Saturday, December 19, 2015

Want to own a Carnegie library?

I was poking around on line today, taking the first steps toward planning a library road trip for next summer--and I found a Carnegie library, the first built in Wisconsin. It's in Superior, WI, and there are a series of pictures showing just what it looks like today. No whitewashing...this would be a major project. Not for me, but wouldn't it be fun? What would you do with it, if you bought it?


UPDATE Sept 18, 2017
Just took a look at this to see what is happening. The price has been lowered...but the sellers admit that it will take a $million or more to rehab the building. Interested?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

375 New London, MN Public Library

Fortunately the librarian in Spicer had tipped me off that the New London library was in the lower level of a building. Even so, my GPS and I did some extra driving around town, and I even inquired of a young man out with two dogs, before I spotted the library...which I had passed at least once. The library shares the building with a dental office, an interesting combination.

My trip was going so smoothly that I arrived in New London before the library opened. Fortunately, it is across the street from McKale's Family Restaurant, where I had a tasty hot roast beef sandwich served by a very nice young woman.

The library is entered through a lobby shared with the dentist's office, and is reached down a flight of stairs. At the request of my knees I looked around for an elevator, but there is none. No accessibility? There must be an alternative that I hadn't spotted. I managed the stairs.

The library is one of the smaller ones I've visited, but it has all the basics: a corner for kids and teens, an alcove of picture books, three "stack" shelves of fiction and one of non-fiction, plus a small reference collection. I didn't mention any computers in my notes, but there must have been one or two.

I always look for "something new" at each library, and here it was a sign on what appeared to be a back door, stating that library staff should under no circumstances use this door. I couldn't resist, I had to ask the librarian, "What about a fire?"  Well... "And what about access?" I asked. I learned that there is a ramp outside that door that could provide access, but "under no circumstances..."

I've visited libraries that have minimal accommodation for people with mobility issues. Perhaps a lift that will raise a person in a wheelchair to another level, or a small elevator tucked into a corner of an otherwise-intact Carnegie library. But this is the first library I've visited that has not addressed accessibility at all. At least the town has a library, and that is good. this even legal?

And if, Heaven forfend, there is ever a fire...the heck with the sign on that door, just get out!

The library website is at; I couldn't find a Facebook page.


374 Erickson Memorial Library, Spicer, MN

After I left Willmar, a short drive of 10-15 minutes got me to the town of Spicer. Another ten minutes of confusion with my GPS finally had me facing the very obvious library sign. I totally rely on my GPS on these library visits, and every once in a while, it doesn't work as well as I would like. As you can see in the picture, this is the Erickson Memorial Library. On my way out, I noticed a picture of MABELLE ERICKSON; I didn't ask, but I assume the library is in her memory.

I was immediately impressed with the display case of banned books, with the caption "We Read Banned Books." Libraries should exist to meet the needs of all readers, and it's good to see this proudly displayed. [As I took the picture below, a patron entering the library gave me a look that suggested I was engaging in odd behavior.]

The children's area welcomes one with a banner "Dream Big -- Read." Then...well, you know that I always look for something I haven't seen anywhere else. Here, that "something" was a large gazebo, it's lower walls and floor well-cushioned for cozy reading and its outer walls covered with racks and shelves for books. What a great idea! I was sorry that it wasn't full of kids...but on the other hand, if it had been, I couldn't have taken the picture.

Another feature that I see at a few libraries is the two-sided slanted table, perfect for looking at large picture books.

I didn't really neglect the adult area. There are a half-dozen study carrels and stacks with fiction and non-fiction books. I like the use of sliding bookends that extend down from shelves (though they don't seem to work too well with shelves of short paperbacks). There are are a couple of cozy places with cushioned chairs for browsers to sit and read, one with a large plant. Plants are always a nice addition to a library, if you have staff or volunteers who are committed to their care.

There are, I believe, five Internet computers available. DVDs are not kept in their cases, but must be requested at the service desk.

A nice practice that I see occasionally is inviting patrons to adopt a book; that is, to donate the purchase price of a desired book, and dedicate the book in Honor or in Memory of the person of your choice. There was a small box of slips of paper with book titles and cover pictures, along with the purchase price, a convenient way, I would think, of keeping track of what has been donated and what is still desired.

The library website is at There is a nice article about the library here:

I couldn't find a Facebook page.


373 Willmar, MN

I visited Willmar on "Black Friday," the shopping day after Thanksgiving. Why? I don't shop all that much, and certainly not on this day. Minnesota State Parks offered free admission to encourage people to get out, rather than shopping, so I looked on my map for a cluster of towns with libraries--and a nearby state park. Willmar and two others (you can guess, or read the next two entries) got my vote.

The building has a one-story "older part" that now houses the children's area (it once held the entire library!) and a two-story "newer part" with the adult library on the first floor and the headquarters of the Pioneerland Library System and a large meeting room upstairs.


As I often do, I headed for the children's area first. Two display cases held models of buildings in NYC and Washington. Some appeared to be paper models; I've built some like these, but simpler, and mine never come out looking this good! There is also an alcove with a display of new books and media, posters about upcoming programs, and table seating for browsers

As in many MN libraries these days, there is an extensive play-and-literacy area provided in coordination with the Minnesota Children's Museum. Those that I've seen have each included a boat; we are the land of (at least) 10,000 lakes, after all. Here, the boat has an "outboard motor," a "tackle box," and a couple of real life vests. Next to the boat are a "cooler" that can be used with two "fishing poles" and some letters to make word families. The poles and letters are not in the picture--they must be requested.

To complete the imaginative play scenario, there is a picnic table with supplies and a "grill" for cooking. Nearby, not pictured, is a "Farmer's Market," in case some last-minute products are needed.

If fishing and picnicking are not to a child's liking, there is also a clever castle/puppet theater. I call it "clever" because it is fastened together in a way that would allow it to be disassembled for storage or to gain the space.
Or perhaps Zuckerman's Barn, with its large animals and wall painting is more appealing!

At the far end of the space is this delightful windowed corner with a curvy bench, child-sized chairs, bright carpet, and bulletin boards.

There are also two "Little Tykes" computers and several other computers for kids to use. 

The picture above shows the circulation service desk and the long view into the adult part of the library. The information/reference desk is around the corner to the right, at the far end. The fiction stacks are to the left in this long view, non-fiction to the right. Between these two is a generous Teen Space with four carrels, two booths, a shelf of table games, plenty of books--and a clear sight line to the Information desk. I like that the teen area is in view, but is somewhat buffered from adult oversight by distance.

The adult area feels very spacious. There are easy chairs by windows in two areas, for pleasant browsing. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be carrels or study tables, and there are six study rooms for individuals and small groups. Twelve spaces at study tables are "Reserved for Study Center Monday and Thursday 5 - 7." I counted at least a dozen Internet computers for public use, plus two others limited to 15 minutes for quick reference. Finally, a windowed room beside the information desk serves as a combination conference room and genealogy center, with books, a computer, and a micro-reader.

For more about the Willmar library, go to or check them out on Facebook at


Monday, November 9, 2015

372. Rochester, MN, Public Library

Happy 150th Birthday to the Rochester Public Library--I missed the party by two days!

After the most recent libraries I've visited, including little Kasson less than an hour before I arrived here, Rochester was almost disorienting in its size. I knew what to expect--the library website even provides a pdf of the floor plans!--but even so, I came to a full stop in the entrance area. Wow!

I started out to my right, the kids' area. This space is carpeted in subdued blue, green, and yellow, reflecting the water, grass and trees, and ripe fields. If you choose, you can enter by a small arched bridge over blue carpet, an option clearly enjoyed by the smaller patrons I saw.

There are ten Internet computers to the right of the entrance and four aquariums to the left. I won't try to describe their interesting shape, and I was unable to take interior pictures because the place was jumping. Kids everywhere!

I saw signs indicating that "Book Map is coming soon." I talked to a children's librarian about this and learned that it is a way of shelving books that I've only seen at much smaller libraries, so far. Rather than Dewey numbers, books will be labeled and shelved by "neighborhood," like Space, Animals, and so forth, then by progressively more specific word labels. I found an article about this here:  When I expressed regret over the loss of Dewey, the librarian pointed out that with the loss of school librarians, kids aren't learning the system any more, and the new way is more intuitive. Sadly, I can't argue with that. [In a couple of small libraries I've visited, I've been told that it means organizing books "like a bookstore."]

The children's area is perhaps the largest I've seen, at least equal to Minneapolis Central (not counting the compressed stacks). One wall, about 36 feet long, has a mural of common Minnesota animals. There is plenty of room for programs and a Play Spot in collaboration with the Minnesota Children's Museum. These Play Spots are becoming ubiquitous; this one includes a post office, a writing table, a puppet theater in a gigantic "hollow tree," and half a canoe that seems to be coming through the wall on a blue plastic platform of "water." Many picture books are shelved by category, like alphabet, shapes, nursery rhymes, and numbers. There are plenty of others shelved by author, also.

A large room with windows on two sides seems to be the teen space. I didn't go in, but I did make note of a sign outside: Last summer, 355 teens completed 18,060 hours of reading, which was 4180 hours more than last year. That's a lot of reading!

The other end of the first floor is the adult fiction area. There is a windowed seating area near the new mysteries, followed by many rows of stacks. At the far end is a space that fooled me into thinking it was round. In fact, it is rectangular, but has a round design in the carpet topped with a large round table. Yes, I admit it, I was fooled and slightly disoriented for a minute.

Since parking ramps are free on weekends, I decided to take time to visit the second floor, the non-fiction collection. On the elevator on the way up (favoring my knees) I saw this sign: "Please do not leave children under 10 unattended." I wonder how many times that has stopped a parent from heading upstairs and leaving the little ones in the children's room?

Upstairs I found rows of tables with reading lights; many newspapers; a computer lab; a case of flat drawers for topo maps, next to a globe with the directive "Abuse it and lose it;" a series of vertical pamphlet files; and many periodicals shelved on spinners designated A-B, C-E, etc. Older periodicals, it seems, must be retrieved from the "Periodical Room." A fairly extensive International Languages section reflects Rochester's role as the home of the internationally-famed Mayo Clinics.

The Dewey Decimal system still holds sway on the second floor. Would that ever change? "Not in my lifetime," was the heartfelt response of two librarians! I also learned from these librarians that the library is starting to look into adding a third and fourth floor, in order to house their growing collection. To those who think that libraries are dying dinosaurs I simply say, "You need to look around,"

Learn more about the Rochester library at and visit them at

Now, I think, to be fair, I should visit the Rochester, New York library on my trip to New England next summer!

11/7/2015   car

I couldn't find a good angle for a "front door" photo, so I settled for
this bookshelf mural near the drive-up book return.

371 Kasson, MN SELCO (SELS) Region

I knew what direction I wanted to head on Saturday, so I checked the map for towns of interest. There was Kasson, so I went to the website to check their hours. While doing that, I saw that Kasson is building a new library, and that sealed the deal. That, and the tag line "The place to go when you need to know."

The dynamic tone of this library comes through in many ways. A bright bulletin board in the entrance features color copies of audiobooks and DVDs "New in November." The end cap of shelves near the service desk is covered with paper and bears the question, "What are you thankful for?" Markers are available and the paper is filling up. A framed sign bears this quotation from Barbara Stripling of the American Library Association: "A library is an invitational space. Anybody--everybody is invited to come in and you have the freedom to explore ideas." These are three wonderful and significant ways to start a library visit.

The current building is not fancy, but it is working. There is a very nice "living room" by the windows, close to periodicals, newspapers, and media. A good selection of large print books is nearby. The collection is understandably limited, but all of the resources of the South East Library System (SELS, formerly SELCO) are available to patrons. The non-fiction collection includes the 1997 Laws of Minnesota, 2112 Minnesota Rules, and 2014 Minnesota Statutes.

The children's area has a non-fiction corner with a bright carpet, seating, and a Little Tykes computer. All the "truck" books have been given their own space on the shelves, perhaps in honor of the construction of the new library. I like the two rectangular tables, one with red trim and eight red chairs, the other with blue. A sign above the media collection says "Videos are not for public performance unless specifically stated." I have not seen this mentioned before, although I have seen variations of  "Copying music? You're breaking a Federal Law. Stop it. Now. Really."

Before leaving, I chatted with the librarian and got directions to the new construction site. One thing I thought very interesting is that the building is designed to serve as a community shelter in case of tornadoes, a very important and realistic approach to design. I've included one picture of the construction site below. You can see many others at the library website, The library is also active on Facebook at

Finally, a big "Happy Birthday" to the town of Kasson, founded in 1865 and thus 150 years old this year!

11/7/2015   car

The present building, close to the heart of "downtown."

Not far away, construction has started on the new building.
 I'll be back!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

370. Silver Bay, Arrowhead Region, Minnesota

With my visit to Silver Bay, I've now been to all of the Arrowhead District libraries along Route 61 and Lake Superior. You can see from the pictures what a beautiful clear day I had for travelling; I wish I had turned 90 degrees to my right and taken a picture to show you how very dark blue the lake was this day.

My GPS had a little trouble with the address here in Silver Bay; I had the correct address, but the GPS took me to the middle of a residential area with no sign of a library. A stop at a nearby shopping mall, a visit to the local bank at the mall, and I discovered that I was within walking distance! So I got my notebook and camera from the car and walked downhill a bit to the brick building you see below.

To the left of the door is a small seating area (you can see the window in the second picture) with a round rug, two easy chairs, large paintings on the walls, and a small table. The periodicals and newspapers are nearby. I imagine that this is a popular spot with some people at some times of day.

Beyond this area is a long table with chairs--and a collection of coloring papers and colored pencils, for adults! I've seen jigsaw puzzles, checkers and chess set ups, and other games, but a chance to color? That's a new one, and I like it. It's a fun "passive programming" addition that any library could implement for very little cost.

The non-fiction area has assorted study tables adjacent to the stacks. There are racks of paperback books, CDs, and DVDs; I learned that recorded books and DVDs are part of a "floating collection" within the Arrowhead Region of northeast Minnesota. A floating collection is a great way to provide sites with variety without having to buy many duplicate titles. Of course one does not have to wait for a title to "float" in--items can be requested from within the region and beyond.

In what appeared to be a "history corner" I spotted bound copies of Silver Bay News from the 60s. There are also two large ring binders of history by senior citizens, with pages of newspaper clippings, photos, and what appear to be memoirs. This is a nice way to collect memories and provide continuity in a community. They are up rather high (for protection and space reasons, I would guess) but can be lifted down to a sloping table for perusal.

The children's area and adult fiction collections are to the right of the entrance. A sign on the wall in the children's area says "In Memory of Margaret S. Davidson, Founder and Librarian, Silver Bay Public Library 1953 to 1963."

There is a good-sized rug with a "pond" and a "footbridge" printed on it, wonderful for imaginative play. All sorts of objects line the top shelves along the wall, including a 3-D jigsaw puzzle of the White House. On the walls above are pencil/charcoal drawings of children of various cultures, perhaps by a local artist? I wish I had asked. Children's books include picture books, fiction, and many, many Nancy Drew books. I like the bookends that have been made with beaver-gnawed branches, and the decorated paint-stirring sticks available for use as shelf markers.

A small teen area has a soda fountain-style table and pair of chairs, as well as a collection of young adult fiction.

It's not a library program, but I noticed on the bulletin board in the entrance a poster about an October 31 event in the town: an attempt to set a world record for "most bat houses built in one day." If I lived closer, and if I didn't have to work on the 31st, I'd be tempted to participate in that!

[This is where I would normally put a link to the library website, but I could not find one. The link from the Arrowhead District page appears to be broken. My attempt to find a Facebook page led only to a generic "placeholder." If someone reading this can provide working links, I'll gladly include them here.]


Silver Bay Public Library

A closer view, showing the small deck and bench at the entrance

369. Grand Marais, Arrowhead Region, Minnesota

I've been trying for weeks to get to the Grand Marais library. The problem? It's just a bit too far for a one-day trip, so that meant a Wednesday afternoon--Thursday trip with an overnight in Duluth. And that had to be a Thursday when I did not work (alternate weeks), when the weather was decent, and when I had no dental or furnace emergencies. So this has been in the works for a while and it was worth the wait. The sky was blue, the lack of colorful foliage (although disappointing) meant better views of Lake Superior, and traveling mid-week meant I pretty much had Rte. 61 to myself. I hadn't been this far up the North Shore for 20-plus years!

So, I finally arrived at the library that earned the American Library Association's 5-star rating five years in a row.

The lobby welcomes one with a pair of couches and a lovely nighttime photo of the library. There are shelves of books for sale and a paperback and magazine exchange, making this a fine place to relax and maybe wait for a ride or a friend,

Entering the library proper, the circulation desk is to the left of the doorway, the reference desk to the right. It seems that this gives excellent coverage by allowing staff at each desk to see each other, and giving two broad views of the interior.

The early literacy area for little kids is beyond/behind the reference desk. There is varied seating for adults who bring kids, including a couch in front of a large window. A wooden castle with toy figures is in the center of a bright carpet, and the space is surrounded by bins of picture books and board books. Nearby is a shelf of toys that can be checked out for two weeks, and there is a bookcase of parenting materials.

A map case with atlases and topo maps stands outside a Quiet Room with periodicals, large windows, and a variety of upholstered seating and study tables. Rooms like this seem to me a good compromise between the current practice allowing normal speaking voices (of adults and kids) and the need of some people for quiet.

Fiction and non-fiction stacks have attractive vertical signs on the ends indicating what is in each bay. A catalog computer is conveniently located in the back of the stacks, and there are chairs at the end of most bays. An "In Remembrance" book on a small table hints at the community support that helped earn that five-star rating from ALA.

A long, windowless wall hosts six Internet computers on small tables, plus a microfilm reader.

At about this point, I realized that I had not seen any "junior fiction" -- and there it was, near the computers and the service desk, a good place for subtly supervising kids who are too old to need a parent nearby but still in need of a watchful eye. When I only saw fiction here, I went back to the non-fiction stacks and discovered that (as in many other libraries) non-fiction of all levels is shelved together.

As I was leaving I noticed (it was impossible to miss) a Makerbot Replicator" with many examples of objects that have been made with it. Talking to staff, I learned that this 3-D printer belongs to a patron who periodically comes in to run it, to the delight of any kids who are around. I believe that the library Director is also able to use the printer.

After leaving the library I walked around the town a bit. The "season" is over for now so the town was very quiet. I walked to the edge of the lake and heard the mild surf, enough to get a bit of an "ocean fix," then headed southwest to my next visit.

For more about this library, visit or their Facebook page at


The library entrance

To the right of the entrance, the toddler area is in the near corner,
the quiet room for adults in the far corner.

Not a library picture, but I couldn't resist.
One bear cub is watching the lake, the other is keeping an eye on the town.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

368. Baraboo Public Library, Baraboo, WI

Another handsome, classic Carnegie library, this one from 1903. I was given a copy of the history of the library (you can find it on the library website home page, under "About the Library"). The Baraboo library building opened 112 years ago, in 1903, but the library had already been chartered by the State of Wisconsin eight years before. A photocopy from A Book of Carnegie Libraries by Theodore Wesley Koch (H. W. Wilson, 1917) includes this paragraph: "The plan is of the simplest.--center entrance, delivery room in center, with stack room in the rear. The reading room, with reference alcove, is on the left, the librarian's room at the right. The book capacity, all in wall shelving, is about 8,000 volumes, with floor space for stack cases olding 5,000 more volumes. Free access is allowed. The building, designed by Claude & Starck, shows what can be built for $15,000, properly spent." (Emphasis added.) NOTE: These are the same architects who designed the Tomah library about 10 years later.

Each side in the front has convenient curved bench seating.

There is a large display of Duncan yoyos inside the front door. I know I have visited another library with a Duncan yoyo display, but I can't locate the post. It's possible that I didn't include it in my comments, and I'll have to dig back through my notebooks to find it.

The hanging spheres are "book art," created from a global form covered with circles cut from books left after the Friends' book sale. They continue to be sold, I understand, from time to time. The frieze along the wall is a copy of Cantoria by Donatello. It was originally in the children's room before the 1969 remodeling that moved the kids to the lower level.

You can see the high windows here along the side of the building, allowing for wall shelves. The  front of the building has taller windows. To the left of the entrance is a room with a fireplace and study tables. To the back, in the newer space, there are shelves along the wall and stacks of fiction and non-fiction placed diagonally. There are a lot of "special interest" (non-fiction) DVDs, plus TV shows and movies.

There are eight computers for patrons to use. The reference shelves include a set of The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, a 16-volume Oxford English Dictionary, and lots of Chilton car repair manuals. As in New Glarus, the old card catalog is now used to store seeds for a seed exchange.

When I saw this intriguing and unique piece of library furniture, I assumed it was a feature from the original building. Not a bit of it! This was built within the past year and placed in the center of the main floor, near the service desk. The knobs on the side serve to open double doors for removal of books.

When I went to the lower level and tried to take pictures, my camera quit. Fortunately, I had spare batteries in the car. Out to the car and back to the library, where I took this picture of the "corridor in the style of Piet Mondrian." I learned that one staff person here is "a real artist," a nice plus that you can't really put into a job description! [Another is a professional clown and was off at that time giving a tour at the Clown Museum. [ ] For anyone not in the know, Baraboo is also the home of the Circus World Museum. [ ] I believe that the museum also houses a library. I really must make another trip here when I have more time to explore!

I didn't take other pictures on the lower level for the very good reason that it was well-occupied, especially by teens. I was told that a Teen Services Librarian has been building the program for youth and having a lot of success. Have a look at the many pictures posted on the Facebook site (link below) to see what is going on with clowning, sewing a quilt with three donated sewing machines, the "Dance Walk," and more.

Tables in the school-age children's space were being used by a couple of tutors with adult learners.

The space designed for the youngest patrons has board books, picture books, puzzles, toys, a puppet theater, and two very large plush horses. A couch in front of the fireplace is the scene of many pictures of graduates from the "1000 Books before Kindergarten" program. That program, by the way, is sponsored by Baraboo Elks Lodge. Good for you, Elks!

I'll end with a sign I liked in this preschool space: "Keep books everywhere--in the diaper bag, in the car, in the bedroom, and all over the house--but find a cozy nook in a space where there are few distractions and make that your special reading place."

Thanks to Gail in the children's area and her colleague upstairs (sorry, I didn't get his name) for tons of information. I hope I was meant to keep the printout of the info about the library history.

More information about the library can be found at,j and there are loads of pictures at


367. New Glarus Public Library, New Glarus, WI

I probably had never heard of New Glarus, WI (pop. 2111), until someone called my attention to a series of pictures of libraries in New England, posted by Rachel from the New Glarus library. [Of course, as things tend to go, I can't find that post now.] I enjoyed the pictures, swapped emails, and started following the New Glarus library site on Facebook. So I saw the request for board games on July 27. I inquired, and yes, one that I had would be welcome. So on September 2, I headed for New Glarus (and a couple of other Wisconsin libraries, of course) to deliver the game and "collect" the library.
Luck was with me...Rachel was there and we had a good chance to chat. And...on to the library visit.
This is the building that houses the Town Clerk's and public utilities offices, as well as the library. Just to the right of the picture is the police department. In a side corridor from the lobby that serves the library and offices is a series of old prints from William Tell. I had to read William Tell when I studied German in college, and I could almost read the German version of the captions on the pictures. Almost.

New Glarus was founded by Swiss immigrants, and still retains much Swiss atmosphere and pride. [The town webpage is at] The picture above is pale, just as it looks.


I took this odd-angled picture to try and show the "shields" high on the wall. I think, but I failed to confirm this, that they represent the various cantons of Switzerland. Perhaps someone will leave a comment and either confirm or correct my hunch.
The children's area has a computer with a colored keyboard and a broad bench, one that would seat two, maybe three, little kids. This is much nicer than places I've been that insist on only one child at a computer at once. [Never mind socialization, we want quiet!] There is a nursery rhyme-themed rug, a Duplo table, and a collection of puppets. The backpacks shown above the puppets in the picture hold collections of books and toys on related themes, like raptors, bugs, and birds. In the upper left of the picture is something new to me, children's CDs in yellow-and-black zippered cases. It seems to me that this would make it easier to keep track of borrowed CDs, with less risk of losing them among the family's collection. There is also a good-sized collection of CD and book sets. I learned that about 270 kids participated in the summer reading program--in a town of just of 2000!
There are two computers for the older kids with a sign requesting that the limit be two kids per computer. (See comment above.) There seem to be quite a few YA titles for the size of the library and town.
The card catalog is now used for seed sharing. A corner with seating is near a rather large collection of periodicals. Most of the titles are familiar to me from the library where I work; I bet there's about an 80% overlap. But this is the only place where I've spotted the "Swiss American History Society Review!"
Music CD covers are displayed in plastic sleeves; the disks themselves must be requested from the librarian, I think. There are stacks with about 11 bays of non-fiction, perhaps 20 of fiction for adults. DVDs are in individual cases--no multiple-DVD sets. So, for example, Season 1, Disk 1 and Season 1, Disk 2, of your favorite show are in two cases. A sign nearby provides a reminder: "New Glarus Municipal Ordinances: Theft of library material, $248.00 fine." That's explicit--and motivating!
I saw a wonderful display of cut-paper art. And as I left through the lobby, something else new to me: a place to dispose of unused medicine, provided, I think, by a nearby hospital.
This is the view diagonally from the library, just to give a slight flavor of the town. Also, a shout-out is in order to Kennedy's Ice Cream--it was just what I needed.

Finally, here is my reason to plan a return trip in a year or two:

"On May 5, 2015 the New Glarus Village Board unanimously passed a Resolution that reflects the results of the 2014 referendum on the library-building project.  Specifically, the New Glarus Village Board has endorsed Glarner Park as the new downtown home of the library, and has agreed to reserve $1,000,000 in borrowing capacity for the library project."

The library website is at, and you'll find the on Facebook at

191a. Tomah Public Library, Tomah, WI

NOTE: I was looking for one of my older posts and made an interesting discovery: I visited the Tomah library before, two years ago, in August 2013! Does that count as short-term memory loss? Many of the things I commented on were the same on both visits. If you want to see the first post, search for "Tomah" or "191." I changed the number to 191a to indicate a re-visit, because this is my system for keeping track of how many individual libraries I've visited. No regrets; it's definitely worth a second look!


Welcome to the Tomah, Wisconsin, Public Library, a Carnegie library that will soon celebrate its centennial. From a paper about the library that I was given during my visit: "In 1911 Ernest Buckley, who was a successful geologist, left the city $12,000 in his will to be used as needed for a park and/or a library. ...   City leaders set aside $7,000 of Buckley's bequest for a library ... By 1915 they had received [a] Carnegie grant ... secured the services of Claude and Starck, who were well known in the Midwest for their library designs for small communities. ... The architects produced the last of the four Wisconsin versions of their 'Sullivanesque' design -- a two story (raised basement and main floor), red brick rectangle topped by a green-tiled hipped roof .... " In 1980, a flat-roofed addition provided needed additional space.


So what, you may want to know, is that cut-out thing leaning on the side of the library sign? I didn't know either when I took the picture, but I learned that it is a "place holder" for a fountain that will be part of the centennial celebration. You can see a model of the fountain at the library website (link below), but if you look closely here you can see silhouettes of a boy and girl leaning against a stack of books and reading. I have several reasons that I plan to head to this part of Wisconsin in a couple of years; one reason will be to see the fountain after it is installed.
The children's area is on the lower level. This fireplace is, of course, in the original part of the library. That over-exposed rectangle above it is part of an exterior frieze removed during the 1980 remodeling. You can get a much better view at the library website. This area has cabinets with pull-out shelves for CDs, a very nice way to store and display them. There are lots of media on wall shelves under the high windows. Children's non-fiction and the librarian's desk are nearby.
Murals fill the walls in the new space, including this one in a story time alcove...

...and this one over a bookshelf. This one goes beyond "mural" -- I believe that's a real stuffed fish. One mermaid seems to be enjoying the panoramic view in the mirror!
I've never seen this sort of display before and I like it. Plastic pocket-pages hold reading suggestions in the form of book jacket pictures, color-coded by grade.
The murals have a Peter Pan theme, which makes it very appropriate to have a pirate ship on display. This three-foot long model was carved by John F. Downs, who gifted it to the library.
One corner of the children's space has a study table with a "Quiet Please" sign and a vase of "placeholder sticks" for browsing. Many board books are shelved in their own bookcase, alphabetically by title. This may be the first place where I've seen board books kept in order, not in a jumble.

And just as I was putting the camera away, getting ready to leave, I spotted this remarkable table. I couldn't resist it!

I didn't take any pictures in the adult area upstairs, but I didn't neglect it. I like the way that shelves are labeled with authors' names in the fiction section, for authors who have multiple titles. Commonly-used sections of non-fiction also have shelf labels to aid patrons in quickly locating their interests. Bookshelves along the walls are 5 or 6 shelves high; wooden bookcases with adjustable shelving allow good use of space, with shorter shelves for many classifications and taller ones for art and craft books, which are often taller. Free-standing cases are four shelves high. Paperback fiction is shelved on spinners.

There is a "living room" area near the fireplace (above the one in the children's area) and another area of easy chairs and a study table. With assorted chairs throughout the adult area, there is a large variety of places to sit and read. Twelve computers are available for patron use.

A map/atlas case that looks quite old is used for...well, maps and atlases, of course. Another similar case is used for newspapers.

Finally, as I headed to the children's area, I spotted a picture of Caroline D. Voswinkle, Librarian from 1901 to 1945, and a photograph of her with children filling every seat at tables in the library. That kind of tenure is rare these days.

I'll be back in 2017 to see that fountain, folks; I'm already looking forward to it.

The library website is and they are active on Facebook at


Monday, August 31, 2015

366. Hanska Community Library, Hanska, MN

A historical marker stands on the corner by the Community center.

Walk to the right past the Library sign...

...and you will come to the entrance on the lower level. This totally reminds me of the library in Enfield, NH, that I visited last summer.
Inside, I found a tiny library with some very clever ideas. Perhaps the best is that all shelves that are not against the walls are on heavy-duty casters, allowing them to be pushed aside to maximize space in the multi-purpose room. [Go to the Facebook site, link below, to see these moveable shelves.]
My timing was fortunate, as a music program would start in about 15 minutes, and parents and children were starting to gather. I needed to head home (no music program for me!), but I had time to visit the back room, which houses four computers, the adult non-fiction collection, a selection of YA books, and shelves of plastic boxes neatly labeled for seasons and themes. One shelf holds high school yearbooks (The Viking) for 1941 to 1977 and Community School yearbooks from 1970 to 2003-4.
Back in the large room where musicians were preparing to perform and kids were gathering on the alphabet rug, I looked at framed pictures of veterans. I learned that the local paper had archives of these pictures at one time, but a special project had them all reproduced in the same size and mounted in frames, for display. Most are from WW2; others are from Korea and Viet Nam. I was told that a start has been made on preparing pictures from "more recent conflicts" for display. It was sobering to realize that so many men and women from this tiny town had been involved in war.
And with that, I headed back to St. Paul.

365. Comfrey Community Library, Comfrey, MN

As I've mentioned before, seeing kids' bikes outside a library always makes me glad, because it means kids are riding their bikes, not depending on a car for transportation. And, since they are generally unlocked, that I'm in that sort of community.

Near the entrance to the library I saw a collection box for "Soles for Souls," the first time I've seen one except at my favorite shoe store. Great idea.
Inside, I spotted a display of participants in the "1000 Before Kindergarten" program, which I think is great. The children's area has a series of framed nursery rhymes and pictures on the walls. Near the large windows you can see in the picture above are five square tables, each with four chairs--room for plenty of kids. Perhaps a whole class from the school? Reference books, including Encyclopedia Britannica, World Book, and others, are shelved under the windows.
A model of the Comfrey water tower with a tornado (made very realistically of wire coiled around a funnel shape of rough gray material), with the ground littered with broken trees, is a vivid reminder of the March 29, 1998, tornado that devastated this part of the state. This new library, I believe, is a result of that tornado.
Nearby are 29 VHS tapes of the Northern Lights Minnesota Author Interviews Series, a wonderful reference collection (for those who can still play VHS tapes). I noticed that non-fiction VHS tapes are shelved with the non-fiction books. I expect that non-fiction DVDs are also shelved this way, though I didn't spot any. I think it's a great way to get exposure for non-fiction material and meet the needs of people who might like to complement a book with a visual source, and vice-versa.

A corner of the adult area has large windows and comfy-looking chairs--and a sign that reads "Adults only in this reading corner." Periodicals and newspapers are nearby. Also nearby are reproductions of three old school signs: "Teacher's Rules 1972" (which sound much older than that!); "1915 Rules for Teachers" (including no smoking, no bright colors, and "at least two petticoats"); and a list of "Punishments," of which the most serious (10 lashes each) were "Playing cards in school" and "Misbehaving to girls." There is also a picture of Alma Neumann, 1887-1985, identified simply as a "Library Benefactor."
My favorite sign, however, is more contemporary: "Unattended children will be given espesso and a free puppy." Take that, parents who want to use the librarian as a babysitter!

I took this picture as I walked back to my car. The grain elevators reminded me of the wonderful course I took last spring at the U of Minnesota, "Geography of the USA and Canada," taught by Prof. John Fraser Hart who turned 92 during the semester--and retired at semester end. One of the most interesting courses I've ever taken.

Friday, August 28, 2015

364. Springfield Public Library, Springfield, MN

Entering the Springfield Library, I was greeted by two "library behavior" signs. First, "Backpacks must be left at front desk." I think of this as more a bookstore sign than a library sign, but local needs vary. The second sign said, "Please watch your children. Other patrons may need quiet"--a very reasonable request, gently stated.

A large poster in the children's area claims to list "933 Things to Be Happy About." I glanced over a few and decided that we are not all happy about the same things. Big windows along the front of the building provide plenty of natural light. A large window with a semi-circular top is flanked by two bow windows with platforms or window seats. The children's collection comes first with picture books and junior fiction. Periodicals and a browsing area are by the large center windows. In this area there is a sign asking that patrons please NOT cut recipes and coupons from magazines--a chronic problem in every library, I think. [I visited one library where a sign like this was accompanied by the suggestion that copies can be made, even offering that if a patron could not afford copies, the librarian could make an arrangement.]

Further along by the second bow window there are live plants and tables with upholstered chairs. A special bookcase holds books by Louis L'Amour and Zane Gray. I don't know whether these are complete sets, but each author's books are bound alike. A library-themed quilt is nearby, as is a map and atlas stand and a stand for an unabridged dictionary. I was glad to see the atlas stand; the library where I work is losing this piece of furniture, relegating the atlases to the oversized-books shelves, at least until they lose out totally to Google Earth, MapQuest, and their ilk.

There are three study rooms along one wall. They have dark woodwork and partial glass walls that give a classic look--and a shelf with three chairs along the back wall in each, a more modern-looking arrangement for laptop users. There is an Archives room with a microfilm reader. (The place where I work is losing that, too.) There are four computers for patron use.




Back at the children's area on my way out, I spotted a sign that says, "Hey kids! Did you know? You can read a book without a book. Check out an eBook." I wonder if this appeal works with kids who are willing to read but just don't like books?
On a wall near the door is a framed picture of Arlene Hartwick, "In recognition of many years of dedicated and faithful service as Librarian of Springfield Public Library." Talking to the current librarian, I learned that Springfield's first library was in a pioneer woman's home. Then it moved to its own building, before moving to the current site. This building was made possible by a significant donation, and was erected in m1991-1992.

There is also a large, handsome wooden rocker, provided in honor of Lucas Dale Fast. I was told that kids like to climb into this chair to read.