Monday, May 25, 2015

340 St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend Indiana, Centre Township Branch

Who could resist a library with a garden, water, and a bridge on the way in? And in the lobby, a unique flowing-stream fountain of stone. Lovely touches and a delightful introduction.

The welcome of the garden and fountain are partially offset by "We reserve the right to inspect all packages, bags, and briefcases." Sadly, I've generally found that such signs are based on bad experiences; I am carrying only a notebook and my camera, and I enter.

There is a large meeting room accessible from the lobby, allowing for meetings when the library is closed, and a smaller meeting room inside. A glass cabinet in the lobby displayed a collection of Japanese items; inside, the display of new books seems unusually large.

I walked through the library to the end opposite the door, past about a dozen public computers and at least one for catalog access. Large windows provide views for two sets of couches and tables. At the far end, a bow window curves around a set of three cushy-looking chairs in front of a fireplace. On the fireplace mantel are two carved birds, skillfully done.

Moving clockwise, I came to more chairs, these looking out at a patio. No one was out there (it was a chilly day for late May), but there was a door with wedge-shaped (sort of) cushioned seats on either side. I was now near the fiction stacks and a row of six one-person study tables; not quite carrels, they have low edges part way around to keep you from pushing your work onto the floor in the throes of study!

The children's area is full of wonders. There are three columns designed to look like trees (see picture). Sets of coat hooks, those most prosaic of accessories, are shaped like a bookworm and a tree, both formed of metal with colorful round knobs. A large square area with windows on two sides is lined with child-size couches and cushioned benches. J fiction lines one wall, non-fiction is on the free-standing shelves. There are at least two Gallileoscope telescopes that can be borrowed. And, wonder of wonders, a large round space in the ceiling is a planetarium! I didn't quite figure it out, but I first saw a panel with names of constellations with a light beside each name. Then fortunately I had the sense to look up and see the night sky overhead. Each library I visit has something I haven't seen before, and this was it for Centre Township!

A final display was a poster of old pictures and the question "Do you remember?" Each picture had a brief memory written by, well, whoever. The person who provided the picture, I assume. A large roll of white paper on the floor came up and over the table in front of this poster, and patrons had been adding their own "I remembers" to this paper. Nice.

Nearby is the book return with a window to the automated materials handling room. That's the way to do it, in my opinion. If you're going to have AMH, let people see it in action. Surely I'm not the only person who thinks it's cool to see books get sorted automatically into the various bins!

For more about this library, visit and

5/23/2015  car

The welcoming garden

A view from the garden to the lobby entrance

Water trickles down the grooves in the rock.

Three of these column-trees enhance the children's area.
A fourth circular space in the ceiling houses the planetarium display.

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