Sunday, March 31, 2013

Louis Kahn library at Philips Exeter academy

OK, this HAS TO be on my itinerary in June. New Hampshire relatives take note: you have to get me here!

Credit (and thanks) to my nephew Byron for the photo.

And in fact it WAS on my itenerary in June. For comments and more pictures, put Philips Exeter in the search box.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

151. Wabasha, MN (SELCO)

I usually go to Wabasha for the National Eagle Center, but today was all about the library. It's not a large library, but very attractive and uses space well. The adult area is divided into informal areas for browsing and study, with a window wall that brightens the space. Large historic photos and a number of very detailed riverboat models above the shelves attest to the historic interests in this river town.

Two shelving practices that appeal to me are separating biographies in their own area and shelving non-fiction DVDs with the non-fiction books. I don't see either of these practices (especially the DVDs) very often in my travels, but I know that librarians are very sensitive to the needs of their patrons and the use of space, so I'm sure the practice at each library is "right" for that location.

I saw at least five public computers, and a tucked-away corner with a computer, microfilm reader, and other specialized materials for genealogical research.

The outstanding feature of the children's area is a collection of framed Book Week posters, currently from 1962 to 2012. They fill the space above the shelves on the three available sides, so... where will the 2013 poster go? I asked, and there currently is no answer. I have no doubt a creative solution will be found, and I may have to stop in again to see what is done. The book collection is not large, but looked well-balanced and quite up-to-date. My traveling friend and I spent a good bit of time looking at all the pictures in a book about Denmark that was on display. [Note: the picture of a house with a thatched roof is not a "typical Danish house."]

My other favorite in the children's area is a "sand table" with a clear top and bottom, sand between the layers, and magnets that can be used to move plastic "boats" around in the "water" (sand). There were no kids present when I was there, but I bet kids are drawn to this like (ahem) magnets.

3/26/2013  car

150. La Crosse, WI (Winding Rivers Library System)

[My apologies to the 11 visitors who reached this post before it was completed; welcome back. This is the first time I wasn't able to create a post on the same day I visited the library.]

This was my first visit to a Winding Rivers library. If this is a representative sample, WRLS must be a marvelous group of libraries, and I look forward to seeing others.

My attention was caught immediately by the handsome quilts hanging from the mezzanine, especially the one with the book motif. Quilts and libraries seem to go together--search the blog for "quilt" and you will find several other examples. Next I spotted a display about a new heirloom seed exchange; the information was good, the beautiful photos of produce even better. Perhaps it was the quilts that drew me upstairs to the adult non-fiction area. The mezzanine level overlooking the first floor had six large study carrels, about 5-6 feet wide. Very nice; a person could really spread out and work here.

Readers of the blog know I'm always on the lookout for interesting signs. I liked this one, which I believe was on the librarian's door: "Need help? If my door is open, I'm available to help you. If my door is shut, please ask for help at the reference desk." I turned away from the (closed) door and quickly found the sign above the reference desk. This seemed very respectful of the librarian's need to get work done and the patron's need to get help.

A narrow, one-sided cart at the end of one non-fiction shelf invited patrons to "Place books here for reshelving" and a stack of baskets were available for browsers carrying many books.

I spotted 32 public computers and a Wisconsin area with readers for microfilm and microfiche, as well as files of both formats and other Wisconsin materials. Across the building I saw an archives room for local history. The reference section pleased me; it's a long time since I've seen the likes of Facts on File (from 1941), volume after volume of Comtemporary Literary Criticism, the New York Times Index (1961 to 1993) and the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature up to 2009. These works are "old friends" of mine; I'm sure that at some point space pressures will oust them in favor of all-computer research, but I'm glad someone is maintaining continuity for now.

Back on the main floor, I'm sorry to say that I bypassed the adult fiction area, drawn as I was to the covered bridge leading to the children's area, with its natural murals along the sides (see picture). The dominating feature inside the chidren's area is a river boat (the "reading boat") It's very impressive and realistic, with large doors that open to the inside of the "boat," which looks just like the inside of a boat and is the site of reading programs for kids. Opposite the boat is a wall of windows and other colorful features, like a four-sided set of carrels for kids' computers, with partitions that look like fish. (My memory says sailboats, my notes say fish; I hope one of those is correct!)

I like the practice of putting some books in their own labeled bins: Star Wars, Eyewitness, and Magic School Bus, in this case.

The Friends of the La Crosse Public Library have a separate room for their bookstore. It closed a few minutes before I arrived, but I was able to buy one of their tote bags at the circulation desk. Thanks, Friends--it matches my luggage!

If you want to see the river boat in the children's area, take a look at You'll have to scroll down a bit to see it.

3/26/2013  car

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whistler Library, British Columbia, Canada

OK, branching out a bit here. I have not personally visited this library, but my sister and brother-in-law gave it a good looking-over while on a ski vacation, and her write-up is so good, I'm going to post it.


We visited the Whistler library today and what a wonderful place. Maybe I can emigrate and work here as a page after I really retire.

First off, it sits in prime real estate here in the middle of a busy multi season resort which says something about the commitment to library services. There are multiple hotels, shops and restaurants surrounding it. Built in 2008' it is the busiest library per capita in British Columbia!. It's easy to use for permanent and seasonal residents. If you are vacationing, ten dollars entitles you to borrow and return at any library. You can also get a BC 1 card and use any library in BC with it if you are a resident.

They have a large, many windowed children's room which was quite busy at 1130 this morning. Computers for kids use, easy to reach shelves, bright murals and a relaxed atmosphere made it very kid friendly.

There is a large AV section, a 12 computer room for adults, including a posted schedule of computer classes. They will even help you learn to use your iPad! Open stacks, study corners, meeting rooms, windows everywhere, it is a beautiful, functional place.

Bathrooms are open, not locked, spotless and large.

We were greeted by a woman asking if she could help with anything. Turns out she is a trustee who was paying her overdue fines! She hooked us up with a librarian at the circulation desk who answered many questions. During our look around, the library director (I think) Elizabeth found us and offered her assistance and also answered questions. We have decided that I should start a project of checking out libraries in resort areas. She said the one at Telluride CO is pretty fantastic.

By the way, at the entrance to the library there were 2 racks, a bike and a ski one!

Here is the basic picture which shows the bike and ski racks. The stones on the right have I believe, First Nation carvings.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

149. ECRL, Cambridge, MN

This is the headquarters of the East Central Regional Libraries. A sign on the bookdrop says "Please bring items in if the library is open. If bookdrop is full or the door is stuck, please take items home. Thanks for your cooperation." I meant to ask whether people were given a break on overdues if they had to take their items home, but of course I forgot.

Inflated planets hang from the ceiling in the children's area, and the top of the walls is lined with corkboard for displays. Children's CDs are displayed in plastic shoeboxes on their sides, on top of a low bookshelf. Just the right size! Picture books are in bins surrounding several sets of tables and chairs in bright colors. A sign says that children 5 ot 8 years old may be left unattended for nor more than 30 minutes, and the library cannot be responsible for children left unattended.

Restrooms are locked and the key must be obtained from the service desk. This is not the first place I've seen this, but it is uncommon.

I was intrigued to see that 6 shelves of adult non-fiction had shelves spaced to allow for tall books, just 5 shelves high, while the regular non-fiction shelves were 7 shelves high. It made the shelves look neater than usual, and except for having to be sure you were in the right place, I think it would simplify shelving. And I'm saying that as a person who does a lot of shelving!

A glass-fronted case holds old Minnesota books. A sunny browsing area for adults includes large soft chairs. I saw about a dozen computers for adults, but only a catalog computer in the kids' area.

My "something I haven't seen anywhere else" for this stop was posters with photos of library staff, including aides, naming their "favorite reads" and holding the books named. I spotted three of these posters, two on the end of shelves and one on a column; there may have been more.

3/2/13   car

148. ECRL, Mora, MN

Two wall displays caught my eye right away: "Books are eggciting" with an Easter egg theme, and "There's snow better time to read" with a winter theme. Kids have also contributed art; one wall above the bookshelves has works by junior high students, another by second graders. The staff told me that several teachers bring in their students' work from time to time.

Each library has something I've never seen before. In this case, it is a set of floor-level back-to-back shelves for picture books, topped with a fabric-covered piece of foam. I was told that kids love to sprawl on this soft surface with a book.

I was talking to staff about each library having something that sets it apart, and I mentioned the cake pans available in the Osage, Iowa, library. They told me that at least once, they have had a Mora patron request a cake pan through Interlibrary Loan! It wasn't clear whether this came from Osage, however. Then I mentioned the knitting needles and rubber stamps loaned by the Canaan, NH, library, and I saw a certain glint in their eyes. Maybe in the future...?

The "back" wall is a row of windows overlooking a (frozen) body of water. There is a small deck with stairs that go down to a bench. I hope there are chairs on the deck in warmer seasons. To the left is a playground in "Library Park."

I was most struck here by the neatness of the bookshelves, both kids and adults. I don't think a single book missed alignment with the front of its shelf by more than 1/8". When I asked staff how this was managed, the reply was "Lots of busy elves."

What caught my eye as I headed out of town past the civic center / fairgrounds made me certain that Mora has Swedish roots.

3/2/13    car

147. East Central Region--Milaca, MN

An outside sculpture (see below) was created by a local artist, working with local school children. This library is very well provided with art. The lobby wall has a sculpture of a many-branched tree with stones beneath, an especially attractive way to honor donors. The children's area has three large wooden sculptures on the bookshelves, a river boat, a tall house of some sort, and what appeared to be a combined houseboat/sailboat. I should have asked! There is a rounded alcove near the picture book area, with an upholstered window seat and tall windows.

A very interesting display tell about the original library and city hall being housed in a 1936 WPA building. The current building dates to 2007, and continuity has been maintained in many ways, including: a color palette in the new building that reflects the old; a beautiful stone fireplace; and brilliant murals on the walls in the high central portion of the ceiling. The four panels represent early settlers and Indians; early days of the town; farming; and a school bus.

Near the adult browsing area is a coffee maker, apparently one of the "K-cup" things I've heard of. Is this what they mean by a "coffee cart" for the remodeled Shoreview library? I don't know, but I DO know that SV won't want to deal with "Purchase your cup and water at the circulation desk!" It does appear that one can choose coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, which is nice.

Curved wooden ends soften the utility of metal shelves. In fact, this library is full of curves! The teen area has a curved alcove with a attractive fantasy art on three panels, and a display of portraits that I would guess were done by a talented local teen.

Outside, a sign indicated that there is a shortgrass prairie under the snow. This is not the best season to visit libraries that have special landscaping!

3/2/13   car

146. ECRL--Princeton, MN

Let's start in the lobby, where I saw a large community room with a meeting in session. I noticed a poster about the Legacy of Elmer Andersen, the 30th Governor of MN. It appears that 10 circular plaques about his life and accomplishments have been designed by an artist named Amy Sabrina. I thought I might see the actual plaques in the library, but I did not. Perhaps I missed them?

The kids' area has a cozy nook maybe 10' x 12', with two carpeted steps on two sides, murals on the walls, and an attractive fabric hanging. It was great to see a plaque that reads "We love our children. -- Princeton Friends of the Library." There's a long window wall that looks out on what I assume is a river; it's rather hard to be sure, since it's frozen over and snow-covered. There is also a puppet theater and a good collection of picture books and J fiction and non-fiction.

I saw 10 public computers. There are counters and chairs by some windows, but no obvious outlets for laptop computers. There's a teen area in a sunny window corner. An old-looking oak file cabinet is being used for a pamphlet file; I really like to see perfectly good older furniture still in use.

On the side of the building near the service desk is a browsing area with large windows, comfortable-looking chairs, and a magazine exchange.

I took a walk around the town and spotted a building that surely didn't start life as a dentist office; see below.

3/2/13   car