Thursday, May 23, 2013

6a. WCL, Park Grove branch in Cottage Grove, re-visit

This was one of my early stops last summer, and I wrote nothing about it. Today, I'm determined to make up for that. My determination is spurred by a friendly librarian who chatted with me at some length and made sure I didn't miss certain details.

First, props to the library for staying open while a new concrete sidewalk was poured at the front door; the side door entrance through the meeting room worked just fine, and once in the lobby, there was no difference. Well, except for the yellow hazard ribbon criss-crossing the inside of the front door!

Shelves in the lobby hold a good selection of books for sale by the Friends of the Library. Beside this is a window that looks into the children's area, creating a very nice "teaser" for little ones coming in. There was a display labeled "Be a library artist! Challenge: Draw a person, place, or thing from a book you have read." Many were displayed. I like these activities that I have learned to call "passive programming."

There was a lot of art on the walls from students at a local school, paintings by first and second graders and some very nice copper work by fourth graders. One very creative piece appeared to be a "fish print" overlayed with clear plastic with an underwater scene done in markers. Neat! The librarian said that the art teacher is responsible for these displays, and changes them periodically. It's nice to showcase student work and brighten the walls at the same time.

Another display exhorted kids (and families) to "Get outside this month! Explore your world" with a number of related books showcased. The outside is not far away, with windows on three sides of the building, all looking out on trees and grass.

I was pleased to see a shelf labeled "young teen fiction," then disappointed to learn that this category is no longer used. Trying to decide where to draw lines between J, the defunct YT, and YA seems increasingly difficult as content and themes push downwards. And in non-fiction, I think the line between J and E can sometimes seem haphazard. [Consider Mrs. Marlowe's Mice, for example. A picture book, yes; an Easy picture book? Hardly.]

Seating and tables for adults line the windowed walls, and one corner is for browsing, with many periodicals. (The library also offers periodicals online through Zineo.) I counted 20 public computers plus 8 more in a "quiet room" lab. A magnifying reader and a reader for microfilm and fiche are invaluable for those patrons who need them, and I was glad to see them here. The "community jigsaw puzzle" was also nice to see; I find these quite often in smaller, rural libraries, but seldom in a library of this size.

The teen area could use some sprucing up, and I understand this is in the works. I did like the "Teens Only" sign. The librarian I spoke with tipped me off to a plan for a bit of passive programming for teens: With the help of teen volunteers, discarded books are being cut into separate sentences; the sentences will be displayed with the challenge to "guess what book these sentences came from." (That's what I think I heard; if I've mangled the idea, please leave a clarifying comment.)

All non-fiction, J, Y, and A, is shelved together. I like the way the bottom shelf is being used for oversized books, with only eight or nine inches between that bottom shelf and the next one up. This approach allows the large books to lie flat, which they strive to do anyway, and keeps them with their kin. The top shelf, well over six feet up, is rarely used.

In addition to "book club in a bag" sets for kids and adults, there are "Parenting Kits," kept near the 600s. These are similar zippered bags which contain books for both adults and children, and include topics like divorce, communication, and discipline.

Altogether, a very nice facility. Very quiet when I was there, but as I left it seemed that a nearby school had just dismissed, and a gaggle of gradeschoolers approached as I drove out of the parking lot.

For more information, go to http://www.co.washington.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=467.
And if you want to see this library in action, head here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMVw0mRwm6w

5/23/13, car

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