Monday, September 29, 2014

New Library Planned for Calgary--Pictures Added!

OK, I haven't visited this one--it isn't built yet! But I will have to make another trip west through Canada when it opens! Have a look. [I finally read most of the attached article. No rush on the trip...this library won't open until 2018!]


“Since embarking on this project, one of the things we’ve kept reminding ourselves is that we don’t just want to build the best library in the world. We want to build the library that’s best for Calgary,” explains Craig Dykers of Snøhetta.
GALLERY: A look at Calgary’s New Central Library
Officials say the final design reflects suggestions gathered from two years of public engagement and open houses.In addition, the entire concept for the building was shaped by the LRT tracks that bisect the library site in a north to south arc.
“The exterior and street life surrounding the library is just as much a part of the building as the interior,” says Rob Adamson of DIALOG. “The outdoor plaza welcomes visitors from East Village and beyond and invites them into the building to explore, relax, reflect and connect.”
Construction of the New Central Library is already underway.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

294.. Andersen Horticultural Library, Chaska, MN

This is a very specialized library, located in the Snyder Building at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I visited this library once, perhaps a couple of decades ago (gasp) and what I remember most clearly were the wonderful tables. They are still here, along with other furniture by George Nakashima.

The library provides pleasant spaces for reading and research, but materials do not circulate. Whether you are a gardener or a reader (or both), this is the place for books about horticulture, plant sciences, and natural history.

Climate controlled archives store rare and special texts, catalogs, and botanical artwork. Catalogs, you ask? How about a collection of almost 57,000 seed and nursery catalogs! They represent over 6,700 firms and date back to the 1820s.

In the lobby of the Snyder building I saw a display of books about the flowers of various countries, including Cuba, Ireland, the Galapagos, Russia, and Australia. Also one on Alpenblumen.

I find it wonderful that this special library also houses a collection of relevant children's books and has a story hour each Thursday at 10:30. That story hour and a visit to the nearby Arboretum Learning Center with its "green" playground and interactive exhibits would make a memorable day.

Not far from the library is the Arboretum gift shop, much, much larger than the last time I was there, with a whole bookstore-worth of books on horticultural and environmental topics.

For more information, go to

9/27/2014, car


One of several beautiful tables
custom-designed for the library by George Nakashima

Part of the main collection

I like the juxtaposition of the wood, card catalog,
facsimile of an old botanical book (on the rack at the far end of the counter)
--and a computer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

93a. Hennepin County, Excelsior, MN -- visit to new building

The new building for this library blends nicely with the architecture of this lakeshore town. It's located on a popular bike trail, and has an outdoor reading area with colorful benches and chairs all along one side. I was here on opening day, but I waited until late afternoon in order to miss all the hoopla. It was still very busy, however, with many kids enjoying the boat and other delights.

The teen area includes audio books, teen fiction, and graphic novels. I liked the display of "Teens Top 10," a row of multiple copies of popular teen fiction. Also, there were sheets of temporary tattoos on one of the tables in this area; nice edgy black ones!

I asked where the bell is (see entry 93 from my first visit here two years ago) and learned that it belongs to the city, not the library, so it stayed behind. The collection of old model fire trucks was given to the fire department. But the life-sized carved wooden "Brary the Beaver" is still present, right inside the main door. I like the murals; the one with the roller coaster reminded me that when I was a grad student at the U of MN in the 60s, I heard about "the amusement park at Excelsior." I never went there, but it was famous.

Someone has put a lot of work into an album of photographs showing the whole building process.

I could say a lot more, but in this case I'm going to send you to an online album of pictures for a complete tour. Go to and enjoy! Then hop on your bike and go visit.

9/13/14, car

Did I mention that the bike path is close?
That's it, to the left in the picture!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

50a. Dakota County Heritage Library, Lakeville, MN --Revisit

This is a dual purpose building; the part closest to the camera is the Drivers License office. I was intrigued to see that parking for that office is limited to 10 minutes! Where I live, 10 minutes would barely get you in the door.

Just inside the library door are some strollers with bags for books attached, a wonderful help for parents. Nearby is a shelf of "Lucky U" books. These are new best-sellers that go out for 7 days, no renewals.

The first thing I spotted in the children's area was a large wall display titled "Read an Alphabet of Animals." There are book jackets representing animal books, large printed letter cards, and ribbons connecting each jacket to the appropriate letter: Alligator, Bear, Bison, Cow... It's a very attractive display, and certainly highlights the breadth of the library's collection of kids' animal books.

The next thing I noticed was a large ... object ... shaped somewhat like a Viking ship, hanging from the ceiling. The Viking ship effect is heightened by the posters and such mounted where a Viking ship would have shields. This in itself  is very cool, but the best part, in my opinion, is the series of curvy blue fabric strips suspended below the "boat." The whole thing runs almost the length of the children's area, and gives a sense of walking underwater. I asked a librarian if this was something new; surely I couldn't have missed this, or forgotten it? Nope, it's not new. Go see it; a written description just can't do it justice.

The boating theme is also present in a structure near the window in the children's area; it has three curved steps to a sort of "prow" with three "portholes" for peeking out. This is at the edge of a nice "living room" or "play room" area with a couch, chairs, and a puppet theater.

Beyond the children's area is a large area with study tables and chairs sized for adults and children, and plenty of windows. There are many Spanish books. A Teen Corner (more windows!) has a couch and several large bean bag chairs. Nearby are four study rooms, each with a desk with an overhead shelf (just like the university library), two chairs, a window, and a glass panel door. Quiet and private...but not too private.

The adult collection and computers are in the middle. Music CDs are shelved in metal racks that are cleverly labeled with magnetic "refrigerator" letters, a nice whimsical touch

On the day I was there, an art display from All Saints Catholic School was above the CDs. It consisted of large letters C R E A T I N G, each letter decorated differently, followed by "moments of joy."

9/13/14, car

64a. Dakota County, Farmington Library, revisit after remodeling

I visited Farmington in the summer of 2012, during the project that started this blog: visit all the MELSA* libraries. I have two memories from that first visit: First, some bookshelves were set diagonally, in a sort of fan shape, something I hadn't seen before. Second, I took out two books, left them on the roof of my car while I took a picture, and (apparently) had them fall off the car out in the street, where someone found them and returned them to the library--after they had been run over and totally wrecked. When I got home, I discovered that I owed Dakota County Libraries about $35.00--ouch!

This time, what a difference! The library has been closed for a while for upgrades, and what wonderful job they have done. To the right inside the door are New Books, DVDs, Wii games ("The case is empty: bring to service desk") and the teen collection of graphic fiction, teen fiction and non-fiction, and a broad variety of magazines, including some Archie comics. The Teen area is in a bright windowed area set off from the rest of the library by floor-to-ceiling transparent colored panels. A study room or meeting room beside this area has the same panels, providing a consistent look that is very light and bright in a sophisticated way. Seating in the Teen area includes upholstered chairs with reading arms, like the ones I see (and use) in study areas at the U of M.

Beyond the Teen area is the very lively children's area. True to the town name, Farmington, the new design includes two round "silos" for cozy reading and an alcove with two steps up, then a bench, designed with gray slatted wood that suggests a corn crib. The alcove appears that it could function as a reading area, seating for an audience, or a stage for small productions. The ceiling is "barn red." Between these two features is a large play area with comfortable seating for adults and, of course, windows. A children's restroom is located conveniently just beyond the kids' area. [And the adult restrooms and a drinking fountain are just beyond that.]

All of that was along the wall to the right as you enter the library. Along what I will call the back wall are more windows and a large study and browsing area for adults. There are assorted chairs and tables and a kiosk for downloading e-books. I noticed on one of the tables stacks of adult education catalogs and JobDig materials. This struck me as a good place for such material, right where a browsing person would be likely to find it.

Four study rooms located on the left wall have transparent colored doors, similar to the partitions in the Teen area. The computer area is set off from the adult book collection by a shelf of reference books. Twelve computer stations along the wall provide plenty of elbow room, and give the area a serious, workplace-like look and feel. There are also eight chairs with pivoting arms for laptops.

The staff person I spoke to turned out to be a "library tourist" also, and now I want to visit the Library of Congress, if only to get a personalized "Reader's Card"!

Outside, I noticed that an automated book return is now being used. "Push green button. 1 item at a time. Spine first." I wonder how that is working out? One change brought about by the automated return is clear from the second sign: "Newspaper carriers: Don't place newspapers in book return."

For more about this library, go to .

9/13/2014, car

Some exterior work is not quite finished;
notice that I caught the library "in its underwear,"
the new yellow foam insulation being installed.