This branch closed for renovations shortly after my visit last summer. To a couple of friends who think my visit may have been a cause of the remodeling, ha ha no, it was part of a long-range plan. Today was a good day to get back and see what has changed.
When I visited last, many picture books were packed, some shelves were empty, there was a definite closing-soon vibe. Today was very different in some ways that I noticed quickly, and in one way that I would have missed if I had not had a conversation with staff.
First, the obvious: the place is totally "put together" now. Picture books (and other books) abound, though the children's "new books" shelf was oddly empty. I like the practice of putting series books, like Hank the Cow Dog, in plastic boxes which are then shelved alphabetically by author. Does this perhaps get children "into" the non-series books, where they might spot something interesting? I like the bright plastic laundry baskets for board books. The child-sized couch and upholstered chairs look inviting. The children's area has eight computers with Little Links reserved for kids 12 and under.
In the adult area I noticed comfortable seating by the windows that look out on Penn Ave. There is some interesting art on the walls, world language books in Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese, and a basket of books for "Adult New Readers" on the shelf in the 400 section of the non-fiction shelves, something I haven't seen before. There were about 16 computers for adult use.
A teen area has comfortable seating, three computers, and a counter with stools and outlets for laptops.
A certain Safety Committee (not in Hennepin County) recently suggested putting bright tape on black kick-stools to make them more visible. Here, I spotted a kick-stool completely painted bright yellow. Way to go, Penn Lake!
Before leaving, I talked to a staff person about the changes, mentioning that the space feels larger although it's clear the footprint has not changed. She reminded me that before the rennovation, the reference desk had been in the center of the building, separate from the circulation services desk. Now, both have been combined into one service desk on the left as you enter. It certainly makes the library feel more spacious. One unintended consequence, however, is that when the librarian was in the center overseeing the entire space, circulation staff could be in the workroom behind the desk. Now, it's sometimes necessary for circ staff to stay at the desk and help with oversight. But my impression was that the changes are considered a net plus.
11/20/12, bus and walking