Wednesday, July 1, 2015

150a. LaCrosse Public Library Main Location, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

This was a return visit. When I was last here, I was very taken with the river boat in the children's area. Since then, however, I've come to appreciate the boat's role as "attractive nuisance." Through the library website and a related blog ( I was aware that changes have been made and I wanted to see for myself.

First, I took just a peek at the lobby and adult area, first floor only. I know there is more upstairs. I recalled from my last visit, and still like, an alcove with two curved bookshelves; it's called Albert's Study" and holds books and music CDs by local authors and musicians. What a lovely idea! This is not a "sit and browse" area--no chairs--but the books and media do circulate.

I came in the "back way" because of road construction, but if you come from the parking lot you enter an attractive and welcoming lobby. It feels rather like a living room, as if you were entering a very nice home. Well, a very nice home with an automatic door that makes a strange whooshing noise every time it opens or closes!

I'm mainly here to see the changes to the children's area, so I head across the covered bridge with its trees that blend into the scenic murals. It's not too often that I find a children's area with this sort of defined entrance, but they are entrancing (ahem) when I find them. A sign posted on the bridge, which you can see in the third picture below, states an important policy very clearly: "Children under 8 must always be supervised by an adult." That part is fairly common. I especially like the smaller print that follows: "Library staff reserve the right to request that parents supervise children over age 8." Yes!

The river boat used to present kids with, basically, a nice ramp that they would run up and down. The boat now is in two parts. The bow holds two majestic giraffes and is no longer accessible to kids. The stern is a small square room with a fun riddle on the wall. I wish I had copied it, but it went something like this: A delegator delegates. A fumigator fumigates. A navigator navigates. What does an alligator do? Good question! Between the bow and the stern is the entrance to the "inside" of the boat, the wonderful program room that looks rather like...the inside of a river boat.

A poster near the librarian's desk has pictures of each of the staff along with that person's favorite food. I was told that this changes from time to time, but always answers a question a child might ask. Something similar was posted back near the office, with staff pictures and short book descriptions. These displays allow kids to learn staff names and come to think of them as individuals. It reminds me of the display of "us with our dogs" and "us with our cats" in the Bedford, NH, library.

Restrooms for boys and girls are located off the children's area. They open from a sort of vestibule that has a tiled floor, drinking fountain, coat hooks and cubbies, and an easy chair--a very civilized arrangement.

In a kids' version of "blind date with a book," the children's area has a selection of books in colorful paper bags, labeled "Mystery Reads"--Pick book...Don't look...Check it out...See what you think!

The summer reading program here is based on the popular Super Hero theme. As kids finish books, they can put stickers over a poster of arch-bad guy Darth Vader and uncover a poster of ... maybe Superman? A table and set of drawers are designated the "Kid Lab" with suggestions like "If you were a superhero, what bad guys or gals would you fight? Write or draw about it here." The results are posted, of course.

As I was leaving I noticed the Teen Read area off the lobby, with tall tables, stools, and other seating. As the room was also equipped with teens, I didn't take a picture.

For more about this library, check out their website at or join them on FaceBook at

6/30/2015, car
This is the "back door"--
someday I really must find the parking lot and the front door!

Welcome to the Children's area!
Giraffes have taken over the C. C. Washburn.

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