Friday, December 26, 2014

298. Franklin, NH Public Library

Two connections here. I was aware of one in advance, and it was part of the reason for my visit: my mother and father lived in Franklin for a time, and sometimes visited this library. One that surprised me: the library Director, a very nice man who took for himself the "day after Christmas" work assignment, used to work at the Nashua Public Library, where my mother worked during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. [And where I was a page in the 50s, with my sister following in my footsteps.]

The library was funded by Carnegie in November 1903. The picture below shows many of its classical features.There is a room on each side with a rounded window wall and a fireplace. The only addition to the original building is a back door and an elevator, added about 20 years ago for accessibility. Space upstairs is used by the New Hampshire unemployment services, according to a sign,. From the front door, it is accessed by a curving staircase, definitely original. Floors and interior columns are of marble and lend an air of gravitas to the space.

The room to the right of the main door houses the children's collection. Three bookshelves arranged in a "Y" create three somewhat separate spaces; in one of these spaces, an adult was playing "Go Fish" with a young child. Seasonal books and some new acquisitions were colorfully displayed.

The room to the left of the door a mirror-image of the children's area holds four public computers, periodicals, a fireplace, and seating for browsers, Three of the computers were in use at noon on the day after Christmas--clearly they are meeting a need.

The librarian's desk at one time would have been a barrier between patrons and the stacks; now, of course, one is free to walk back into the stacks. A room to the left appears to be the Director's office. The stacks house a modest collection of fiction and non-fiction. A clever touch, I think, is the use of shallow bookshelves mounted on the rear wall, between the windows. One set of shelves holds paperback non-fiction, and the others hold paperback classic fiction. I spotted a small collection of DVDs, but did not notice other media. If I missed something, I hope someone will leave a comment and correct me.

This is one of very few libraries in NH where I have not seen a grandfather clock. Did I miss it?

My plan was to go from Franklin to Boscawen, but my sister and I failed to spot the library so we drove on to Penacook, ditto. I'll be back in NH next summer and will visit those two, and others.

For more about the Franklin library, visit or

12/26/2014, car, with Jean

Franklin's handsome Carnegie library

Thursday, November 20, 2014

40a. St. Paul Sunray Branch--revisit after remodeling

Another wonderful upgrade by St. Paul Public Libraries! The first three things that caught my eye were: 1) a large "Welcome to Your New Library" sign; 2) a drinking fountain that includes a "hydration station," providing an easy way to refill water bottles; and 3) pressure-sensitive squares in the floor that change color when you step on them. I have seen these only one other place, the Prairie West Branch in Sioux Falls, SD.

The south wall holds, in order from the entrance, the 3M Community Room (this branch is nearly across the street from 3M HQ), a computer lab, the teen area, and a quiet room. The community room holds a variety of tables, all with electrical access for laptops. (In fact, I think just about every piece of furniture here provides electrical access!) The computer lab is...just that. The teen area is marked by an S-curved counter with mod stools; in addition to an electrical outlet, each space along this counter has two USB ports. The Quiet Room has periodicals, a "living room" area for reading, and a couple of study tables. Both the teen and quiet rooms have full window walls.

I don't know why re-bound books appeal to me so much, but I was pleased to spot one in the Fiction section: Most of P.G. Wodehouse, published in 1960. I probably like rebound books because they are a form or recycling.

One area houses a goodly collection of travel books, and a globe, adjacent to a long shelf of language learning materials.

The children's area fills much of the north side of the library. It is set off, but not isolated, from the rest of the library by a highly textured, translucent glass panel. On the side of the panel facing into the kids area is a large (perhaps 3' x 8' ?) whiteboard panel, with colored markers. Beneath the panel are a series of cupboards with doors; these appear to be empty, so far.

An area that includes J series books could have been a darkish corner, but a very high ceiling in that area allows for clerestory windows collecting light from the south and reflecting it from the white north wall, making the area very light but without glare.

Seating is varied. My favorites are three large ... mmm ... cushions? that are shaped and colored like rocks. Very cool. And a couple of easy chairs upholstered in a fabric with a pattern of sheep! Hmm, the "rocks" seemed to be made of felt. Felt, wool, sheep...perhaps a theme? The program area is fairly small but totally charming. The north side has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on a reading garden. Well, I assume that's what it will be in warmer weather! The inside of the area is rounded and has a "tree" theme. Fortunately, I was able to take a picture, see below. The tree theme continues outside where a near twin of a feature at Highland Park library is located.

I did miss some of the interactive elements from the Children's Museum installation that were in the children's area the last time I visited. The building has been open less than two weeks; perhaps these elements will return?

For more about this library, go to .

11/20/2014, car

A look at the reading garden from the northeast corner.
The children's area is near the "trees and birdhouses."

A closer look at the "trees and birdhouses"

The new entrance

A peek into the program room, behind the curved wall

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

71b. St. Paul Highland Park Branch, remodeled

This was my third visit to the Highland Park branch. The first, in June 2012, was in pursuit of visiting every MELSA library. Three months later I went back to try and figure our why this library had so many hits on the blog, far above any other post. Alas, there was no explanation.

Today's visit was to a totally remodeled facility that recently reopened. After 11 months closed and almost $8 million spent--wow! What a difference!

The library still shares a building with a community center, and perhaps the only drawback I see is the lack of a readily-apparent entrance to the library itself. Instead, all of the outside signage refers to the community center; perhaps there is new signage coming? I hope so. (A picture at the link below suggests that there will be a vertical LIBRARY sign.)

There is now library space on the first floor, opening from the common lobby area. This space holds requests (very nice for just popping in to pick up something that is waiting for you) and media (except recorded  books). Library catalog computers and a service desk are here, and the circulation workroom is behind a large glass window. Partially clear and partially frosted, this window allows a glimpse of the automated materials handling equipment in action.

A large area to the left of this entrance is especially for teens, with a meeting room, study rooms, low bookcases on heavy casters (low: good sight lines for staff; casters, plenty of flexibility) and a variety of chairs, including two that are shaped somewhat like human beings (see picture below).

The rest of the library is reached by stairs or elevator from the lobby. My first impression, compared to earlier visits, was "Can this possibly be the same space?" It seemed to go on forever, in several directions. To the left is a large windowed space (behind the Community Center sign in the first picture below). Today the space was partially used as a browsing area, and partially as a potential meeting room, with a collection of tables and a sink and counter for refreshments at meetings. The spacious feeling is enhanced by an opening down to the teen area below.

There are large sections of shelving for adult fiction and non-fiction. The side of the space farthest from Ford Parkway has a "living room" area close to periodicals and non-fiction, with a rounded window that looks out on a reading garden. A couple of benches did not tempt readers on this cold day, but will be delightful in other seasons.

The children's area overlooks the Parkway. A welcome sign in four languages says that "We Practice the Wakanheza Project: Supporting, Protecting, Respecting, and Cherishing Children, Young People, and Families."

There are some study tables adjacent to the children's area. Within the area itself are computers on counters of two heights, at least six portable "writing tablets" (I think they use magnetism in some way with a stylus) that youngsters can use to draw or practice letters. Some very striking stylized tubular green "tree trunks" hold "bird houses." [Note: The remodeled Sunray library also has this feature, but theirs is outside. See entry 40a for a picture.] Varied seating for adults and children includes a large curved bench with a padded seat and back, and one section of the wall has three interactive "cause and effect" installations. I wanted to get some pictures, but I'm happy to report that several adults and children were using the area, and I could not figure out a way to get pictures without people.

Welcome back after almost a year away, Highland Park. You look terrific!

For more about this library, go to or

11/18/2014, car

View from the parking lot

The new entrance is no longer "hidden."
The Teen area is behind the windows to the left.

AMH book drop; there are two outside, an excellent idea as I was told that
Highland has the highest circulation of any St. Paul branch library.

I didn't try the "human" chairs, but I was told they are quite comfortable.

Friday, November 7, 2014

297.Mille Lacs Lake Community Library, Isle MN -- East Central Region (ECRL)

With this visit, I have been to all of the branches of Minnesota's East Central Regional Library!

As I walked up the ramp to enter the building I noticed a poster that showed a river winding between hills and said "Searching for Books." Once inside, I realized that there were many such posters displayed, all different. The librarian told me that they are created by third grade school children each spring during Library Month.

This library features many quilts, some made by a local person of considerable talent, some made by a quilting club (also showing talent), and seven or eight with squares made by schoolchildren, showing their self-portraits, assembled and quilted by adults. This is a library that clearly values community connections.

Posters in the children's area remind parents to share Books, Songs, Words, Rhymes, Sounds, Playtime, and Stories with their children. There was a large selection (for the size of the library) of book-and-audio sets for kids.

A separate area in the back holds fiction, large print books, several public computers, and a wide selection of periodicals. Two bookshelves and a couple of funky stools form a small teen corner.

I enjoyed conversation with Kathy, the librarian, before heading back to St. Paul after a fine day of driving and "collecting."

For more about this library, go to

11/6/2014, car

296. McGregor, MN -- East Central Region, ECRL

This library was very quiet when I visited, but as the local school is located just beyond the parking lot, I expect that the ambience changed an hour or two after I left!

A display cabinet in the entryway contained sewing items, including a McCall's pattern book from 1959. That date explained why everything in the display seemed familiar to me!

On entering the library proper, I noticed a series of "dog paw prints" on the floor, leading me to the children's area. Cute! The collection is not large, but the space is wonderful. There are three antique school desks along one side, but the large rocking chair is the main feature. The chair was created and donated in honor of Fae Porisch, author of a Christmas story that is written out on a large poster above the chair.

An area for teens includes a large circular rack of young adult novels.

I was interested to see that most reference materials may be checked out for three days; this is a rather unusual policy in my experience, but I can see its practicality for a small community. A high shelf holds school yearbooks back to the 20s.

The non-fiction shelves are set at a slight angle to the wall, rather than the standard 90 degrees. That, and the pictures on the wall at the end of each pair of shelves, add a nice visual interest. A large window and some live plants in the back create a pleasant browsing area near the fiction and media collections.

I can't resist mentioning the store I saw as I drove away, with the charming name "Barknarckles Store: Thrift and General."

For more about this library, go to


295. Aitkin, MN -- East Central Region, ECRL

A day without school or work, with a sunny sky--time for a trip to visit a few libraries! I planned a reasonable trip around Mille Lacs Lake that would allow me to complete my visits to the branches of the East Central Regional Libraries.

My first stop brought me a pleasant surprise: the Aitkin library, with a newly-opened addition that just about doubled its size. Three posters with pictures of the new construction and the moving-in process were displayed in the central reading area. One poster said, "Thank you to the many organizations, businesses, individuals and volunteers that helped this community dream come true." That statement says a lot about the importance of a library to a community.

I was a bit surprised that this "living room" reading area included a sink and a set of kitchen cabinets, until I learned from staff that this area used to be the meeting room. The new meeting room, much larger, is at the other end of the building, and was busy with Friends of the Library starting to set up tables for this weekend's book sale.

I've come to expect grandfather clocks in New England libraries and quilts here in the Midwest. Aitkin surprised me: a grandfather clock, but not a quilt in sight.

The wooden shelves are handsome, and two study tables in a windowed alcove near the non-fiction collection look ready for students.

The children's area is set off by a series of bright circles in the otherwise neutral carpeting, and it features a circular alcove with window seats ready for their cushions (which are not there yet). A family restroom is located conveniently nearby.

Aitkin's original library was a 1911 Carnegie. The building is now an Art Center. Regrettably, I did not spot the building while I was in town, but you may be able to see it at the second link below. An entryway holds a display cabinet of memorabilia from the Carnegie library, including photographs, hand-written record books, and documents. As in other places, books were moved to the new building in a "bucket brigade" effort that I'm sure is remembered by many members of the community.

Congratulations to Aitkin on the 20th anniversary of the "new" and now expanded building, which was dedicated on November 12, 1994.

For more about this library, go to or


Yes, there was a bit of snow!

This is the display of Carnegie memorabilia.

The former meeting room is now a cheerful browsing/reading area.

My first library job included putting newspapers onto sticks.
This is a particularly large and handsome display rack for the rods.

Monday, November 3, 2014

McAllen, TX Main Library: on the "to visit someday" list

I had heard about this Walmart-to-library conversion, but today my nephew sent me this link to an amazing set of pictures. If I ever get down to Texas, this will be on the Must Visit list!

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Library Planned for Calgary--Pictures Added!

OK, I haven't visited this one--it isn't built yet! But I will have to make another trip west through Canada when it opens! Have a look. [I finally read most of the attached article. No rush on the trip...this library won't open until 2018!]


“Since embarking on this project, one of the things we’ve kept reminding ourselves is that we don’t just want to build the best library in the world. We want to build the library that’s best for Calgary,” explains Craig Dykers of Snøhetta.
GALLERY: A look at Calgary’s New Central Library
Officials say the final design reflects suggestions gathered from two years of public engagement and open houses.In addition, the entire concept for the building was shaped by the LRT tracks that bisect the library site in a north to south arc.
“The exterior and street life surrounding the library is just as much a part of the building as the interior,” says Rob Adamson of DIALOG. “The outdoor plaza welcomes visitors from East Village and beyond and invites them into the building to explore, relax, reflect and connect.”
Construction of the New Central Library is already underway.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

294.. Andersen Horticultural Library, Chaska, MN

This is a very specialized library, located in the Snyder Building at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I visited this library once, perhaps a couple of decades ago (gasp) and what I remember most clearly were the wonderful tables. They are still here, along with other furniture by George Nakashima.

The library provides pleasant spaces for reading and research, but materials do not circulate. Whether you are a gardener or a reader (or both), this is the place for books about horticulture, plant sciences, and natural history.

Climate controlled archives store rare and special texts, catalogs, and botanical artwork. Catalogs, you ask? How about a collection of almost 57,000 seed and nursery catalogs! They represent over 6,700 firms and date back to the 1820s.

In the lobby of the Snyder building I saw a display of books about the flowers of various countries, including Cuba, Ireland, the Galapagos, Russia, and Australia. Also one on Alpenblumen.

I find it wonderful that this special library also houses a collection of relevant children's books and has a story hour each Thursday at 10:30. That story hour and a visit to the nearby Arboretum Learning Center with its "green" playground and interactive exhibits would make a memorable day.

Not far from the library is the Arboretum gift shop, much, much larger than the last time I was there, with a whole bookstore-worth of books on horticultural and environmental topics.

For more information, go to

9/27/2014, car


One of several beautiful tables
custom-designed for the library by George Nakashima

Part of the main collection

I like the juxtaposition of the wood, card catalog,
facsimile of an old botanical book (on the rack at the far end of the counter)
--and a computer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

93a. Hennepin County, Excelsior, MN -- visit to new building

The new building for this library blends nicely with the architecture of this lakeshore town. It's located on a popular bike trail, and has an outdoor reading area with colorful benches and chairs all along one side. I was here on opening day, but I waited until late afternoon in order to miss all the hoopla. It was still very busy, however, with many kids enjoying the boat and other delights.

The teen area includes audio books, teen fiction, and graphic novels. I liked the display of "Teens Top 10," a row of multiple copies of popular teen fiction. Also, there were sheets of temporary tattoos on one of the tables in this area; nice edgy black ones!

I asked where the bell is (see entry 93 from my first visit here two years ago) and learned that it belongs to the city, not the library, so it stayed behind. The collection of old model fire trucks was given to the fire department. But the life-sized carved wooden "Brary the Beaver" is still present, right inside the main door. I like the murals; the one with the roller coaster reminded me that when I was a grad student at the U of MN in the 60s, I heard about "the amusement park at Excelsior." I never went there, but it was famous.

Someone has put a lot of work into an album of photographs showing the whole building process.

I could say a lot more, but in this case I'm going to send you to an online album of pictures for a complete tour. Go to and enjoy! Then hop on your bike and go visit.

9/13/14, car

Did I mention that the bike path is close?
That's it, to the left in the picture!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

50a. Dakota County Heritage Library, Lakeville, MN --Revisit

This is a dual purpose building; the part closest to the camera is the Drivers License office. I was intrigued to see that parking for that office is limited to 10 minutes! Where I live, 10 minutes would barely get you in the door.

Just inside the library door are some strollers with bags for books attached, a wonderful help for parents. Nearby is a shelf of "Lucky U" books. These are new best-sellers that go out for 7 days, no renewals.

The first thing I spotted in the children's area was a large wall display titled "Read an Alphabet of Animals." There are book jackets representing animal books, large printed letter cards, and ribbons connecting each jacket to the appropriate letter: Alligator, Bear, Bison, Cow... It's a very attractive display, and certainly highlights the breadth of the library's collection of kids' animal books.

The next thing I noticed was a large ... object ... shaped somewhat like a Viking ship, hanging from the ceiling. The Viking ship effect is heightened by the posters and such mounted where a Viking ship would have shields. This in itself  is very cool, but the best part, in my opinion, is the series of curvy blue fabric strips suspended below the "boat." The whole thing runs almost the length of the children's area, and gives a sense of walking underwater. I asked a librarian if this was something new; surely I couldn't have missed this, or forgotten it? Nope, it's not new. Go see it; a written description just can't do it justice.

The boating theme is also present in a structure near the window in the children's area; it has three curved steps to a sort of "prow" with three "portholes" for peeking out. This is at the edge of a nice "living room" or "play room" area with a couch, chairs, and a puppet theater.

Beyond the children's area is a large area with study tables and chairs sized for adults and children, and plenty of windows. There are many Spanish books. A Teen Corner (more windows!) has a couch and several large bean bag chairs. Nearby are four study rooms, each with a desk with an overhead shelf (just like the university library), two chairs, a window, and a glass panel door. Quiet and private...but not too private.

The adult collection and computers are in the middle. Music CDs are shelved in metal racks that are cleverly labeled with magnetic "refrigerator" letters, a nice whimsical touch

On the day I was there, an art display from All Saints Catholic School was above the CDs. It consisted of large letters C R E A T I N G, each letter decorated differently, followed by "moments of joy."

9/13/14, car

64a. Dakota County, Farmington Library, revisit after remodeling

I visited Farmington in the summer of 2012, during the project that started this blog: visit all the MELSA* libraries. I have two memories from that first visit: First, some bookshelves were set diagonally, in a sort of fan shape, something I hadn't seen before. Second, I took out two books, left them on the roof of my car while I took a picture, and (apparently) had them fall off the car out in the street, where someone found them and returned them to the library--after they had been run over and totally wrecked. When I got home, I discovered that I owed Dakota County Libraries about $35.00--ouch!

This time, what a difference! The library has been closed for a while for upgrades, and what wonderful job they have done. To the right inside the door are New Books, DVDs, Wii games ("The case is empty: bring to service desk") and the teen collection of graphic fiction, teen fiction and non-fiction, and a broad variety of magazines, including some Archie comics. The Teen area is in a bright windowed area set off from the rest of the library by floor-to-ceiling transparent colored panels. A study room or meeting room beside this area has the same panels, providing a consistent look that is very light and bright in a sophisticated way. Seating in the Teen area includes upholstered chairs with reading arms, like the ones I see (and use) in study areas at the U of M.

Beyond the Teen area is the very lively children's area. True to the town name, Farmington, the new design includes two round "silos" for cozy reading and an alcove with two steps up, then a bench, designed with gray slatted wood that suggests a corn crib. The alcove appears that it could function as a reading area, seating for an audience, or a stage for small productions. The ceiling is "barn red." Between these two features is a large play area with comfortable seating for adults and, of course, windows. A children's restroom is located conveniently just beyond the kids' area. [And the adult restrooms and a drinking fountain are just beyond that.]

All of that was along the wall to the right as you enter the library. Along what I will call the back wall are more windows and a large study and browsing area for adults. There are assorted chairs and tables and a kiosk for downloading e-books. I noticed on one of the tables stacks of adult education catalogs and JobDig materials. This struck me as a good place for such material, right where a browsing person would be likely to find it.

Four study rooms located on the left wall have transparent colored doors, similar to the partitions in the Teen area. The computer area is set off from the adult book collection by a shelf of reference books. Twelve computer stations along the wall provide plenty of elbow room, and give the area a serious, workplace-like look and feel. There are also eight chairs with pivoting arms for laptops.

The staff person I spoke to turned out to be a "library tourist" also, and now I want to visit the Library of Congress, if only to get a personalized "Reader's Card"!

Outside, I noticed that an automated book return is now being used. "Push green button. 1 item at a time. Spine first." I wonder how that is working out? One change brought about by the automated return is clear from the second sign: "Newspaper carriers: Don't place newspapers in book return."

For more about this library, go to .

9/13/2014, car

Some exterior work is not quite finished;
notice that I caught the library "in its underwear,"
the new yellow foam insulation being installed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

293. Sherman and Ruth Weiss Community Library, Hayward, Wisconsin

The grounds are handsome this time of year...see the picture below of the library sign. There are two free-standing book drops near the entrance to the library, one for books and one for media. Both appeared to be padlocked, presumably to ensure that materials come inside during open hours. Good idea.

The lobby has an elaborate carved tree "Created for the original Carnegie Library." I think the original library still exists, but I didn't spot it during my visit to downtown. (That visit was for ice cream, of course; see the book Scoop by Jeff Miller.) A quotation on the tree is "With the support of these roots the tree of knowledge grows."

The library was liberally decorated with quilts in an exhibit by the Hayward Piece Makers Quilt Guild.

The children's space is wide open and sunny, with windows on three sides. One low table held a collection of feathers and a large magnifying lens, plus some papers with questions and ideas for details to look for. Nearby, Boy Scout Troop 70 has a display that is at least partly historical; you aren't likely to see equipment like that in use today! An outdoor reading patio has an adult-size picnic table and a matching one in a smaller scale for little kids.

The summer reading program participants have put their names on rocket ships, and the rockets are displayed on one wall. Prizes for the program have been donated by local businesses. (I did not see the ice cream place listed, which disappointed me. After reading the book, I expected better of them. Perhaps they contribute in other ways.)

Books were designated in a way that is new to me, but fortunately a placard was nearby. From it I learned that Int(ermediate) Fic is for grades 4 and up, formerly J items are now E, E means Easy Fiction. All kids' non-fiction is shelved together. This left me not knowing how picture books are labeled, and I forgot to look. Perhaps someone will leave a clarifying comment?

The adult area of the library centers on a large brick fireplace with glass-fronted cabinets holding old books and interesting objects like a stereopticon viewer and a collection of cards. [When I was a kid visiting the children's room in Nashua, NH, in the pre-Viewmaster days, stereopticon viewers were desirable sources of entertainment, when Miss Manning put them out. How's that for dating myself?] A portrait of Sherman and Ruth Weiss hangs on one side of the fireplace, and one of Mr. Carnegie on the other side.

The area designated for teens has a long bow window with a view to a field, marsh, and bird feeder. I bet the adults enjoy it when school is in session!

Oversized books are stored flat in their own bookcase. There are carrels, about nine public computers, and a study room with a microfilm reader. I noticed that during the summer, computer use is limited to two 30-minute sessions per day. I assume that this is because Hayward is a resort area, and there is probably a lot of demand to "check my email."

When I asked about the Carnegie library, I was shown an interesting "Donation Statue" that was brought here from the old building.

For more information, see or On the website, note particularly the detailed information about the many book clubs at the library. I was impressed by the varied interests and the lists of books, both read and upcoming.

292. Peter White Public Library, Marquette, Michigan

 A library set upon a hill. Well, the fact is, everything in Marquette is set upon a hill; it reminds me of Duluth. As you can tell from the title, the library owes its being to Peter White. If you go to the library website (link below), select About and then Library History, you will find a wealth of well-written and illustrated information about this man of "firsts." I think my favorite involves him being the first postmaster to use dog sleds to deliver mail to the UP!

Enter by the imposing front door, and the room to the right contains information, objects, and scrapbooks pertaining to Marquette's two sister cities, Higashiomi, Japan, and Kajaani, Finland. The room to the left has comfortable seating, tables, and periodicals. Both rooms have impressive fireplaces.

An area that might be called an inner lobby has many large photos on the walls, and a very impressive collection of elephant figurines in glass cases.

The main room, beyond the lobby, has large windows with a glimpse of the lake (the south shore of Lake Superior), places to use laptop computers, and the media collection, including books on tape and videos. A glassed-in area labeled Administrative Assistant Office gave a view that reminded me of back stage at a museum. The views of the lake are much more expansive from this upper level.

I'm not an expert, but I think there are very nice Craftsman touches on the stairs, carrels, and shelves.

The Teen-Only area is a sunny corner with sparkling CDs hanging from the ceiling on strings. It is for grades 6 though 12; during the summer it has "teen-only Tuesdays." A librarian and I talked a bit about policies for teen areas, and I've sent her a link to some information based on the Minneapolis Central Library's Teen Zone.

The issue of patrons trying to reshelve books is addressed here by this sign: "Please place items here that are not checked out and need to be reshelved." This is clearer than the message at my library "home," where the words "place unwanted materials here" allegedly prompted one annoyed patron to think that if she placed a book in that location, we would discard it--which is what she wanted us to do!

An upper level houses the genealogy section, Michigan materials, reference works, and non-fiction. Interesting historical items are in glass cabinets with hanging files below. There is a computer lab, at least eight public computers (not in the lab), a career and business center, and a bell collection that may eclipse the elephant collection on the first floor. There is also a large old dollhouse with a scrapbook that explains the story behind it. The MFC Business Reference Room has a number of interesting pieces of antique furniture.

I took the front stairs down past the Art Department and Technical Services, down a long sloping hall past a meeting room, and found the children's area. (Yes, there is an easier way to get there!) A bright blue carpet with fish inserts leads to the librarian's desk. A case holds many small objects and a sign headed "Can you find...?" with many items listed. There are several large stuffed animals, including a wonderful lion on top of a bookshelf; I think he is a cousin of the lion at St. Bonifacius in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Take a look and see what you think.

An unusual wall display consists of seven large fabric applique pictures based on Holling's Paddle to the Sea. These were created by staff and friends in 1976 as part of the bicentennial celebration.

A very clever touch is a planted area outside, facing a cinderblock garage (I think). The cinderblocks have been painted with a mural that makes it look as if the garage is an attractive part of the landscape. There is a large children's play area inside with toys, a ceiling of skylights, a craft area with a tile floor, and a computer specifically for parents to use while children play. I chatted quite a while with staff here, and learned that the children's area is about 10,000 square feet!

For more about this library (and its founder), go to and

291. Munising Public Library, Munising, Michigan

The Munising Public Library is part of the high school building, but as far as I could tell, it is a separate entity, unlike Pipestone, MN, where the library is half a community library, half the high school library. I didn't have a chance to ask about this because this was not an inquisitive, chatty sort of place.

The high school connection was clear, however, in the large class photographs from various years of the William G. Mather High School. The newest of these pictures were from the 60s, and so probably from an earlier building.

To the right of the entrance is a pleasant sitting area for browsing, with chairs upholstered in book-design fabric. There are about a dozen computers, and the science theme of the summer reading program is reflected in the science objects, including a microscope and various jars with biology specimens displayed on a shelf.

The children's area has two computers, round tables with wooden chairs, a child-height, slant-topped box/desk that appeared to be intended to hold large reference books for easy reading, and a collection of floor chairs/backrests. Picture books are labeled "E," which is defined on a sign as "Elementary." "J" designates Junior fiction. Science books were displayed, supporting the summer theme.

For more information, see or

8/14/2014, car

290. Lively Library and Citizen Service Centre, Lively, Ontario, Canada

Let's say I'm planning a return trip from New Hampshire to Minnesota, through Ontario, and looking for likely places to visit libraries. And let's say I'm looking at the Sudbury library website, and I notice that there is a branch in the town of Lively, Ontario. Can I possibly leave a Lively library off my itinerary? Of course not!

One way in which the Lively Library is truly lively is that it shares the building with other services, including a senior center and a children's recreation center. I was admiring a pleasant "living room" browsing area with easy chairs, a coffee table, a rocker with a friendly quilt spread over it. This pleasant space looks out on an area of grass, trees, and a flower garden. Motion outside caught my eye and I saw perhaps 20 kids run out of the building and spread across the grass. I later learned that they participate in a summer recreation program and had probably just finished lunch.

The library is also lively in the sense of being busy. When I was there, people were in every part of the library, browsing, reading, using computers, playing with toys....

An enclosed area for the picture book crowd centered on a structural post that was wrapped to suggest a tree with science-related mobiles forming "branches" and "leaves." A hexagonal bench goes around the base of the pole. I was told that the current mobiles are related to the science-themed summer reading program, and the theme is changed every few months. A poster invites families to "Join us for tales on trails." The next event involves a 1 km hike, a chance to meet an author, and a "Turtle talk" by a professor. 

I'm often too tightly scheduled when I travel to include more than one library in the same system. (I know, I do it to myself!) This is a time when I am very glad I did!

For more about this library, have a look at

8/13/2014, car

289. Greater Sudbury Public Library, Main Library, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

As I entered this library, I was greeted by a display of Summer Reading Program robots. The children's area, along the right side, is divided into three "bays" or rooms. The first is the Kids Zone, or Coin Des Enfant, and holds picture books, toys, and so forth, for the youngest patrons. The next is for "J" books, J Rom (for Roman) in French, J Fic in English. This room has a small nook with a chair, bench, and posters about "What's Happening?"

The third room holds children's non-fiction books. It appears that English and French non-fiction are shelved together here by Dewey number, simply labeled "J", and non-fiction videos are shelved along with the books. I didn't spot any non-fiction DVDs, so I don't know whether they are also intershelved. This room has brightly painted walls, orange, yellow/green, and reddish. Very lively and attractive.

In the adult section I learned that non-fiction books are documentaires, and alternate shelves hace French and English headings. A literacy section includes materials for learning English, and a few for math. There are books in French, Chinese, and Finnish.

The sticker indicating Teen books is a skateboard!

A large Reader's Lounge or Salon des Lecteurs (right-hand side in picture below) has a number of windows. It is decorated with many handprints that seemed to be cut from wood perhaps 1 or 2 cm. thick and painted with enamel, probably by individual patrons. There must have been well over 100, each unique.

The lower level houses the Mary C. Shantz local history collection, four carrels with computers, historic photos on the walls, vertical files and flat files for topo maps. There are also phone directories, microfilms, law books, government documents, and other reference materials. The lower level closes 15 minutes before the lending level, a smart policy.

The Maker Space is also on the lower level, and posters encourage Tweens to learn how to create stop-motion LEGO videos. There is an up-coming contest for 1-minute videos.

To learn more, go to

8/13/2014, car

288. Public Library / Bibliotheque Publique, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

This library began as a Carnegie library in 1914, but I was not able to clearly identify the older part of the building, although I walked all the way around the outside. The sign in front (see first picture below) says "Welcome Visitors. We have free Wi-Fi and computer access." Very nice. The other side of the sign says "Traveling? Borrow a GPS."

This is another library that provides "living room" settings for browsers and readers. This is also the first truly bilingual library I've visited. My high school French was almost up to the task of matching French to English signs, and it was fun to try. Roman = Fiction; Primieres Lectures = First Readers;

One thing that struck me was the number of signs. In addition to the ones on the outside signboard, here are some I copied:
* The library reserves the right to check bags, briefcases...
* Children may not be alone in the library if under 10 years old: It's the law.
* You must present your card... (Where I work, we are often asked for, and grant, exceptions, with ID.)
* Due to the sensitivity of public and staff please do not wear scents. (As this was in the AV section on the lower level, it seems that it might be too late if someone came in highly scented.)

Perhaps my favorite sign was a display of pictures found in returned books, with the question "Did you leave one of these pictures in your book?"

Other things I noticed: This library lends cake pans, and has a collection that would rival the collection in the Osage, Iowa, Public Library. The summer reading club is for ages 6 to 10, a narrower range than I usually see. The Dewey Decimal labels on non-fiction books appear to be all handwritten. "Speed Read" books are similar to rental books in my home library, but they circulate for one week and the overdue fine is $1.00 a day; ours are a flat 25 cents a day and the patron can keep it ... forever, I guess!

I saw about a dozen public computers and noticed that each computer has a name rather than a number: Tennyson, Orwell, Swift. The microfilm reader is named Minnie. Wouldn't it be more fun to say "Orwell needs to be rebooted," rather than referring to SV-10, for example?

The most striking feature of the AV collection was the number of TV series DVDs. I actually counted about 50 5-foot shelves of them; that's ten five-foot sections, each five shelves high. You name a TV show, they probably have it.

They also already had a display of Robin Williams' movies.

I chatted with a staff person who told me that her daughter has a MLS degree and works upstairs; which TV show does that conjure?*

For more about this library, have a look at

8/13/2014, car

I parked and entered the library here.

In my effort to spot remnants of the original Carnegie library, I walked around to this side--
and I'm still not sure. Maybe where the chimney is?
*All In the Family, of course.

Friday, August 15, 2014

287. Arnprior Public Library, Arnprior, Ontario, Canada

This library would have been a welcome and pleasant walk from my motel, except that it happened to be pouring rain when I arrived in Arnprior. What I saw in the evening and as I drove through town the next morning made me think that another visit might be in order, next summer. At that time, I'd like to allow enough time to explore the town a bit.

I started in the children's area. The floor is tile, mostly blue, with circle and arc patterns in other bright colors, creating a very welcoming effect. Large wall displays inform kids that if they read 10 books in the summer reading program, they are invited to the Eccentric Adam Show. For 20 books, they may see the librarian about having a name plate put in the book of their choice--what a great idea! And for 40 books, they will be invited to "The Gala."

This is the first library where I have seen boxes of "Brain Quest" cards available to check out. As a circulation clerk, I wonder whether the staff has to count all the cards each time one of these boxes is returned! I looked at the great expanse of series books and spotted several that must be Canadian, as they were not familiar to me: The Last Apprentice, The Agency (definitely Canadian, as each book in the series has a red and white maple leaf sticker), The Boy Sherlock Holmes (ditto), and Raven Hill Mysteries are some that I noted.

In the YA corner, three girls were engrossed in books and laptops. This corner is close to a window wall that looks out on a lawn, perhaps a park, that may have a view to the river in clement weather. Newspapers and large print books are nearby for browsing in a "living room" area. I spotted at least four public computers.

I seem to have missed the non-fiction collection, but on the lower level I found adult fiction, assorted tables and chairs, another "living room" in front of a fireplace, with new fiction nearby, and a staff workroom with a window wall. I like the idea that patrons can see staff at work!

I had a nice chat with staff before bolting to my car and driving the two blocks back to my motel.

For more about this library, go to and

8/12/2014, car

286. North Hero Library, Grand Isle, Vermont

I had a couple of libraries on my list for this leg of the trip, but for some reason my GPS thought I should take a ferry to get to them. I had no intention of taking a ferry, so I just kept driving on Route 2...and then I spotted this library in Grand Isle, VT. And it was open, so clearly I was meant to visit ;-).

The main room of the library has wooden shelves of fiction, mostly. This makes sense for a small library, since non-fiction is more readily available and likely to be up to date on the Internet. I saw a number of books that I recognize as recent publications. The "Adopt an Author" program might work well here; see the description in the post about Barre, Vt.

In the children's area, picture books are sorted by category rather than author: Concepts, Stories, Holidays/Celebrations, Nature, Trucks, Growing Up, and so forth. I like the poster of Waldo's Tips for taking care of books!

For more about this library, take a look at, and know that a library can better be judged by the spirit of its people than by the size of its budget.

8/12/2014, car

285. Aldrich Public Library, Barre, Vermont

Barre, Vermont, is a noted center of granite quarrying, and granite is evident everywhere in town, from curbs to statues--and in the handsome Aldrich Library. A room to the left of the entrance has a massive fireplace and houses biographies and reference books. Patrons are asked to "leave reference books on the tables or return them to the circulation desk"--in other words, don't try to reshelve them! The room on the right side also has a fireplace and is set up as a "living room" for browsing periodicals.

I saw a display for a program that intrigues me: Adopt an Author. Adoption means that you agree to buy the library at least one copy of each title published by your chosen author, for at least one year, and you can get it/them at a discounted price. In exchange, you will be the first to borrow that author's books.

Some very old architectural features are still in evidence, if not in use, including a dumbwaiter (I'm sure it was once used to retrieve books from stacks on various levels) and heavy wooden pocket doors between the entry/lobby area and the stacks.

In the newer section, a set of old card catalog drawers is being used for seeds. This is a bright, light area with a full window wall. Computers are in carrels, new books are labeled with their acquisition dates (11/13 is new?), and many VHS tapes are still circulating.

The lower level houses the Katherine Paterson Children's Room. Paterson is a resident of Barre! When I arrived, a summer lunch program was in full swing with four or more tables in use. I'm not sure, but it appeared that adults were eating, not just kids, a difference from my home in St. Paul, MN. The space includes plenty of room for a wooden railroad, a toy kitchen, and a puppet theater. Of course there is also a large Real Good Toys dollhouse; Barre is the home of this well-known manufacturer of quality dollhouse kits.

I did not meet any of the people who helped me out a few months back when I was trying to recall the name of a book set partially in Barre; it turned out to be Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Paterson, and I recommend it to you if you like historical fiction and would like to know about the connection between Barre, VT, and the mill strikes in Lawrence, MA. But I did meet and chat with several very nice staff people, and I'd like Nancy to know that I will pick up The Flint Heart at the Minneapolis Central Library tomorrow.

To learn more, go to the library's website at or

8/12/2014, car

284. Lebanon New Hampshire

For a change, I was early, arriving in Lebanon almost an hour before the library opened. This gave me a relaxing chance to walk around the park across the street from the library and to sit on a park bench and read for a while.

As you might guess from the pictures, the building is a Carnegie, dating from 1909. The main entrance has a pair of curved staircases down to the lower level, but both of these are closed by expanding "baby gates" that look as if they have been in place for a long time. Beyond the entrance, the lobby is encircled with fancy columns; I once could have named the style of the capitals, I think, but ... no longer.

There is a large room to each side of the lobby, each with a fireplace and a broad bow window. The room to the left houses media (DVDs, CDs), tables, and a catalog computer. The room to the right holds public computers. The lobby has a grandfather clock, so we know this is a NH library!

Straight ahead through the lobby, the adult stacks felt classic to me, with tall shelving (7 shelves high) and a low ceiling. In fact, they felt a bit like the stacks at the old Nashua, NH, library where I worked in the 50s.

Through the stacks and down seven steps brought me to the children's area. This is in a newer part of the building, and the original outside walls are a handsome addition. There is a door at this level that provides direct access for kids and also an accessible entrance to the elevator for those who don't care to use the many steps up to the front door.

I like the semi-enclosed area for the smallest patrons, and the picture book collection seemed to be very large.

I took stairs up to the upper level and arrived at the teen area. The walls here have been painted very creatively with natural designs reflecting the Golden Mean: a large sunflower, for example, with its pattern of seeds. There are three computers, three round study tables, and collections of Y fiction, audio, DVDs, some non-fiction, and graphic novels.

Also on this level is a library office with windows on two sides, allowing sight lines to various upstairs spaces. Here you'll also find paperback fiction, audio books, and a microfilm reader with NH Census reports back to 1910, the Granite State Whig (newspaper) from 1844 to 1888, and various other old papers. There is also a rather assertive air conditioning blower. Oversize books and the 900s are shelved on a balcony overlooking the lower level of the Carnegie building.

I had planned to visit a different library in this area, but a niece recommended this one, and as usual she was right. [I'll visit the other one next summer.]

For more about this library, visit its website at I can't find a Facebook page, but the website gives a link to a Twitter feed.

8/12/2014, car

Playing catch-up

I finally caught up with the ten libraries I visited on the trip from NH to MN. So I could delete this post, but hey...I don't want to lose the "visits" from the statistics!


Monday, August 11, 2014

169a. Moosilauke Public Libary, N. Woodstock, NH --Revisit

This was a serendipitous visit. My sister and I had been to several libraries in the area and were looking for a parking place so that she could program our next goal into her GPS. When I saw where we were, I realized that I had been here last summer, on a day when the library was closed. (See entry 169, June 4, 2013.) At that time, I had peeked in windows, read posters, and written what I could; now I could go inside.

The visit was short but a lot of fun. I told staff about my earlier not-quite visit, and one of them remembered that I had left a note on the door at that time. We chatted about the very tall bookshelves, and the large collection of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books in the children's area. I noticed at least three desks/tables provided for the use of laptops.

As we were getting ready to leave, my sister noted the large "balance ball" (also called a yoga ball, I think) and we learned that it serves as the desk chair for the librarian. During these visits, I always look for "nowhere else" items, and I realized that I had just found one here!

To learn more about this library, go to

8/11/2014, car, with JH

283. Richardson Memorial Library, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

If you know Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, at all, you probably know it for Polly's Pancake Parlor, with its wonderful food. But you should know that it also has a museum, and next door to the museum a very nice small library, tucked into a building with the police department.

My sister and I were waiting when the librarian and her husband arrived to open the library at 2 p.m. The first thing we learned was that a lightning hit recently caused the library to lose all power and blew out most of the computers. Ouch! It's good that no worse damage happened to the library and the surroundings.

The largest scrapbooks I've ever seen hold clippings, pictures, and such, documenting the local school and the Community Church.

The children's area has a green "reading chair" with the words Create, Wish, Magic, Success, Believe. The assistant librarian told us that the librarian has a background in education and has done a great deal to promote children's reading. She sounds like just what is needed!

Audio books are popular here. Interlibrary loans are available and widely used.

For more about this library, go to and for general information about Sugar Hill, try

8/11/14, car, with JH

I like the little policemen that welcome one to the building
that houses the police station and the library.

282. Bethlehem, New Hampshire

Sometime in the past year I received an article about how this library came to be. It's quite a story, and I immediately put Bethlehem, NH, on my list for this summer. When my sister and I arrived just minutes before opening today, patrons were already lined up at the door, ready to get inside. By the time we were inside, three young women were already seated at study tables, working away on laptop computers that (I soon learned) can be borrowed from the circulation desk to be used at the library.

As I entered the library, I spotted a meeting room with a large flat screen TV to the left of the entrance. The lobby has a metal "giving tree" with leaves showing the names of donors. Just inside, a large corner cabinet showcases items from Bethlehem's history.

The general library area is brightened by high windows on one end, taller windows on the front and back walls. Low shelves allow good sightlines for staff, easy access to books, and light penetrating the space. A separate room is reserved for quiet research and study. It has a "database and research" computer and a selection of reference books.

There are two artificial (but quite realistic) trees marking the entrance to the children's area. A colorful Mother Goose mural brightens one wall. The summer reading program clearly had a science theme; there was a display on the wall headed "Junior Scientists," and the topics listed were Pond Life, Weather, Robotics, Healthy Kids and Solar Flares. A project area has a tile floor, kitchen facilities, and two tables. I like the brightly painted wooden chairs.

This library has one of the telescopes provided through the partnership between libraries and the New Hampshire Astronomy Society. I really think this is a wonderful program.

A teen area is in the corner diagonally from the children's area.

Circulation appears to be managed by a date slip stapled to an item. A bar code is stuck to the date slip, so the item can be scanned before the due date is stamped on the slip. (I saw this on a periodical; it is possible that books are handled differently.)

A conversation overheard between library staff and a non-resident patron revealed that a $1.00 donation allows one to check out a laptop with Internet access for 30 minutes.

For more about this library, go to and