"All Aboard the Altoona Express Early Literacy Trail: 1000 Books by Kindergarten." This is what greets you in the lobby of the library / community center. It's accompanied by train cutouts with the names of about 40 graduates of this program. There is also a mural of a steam engine, and in the library a mural of a 10-car train runs the length of the service desk. As kids complete each 100 books toward their goal, they get a colored dot to place on the appropriate car: the 100 car, the 200 car, and so forth. AND they have their own smaller version to keep at home. If that wasn't enough to convince you that Altoona is about trains, check out the double wooden train table in the kids area; two tables have been joined together for one large layout, with bridges from one table to the other.
I was especially taken with the signs here. The picture book area greets you with "Welcome to Picture Book Place," and the books are color-coded by theme. Posters describing each theme are on the shelves; see the blue "animals" poster below for an example.
There are plush puppets in bags that can be checked out, one per library card, for three weeks; themed bags with books, games, and puzzles; a Duplo table; a dollhouse; puppets and a puppet theater; and many DVDs and VHS tapes shelved together. With all the toys, it seemed reasonable to see this sign: "Parents / Caregivers, we are happy to provide a play area for your children, but please remind them to clean up the area before leaving. Thank you for your support." There is a computer designated as the "Early Literacy Computer." It is for children 2 through 11, and children five and under must have a parent sit with them at the computer. That seems like a very reasonable policy.
There are plenty of books for older kids as well, and models on display reflect what must be quite an active LEGO club. A teen area is "Reserved for Teens from 3 PM weekdays and during library hours on Saturdays." Shelves in the teen area have been "adopted" and looked very neat. The ones I noticed have been adopted by Hannah S. -- nice job, Hannah!
At this point you might think that Altoona is strictly a kids library, and of course that is not the case. The adult area has plenty of books, and they can request books from throughout the MORE system. DVDs are displayed alphabetically on shallow shelves mounted to the walls between the windows in the back of the library. Paperbacks are displayed on spinners. Two stools on wheels face the low set of bookshelves for new books, a very nice convenience for those who want to look these books over. And in the center is a "living room" area with a low table and eight chairs for relaxing and looking at books or periodicals.
For more about this library, go to http://www.altoonapubliclibrary.org/ or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Altoona-Public-Library/184664563570.