Today I drove to Sioux Falls, SD, for a library conference, just for the fun of it. On the way, I visited four libraries, and my first stop was in little Hector, MN, where a sign gave the population as 1100 plus change.
Usually I wander around a library and take notes before I talk to anyone, but here there was just Jill, the librarian, and me, in a fairly small space...no patrons yet. So we talked quite a bit. The lobby has a set of wooden plaques with metal tags for each donor to the library; I believe $100 gets you a tag with your name. Here's the cool part: Once you have a tag, you get an annual call asking if you would like to add a star this year! Many people and businesses have multiple stars, showing sustained support of their library.
Inside, there is a very nice "living room" area by the windows, for browsers, and a parallel children's area that includes a dollhouse and other appealing materials. There are many, many plastic storage boxes with themed contents. Jill admitted that she "went a bit overboard" with these, but since they are used by day care, preschool programs, and families, it sounds to me like a worthwhile investment.
Toward the back are the "stacks" -- well, there are parallel shelves of books. These include a substantial collection of Large Print books; Jill says that a patron donates a lot of LP books every month, how cool is that? There is also a new Teen collection. Near this area I spotted a framed list of the names of the Friends Charter Members from 1987. The Friends are still active today, and provided the computers, four I think, that are available for the public.
A table right in the middle of the action holds craft supplies for the 15 or so kids who come in after school to wait for their parents to pick them up. This is a wonderful service for parents, but one that could easily be abused. A sign makes it clear that "The Library is Not Responsible for Unattended Children."
By the way, Jill and her husband are photographers. She showed me a set of pictures she made recently of the businesses in Hector, with the proprietors (except two who were unwilling) standing in the doorways. It's a neat way to capture a slice of town history. See the pictures at www.zenfolio.com/markandjillski.
For more about the library, go to http://www.pioneerland.lib.mn.us/hector/ or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Hector-Public-Library/139347582778832.