A visitor is welcomed to this soaring library by a raised planter, partially tiled, with native prairie plants (what else?) and a short poem by Emily Dickinson: "To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee. And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few...." That's a very nice start to a library visit. (And a bit sad, given the current state of bees.)
The large, uncluttered lobby has maps of the area in two scales, a very nice touch since I always get lost in Eden Prairie (pre-GPS, that is). I didn't spot any "you are here" indication, however. There are literature racks, a community bulletin board, drinking fountains, rest rooms, and the entrance to a meeting room that apparently can be accessed when the library itself is not open, a nice option.
Inside, my main impression was "What a great place to study!" Everywhere there are tables for one to four people, with outlets for laptops. Some tables are spaced around the open public area. There are also study rooms for up to three people, a quiet study room with six single and two double workspaces, eight "office cubicle" spaces with four-foot walls, and probably more that I missed. There appear to be at least 58 public computers, most (perhaps all) with MS Office. A sign near one meeting room says that if you are looking for a meeting room, you can reserve one on line. If you are looking for quiet study space, "Ask @ the Information Desk."
The large Information desk is directly ahead as you enter the library. It has both low and high counters, allowing librarians and patrons to sit or stand, nice options for a reader's advisory interview or a quick inquiry. The service desk is against the wall, and appears to front the workroom where AMH materials arrive. From the very large number of books waiting to be picked up on the Request shelves, I'd guess that a lot of material is handled every day.
Children's, teens' and adults' non-fiction materials are shelved together. I've seen that a lot lately, but here it is clearly indicated on the end of each shelf, for example: 360 - 364 (Includes Children's Material). I like both of these practices, shelving and labeling. When I am looking for a non-fiction topic, I sometimes want an adult book, sometimes a simpler children's book. It is very nice to be able to compare the books on a topic together in one place.
A two-sided fireplace is near the browsing area, along with windows, easy chairs and more tables. Close by are the periodicals, newspapers, graphic novels, and new books. The wire baskets that sit on several tables have signs asking patrons to "Please leave unwanted library materials here. Staff will reshelve. Thanks!" The sign includes the HCL logo in red; my first impression was of a STOP sign, suggesting that I should stop and think about where to leave my reading material. It probably wasn't intended to give that message, but it's not a bad idea if it works that way.
A large area is set aside for teens. I saw eight computers, varied seating and tables, a TV (for video games?) and a large collection of teen fiction, including a Guys Read display. Painted on the wall: "When I was your age, television was called books," attributed to William Goldman, "The Princess Bride."
The first thing I noticed in the children's area was a shelf of world language books in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Somali. The books appeared to be "easy readers" and general fiction, and each language had a bin or two of board books as well. A lot of easy readers in English were nearby on shelves and in plastic bins. The walls were papered with the beginning of the Bookawocky read-write-draw productions for the summer. I remembered from my visit last summer the clever bent-wood stools with their interlocking legs, allowing them to be used separately or set up in a circle; today, they were in a circle.
There seemed to be a lot of parents, both dads and moms, with their children in this area, especially considering that this was close to noon on the day before a holiday. From the general tidiness of the area, I guess that they have read and taken to heart the sign on a cart nearby, "Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share./Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere."
A clear plastic jar on the Information desk invited me to "guess the title of this book." The jar was full of shredded strips of what must have been one of the Harry Potter books; I spotted the name Hagrid. While I was puzzling over the jar, a librarian offered help. I explained my project and gave her one of my "cards." She said she might tweet about it; I hope she does!
I chose to take out a book, and discovered what might be a small flaw: I only saw two self-checkouts, and both of them were busy with parents who were letting their (very) little ones help. I have no objection to little kids learning the correct way to scan a barcode, and I wasn't in a rush, but this did seem like too few checkouts for a library of this size. And there was only one book return of the "one at a time" type used for AMH, though I know there is another outside. On the other hand, the scanner had no problem with the wide picture book I checked out; at the Central Minneapolis library, I seem to have about a 50-50 chance of this kind of scanner/book combination working.
Finally, I didn't realize until I got home that I never saw any DVDs or CDs. They surely are there, but they must be keeping a low profile. This adds to my impression that this large branch library focuses on books and study. And I don't mind that at all.
For more information, go to http://www.hclib.org/AgenciesAction.cfm?agency=EP.