Saturday, April 26, 2014

69a. Walker Library, Hennepin County MN NEW BUILDING

The Uptown area of Minneapolis, near 29th and Hennepin, has been home to a public library for a  long time. You can put "Walker" in the search field to see one example, the old underground (mostly) facility. You can look at the picture here for an earlier building. The word LIBRARY is on the frieze, but isn't visible in this picture.

And you can read on to learn about the newest library at this busy location (Uptown! Bus Transit Hub!). I visited the older (not oldest) building in summer 2012, shortly before it closed. Today I was happy to visit on the occasion of the grand opening of the new building. What a change! There are windows on three sides of the space. When you enter, you immediately see a row of brightly-colored tables and chairs along the east windows, which look out onto Hennepin Avenue. There are 24 public computers here, and nearby are the non-fiction stacks, where children's non-fiction books are shelved with the general collection. I consider this a nice practice, since an adult looking for information on a specific topic may find a book for a younger audience more accessible, or perhaps better-illustrated, than an "adult" book. Whether kids find it helpful, well, I'd have to ask some. The shelving here is shorter than in many stacks, five shelves high with the top of the shelving units under six feet, a good accessibility feature that also allows light to penetrate the building.

Traveling clockwise around the interior, I came to the Teen area by the south windows which look out on Lagoon. More bright colors here, interesting chairs and tables, six more computers, and a passel of teens.

The children's area is on the west side. This side does not have a full window wall, but it is bright and cheery; in fact, it has some of the most colorful walls I've seen! two steps or a ramp take you up to an area with a window seat and shelves of children's fiction. Fairy tales have their own shelves. There are many picture books plus a long low divider with four computers for kids on one side, bins for children's media and board books on the other.

There is a large program room to one side with a sink and cabinets (think crafts, snacks) and a glass wall that can be slid away like a pocket door...or closed to contain a noisy program. Two features of the children's area are a light table with a construction set made of translucent colored plastic and the Uptown Spring Café, a center for creative play involving toy food and serving implements. I overheard someone say "This is more kids than we have seen in a long time," and I recalled that there were no children in the old building on the day I visited, although it was during the summer.

Past the service desk and self-checkout stations, the north side has another window wall. In this area I found a set of empty shelves waiting to be filled with requested items, the adult fiction stacks, media, and world languages. The languages I saw were Spanish, French, and Arabic; I may have missed some. Easy chairs by these windows provide comfortable places to sit and read. Periodicals are shelved in a way new to me, in clear plastic boxes with a slot on the front for the current issue. I saw these in what I would call "standard" size (New Yorker, etc.) but didn't look to see how they handle larger and smaller format periodicals.

There are a number of meetings rooms of various sizes, of course.

For more information, go to

4/26/14, bus

The entrance to the new library, Hennepin and 28th.

A view from Lagoon; the Teen area is inside the first windows.

If you look carefully, you can see the large metal letters L I B R A R Y that once graced the ground above the subterranean library. They now march along the retaining wall by the driveway behind the library.


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