Friday, October 11, 2013

211. Cloquet Public Library, Cloquet, MN, Arrowhead Region

I was surprised to learn that this library was built in the 80s, as it has a very open, up-to-date feel. Even before I entered, I noticed several features. First, a sign out by the street that is topped with translucent colored plastic...flying pages? Unfortunately, they don't show well in the picture I took. There appeared to be three electrical hookups for engine block heaters for staff, but I learned that these no longer function. Sad; that would be a nice perk! A sign announces that the entire property is smoke-free and asks near the door "Please extinguish cigarettes here"--but there didn't appear to be a place for a cigarette butt except in a general trash barrel. I didn't see any on the ground, so Cloquet is doing better with this policy than Minneapolis Central is!

I enjoyed several features of the children's area. First, the carpet is in large blocks with letters and numbers on each; this design segues in the teen and adult areas to carpet with the same color scheme but stripes instead of the alpha/numerics. This is a nice way to set off the space. There are four computers for kids set on a wide shelf, with a kid-sized "office chair" (birch seats and backs, five casters) in front of each one. I've never seen small chairs like this before, and I bet the kids love them. Various toys are available for the youngest patrons, and a sign thanks parents for "helping to keep the children's area picked up." It appeared that Easy Readers are shelved by grade...but after seeing a "Grade 1" sign, I didn't see signs for other grades. There were many books with stickers that indicate AR reading levels. Board books are in the bottom shelves, spine up, with PICTURE BOOK stickers.

There are two large furnished dollhouses on display in plexiglass enclosures; by one of them I spotted a "can you find it" list of items to look for in that house. Nice. There are a lot of special dolls and toys and a collection of carved wooden birds on the top of bookshelves, out of kids' reach. One large windowed corner for browsing is not quite "living room" in style, but looked comfortable.

The reference collection appears to have a strong emphasis on history and genealogy. I spotted small bound volumes of "Kirkollinen Kalenter" dating back to 1903; in 1984 the name changed to Suomi Conference Yearbook, and a quick Google search confirmed my guess that these are Finnish. There are at least four public computers for adults and four small meeting/conference rooms.

A teen area has computers, a couple of tables, and a huge beanbag chair. In addition to the usual media collections, there are spinners of foreign films. J nonfiction is shelved with general nonfiction, a practice I like. I spotted a cart full of books with a sign "Please do not place books on cart; weeding cart." Yes, patrons placing books on a weeding cart would create real problems! Another sign advises patrons that "This corner of the library is not a place for visiting," and enjoins them to refrain from bringing chairs here. They are advised that "To ignore this gentle request" can result in limitations on their right to use the library. It's a nice, quiet corner with sunny windows...and with no sight line from the service desk. The staff person I spoke to said that there "have been issues," which I can well imagine.

That staff person also made sure that I noticed the traditional Finnish native American boat, made of willow branches and willow twine, hanging from the ceiling in the lobby. Thanks, I would have missed it! She also gave me the address for the Carlton library, which came in handy later in the day.

To learn more, go to, where you can take a look at the nifty logo formed of a flying book and a soaring arrow.

10/10/2013, car



  1. The willow boat was on display at the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center (Depot) and donated to us by the artist, Cheri Sampson, at the end of the exhibit. It is not Native American, but reflective of her Finnish American roots. We have a high concentration of people with Finnish ancestry in our area and as such, do have reference books to help people researching Finnish genealogy. Thanks for visiting our library! Mary Lukkarila, Library Director

  2. Oops, my bad on that one. Finnish influence was obvious in other parts of the library, but I jumped to a conclusion on the boat. My apologies to all Finns, those I know and those I do not.

    1. No problem, Finns and Anishinaabe have similar views on honoring and respecting nature. BTW, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has an excellent archive of materials about Anishinaabe heritage.


Comments are welcomed, and I will generally respond to them. Please be tasteful; comments that are in poor taste will be deleted.
Sorry about the "verification" step; I added it after a rash of spammish comments.