Thursday, May 22, 2014

81b. Arlington Hills Community Center & Library, St. Paul, MN

So let's say you've outgrown your Carnegie library on the east side of St. Paul, and it has some structural problems that mean simply enlarging it won't work. What to do? Build a fantastic new community center a few blocks away, and house the branch library there.

Now let's say your hobby is visiting libraries, and you've been following the progress of this one for months, and it finally opens; you want to write it up for the blog, of course. Does that mean you should hop on a bus and get there for the Grand Opening Celebration? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you want to feel the vibrant energy that an event like this engenders. Yes if you want to be surrounded by excited people of many different hear marimbas inside and drumming outside.... No if you want to see the library in action as a library and perhaps have a chance to talk to someone on staff; everyone was incredibly busy, of course!

I'll share what I can, and I'll visit again after a few weeks and see how things are going.

In the children's area, the fun starts with the folding doors that will help contain children--and noise-- when needed; the doors are finished with a chalkboard surface, and people were writing all sorts of messages on them. There is a complete play kitchen that was being explored in detail by two toddler boys. A free-standing three-panel structure has a different activity on each surface, with ideas to help parents and caregivers prompt children. I especially liked the idea to "Add a word," building from (for example) Holes, Round holes, Six round holes, Six round eye holes... and so forth.

The adult area has eight Internet computers ready to go, and there is room for four more. Both the adult area and the media area, which flank the service desk, have comfortable seating by full-length windows. Near one of these areas, I spotted a box labeled "Curiosity: You can't buy it." The box turned out to hold the notebook and swaps of a Geocaching box.

It looks as if the collection is completely new, shining, and very appealing.

The one person I was able to talk to was a member of the Friends of the St. Paul library, and I bought one of their new T-shirts as my contribution to the celebration.

For more information, go to and You'll also want to visit these sites for pictures. I had my camera with me, but I try to keep people out of my pictures, and that was impossible today. I'll make a return visit in a few weeks and update this post.

5/22/2014, bus/walk

No building pictures, but here's my new T-shirt.

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