Thursday, June 5, 2014

245. Melrose, MN -- Great River Regional Library

For a moment when I walked into the lobby here, I thought I had been here before. No, I was thinking of a library in (I think) SELCO (southeastern MN). The similarity is an open lobby with a window wall straight ahead and with an open staircase to the lower level. Here in Melrose, the police department is on that lower level, perhaps wasting the view of the park and lake--assuming that the police spend most of their time out chasing bad guys, not looking out windows. But I digress...

Even before I entered the library proper, I knew that Melrose was the proud home of an Olympian. I had missed the billboard out on the highway (the librarian told me about it), but I saw a display of articles in a case by the door. Take a look or give a listen at to learn about this local hero, Amanda Smock, and her 2012 Olympic performance.

Immediately inside the library a table with assorted science gear (Geiger counter, weighing balance, lenses, rocks and minerals...) reminded me that this summer's reading program theme is science. I think that focusing summer reading programs on science is a brilliant idea, by the way.

There is a play area for little kids that includes the typical dollhouses, play kitchens, and Duplo blocks, but also the very un-typical car than can be driven by paddling ones feet along the floor. Do they actually get to ride it around the library? Yikes!

And how can it be that, after not seeing double-decker book bins for two years, I've now seen them in three libraries in the same day? Very strange.

There are a couple of study tables. At one, it appeared that a tutor was helping an adult learner, something very nice to see.

The free-standing shelves have a nice gray finish with dark green and natural wood detailing, very attractive. Paperback fiction is shelved horizontally in spinners. That is, instead of six books side-by-side in a compartment of a spinner, there are perhaps eight books in a stack. Interesting, effective, and new to me.

There is a modest-sized tech room with three computers, plus a couple of catalog-only computers.

For more about this library, go to



  1. Hi Ellen, I stumbles upon your blog and your project, as I was researching libraries for mine. My project,which was launched a few weeks ago, is to preserve the memories of libraries, all over the world, in the voices of those who use them and/or love them. It is thus multi author and global. But, I do love yours as well, and am almost envious that you have visited so many.
    Please visit my site too :
    I hope you like what you see.
    I would love it if you shared one of your favorites in the site.
    Regards and safe travels.

  2. Hello, "Mugglemuse,"
    I have visited your blog and find it very interesting, though I have only looked at a few posts there. I'll be back for more. How did you get started with your approach of having people write about their favorites?
    I am often asked "Which library do you like best?" and I have no answer for that. My approach is to look for things I like, and things I haven't seen before. How can I compare the Boston Public Library (which I barely had time to sample) to a small town library housed in a storefront? I will say that I am partial to the small-town libraries, where staff who care about literacy and the varied needs of their patrons and conducting amazing programs and maintaining attractive facilities on tiny budgets! I like the library that has a mallard duck nesting by the door every year, the one with the handsome plush lion, the ones that have telescopes to lend, the ones that have attractive and comfortable seating areas that face a fireplace or a pleasant outdoor view. I've visited some libraries that I don't care for too much--but I haven't visited one yet that had nothing to like.
    I don't see myself writing an essay for your blog (though that could change if an idea comes to me), but if I may I will add an entry to my blog suggesting that people look at yours. Will that be all right?

    1. Hi Ellen, I started out with the goal of giving something back to the libraries that have given me so much, and put up every one that I have used for a significant amount of time. As I wrote, I read too, and realized that along with the publishing industry, libraries are also undergoing massive transformation with digitization. My daughter, for instance, who reads a lot, doesn't use libraries much.. she finds everything online. This is happening across the globe. So, I asked friends too to write about their favorites. Like, you, I would be hard pressed to pick one favorite. But, I thought it was more courteous to ask authors to write about one of their favorites... they might not have time to write more. However, some of my friends have contributed more than one story, which I welcome totally. I have not been insisting on any one type of story, because I believe that in community projects like this, every voice adds value. The story of the senior citizen in NJ, is for me as interesting as the rambling one from university in Assam, India

      The best thing about the project is that I have hard discussions with new and interesting people in far flung regions- Myanmar, Lebanon, Alaska Ghana etc.
      Thank you for looking in and reading some posts. Please feel free to suggest it to friends. I will add the link to yours on mine too.
      Regards, mugglemuse


    2. Hi Elllen, Thank you for visiting my blog. Please feel free to share the link with your readers. If you are okay, I will put yours up on mine too.
      Libraries have been my safe safe haven in all the places I lived. So I started the project by putting up the ones that were important to me. Since the goal was to capture the essence of libraries across the world, I invited friends and readers to write. Some of them shared more than one library and that was awesome. But, I soon realized that it was more realistic to request folk to contribute just one--- people are busy already. That is the only reason why I ask for a favorite. (a favorite, not the favorite. :-)) Since this is a community project, it is the different perspectives that I am looking to bring out. The voice of the senior citizen in NJ in the Mercer County Libraries post is to me as interesting as that of the young man's in a remote university library in Assam India. The different people who have corresponded with me from Ghana, Lebanon, Myanmar etc have not share posts but taught me things about libraries in those countries. (I knew only about India and US till now)
      Thank you for your interest.


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