Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Seikei University Library, Japan

I could also have titled this post "Should Libraries be Quiet...Part 2." And no, I haven't visited this library, though I'd like to.

Today I chanced upon a library with a unique approach to silent study areas. I was reading in the NYT about an architect, Shigeru Ban, this year's winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize. He has a unique approach to materials and an apparent social conscience...see the article here:


There was also mention of some of his more "traditional" projects, including this university library. Those mushroom-shaped study areas are anything but traditional, IMO.


I couldn't find a way to post separate pictures; the best views of the "pods" are toward the end.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

St. Bonifacius, Hennepin County -- Revisit

This was a spontaneous visit, prompted when I realized that my route home from my last stop would take me right through this small town. I visited in the summer of 2012, and although I refuse to have a "favorite" library, I do like this one.

Why? For one thing, it's tiny. It's probably the smallest of any I've visited. But it has public computers, and of course patrons can request anything available in Hennepin County--or beyond, with Interlibrary Loan. For a second thing, it's cute, with its green and white paint job. And finally, it has a lion. On this trip, I got a picture of the lion, and when I sort out my pesky camera, you will see it here.

Nice friendly staff, too, but that's a given almost anywhere I go.

To learn more, go to http://www.hclib.org/AgenciesAction.cfm?agency=SB

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225. Hutchinson, MN, Library -- Pioneerland

I never would have suspected it, given the direction I approached from, but the original building is a Carnegie library. It has been remodeled in a way that reminds me of the Little Falls, MN, library. That is, the new portion has been wrapped around the original building, so that the "back wall" becomes a divider of sorts. It's hard to describe...you really should just drive out and take a look!

One enters on the main level of the new building. Downstairs are restrooms, a meeting room, and "archives." Upstairs is a large space that seems to be used mainly for periodical and paperback fiction browsing. There is a long narrow study space with three desks that overlook the new space below, and two small study spaces on the old "front" of the building, flanking the original entrance. Very creative use of small, unusual spaces. There is also a fireplace (very Carnegie), a quilt hanging over it (very Minnesota) and a grandfather clock (very New Hampshire). I was told that the clock came from the original library.

In the teen area I found some passive programming that was new to me. This is "Teen Tech Week" (March 9-15, 2014) and kids were invited to tackle two challenges. First, look at the cut-up pages of a book in a jar, and try to guess which of ten books pictured on a poster the pages were taken from. Second, a "Scrappenger Hunt." That took me a minute to decode, until mentally replacing "app" with a "v" made it clear. There were five tasks in this hunt, including "Liking" the library's Facebook page, tweeting a favorite book quote, and so forth. I assume there were prizes. There seemed to be a good number of entries.

Another neat bit of programming involves a paper with room for up to 12 books and authors and a five-star rating opportunity for each. Many completed papers (not all with 12, but some) were in a container on a shelf. It looked at a glance as if this was mainly for adults. Also, residents of Hutchinson are reading "Orphan Train," and a display showed children's books that tie in with the adult volume.

The children's area has a very nice, old-looking puppet theater, and a LARGE stuffed bear on the floor with a sign that says "Read to Me!"

Cell phones and book drops ... can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Here, signs point out that the book drop is locked when the library is open, and state plainly that the library is a quiet zone, to be enjoyed with your cell phone turned off.

For more information, see http://www.hutchinson.lib.mn.us/

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The entrance hints at what you will see if you look from the "back" of the building.

Yes, it is a Carnegie library, looking out onto a town park.

224. Litchfield, MN, Pioneerland

On my way in, I noticed the "Carnegie Meeting Room." On my way out, I saw a picture on the wall that prompted me to ask, and yes, Litchfield did have a Carnegie library. The building is still standing, minus its dome, and is being used for multiple purposes. But the library I visited is quite new.

The lobby has a free phone for local calls, which I appreciate seeing in these times of "Everyone has a cell phone." No, "everyone" doesn't. And the batteries sometimes give out. There was a display about the importance of animal shelters, too. Like, like, like.

A sign reminiscent of Howard Lake says

DANGER -- Ninjas, pirates, monsters and zombies.

A nice display on the wall in the children's area lists literary genres (fiction, non-fiction, folktale, drama, poetry) and defines mystery, realistic fiction, fairy tale, fantasy, legend, tall tale, biography, autobiography, historic fiction, myth, fable, science fiction, and information. The tops of all shelves in the kids' area are lined with standing-up books, which create a very appealing display. I kept wanting to read, and I jotted several titles that were new to me, to request when I got home.

A very long window wall with a cushioned seat faces a rug with a pond-and-bridge design. There are four computers for kids 17 and under, or adults with children 12 and under. There is a fair-sized collection of books in Spanish. A display of Lego models includes at least two by girls, always good to see.

There is a restroom in the children's area that is definitely proportioned for little kids.

A small room holds a copier/printer and a workspace with a stapler, etc.

I saw two small study rooms, and there must be a third, because the ones I saw were "2" and "3." These rooms are kept locked, and must be requested at the service desk.

In the adult area the stacks are wooden shelves with paneled ends, which look very classy. I wonder now, but I didn't ask, whether they were designed as a nod to the old Carnegie building. The adults have two "living room" reading areas with floor-to-ceiling windows and comfortable chairs. There are many VHS tapes, books on tape, as well as their DVD and CD counterparts. The adults have about a dozen computers.

In the lobby, a large, handsome metal tree is mounted on the wall. A Plexiglas form over the tree holds metal "leaves" with the names of donors.

For more information, see http://litchlibrary.blogspot.com/.

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This is the "new" Litchfield Library.

The Carnegie library building is still in use for various purposes.

223. Cokato, MN GRRL

This library will have a re-visit in a couple of months, since they are in the midst of a remodeling project. I'm curious to see what they will do. In the meantime, if you need a very sturdy, low table, a two-sided wooden bookcase, or a large wire rack...stop by and make an offer! Or you can buy books from the Friends, sign up for a June Cleaver Tea ($15.00), or just put a contribution in the container on the desk.

According to signs, the book drop is emptied one hour before opening, and you will please not put bags of books in the book drop. I totally understand!

Little kids can play with a plastic barn and dollhouse. There was a display of Seuss and LeSieg books on one shelf, and helves with series books are labeled.

I think this is where I saw the useful sign "Please use Print Preview before printing!" If it wasn't, I apologize; I think it should be everywhere.

Pretty slim report here. I will make up for it on a return visit, I promise.

For more information, go to http://www.griver.org/locations-and-hours/great-river-regional-library-cokato

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222. Howard Lake, MN GRRL

I hadn't planned to stop here on my little tour today (in the new car), but the blue and white library sign was right out by the main road, so I just had to. And I'm glad I did!

The first thing that caught my eye was a sign in the lobby headed "Why Can't I Skip My 20 Minutes of Reading Tonight?" If you'd like to see it, check here: mv.weldre4.k12.co.us/.../Importance%20of%20Reading%20.pdf

To the right of the entrance is one of the nicest "living room" reading areas that I've seen. The rug, easy chairs, rocker, and sunny windows were very inviting.

A sign I really enjoyed, that I hadn't seen before, is

 WARNING: This library may contain unusual, hilarious, fascinating, sinister, and even frightening things. Read at your own risk.

I liked the Dewey Decimal signs in the kids' area, and the large kidney-shaped table that managed to look inviting. [That is, it didn't look like it was waiting for a gang of kids to arrive for tutoring.]

I was intrigued by the "natural world" mural on the walls of the hall leading to the restrooms and drinking fountain. Tipped off by staff, I discovered that the inside walls of the restroom (one of them at least) were similarly decorated--and there was a small artificial pine tree!

I consider this spontaneous stop one of my better decisions of the day!

For more information, go to http://www.griver.org/locations-and-hours/great-river-regional-library-howard-lake

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Friday, March 14, 2014

A map of my visits ... maybe

When I started this blog (August 7, 2012), several people were after me to have a map showing where I'd been. Today, I tried to start that project. I have a Google Map that shows all the sites visited in 2012, which means I'm about half way there. How to link it to the blog, and how to link a spot on the map to the appropriate spot on the map, well, those are problems I haven't solved yet. If you have ideas, tell me. In the meantime, I'm going to click on "Link" in the line above where I'm typing, and see what happens if I paste in what I think is a link to the map.

Map of Libraries Visited

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Library Changes

I visit the Minneapolis Central Library almost every Wednesday, partly to drop off donations and visit with a volunteer in the bookstore, partly because I always have something to return or pick up at the library. And partly to provide opportunity for serendipity to surprise me.

Yesterday I met another bookstore visitor, and the volunteer, this visitor, and I got chatting. Turns out that he and I had similar majors at U of M back in the day and knew some of the same professors and their foibles. That kind of connection is always fun. But the reason for this post is that he told me about a NYT article I had somehow missed, about the Boston Public Library, and changes coming there, and changes to libraries in general. So I had to track down the article, of course, and it's fascinating. I visited BPL very briefly a bit more than a year ago, between arriving in Boston by bus from NH and leaving Boston by train for Minnesota. After reading this article, I know I will have to plan for a longer visit at the first opportunity.

Here's the link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/us/breaking-out-of-the-library-mold-in-boston-and-beyond.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%23%2Fboston%2520public%2520library%2F

Oh, about the "eating in the library" comments in the article? Don't try it in Minneapolis Central. Not even M&Ms. Trust me, I know.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Should libraries be quiet?

Libraries seem to be getting louder and louder. Cells phones are used even where signs say "No cellphones." Children's areas are designed for more active play. Teen areas encourage visiting. The library where I work has two very small study rooms, suited for only one or two persons at a time; weekends often see groups of four to six teens clustered around tables working on homework together. People cluster around computers, chatting about what is on the screen. Except for the cell phones, this is all well and good. An earlier post about a Hennepin County library prompted a comment from a person who was trying to tutor at that branch, and was having trouble because of the ambient noise level.

I was trying to come to terms with all of this when I read the attached article. What do you think?