Saturday, August 16, 2014

292. Peter White Public Library, Marquette, Michigan

 A library set upon a hill. Well, the fact is, everything in Marquette is set upon a hill; it reminds me of Duluth. As you can tell from the title, the library owes its being to Peter White. If you go to the library website (link below), select About and then Library History, you will find a wealth of well-written and illustrated information about this man of "firsts." I think my favorite involves him being the first postmaster to use dog sleds to deliver mail to the UP!

Enter by the imposing front door, and the room to the right contains information, objects, and scrapbooks pertaining to Marquette's two sister cities, Higashiomi, Japan, and Kajaani, Finland. The room to the left has comfortable seating, tables, and periodicals. Both rooms have impressive fireplaces.

An area that might be called an inner lobby has many large photos on the walls, and a very impressive collection of elephant figurines in glass cases.

The main room, beyond the lobby, has large windows with a glimpse of the lake (the south shore of Lake Superior), places to use laptop computers, and the media collection, including books on tape and videos. A glassed-in area labeled Administrative Assistant Office gave a view that reminded me of back stage at a museum. The views of the lake are much more expansive from this upper level.

I'm not an expert, but I think there are very nice Craftsman touches on the stairs, carrels, and shelves.

The Teen-Only area is a sunny corner with sparkling CDs hanging from the ceiling on strings. It is for grades 6 though 12; during the summer it has "teen-only Tuesdays." A librarian and I talked a bit about policies for teen areas, and I've sent her a link to some information based on the Minneapolis Central Library's Teen Zone.

The issue of patrons trying to reshelve books is addressed here by this sign: "Please place items here that are not checked out and need to be reshelved." This is clearer than the message at my library "home," where the words "place unwanted materials here" allegedly prompted one annoyed patron to think that if she placed a book in that location, we would discard it--which is what she wanted us to do!

An upper level houses the genealogy section, Michigan materials, reference works, and non-fiction. Interesting historical items are in glass cabinets with hanging files below. There is a computer lab, at least eight public computers (not in the lab), a career and business center, and a bell collection that may eclipse the elephant collection on the first floor. There is also a large old dollhouse with a scrapbook that explains the story behind it. The MFC Business Reference Room has a number of interesting pieces of antique furniture.

I took the front stairs down past the Art Department and Technical Services, down a long sloping hall past a meeting room, and found the children's area. (Yes, there is an easier way to get there!) A bright blue carpet with fish inserts leads to the librarian's desk. A case holds many small objects and a sign headed "Can you find...?" with many items listed. There are several large stuffed animals, including a wonderful lion on top of a bookshelf; I think he is a cousin of the lion at St. Bonifacius in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Take a look and see what you think.

An unusual wall display consists of seven large fabric applique pictures based on Holling's Paddle to the Sea. These were created by staff and friends in 1976 as part of the bicentennial celebration.

A very clever touch is a planted area outside, facing a cinderblock garage (I think). The cinderblocks have been painted with a mural that makes it look as if the garage is an attractive part of the landscape. There is a large children's play area inside with toys, a ceiling of skylights, a craft area with a tile floor, and a computer specifically for parents to use while children play. I chatted quite a while with staff here, and learned that the children's area is about 10,000 square feet!

For more about this library (and its founder), go to http://www.uproc.lib.mi.us/pwpl/ and https://www.facebook.com/PeterWhitePublicLibrary


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