Thursday, January 15, 2015

301. Duluth, Minnesota, West Duluth Branch

My last stop for the day in Minnesota was in West Duluth, where the library shares a cluster of buildings with the police department, fire department, and a senior center. I see this a lot in small towns, a practical use of shared space and resources. (I don't doubt there are "issues," too, but as one passing through, I am free to pretend there are not.)

The entrance hall serves both the library and the senior center. The seniors had a display of cleverly-made driftwood "trees," and I was tempted--but I kept to my goal of visiting the library. The dollhouse here (yes, each Duluth library has one) is also in the display case. Here, the dollhouse "viewing experience" is enhanced by a list of "I Spy" items and three questions to think about: Who lives here? Who visits sometimes? How many pets does the family have? These are great questions because the answers are not obvious; for example, is that lion in an upstairs bedroom a pet or a toy? Very nice.

Once in the library, I turned left into the adult area. Here I found the expected computers and many recorded books, including Playaway sets. The on-site collection is necessarily small, but the many requests waiting to be picked up indicate that patrons here make good use of the broader resources of Duluth and beyond.

There is a mural based on the history of the Village of West Duluth and the City of Duluth. A wall of windows is lined with study tables and a "living room" browsing area.

Young Adults (Teens) have two large beanbag chairs, shelves of books, spinners of graphic novels, and boxes of comics.

The children's area has a train table, a play store, kitchen, and phone booth, and a small wooden structure with a slide. All pretty typical, but not typical is a long padded bench with arched openings cut in the base, forming "garages" for an assortment of vehicles. A large display wall holds new and "old favorite" picture books on plastic shelves. And a bulletin board has drawings by youngsters and, my favorite, a Zits cartoon about the joy of discovering old, out-grown picture books and enjoying them anew.

Good things often come in small packages, and this library is definitely a "good thing."

For more about this library, go to or

1/14/2015, car

The cold,  snowy day allowed a clear view of the leaping fish bike rack.

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