Friday, September 27, 2013

203. Siouxland Libraries, Prairie West Branch, Sioux Falls, SD

This was a different experience, because I was part of a tour during the Tri-Conference of the South Dakota Library Association (SDLA). So instead of driving up and slipping in to wander around, I was in a group of 35 library folks, here to look at a brand-new library.

We saw the automated materials handling (AMH) equipment in action. It looked quite different from what I've seen in Ramsey County and Minneapolis, even allowing for the fact that it has, I believe, 5 bins, compared to 20 or more at the larger sites I'm familiar with. (I liked hearing that it was made in New Ulm, MN. High tech manufacturing is good.) A couple of differences between here and Ramsey County: DVDs and cases both have RFD tags, and they are coupled in the computer. Therefore, if a case comes in without a DVD, the machine knows that a part is missing. Also, if DVDs are switched in their cases, the machine will signal an exception. Items coming in that have a Request cause a slip to be printed, and a person has to put the slip in the right book. Other than this, it appears that the equipment can run for long periods unattended.

The self-checkout kiosks are white, free-standing, and very space-age looking. They combine the laser card scanner with the RFD reader in one unit. One of the kiosks has a credit card scanner for payments. When check-out was demonstrated, I noticed that each item checked out caused an audible "ding" and the change in status was very conspicuous on the screen; I think this might minimize problems I've seen at home of patrons who do not "wait until the title has turned green" and thus set off the security.

The tour group was allowed a long period to wander around, and for that I took notes as I usually do. I also took a few interior pictures. This new building reminds me of the Roseville, MN remodeled library: very open, very green (colorwise). Decorative touches suggest grass (curviness) and I noticed that meeting spaces are named after prairie grasses and plants. The space is large and open, with a curved wall of windows that seemed to form a 90-degree arc. Picture a large square space with one corner curved.

The most fun amusing, interesting feature of the interior for many of us was the presence of large square floor tiles scattered throughout. I call them "lava lamp tiles" because when you step on them, colors inside squish around and change. They are very, very cool!

The children's area has curvy benches and shelves in a zigzag arrangement; it seems that this might prompt "pause and look" behavior, as opposed to "walk on past." It worked that way for me! There are many hooks on one wall for outerwear.

Over by the curved window wall there is a "living room" area for browsing, but it is not a cozy living room, as I've seen many other places, but instead is rather cool and modern. Comfortable, I'm sure, but I probably have a bit of bias toward "cozy." I spotted some chairs like one I had in a classroom at the U of MN, with a wheeled "snow saucer" sort of base (a place to put your backpack) and a swivel chair with a swivel armrest. I recall from that class that these chairs are very neat, so long as all the wheeling and swiveling goes in the directions you expect; in other words, they take some getting used to. I noticed that all the shelving is white enameled metal, another very "space age" look.

The teen area is in a large "alcove" set slightly apart from the main space. The outstanding feature when I was there was a bookcase of banned books, liberally wrapped with yellow and black CAUTION tape. What could be better to attract a teen to a book?

I spotted at least 18 public computers, plus some for catalog searches only. There is a service desk near the entrance (staffed by a friendly young woman when I was there) and a reference desk further over toward the adult and reference collections. And I noticed that all fiction is shelved together, with stickers on the spine to indicate the genre volumes. I haven't seen that in a long time.

For more information about this library, go to

9/25/2013, car to Sioux Falls, big yellow school bus from the conference to the library)

Step on one of these squares, and the colors squish around and change.

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