Tuesday, November 18, 2014

71b. St. Paul Highland Park Branch, remodeled

This was my third visit to the Highland Park branch. The first, in June 2012, was in pursuit of visiting every MELSA library. Three months later I went back to try and figure our why this library had so many hits on the blog, far above any other post. Alas, there was no explanation.

Today's visit was to a totally remodeled facility that recently reopened. After 11 months closed and almost $8 million spent--wow! What a difference!

The library still shares a building with a community center, and perhaps the only drawback I see is the lack of a readily-apparent entrance to the library itself. Instead, all of the outside signage refers to the community center; perhaps there is new signage coming? I hope so. (A picture at the link below suggests that there will be a vertical LIBRARY sign.)

There is now library space on the first floor, opening from the common lobby area. This space holds requests (very nice for just popping in to pick up something that is waiting for you) and media (except recorded  books). Library catalog computers and a service desk are here, and the circulation workroom is behind a large glass window. Partially clear and partially frosted, this window allows a glimpse of the automated materials handling equipment in action.

A large area to the left of this entrance is especially for teens, with a meeting room, study rooms, low bookcases on heavy casters (low: good sight lines for staff; casters, plenty of flexibility) and a variety of chairs, including two that are shaped somewhat like human beings (see picture below).

The rest of the library is reached by stairs or elevator from the lobby. My first impression, compared to earlier visits, was "Can this possibly be the same space?" It seemed to go on forever, in several directions. To the left is a large windowed space (behind the Community Center sign in the first picture below). Today the space was partially used as a browsing area, and partially as a potential meeting room, with a collection of tables and a sink and counter for refreshments at meetings. The spacious feeling is enhanced by an opening down to the teen area below.

There are large sections of shelving for adult fiction and non-fiction. The side of the space farthest from Ford Parkway has a "living room" area close to periodicals and non-fiction, with a rounded window that looks out on a reading garden. A couple of benches did not tempt readers on this cold day, but will be delightful in other seasons.

The children's area overlooks the Parkway. A welcome sign in four languages says that "We Practice the Wakanheza Project: Supporting, Protecting, Respecting, and Cherishing Children, Young People, and Families."

There are some study tables adjacent to the children's area. Within the area itself are computers on counters of two heights, at least six portable "writing tablets" (I think they use magnetism in some way with a stylus) that youngsters can use to draw or practice letters. Some very striking stylized tubular green "tree trunks" hold "bird houses." [Note: The remodeled Sunray library also has this feature, but theirs is outside. See entry 40a for a picture.] Varied seating for adults and children includes a large curved bench with a padded seat and back, and one section of the wall has three interactive "cause and effect" installations. I wanted to get some pictures, but I'm happy to report that several adults and children were using the area, and I could not figure out a way to get pictures without people.

Welcome back after almost a year away, Highland Park. You look terrific!

For more about this library, go to http://www.sppl.org/about/locations/highland-park or https://www.facebook.com/events/307004039484534/.

11/18/2014, car

View from the parking lot

The new entrance is no longer "hidden."
The Teen area is behind the windows to the left.

AMH book drop; there are two outside, an excellent idea as I was told that
Highland has the highest circulation of any St. Paul branch library.

I didn't try the "human" chairs, but I was told they are quite comfortable.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to going here as it is one of my neighborhood libraries, but the human chairs are faintly disturbing!

    Keep up your noble mission!


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