Sunday, September 1, 2013

198. Viking Library System, Douglas County Library, Alexandria, MN

I got here a little late for comfort, a scant half hour before closing. Therefore, I may have missed some features. If I did, I hope someone will add a comment with the missing information. Please!

The first thing I spotted was the Friends bookstore in a room off the lobby. The space seemed somewhat like a living room or library browsing area, very comfortable. In addition to books for sale, there was a table of magazines that I think were free or for swapping. There were also a couple of carrells, perfect for someone looking for an out-of-the-way corner for studying.

After a display of new books and a lot of recorded books, I entered the library proper. I walked parallel to a hallway that is actually outside the library. This is designed in an interesting way: the hallway has windows to the outside and to the library, so the library gets some natural light. [The library is part of a series of municipal buildings, imposing outside and perhaps a bit disorienting inside, until you are accustomed to them.] My route took me to the reference collection and a reference desk, with a couple of study rooms for one or two people. Nearby is a light, spacious area for browsing and quiet study.

The shelves are marked by high, arched wooden ends, lending a very dignified look. There are many carrells placed throughout the library. The teen area has tall tables, all the rage in teen areas these days, it seems; the stools have seats resembling tractor seats. A nearby bin marked Comic Books, holds books like Calvin and Hobbes and a number of graphic novels.

Something new to me: a spinner of "upper backs" which appeared to be taller paperbacks; not trade paperbacks, but regular ones about a half inch to an inch taller than the usual size. Just enough larger to keep them from fitting easily on the regular spinners!

Books in the children's area are marked with a large J on the spine. I assume this stands for Juvenile, which is standard. Others had S, D, or T--these I did not decode. There is a large desk/workspace in one corner, with a sign that read "THE LIBRARIAN IS OUT." Nearby is an office for the youth librarian. Here as in other Viking System libraries there are backpacks to check out; these appear to hold seven books and a reading guide. There are two computers for kids, and a nice two-sided padded bench.

Lights were going off as I prepared to leave, but two library staff kindly took time to chat with me about the library and this blog. Part of the fun of this project is meeting staff, and even when I don't mention them in a specific post, you may be sure that I have had pleasant contacts.

My only regret is that I was so tired at this point, I completely forget to look for the famous Runestone. It was a topic in a U of MN course I took last spring, and I really wanted to see it. I'll need another trip, I guess!

To learn more, go to

8/31/13, car

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