Saturday, September 28, 2013

208.. Watonwan County/St. James Public Library, St. James, MN

Timing is everything! As I drove into town at about 2:30 I noticed people collecting on the sidewalks, adults and kids, all wearing red. It happened that my gps was not being helpful (not its fault, I had told it 5th Street North and what I needed was 5th Street South), so I left the car and walked up to where the action was. Here I met a former school teacher who let me know that I was about to see the high school homecoming parade. I like small town parades, and I wasn't disappointed. The high school band was followed by floats with what must have been most of the sports teams in town, at various levels; the junior high band brought up the rear. They were on their way to the stadium to crown the Homecoming Queen and King; in the evening, they would play New Ulm. (I checked this morning: St. James won, 30 to 14!)

Once the parade had passed, I quickly found the library--where every window was decorated for homecoming. I was impressed that library hours and restroom designations are in Spanish and English. I don't recall seeing that courtesy before, even in small towns with good-sized Spanish populations.

The children's area has two Little Tykes computer stations apparently donated by 3M. Puzzles were set out on a table, ready for small patrons. There is a puppet theater, and stuffed animals are standing by to be reading buddies. Accelerated Reader tests can be accessed through library computers. A focal point on the wall is an American Girls quilt, which I learned was made by a fourth grade class about 10 years ago.

The "J" that I grew up thinking of as "Juvenile" here stands for "Junior" books. A good choice, I think.

There are five "living room" bays by the windows; it appears that one is for teens, two for the Spanish collection, and two general browsing areas. Drawings of local landmarks are on the walls, and I think framed art is also available for loan. There are about 10 public computers.

I couldn't resist asking about "The Family Rowdy Reading Program" that will run September 30 through November 2. A brochure describes the program, and it sounds great. A "family" is at least one adult and one child under 18, and participation is limited to 50 families. A family that registers will have up to $50 of fines (accrued before 9/30) forgiven--that's huge! Families that recommend a book will receive a free book, as will a kid who creates a picture of a favorite book. A family adult must check in once a week, in person or by phone. Seven weekly events include a concert, pizza and bingo night, pumpkin decorating, and several craft activities, including one at which families will create tray favors for Meals on Wheels. Literacy, community service, participation at the library...someone has put a LOT of thought and time into this program.

For more information about this library, go to

9/27/2013, car

St. James Jr. High Band

St. James High School Band

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