Saturday, July 13, 2013

34a. Stillwater, Minnesota, City Library--Revisit

Stillwater's library began as a Carnegie library, as is clear from the pictures below. And although it is listed with Washington County libraries, it is actually a city library--never mind what I said about it last year. I was wrong, and a couple of very nice librarians sorted me out on the subject today.

If you put the library address into your gps and follow its directions, you will end up on the east side of the library, the side that features the parking garage. Instead, go one block further up the hill and park on the street. Then you can see the Carnegie "look" as you approach. Except that it's a bit more complicated, if I understand it correctly. Before the parking garage was added, the library faced east and the west side would have been the back door; the old front door can be seen from the rooftop patio atop the new part, which today was being prepared for a wedding reception. Confused? You'll just have to go and see for yourself!

From the west, through the door pictured below, you enter a rounded hall where a table of new books stands on a carpet-and-mosaic floor. This level has a variety of rooms. First on the right is the mystery room, where I found a good selection by some of my favorite authors, always a good sign. Then I passed a bust of Abraham Lincoln standing guard outside a library office. Then you come to a room holding science fiction and westerns, then the Murdock Room that faces east and houses a fireplace, large print books, and romance novels. Beyond this is general fiction, and you come back around to the entrance. This side of the library truly is the "back" now, and the desk is staffed by a volunteer greeter.

The old wooden shelves are graced by cast-iron ends in a fairly elaborate pattern. These are unlike anything I've seen in other libraries, and they are very attractive as well as utilitarian. There is art on the walls everywhere, and a sign points down a hallway (which I didn't explore) to a Gallery.

Down half a level I passed an antique wooden bookcase filled with classic books "for display, not circulation." This is reminiscent of the lower level of the library in New Hampton, NH.

Another half level down and I entered the adult non-fiction section. This area has large windows with stained-glass tops, matching the Carnegie part of the building. There are wooden carrels, several study rooms for individuals or small groups, and seating for browsers in a windowed corner near the periodicals. I liked seeing a sign telling where to go in case of severe weather (to the children's department). I got a kick from signs about the Dewey Decimal system that start, "Hi, I'm Mel...  Dewey have information..." There is a prominent cart labeled "Not checking it out? Please place materials to be re-shelved on this cart. Thanks." That sign faces forward. In case patrons miss it, each end of the cart says, "Please... Do not re-shelve books. Place them on this cart. Thanks." I hope this works!

There are about 15 public computers on some unusual curved tables, quite different from the typical carrels and very nice-looking. Near these is the reference section and the room that houses the St. Croix collection, which can only be used in that room. A teen area is large and welcoming, with interesting modern lighting hanging from the ceiling, four computers, and a teen study room. .

In the children's area, the bins and shelves of picture books and juvenile books are extensive and quite what one would expect. What I did not expect was the reading loft tucked into a corner, with "windows" that look into the children's area. Below the loft were painted "storefronts" representing the Bear Claw Cafe, Fire Fly Station No. 9, and Acorn Bank. A "fire truck" with seating for readers is parked in front of this "street." A storytime room has round cushions hanging from pegs--what a nice alternative to carpet squares! The carpet throughout the kids' area has a subtle alphabet pattern. And of course, the handsome puppet theater is still in the corner. (Find the other Stillwater entry to see the puppet theater.)

There is more to like: a seating area with a corner that looks like standing books and benches labeled "Looking for a Moose" and "Antler, Bear, Canoe;" about 19 periodical titles for kids; tables and chairs placed at shelf ends; a low drinking fountain and a rest room for kids only; four internet computers, one Book Flix station, two catalog computers, and a self-checkout station. A flock of birds in flight hangs beneath the ceiling. I'll end with a sign I liked:

Welcome to the library.
At the library...
   ... I stay close to my adult
   ... I use my indoor voice
   ... I am gentle with books and equipment
   ... I stay safe by walking, not running or jumping
   ... I put away books and games when I am done

Each statement was accompanied by a photograph. Very nice.

7/13/2013, car

For more information, go to

I didn't get close enough to show "Carnegie Library" and 1902.

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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.