Wednesday, August 6, 2014

271. Marinette, Wisconsin

The Stephenson Public Library was established 1903, according to the sign out front. (You can get into a lively discussion about the actual date, however.) It is the home of the Marinette County library system. Driving around to the "back," which is now the front, I saw the part that was added in the 1950s. There is ample parking in a lot along the river, the most attractive parking I've seen in a while...I could have sat there and watched the water flow by, but...

The first floor has media, plus 15 or so public computers. A TV tuned to the weather channel is built into the wall.

The children's area is a separate room on this level. A column right inside the room is wrapped in paper to look like a tree. When I walked in, a gaggle of small girls were playing with horse statues. They reminded me of kids at my Summerstuff program in Salisbury, NH, back in 1970. A program room is under the old part of the library with three broad carpeted steps between two elaborate stairs to the upper level. There are plenty of picture books, and just as I was wondering about the "J" collection, I found myself in the "back" of the media area, where the children's collection is housed.

A "kindness quilt" made of pictures on squares of paper that have been joined to look like a quilt. The pictures, which show "acts of kindness," were created by kids in grades 1 through 4 at Park Elementary. The "kindness" program is also being used in some libraries in southeastern Minnesota.

A nearby teen area includes college guide brochures.

The adult collection is up one level to what feels like a mezzanine, since it surrounds and looks down on the space below. The older part of the building has a circle of 11 columns, two fireplaces (no longer in use), and an impressive grandfather clock. In the newer part, glass walls enclose a quiet reading area, allowing a view to the river.

Back downstairs at the service desk, I resolved one issue that had puzzled me. Near that desk is what looks a bit like the lockers at an "Express" library in Minnesota. Signs, however, make it clear that this is related to checking out DVDs. I spoke to staff and learned that because of a past "loss" problem, most DVD cases are now shelved empty; to check out the disk, a patron scans the barcode on the case, and this device dispenses the disk. Apparently it works well, except when patrons forget to wait for or take additional disks in a multi-DVD set.

I also learned that materials placed in the book drop after hours count as returned on the next business day; where I work, we treat them as coming in on the previous business day. Good old "kinder, gentler" Minnesota! Not trying to cast aspersions--I could make a case for either practice, and the main issue is what patrons are accustomed to.

For more about this library, go to

8/4/2014, car



  1. I'd like to know how they added an addition and tied it into the original structure. Thanks for all the good info in your blog!

    Pam V.

  2. Hi, Pam, I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Many older libraries have added on instead of building new. Each location comes up with a different solution, and many of the remodeling jobs are quite effective, as here. If you're curious about just what they did, I suggest going to the library website using the link above, and asking the staff there. They were very friendly and helpful when I talked to them.


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