Thursday, December 27, 2012

138. Concord New Hampshire Public Library

I'm here in New Hampshire for Christmas; a snowstorm this morning kept me inside, so when my brother in law offered to drive me to town in mid-afternoon, I was ready to go. This library has changed a lot since it was "my" library around 1970. It was not busy today, which is not surprising, probably because of the heavy snowfall.

The first floor is for adults. There are many distinct spaces, for non-fiction, fiction, periodicals, computers, etc. A large group of drawers for vertical files are something I've rarely seen in my travels so far. Signage in the non-fiction area seems especially clear. I liked the sign I saw on the end of one shelf: "Why should I have to tell you--you should just know! Marriage 306.8 Your library card--the best value in town." I hoped to see some others like this, but didn't spot any.

There seemed to be many new books, including large print books, displayed in the middle of the building.

A table near the computers has signs "Wait here for computers." and "Computers are first come first served." I saw no indication of time limits for the computers; I wonder how that works out?

A few random things I liked on the main floor: A sign thanking individuals, some anonymous, for contributing the cost of specific periodicals. A table for filling out library card registration forms; this must save some time at the circulation desk. A sign indicating that staff would get items from storage if given the needed info. Nice, but it means the collection is not readily available to patrons. There's a very nice tile mural over the exit door. And the lower level has vending machines and tables where patrons can eat.

The children's area is upstairs. There are painted murals on many walls. This verse is above a beautiful fireplace surrounded by blue tiles:
     Books are keys to wisdom's treasure.
     Books are gates to lands of pleasure.
     Books are paths that upward lead.
     Books are friends. Come let us read.

The children's space is very open and light, with a variety of murals and displays. There are eight computers, and several were being used.

12/27/12  car

The picture is from the web because my camera misfunctioned. I apologize to whoever I swiped it from, it obviously doesn't show 8" of snow, and I promise to replace it with my own picture next summer.

Where I got my start

Here is a picture of the Nashua (NH) Public Library, taken in the 1950s--the era when I was working there as a high school "library page," 1954 to 1958. I was followed in that role by my sister Jean, and later by my mother, who worked for years as a reference librarian.

In the picture, the stacks, three levels, are on the left, reading room on the right, children's area below the reading room. And no, kids were not welcome upstairs in the adult area.

If you look at this picture and think "That doesn't look like a very practical, functional library building," you'd be right, though it worked OK for its time. It was replaced in the 60s by a concrete bunker that is still in use today. At least the old one had character.

Plans for 2013

(Updated halfway through the year, early July.)

* Finish visiting branches in Great River and Selco (maybe not all of them)
* Finish visiting branches in MORE (ditto)
* Return to MELSA branches where my notes were puny or non-existent (working on this)
* Visit libraries in WI, MI, NY, and NH during my annual summer trip; perhaps even Ontario! (visited 25 libraries in 11 days, including one in Vermont, two in Ontario)
* Visit the WI library that a librarian in Stillwater, MN, said is "fantastic"; I have the name at home--I know it starts with V. (I believe that's Verona, and there's one nearby that turned up on the "Libaries and Ice Cream" list. They are close to each other, and are slated for a road trip in late July or early August, to coincide with the Lands End sale in Dodgeville.)

And if the train schedule and the weather cooperate, I'll visit the main Chicago library Saturday morning, on my way home to MN from NH. (Cross your fingers; the Amtrak track record is not so good.)

Other "must see" libraries you want to suggest? Comments welcome.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

137. Great River--Clearwater

This is a storefront library, and it's much larger than I guessed from the outside. I learned that the library moved here last June from a smaller space, and part of the open feeling is that the old shelves and other furniture are now spread out.

The welcome starts right inside the door, where the Friends of the Library have a magazine exchange, with a small table and two chairs. A table in the very center of the space appeared to have materials for a kids' art project, but there were no kids; I was there during school hours, which happens all too often.

There is a pleasant browsing area near the windows with chairs, newspapers, biographies, periodicals, and new books. A teen area has a computer just for teens (there are also computers for adults), a world map, a chess board set up ready to go, and a selection of books including graphic novels and manga.

A very large animal-themed quilt hangs by the children's area; in front of it is a row of kid-sized chairs, each with a storybook character doll (Raggedy Ann, for example)sitting on it. There is also a kid-sized rocker, and I saw a bin of Spanish books that appeared to be all or mostly for kids.

After making the rounds, I met the librarian, who spotted me as "the blogger." She had the blog on her Favorites list--what a treat for me! We talked about different branches I've visited, and I was surprised at how many MELSA libraries she's worked at. I learned that one unusual thing about Clearwater is that it's financially supported by six surrounding towns. Over and over I see these examples of how much libraries are valued. Another sign of the value placed on the Clearwater library (or, I should say, the Stickney Crossing Library) is the beautiful eye-catching quilt behind the circulation desk. Fantastic!

I like maps, and Clearwater has five globes, two large "in memory of" floor models, two that live on top of the shelves, and one that has a handle added to the top, in order to serve as a treasure box for the summer reading program. What a great idea!

Before I left, a first: the librarian took MY picture standing outside HER library. An honor!

12/19/2012,  car

136. Great River--Cold Spring

OK, the first thing I spotted was a sign: "Do not use your cell phone in the library." I like that. I can assure you that signs about using phones "appropriately" have no effect whatsoever. I also like "Please do not reshelve books." I'd often like to add "especially if you think that putting them on the end of the shelf, to the right of the bookend, is helpful. It is not." [Nope, my boss won't let me say that.]

This is a multi-purpose building: city hall, police, fire, and library. Great use of space, though I understand that the library is outgrowing its allotment, and a larger space is being sought.

The library space is generally divided along its long axis, kids' to the right, adults to the left, a youth area joining the two at the far end, and three computers in the center. A nice big window looks out toward the entrance sidewalk; you can see it in the picture below. The children's area has a low round table with some cute upholstered wooden chairs.

There's a small staff area and workspace near the entrance, and here I found four of the most pleasant staff I've run into in my travels. As soon as I told one staff person that "my hobby is visiting libraries," she wanted to know if I am the blogger. Guilty as charged! So we all chatted about the blog for a bit. Then I learned that I really should have lunch at Marnanteli's, across the main highway from the Holiday station, and I really MUST visit the Cold Spring Bakery. Well, when a librarian gives you advice, it's wise to listen. I had a cheeseburger with tater tots (can't remember when I last had tater tots), then walked to the bakery and left with assorted cookies and bars--in a brown cardboard box like I haven't seen since my family brought goodies home from Crosby's Bakery in Nashua, NH. Thanks for the tips, ladies!

12/19/2012, car

135. Great River--Richmond, MN

A single square space, one of the smaller I've seen, but with windows, which always make a space seem larger and friendlier, in my opinion.

Speaking of friendly, what would welcome little kids better than the low table full of Duplo blocks and related toys? This table is surrounded by books, of course--bins of picture books, shelves of J's.

Media includes VHS, DVD, CD, and audiocassettes. I spotted 4 public computers; I didn't look too closely, but I'll guess that there is one for the catalog, three for the Internet.

The collection is small, but it's as much as the shelves will hold. And size of collection is not so relevant in Great River, where the whole collection floats. In a sense, each branch has a collection the size of the entire region! While I stood at the staff desk (after embarrasing myself by trying to buy a fleece blanket that, it turns out, is part of an up-coming winter reading program for adults), a man checked out a DVD and placed his "order" for two other items. I learned that the delivery truck for Great River makes the rounds five days a week, so he won't have long to wait.

Look at the great front wall; I should have asked, but I'll guess it is made of granite from one of the companies I passed on the way here.

12/19/2012, car

Saturday, December 8, 2012

41a. St. Paul Central Children's Department-Revisit

Back again, since I was downtown for the grand opening of the renovated Union Depot. And for fun, I figured out how to get from the depot to the library using skyways all the way!

Neat new idea in the children's area today: Clear plastic backpacks loaded with theme-based books! It appeared that there are six books per backpack. Very cool. Kudos to whoever thought that up.

At the far end of the space is a housekeeping setup, a "shop," and a child-sized puppet theater (in addition to the grand historic puppet theater). A very small girl, no more than three years, was trying to be a shopkeeper, calling out that "I need customers! Lots of customers!"

Hello to the staff; I always see familiar, friendly faces when I stop here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

International viewers?

One thing that amazes me about this simple blog is that every day there are viewers/readers around the world! Almost every day there is a "hit" from Russia, and many other countries show up in the stats from time to time. International friends, I'd love to know how you found the site and what libraries are like where you are. Please respond in a Comment!