Wednesday, June 24, 2015

16a. Hennepin County, Linden Hills, Minneapolis -- Revisit

As you can tell from the number on this entry, Linden Hills was one of the early visits I made when I started this project in 2012. This summer I'll be doing a lot of re-visits to see what has changed in three years. Here in Linden Hills, the first obvious difference is that the scaffolding is gone...see the picture in the original post. Beyond that, since my first post was very skimpy, we'll just go at this anew.

From the entrance I went down four steps and found the children's area to the left. The program room is to the rear, with a nicely patterned carpet, magnetic gears and pictures to use on circular metal plates on the wall, picture books, a couch, a "kitchen," and a collection of dress-up clothes by a full-length mirror. A sign suggests "Ask for a very special sticker for kids who help to clean up." I saw this in action: while I was talking to the librarian, two little girls approached to ask for stickers after they put away what they had been using. What's special about the stickers? They are "scratch and sniff"! The youngsters were thrilled.

In the front corner on this side are a fireplace, the Children's book collection, and four computers on a child-level table with suitable low chairs. A restroom is located in the children's area, also.

On the other side of the lower level, to the right, are media, eight computers, and an interesting sort of alcove with a built-in bench, matching a bow window on the level above. The space to the back appears to be staff space and workrooms. Each side on this level has a service desk--and each service desk has a friendly librarian!

The upper level can be reached by elevator or stairs. I took the stairs and arrived in a space, the back-left corner, with easy chairs and periodicals. The front-left corner has a non-fiction collection and four more computers. Front-right holds fiction, back-right has reference and historical books and a scale model of the library that I remember from my first visit here. Off the back-right space is a roof-top patio with a few chairs. Both spaces on this side have fireplaces, and both of the "front" spaces have large bow windows with leaded panes.

The center rear is clearly labeled "Teen Area. For teens only. Thanks for your cooperation." There are shelves of books and a couple of computers reserved for teens. There are none of the bright colors, fancy seating, or other special items often found in teen areas, suggesting that private space is more important than these amenities.

There is a service desk in the center of this level, and there are two examples of programing here that I enjoyed looking at. One is a display of "The best teen and adult books of the decade so far, chosen by Linden Hills readers." As of June 18, there were 35 nominations. The other is an invitation to write and post a "six word biography," with a display of related books. The items already posted were interesting and clever.

 Ordinarily I would now post links to library websites. I do have a link to Linden Hills information in the Hennepin County Library site:, but I did not find a Facebook page. If there is one, please let me know in a comment and I will add it here.

6/23/2015, bus and walk

Saturday, June 20, 2015

3b. White Bear Lake Branch, Ramsey County Library, after remodeling

I get to the White Bear library from time to time--it's part of the county system where I work. I had a brief look at the recent major changes before the building reopened, but this was my first chance to see it in action.

The entrance is through a lobby with restrooms and a separate door to the large program room; it seems that this will allow use of the program room when the library itself is closed, which is nice flexibility.

On entering the library proper, my first impression was of the many DVDs on display, with books in the background. To me this seems backwards, but I am an old fuddy-duddy and I do know the realities of what people are looking for at libraries these days, so...what the heck.

To the right of the entrance are two self-checkout stations and a wall of sloping shelves that allow new books to be displayed face-out for good visibility. There are many bins of picture books and shelves of J books beyond. The main feature of the children's area is the large sailboat. Boats are a big deal in Minnesota libraries (and others), but this is the first place where I've also seen a bit of "dock" with rope details and a large cleat. No children were playing here when I arrived, so I was able to take the picture below.

The meeting room that opens from the lobby becomes part of the children's area when it is not otherwise used. During my visit a girl perhaps nine or ten years old was enjoying a feature I had heard about but not seen in action: a moving "game board" is projected onto the floor. I asked for an explanation, and the girl told and showed me that the "bubbles" that appeared to float on the floor turn into popcorn when she stepped on them. Since they move fairly fast, this took some concentration and agility, making this a really cool addition to the kids area. (It's called Eye Play, in case you want to look for it online.)

So, I was pretty impressed with the children's area, with a couple of qualifications. First, I wish that there were tables for the elementary school age, intermediate between preschoolers and adults; there are not, and the two computers for kids' use are on full-size tables with adult-size chairs. These computers are used with Book Flix and have touch screens, suggesting that they are intended for kids who would be more comfortable with smaller furniture.

Second, and more seriously, I realized that the restrooms in the lobby require one to leave the main part of the  library. This is not a problem for adults, of course, but at what age would a parent be willing for a child to go to the restroom alone? And what does this imply if caregivers have several children to deal with? Also, since the restroom doors are in a recessed alcove, there is no sight line from the staff to this area. I've been to a number of libraries lately that provide children's or family restrooms within or adjacent to children's areas; seeing these has made me more sensitive to what can be done for kids' safety and independence.

OK, moving on past the children's area between the fiction and non-fiction stacks and a windowed wall, there are some nice chairs with round "arm tables", then a corner area with seating and a table. Turning left brings one to the attractive fireplace with "living room" seating. Over the fireplace is a stone from the original White Bear Lake library, "Presented by Andrew Carnegie 1914."  [Photographs in the lobby show "Library 1" (the Carnegie library, c. 1920) and "Library 2" (the building on the present site, before the new addition)]. Near the fireplace is a display rack for periodicals and newspapers of a type I haven't seen before. Curved racks allow the display of current issues with "Library Use Only" stickers. No plastic binders or jackets are used, which must save money, space, and processing time. Back issues are in Princeton files on shelves nearby.

On the other side of the stacks are three study rooms for two or three people, plus two larger meeting rooms. According to the Grand Opening brochure, there are 38 public computers, plus 15 laptops that can be borrowed for in-library use.

A single service desk is used for reference and circulation. I like the large "Ask Us" sign that hangs over this desk. Guidance for patrons is added by signs on the desk: "Ask here to: * Get a library card, * Pay fees, * Get help with checkout" and "Ask here to: * Request an item, * Get help finding things, * Get computer help." I talked to a staff person who said that these signs are proving quite effective and circulation and reference staff are pretty flexible about helping each other out with routine matters.

Finally, one good-sized corner of the building is for teens. There are two more study rooms, shelves of teen fiction (YA and adult non-fiction are shelved together), and a curved sectional couch facing a large flat-screen TV for movies and game play. Unobtrusive supervision can be provided easily because this space is near the service desk and shares a window-wall with library offices.

For more about this library, go to the Ramsey County Library website at or these Facebook sites: and

6/19/2015, car

The town of White Bear Lake is patrolled by many polar bear statues
like this one in front of the library.

It appears that something will be added to this sign.

The entrance

The sailboat, "dock," and seating area for caregivers

Thursday, June 18, 2015

121a Annandale, MN, Great River Regional Branch

Driving home from Cold Spring (see previous post) and avoiding the highway, I went right through Annandale and thought I'd stop in. I hadn't been here since my first visit in 2012.

Annandale is getting ready for a Friends of the Library book sale later this month. Having recently found a lot of old textbooks and other "stuff" in the bookdrop where I work, I was envious when I saw this sign: "Please check with the librarian before donating books. Explain the type and condition of the books. Large donations are only accepted in June for the Friends annual sale."

In the adult side of the library there are many large windows with seating and tables of assorted types. It looks like a very pleasant place to sit and read, and it was quite busy when I was there. I spotted at least five computers for Internet access plus two for the library catalog.

The children's area has two tables with chairs, about the right size for the elementary school crowd. Those tables are near the rectangular window in the picture below. The round space to the left in the picture is for the smallest kids. There is a castle/dollhouse where a young boy was having a great time moving figures around and carrying on an animated conversation with them--to the distress of his slightly older sister!

The rounded windows have a couple of stained-glass sections which you can see in the third picture below. This children's area has a very nice, welcoming ambience. Prizes for the summer reading program, toys and books, are on display. The theme is "Read with the Rhythm" and participants' names are posted on cut-out guitars.

I chatted with the librarian, explaining the purpose of my visit and getting permission to take the interior picture. She got out the library's copy of "Libraries of Minnesota" and showed me the pictures of Annandale Library in that book, on pages 65 (and there's the castle!) and the top of 102. On the wall in the adult area, the library has a framed collage of other pictures taken by Doug Ohman. I recommend that book to anyone who hasn't seen it.

For more about this library, go to and

6/17/2015, car

A nice water feature that I didn't notice on my first visit.

Looking out from the children's area. Notice the two stained-glass panels.
Straight ahead is the old library building.

136b Cold Spring, MN again

This was my third visit to the Cold Spring library. What took me there? Well...thereby hangs a tale.

I have a reading project going this summer that involves re-reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" novels; reading them in the order the stories occur, not the order in which they were written. The early ones are hard to find. What I needed was not available in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Washington County, or St. Paul. I could use inter-library loan, of course, but that's too easy. I located the book in the Great River Regional Library, based up in St. Cloud. Now, which branch should I choose to pick it up?

Cold Spring, of course! Why? Well, to get to Cold Spring I knew I would pass an outlet mall (just one quick errand at the Corningware store) and a huge craft store (a couple of minor items I might need for a project). And then there is the Cold Spring Bakery; ahh, now we are at the core of my motivation. I left the bakery with a couple of their brown boxes, put one in the car and took the other to the library staff.

OK, not much has changed at the Cold Spring library in the past year, but change is coming. If I visit next summer (quite likely, see above), there will be new furniture. And there is talk of a new location in their future, which will provide much-needed space. I always enjoy chatting with Susan about what is happening in the part of library-land that I have visited. And, yes, it's nice to be recognized as "the blogger"!

Driving home was mostly off-highway, through farmland where the recent rain is proving kind to the corn and beans, past black-and-white cows wading happily in a pond, thinking back to the wonderful geography course I took at the U last semester. Altogether, despite cloudy weather, a very fine way to spend an afternoon.

6/17/2015, car

No new pictures. Check back next year!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Little Free Library...or ?

I've been meaning to post about this "Book Bot" for some time, but never seemed to have the camera with me. But...there it was last night, on my way home from the Bookmobile visit. To see the Book Bot for yourself, come to the corner of Victoria and Hoyt in St. Paul and look around; you'll be within a couple of blocks.

Kudos to somebody for this clever variation on the "Little Free Library" movement!

6/10/2015, walking

65a. St. Paul, MN, Bookmobile

St. Paul, MN, has a very nice collection of 13 libraries plus a freshly-painted bookmobile! I'm not sure how common bookmobiles are in urban areas like St. Paul, but this handsome vehicle and the drivers/librarians who bring it around town are doing a great service to the community. Go to the link below, find "Bookmobile" under "Hours and Locations," and take a look at the schedule. During the summer you'll find it at housing projects, senior housing, and other neighborhood locations. In my case, it parks every two weeks, for two hours, in a church parking lot just four blocks from home! When I visited last night, one patron was already browsing and four others came in during the 15 minutes I was there. One was a boy, maybe ten years old, who appeared to be walking home alone after dropping off a stack of books. Imagine...a free-range kid!

During the school year the bookmobile spends mornings stopping at elementary schools where teachers have arranged for class visits. For a couple of years I helped with a kindergarten class at one of these schools on bookmobile day and I was totally impressed with the patience and kindness of the staff. It's not easy having 25 five-year-olds pile into the relatively small space!

So, three cheers for St. Paul and the Bookmobile staff; wonderful outreach is being done in the city I call home.

For more about the bookmobile, go to the St. Paul Public Library home page at or their Facebook page at

6/10/2015, walking


Monday, June 8, 2015

59b. Dakota County Library System, Galaxie Library, Apple Valley--Revisit

This was my third visit to the Galaxie Library. Two years ago I used it as an excuse to try out the rapid transit bus, the new "Red Line." This year I again rode the now well-established Red Line. Full disclosure: I was really planning to visit a new outlet shopping mall...but I didn't get off at the right stop. However, I was prepared with my camera and my "collecting notebook," so all was well. [I'll check out the mall another time, now that I know where it is.]

OK, I re-read my post from two years ago, so I'll just comment here on some changes--or things I didn't notice before. For example, the pay phone in the lobby. These phones are an endangered breed, but as a person who sometimes doesn't carry a cell phone, the sight of a pay phone is always welcome. Though I didn't have 50 cents change, either! Never mind.

As I walked down the left side, past the Law Library area toward World Languages, I noticed that the Reference shelves are...empty! Chatting with a librarian, I learned that Galaxie has done the same thing my home library did recently: There are a few reference books on a shelf that I had missed. Others have been weeded or added to the circulating collection. I expect that I will see this more and more often.

I'm always interested in the ways libraries try to get patrons to not reshelve the books they have browsed. Here, I found signs like this throughout the stacks: "Let us put it back for you! Place materials here for reshelving." This seems very clear, and it sounds as if we want to help out the patron. I should have asked how it works; perhaps someone will leave a comment.

This time I was able to get a picture of a portion of the "quiet reading room" that I think is also used for programs. Unfortunately (not really), when I had gained permission to take a picture inside, and returned to the reading room, a couple of kids were in there reading, but the picture below will give you an idea.

There are some inspirational signs in the children's area, like "Why read? To be a vet and help animals feel better. Kids who read grow up to succeed." This was repeated with a variety of careers. Another sign is "Reading stirs the imagination so kids can: Go anywhere...Do anything...Be anyone."

For more about this library, go to or visit the Dakota County Library Facebook page at

6/8/2015, walk, bus, train, bus, walk (and reverse)

The "quiet reading room" for kids; those carpeted steps make a full half-circle.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

6b. WCL, Park Grove branch in Cottage Grove, re-visit

This was one of my very early stops in 2012, and I visited again in 2013. So why another visit today? Well, the primary reason was Darkover Landfall by M. Z. Bradley. I'm participating in an adult "summer reading program" through the Wilson Library at the U of MN, and one of my choices is "read about a different world"--to I decided to revisit Darkover, a favorite series a few decades ago. But it was not available in Ramsey County, where I work, or Hennepin County, where I visit at least once a week. St. Paul has it, but all copies were out. The next closest was Park Grove, so off I went.

When I got there, I promptly discovered that my camera batteries, which worked shortly before I left home, had breathed their last for that picture in my yard--and I didn't have spares. So no new pictures. Perhaps I'll remember to rectify that in a couple of weeks when I return the book, unless I send it through MELSA.

The library in general looks as I remember it; see the description in post 6a. [Search for "Park Grove" or "6a".]  The main change that I'm aware of is in the Teen area, with its "Just for Teens!" signs, four computers, and assorted seating. This area was in the planning stage at my last visit.

I think that the children's area may have more Early Literacy focus now, with signs and activities prompting caregivers and children to Play, Sing, Talk, Read, and Write Together. A plain metal door (locked; leads to mechanical services, perhaps?) is livened with magnetic letters and gears, a creative use for a utilitarian feature. Next to this is a large board with interactive play features mounted on the wall.

I like the framed photo display of LEGO projects, "See What We Made!" Privacy is maintained by showing only kids' hands; some of the models shown are very creative.

I forgot to mention, this library has the most detailed "leave unwanted materials here" message I've seen: "If you have browsed items but do not wish to check them out, please place them on this cart. Library staff will return them to the shelves. Thank you."

For more about this library, see the website at or

6/6/15, car