Saturday, June 29, 2013

181. Barron, Wisconsin Public Library

This was a serendipitous visit. With a friend, I'd already visited two Wisconsin libraries (and the annual tent sale in Glen Flora!) and we were headed for home in Minnesota. A needed stop in Barron put us right across the street from the library, and the sign about their 100th year. And they would be open for about 20 more minutes! I had to move fast!

In the lobby, I saw the old card catalog file, still filled with cards. I should have asked about it. Card catalogs have been turning up more and more--see the entry for Philips Exeter, for example. The lobby also held the Friends book sale; $1.00 for a bagful this week, but there was no time for shopping.

I headed upstairs, following a sign to the children's area. Moving and scribbling notes faster than I would have liked, I found a the kids' books shelved on classic wooden shelves, Playaways and recorded books in turntable slots, a cabinet full of shells and coral, kid-sized chairs and couch. Someone had made a large structure of Duplo blocks. A notice by the computer says that the library now has access to the Accelerated Reader lists. [Mixed feelings about that, folks.] A sign points out that parents are responsible for their children: "Do not leave young children unattended through age 11." This seems especially important since the children's area is on a separate level of the building.

Back downstairs I found the adult fiction and non-fiction collections, DVDs and genre paperbacks in spinners, lots of large print books, a section labeled "Inspiration Fiction," a microfiche reader, and four public computers. Although it was very close to closing time, a librarian was giving detailed technical help to one computer user. How the librarian's job has changed!

Clerestory windows add brightness to the browsing area. A free-standing shelf in this area holds books on languages, including ESL, and on citizenship. It was nice to see these featured. The reference section includes several 3-ring binders of Barron County history.

I talked to a very enthusiastic librarian who wanted to be sure that I realized I was in a Carnegie library--and I hadn't known that, although the older part of the building gives all sorts of hints, at least one of them not at all subtle--see second picture below. It's the Carnegie part of the building that is celebrating a centennial this year. The design was done, or at least influenced, by Frank Lloyd Wright; my notes are sketchy, perhaps someone reading this will clarify in a comment...please?

For more information, go to

6/28/2013, car




  1. Oops, you put Bloomer instead of Barron in your first paragraph. I hate to be that person, but I work at Bloomer and loved your post about our library and know that Barron will love theirs too (but probably won't want our town in your description). You do not have to keep this :)

  2. Indeed I will keep it, Kathleen, to remind myself to proofread more carefully in the future. What really interests me is that the Barron page has been "looked at" over 50 times, and you are the first person to spot my error--which has been corrected. Thanks!


Comments are welcomed, and I will generally respond to them. Please be tasteful; comments that are in poor taste will be deleted.
Sorry about the "verification" step; I added it after a rash of spammish comments.