Monday, August 26, 2013

Oxboro Library, Bloomington, MN, Hennepin County -- Revisit

I noticed that my 2012 write-up of Oxboro was getting an unusual number of hits, so I took a look and found a note to myself: Too rushed by bus schedule, return next summer. And here it is, approaching the end of "next summer," so back I went. There's a lot to see and like here--and still not clue about why this library was proving so popular in the blog!

Since I drove this time, I entered from the parking lot and saw something that I missed last year: a book depository slot that is labeled "Newspapers only" (except when the book return is not working). The outside book return has a moving conveyor with the usual admonition about keeping fingers out. Inside, there are three separate book return slots: Children and Teens, Media, and Adult. I will think of the "newspapers only" each time I empty a morning bookdrop where I work and have to dig for the newspapers! [OK, sometimes my boss gets there first and gets the papers; I'm not complaining, really.)

In the lobby I see things that intrigue me, including a 4'x8' mural (on a board, not a wall, but the sign says it's a mural...) with the library, a water tower, and a tall tree with the word "Hope" written in many languages on the leaves. A nearby recycling center provides clear information, with photographs, of what goes in each container.

A colorful ladybug exhibit in a glass case and "Welcome" in 33 languages greet the visitor right inside the door. Immediately to the left is the area for school age children, with all of the Eyewitness books in their own shelving area, many with their colorful covers forward. Nearby is a light table with some leading science questions. Bins beneath the table hold X-rays and translucent plastic for experimentation with colors. Easy Readers are displayed in bins and children's fiction is on wall shelves. There is a variety of seating and three computers for kids, each in a carrel. Around the corner is a bright area for the preschool set, with a wall of windows and three more computers on very low tables.

A teen area has four computers, presumably for teens. All were in use, and it looked to me as if only one of the users was a teen. Different libraries handle teen space in very different ways. I didn't see any sign, but perhaps there is a policy that adults can use these computers if no teens are waiting. Another policy I've seen is that adults can use the teen area until school gets out, about 3 pm. The walls display art from Valley View Middle School.

For adults there are two comfortable browsing areas with "living room" seating, windows, and study tables. The two areas are separated by a two-sided fireplace; I learned at the end of my visit that these fireplaces are no longer working. That's too bad, but they still add to the comfortable look and ambience. Some periodicals are displayed on typical slanting shelves; others are in "browsing bins" by category: Crafts, Gardening, Sports, and so forth. These are labeled for browsing; it was not clear whether they circulate.

Nonfiction for children and adults is shelved together. The nonfiction shelves seem particularly attractive, with clusters of books on particular topics making mini-displays in several places. It was a very nice touch to see the free Job Dig newspaper displayed along with the books on job searches. The large print and reference areas have a small stool at the end of each row. These are for sitting, not for reaching high shelves, as the shelves are quite low. A very small touch, perhaps, but surely appreciated by patrons. (It's generally not the young crowd looking for large print books--it's the old-timers, like me, who sometimes like to have a seat handy.)There are two small study rooms and a conference room for tutoring and non-profit meetings. I saw, I think, eight public computers, with the requisite printers, etc.

Many libraries have a World Language section, but Oxboro's is particularly nice. It has its own space with attractive "living room" seating. Most materials are in Spanish, including quite a large collection of children's books. I also spotted books in Somali and Vietnamese, material for English Language learners, and basic education books for adults. Before I left, a librarian told me about a kindergarten readiness program for Spanish-speaking kids and their parents that was held during the summer--what a terrific idea!

For more information, go to

8/26/2013, car (Yes, I know it's on a bus route.)

From the parking lot, you can look right through the lobby and out the other side to a large grassy area, very park-like.

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