Saturday, September 28, 2013

204. Augustana Mikkelsen Library, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD

I visited this library during a tour sponsored by the Tri-Conference in Sioux Falls, September 2013. The tour was to showcase a recent renovation that served to join a 1954 building with a 1980 addition to make a unified building, and it appears to have been very successful. We were fortunate to have top library staff and the architect present for the tour.

The most visually impressive feature is a glassed-in staircase, brightly lighted and stunning from outside after dark--and we were there after dark for the full impact. There must be an elevator, too, but I didn't spot it.

A tour of an academic library while it is open (and it's open a lot) is a bit strange, because of course the place is full of students trying to concentrate. The second time we passed one young man who was sitting alone, obviously trying to tend to his reading, I felt like whispering "It's OK, we're leaving now!" There is clearly a culture of quiet, quite unlike many public libraries.

All there was to see made the tour a bit overwhelming, but here are some highlights that made it into my notes: Compact shelving for back issues of periodicals. A main level with a very high ceiling and a handsome tall fireplace with an extension to that ceiling. An upper level that is open to the main level, as a balcony. Cork floors and bamboo ceilings in some areas, sound-muffling and environmentally green. Many study rooms and varied seating arrangements, but few carrels; our tour guide says that carrels are neither wanted nor used. Study rooms have screens so that a group of students can look at a laptop display in comfort. A collection of children's literature that I wanted to look at more closely, but I didn't remember to look for it during the time I  could have wandered around. A climate-controlled special collections room. Lots of art on the walls, much of it created by alumni--and presumably alumnae. A large staff area with glass walls that serve to connect staff to the rest of the library visually while minimizing the impact on students of essential work-related sounds. A phone room where students can make and take phone calls without having to leave the building.

Something I would not have noticed if we had not been told: Features on walls that look like chair rails but actually hold power outlets for laptops. Our guide said that these must be pointed out to new students, too.

One member of our group asked at the end of the tour whether anything had not turned out quite as hoped during the renovation. I appreciated that our guide did not try to duck this question. The only area, it seems, that was not quite right at first had to do with lighting. The project was done just as LED lights were coming into use, and some lighting was improved by making this change. Also, some areas have lights that are motion controlled or on timers, and these required some tweaking. That's a very short list for such a large project.

For more about this library, go to There is a video tour button in the center of the page.

9/25/2013, car and big yellow school bus

No pictures, sorry. You'll just have to go to the library website!

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