Friday, May 31, 2013

154. Rhinelander, Wisconsin

This library is the third I've visited that is studied in "Main Street Public Libraries" from U of Iowa Press.

The first thing I noticed was the rack of music CDs in identical but color-coded cases, very tidy-looking. Beyond the CDs, fiction shelves zigzag along the wall, with non-fiction shelves filling the center of the space. There are very clear alpha signs along the fiction shelves, and tables and chairs are placed throughout. The non-fiction shelves are very high--the top shelf is well over my head--and I saw at least one short stepladder as well as regular library kickstools. Oversized books are shelved flat on the bottom shelf. It's funny: I recently saw this shelving practice for what I thought was the first time and here it is again. Now I wonder whether I just didn't notice until recently, and will henceforth see it everywhere! In any case, I like the idea. Oversized or "q" books simply don't like to stand up, and this keeps books with their thematic fellows.

From the town name, it's clear that this community was settled by Germans, and that is reflected in a large local history and genealogy section, which includes about 75 volumes titled "Germans to America". There is also some very attractive Geman folk art high on the walls above the bookshelves.

The children's area is down a flight of stairs that is quite easy to spot--once you know where to look! I needed help from staff in order to find it. It was worth the search, starting with the unusual Welcome to the Children's Department sign made of appliqued pieces of neckties! Although the space is underground, it is well-lighted and doesn't feel at all gloomy. Although it is much larger, it reminds me of Columbia Heights in Minnesota.

Fiction lines the walls, with non-fiction shelves filling in, as in the adult area upstairs. I liked the ring-bound sets of cards called "Brain Insights," full of ideas for parents to develop early literacy. The Dewey Decimal labels on each shelf instead of simply on the ends are helpful for kids, I think. The collection includes shelves labeled "Rhinelander District Library Early Childhood Collection," with books for parents, teachers, and caretakers.

The children's area has a lot of VHS titles, CDs, and audio books. VHS cases are labeled "Use AV drop," CDs say "Return inside." I'll hazard a guess that this reflects a policy change over time, not a deliberate plan to treat the two media differently. DVDs also say "Return inside," and a plaintive "Please, only ADULTS should handle disks." I mentioned that one to the librarian who seemed to agree that it represents wishful thinking!

There is a bright-yellow cardboard tractor, nearly life-size, in the preschool area, along with an alphabet rug and a cluster of kid-sized upholstered chairs and a couch. A couple of aquariums are close enough to the librarian's desk for easy supervision.

Finally, I noticed that the picture books that in many places are marked "E" for "easy" or "everyone," here are marked "J"--E is used for Easy Readers. I think I like this practice. One of my concerns is that kids after about grade 2 are unwilling to check out or read books perceived to be "picture books," thinking they are for littler kids. Take a look at "Queen of the Falls" or "Mrs. Marlowe's Mice" for examples of "picture books" that are not for little kids.

To learn more, go to

5/28/2013, car

Rhinelander Library is guarded by one of the "fierce"local Hodags.

Yes, the welcome sign is made of neckties!

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