Another library where kids are supreme, which I totally support. Here, I was greeted with a glass case full of creative LEGO models made by boys and girls. Just beyond was a room labeled Early Literacy Room; it has two glass walls, toys, seating, a nursery rhyme rug. A sign that you see when leaving this space says, "All picked up? Great. Thank you!"
Familiar items in the children's area include computers (I counted about 16), chairs with animal motifs, a fire engine reading space similar to the one in Moundsview (Ramsey County), a puppet theater, and a large collection of all kinds of books, including Garfield comics, graphic novels, and many holiday books. But wherever I go, there is something I haven't seen before. In this case, it was strollers with bookbags attached, allowing a parent to cope with a small child and a large bunch of books while browsing. I know I'll think of these when I see certain parents at the library where I work!
I was literally stopped in my tracks when I left the children's area and headed to the adult area. There are two window walls that give a stunning view of the Red Cedar River. I hadn't even known there was a river out there! One wall is lined with 4-person tables for study or browsing, some with reading lamps. The other has tables with power strips for laptop use.
If you read many of these entries, you know that I'm always on the lookout for interesting signage. Here I found a sign that reminded me of one in Northeast Branch, Hennepin County: "Cutting articles and pictures out of our newspapers and magazines is theft and vandalism." OK, that's straighforward. But the next part of the sign says, "If you need a xerox (sic) copy and cannot pay for it, we will make one free of charge." That's very humane; I like it. The third part of the sign I understand but it makes me squirm a bit: "If you see someone destroying library property, please tell a staff member immediately."
A sign advertises Zineo, "the world's largest newsstand now available it your library." Along with what looked to me like a very large variety of periodicals, this really opens the world to patrons.
There are a lot of "Playaway" systems for adults, teens, and kids; for children, there are even "Playaway View" systems, which I'd never seen before. Maplewood in Ramsey County still has a few Playaways for adults, I think, but I haven't seen one or heard them mentioned in a long time.
Music CDs are shelved in a way that is new to me. Each has a flat plastic sleeve with space on one side for a CD and on the other side the descriptive insert. This allows a lot of CDs to be stored in a relatively small space, and you can see both sides of the CD and the insert without opening or removing anything. It would be immediately apparent to the patron if he/she was about to return an empty case!
I almost missed a large (about 11' diameter) polished stone inlay with the words "Austin Public Library" and "Supported by the Ladies Floral Club since 1869." That must make it one of the earliest libraries in MN. The present facility was built in 1996.
After leaving the library, I took a walk along the river. I've been going on and on here, but here's one more thing: There are signs in Spanish and English by the playground and along the river path based on materials from www.bornlearning.org. I hoped that I could just refer you to the signs at that site, but it's not that easy. I'll just cite one: "Watch. Learn. Stop. Play. Let your child lead the way." Then it gives ideas for playing with your child, starting with "Watch what your child likes to do..." Very, very nice idea, with signs thanks to the Hormel Foundation.