: I walked around the main street a bit before getting back in the car, and in the window of the local newspaper a saw a poster titled "Kid Kindness." It was about a project (perhaps on-going?) in which kids prepare "birthday bags" (cake and frosting mix and candles, for food shelf patrons) and "snack bags" (five nutritious snacks, one week's worth, for lower-grade kids who otherwise would not have a snack at school. Hooray for the kids of Paynesville who do this!

10/19/2012, car

119. Great River, Sauk Centre

I've recently read Main Street Public Libraries from the U of Iowa Press. This is one of the four libraries featured in that book. The original part of the building is a Carnegie library, and an addition has been put on in a wrap-around way that allows part of the original brick wall to form an inside wall; if that doesn't make sense--well, you'll just have to drive up and take a look.

The library is up a short set of stairs, and a history center is down; there is an elevator.

The first feature I noticed was a "living room" with chairs, couches, tables, and a couple of large plants, a wonderful place to sit and read. The adults also have some study tables and chairs that look classic. One sign I like: "Enjoy your time with the newspapers. Please return them to the shelf in proper order for the next person to enjoy." Another, less fortunate, sign reminds patrons that a misdemeanor can get you jail time or a fine, and that damage to property will be reported to the police. I regret the facts that I'm sure lead to signs like this, but I support the idea of being public with the problem. I've seen similar signs elsewhere in my library visits.

The J non-fiction shelves have markers sticking out, indicating the locating of popular topics like Space and Dinosaurs, making those books easy to find. (Adult non-fiction have similar signs.) I spotted some 4-H binders (Beef, Swine), something I haven't seen at any other library. There are many book/cassette and book/CD sets available. The younger kids have Lego Duplo, small beanbag chairs, and puzzles.

The YA alcove has a couple of upholstered chairs and a decent collection of books. There are a number of public computers. And of course, this being a Carnegie library, there is a fireplace, this one faced with green glazed bricks. When I talked to staff, I was very pleasantly surprised that one person knew of this blog and had already seen parts of it!

10/19/2012, car

118. Great River, Buffalo

I arrived a few minutes before opening, so I took a walk on a paved path beside the lake. There's something very nice about a library next to a body of water, IMO. And we have plenty of them in Minnesota. Walking by the lake gave me a good look up at the library, at a large window wall with some stained glass. Unfortunately, it doesn't show up in the picture. You'll just have to go see it for yourself.

As I walked in the front door, the first things I noticed were a set of Eric Carle-style pictures of elephants, and an invitation to "talented kids" to "plan and present puppet shows." Going inside, I saw the puppet theater right away. It's rather modern-looking, in a very nice way; a couple of youngsters were already busy with puppets, though the library had only been open for about 5 minutes. The puppet theater is in a room with all the pictures books, which are in wheeled bins that can be moved aside for programs--like puppet shows.

Children's materials are shelved in the "main room," away from the picture books and puppets. I'll hazard a guess that this helps the bigger kids feel grown-up; sort of like the sense I got at Big Lake.

The library has DVDs and CDs, of course, but also has VHS and books on cassette. I really appreciated the books on cassette, because I needed to read (listen to) Tuck Everlasting for a children's lit course, and there it was. I finished both cassettes in the car.

There is a quiet reading room with periodicals and upholstered chairs; it's partially glassed-in, so it's truly quiet, but not isolated. There are a couple of mid-sized meeting rooms, and a row of soft chairs along the window wall that faces the lake.

Because a door was open, I was able to see a spacious workroom for staff. Enviable. Hint, hint to those planning changes where I work! I also spotted a puzzle exchange, something I haven't seen at any other library.

A book sale was going on, and I bought a nice selection of kids' paperbacks for 25 cents each, which I will use for Halloween. [Grinch that I am, I give school supplies and books instead of candy.]

10/19/2012, car

Anoka Website

Just have to give a shout-out to the Anokat, the apparent "mascot" of the Anoka County catalog. OK, I'm a certified ailurophile, but even if I weren't, I'd grin every time I see that piercing look, those whiskers.

I think every library should have a resident cat. There's one in this blog that has a reasonable facsimile (search for "cat" to find it), and of course St. Bonifacius has its lion. But cheers to the Anokat and whoever created it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

71a. St. Paul, Highland Park Branch Revisited

I needed something to do today, so I headed back to Highland Park in St. Paul to try and solve a mystery.

First, though, a sign I overlooked on my earlier visit. As a library page, I often check in media of various types, and I dread the case with the missing disk--or the wrong disk--or the patron's personal disk. Highland Park at least tries to address this with a sign near the AV return: "Please check that all items are in their correct cases." I should have inquired about whether the sign helped, since I know that even dedicated library users don't always seem to read environmental text. But I was more interested in the mystery.

The mystery is this: Since this blog was started on August 7, 2012, there have been approximately 4910 page views (to October 15). Big deal, huh? But almost 10% of those views have been of the original Highland Park post. Out of about 120 libraries I've written about in here, one library gets 10% of the action, about 450 post views! The next runners-up have a tenth of that. Why? Well, I still don't know. I talked to a couple of staff at the library, and nobody knows. I've poked around in the information provided by blogspot, and I can't find any helpful hints.

Do YOU know an answer to this mystery? Please share any knowledge or theories.

10/15/2012, bus

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Question for Readers of this Blog

Hello to anyone reading the blog. I have a question for you. Soon after I started the blog, on August 7, with about 80 entries cut-and-pasted from my Facebook entries, a couple of people said I needed to add labels to make the entries searchable. And after a while, I did so.

Since then, however, I've realized that it was already searchable. You can enter "waite" and get to Waite Park, because Waite Park is part of the post label. So I'm thinking of removing all these labels.

The question: Are there labels that would be useful--some way that you've tried to search the blog that hasn't worked for you? Please leave a comment to let me know.

NOTE: At this point I don't want to use labels that refer to things like "good signage," because I have not been consistent about what I mention in each entry. Labels like that would omit some worthy libraries. But if readers think this would be helpful, I could give it a try.