I was barely inside the door when I encountered the children's area, which is impossible to miss. See the picture below for the yellow brick road and the mural of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and (I believe) Aesop's Bremen Musicians. The window to the right of Rapunzel is clear glass with an etched picture for each letter of the alphabet, very classy and unusual.
The next amazing feature is an aquarium built into the wall, probably 15-16 feet long! A sign names the persons or businesses that help with upkeep; I'm sorry I didn't write down the names. Behind the aquarium is a program room that I imagine has a "back view" of the tank.
There are murals everywhere, and many interesting objects are displayed on top of the bookshelves. These include wooden constructions of various sorts, toys, just about anything but all interesting. The top of one shelf holds many LEGO constructions by kids; just guessing (because I did not see names displayed), but I think an unusual proportion of these were built by girls. I hope I'm right.
One large corner of the space is the "Tween Scene," for the upper elementary crowd. There are computers, a game station, and a couch, all in a pleasant corner space with windows. What a great idea to give them their own space, right at the age when they might be starting to pull away from the library and books in general.
There are more computers designated for age 12 and below, or adults accompanying children. A central space in the children's area is for the youngest patrons, with chairs sized for little ones and their accompanying adults.
When I pulled myself away from the children's area, I noticed that the Friends of the Library bookstore has created some bundles of five or six books on a related theme. Clever idea!
The rest of the library is just as creative and beautiful as the children's area, in an adult way. Perhaps this is explained by a quotation I saw on a statue of an open book, "Everybody needs beauty as well as places to read, study and enjoy in order to strengthen body and soul." The quotation is from Ellen Day, President of the Friends of Marathon County Public Library 1994-1996. I believe this building opened in 1994.
There is a large collection of framed art that can be borrowed for 2 months. The main floor of the adult area holds the fiction collection. The room is large and rounded at one end. Bookshelves are a friendly four shelves high, which is attractive and convenient. (When space allows, lower shelves create an open, lighter space.) The rounded end of the room holds various seating arrangements. One wall holds a collection of CDs in convenient pull-out shelves. There are many recorded books and a shelf of "Play-Away" devices, and, of course, plenty of DVDs.
A sign by the media return asks patrons to "Please check the content of your material." That simple request probably cuts down quite a bit on the need for phone calls, return visits, and general hassle!
Upstairs I found a large Teen Zone, which included a display of books bundled in twos, each bundle with a tag that begins "I want to read about..." and a brief description of the content. This is similar to what I saw last year in a NH library, where teen books were in larger bundles intended for vacation reading. The Teen Zone also includes fiction, non-fiction, Manga, graphic novels, six computers, a game station, and several chairs shaped like hands...the wrist forms a pedestal; you sit on the palm with the fingers at your back.
Non-fiction fills the space above adult fiction downstairs; the curved end of the space has assorted chairs, carrels, and study tables. There are also separate areas for good-sized collections of Spanish material and Hmong and other Southeast Asia material, books and media.
Other areas include a history/genealogy area with two micro-readers, a job search area, and an adult reference area with books, computers, large study tables, and wall maps of the world, the USA, and Wisconsin.
My visit here was extended by enjoyable chats with staff in children's, non-fiction, and at the circulation desk. I learned that new patrons are allowed to choose a gift: a tote bag, a pen and pencil set or ... a third thing that I have forgotten. I also learned that at least 300 home-bound patrons are served, ranging from a 12-year-old with a broken leg to a centenarian!
To learn more about this library, go to http://www.mcpl.us/about/locations/#.U-CotOnD_IU and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marathon-County-Public-Library-Wausau-Headquarters/102616333127420.
Welcome to the irresistible children's area!