Saturday, April 12, 2014

232. REVISED Monticello MN Public Library, Great River Regional Libraries

It was obvious before I walked in that Monticello once had a Carnegie library. Why so easy to spot? Designers took architectural details in stone from the old building and used them to create a backdrop for a bench with a sculpture of a child reading. The parts that are used include the cornerstone with the date 1909. It's very classy.

What seemed obvious to me turned out to be otherwise. Checking the book Carnegie Libraries of Minnesota, I saw that Monticello did not have a Carnegie library. I returned to Monticello on April 24 and talked to five staff people. It turns out that there was an older building, and pieces of that building were used to create the stone sculpture in front of the library. The year, 1909, a common year for Carnegie libraries, was coincidence. The statue of the boy reading was created by a local artist.

Now, as you can see in the first picture, there is an attractive modern building that was once a bank.  Inside, it is teens front and center, with a nice area by the windows. I liked the signs in this area, especially "Sit. Read. Relax. Good dog." and "Read What You Like." Just beyond the teen area are books on cassettes and VHS movies, as well as books on CD and DVD movies.

Another sign, one that I didn't notice until my second visit, says "Parents: Do not allow kids to push the handicap button unless needed. We are trying to conserve energy and heat." I discussed this with staff and learned that there is another reason, one that troubles me at the library where I work, too. When little kids, those who are too young or small to open the door without electronic assistance, learn to use the handicap button, they become able to leave the building without supervision...straight into the parking lot. Also, if a kid stands and studies cause and effect by banging on the button, it can be broken, requiring expensive repairs and inconveniencing patrons who rely on it. Therefore: Let's see this sign posted in a lot more places!

OK, off the soapbox, back to the library.

There are two areas designated for quiet study. One is long and narrow, with 3 tables. The other is larger and reserved for individual quiet study. If you are studying with a buddy, you are asked to use the other area. This seems to be a smart use of space. Between the two areas is a comfortable-looking "living room" area for browsing with four large chairs; I think they are recliners! I spotted separate shelving areas for biographies, cookbooks, and western fiction.

A cluster of at least four public computers were all in use; a sign above them says "Please use Print Preview before printing." I saw that at another library not long ago, and it's a very good reminder.

The children's area is decorated with a larger-than-life "Miss Frizzle" on the wall, exhorting us to "go fly a kite." This figure is dressed in fabric and it's clear someone put a lot of work and care into it.

The Friends of the Library were having a book sale today. We were there shortly after opening, and the sale was mobbed! Too crowded for browsing, so I settled for admiring the poster displayed outside the sale room, showing the many ways that the Friends support the library. I suspect that pictures of people actually doing various projects is probably a more effective recruiting tool than a simple list of "ways you can help."

For more about this library go to

4/12/2014   car   with NJ

The features that made me think there had once been a Carnegie library in town.
Larger-than-life Miss Frizzle overseeing the children's area.

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