Thursday, July 2, 2015

345. La Crosse County Public Library, West Salem, Wisconsin

West Salem was not on my list when I headed out, but staff at Onalaska changed my mind--and I'm glad! Let's start with the name: it is the Hazel Brown Leicht Memorial Library. On the library website I learned that "The Hazel Brown Leicht Memorial Library was built after a great community effort to raise funds for its construction. It was completed and opened in December of 2000." There are three pictures of Ms. Leicht in the library, one of her as a child, one as an adult, and one as an older adult. She looks like someone it would have been nice to know.        

From the website I also learned that a "West Salem resident, Marjorie Schonsby, subsequently left money in her will to the Village of West Salem to build an addition to the Children's area of the Library." This money must have been put to good use, as the children's area has some wonderful features. The rounded part of the library), visible in the third picture below, is lined with window seats. A sort of alcove is decorated to look as if one is headed for outer space with the shuttle, and has a CD player and cushioned seating, making it an imagination-expanding space for reading or listening. In the preschool area, another corner has a wide, soft chair, just right for reading to a couple of kids at a time, or for two or three kids to sit together. And it's guarded by an inspiring dragon! (See picture.)

Like other La Crosse County libraries, mysteries form the theme of the Summer Reading Program SRP). Here, miniature "file folders" are attached to shelves, related in some way to the clues that will solve the mystery. There is also a display of mysteries that have been written by SRP participants.

The overall structure of the children's area involves two large areas, one for school-age children and one for the little ones. I like the way the children's librarian's desk is placed at the junction of these two areas. It helps define the two spaces, and also provides a visual distinction between the children's and adult's areas. And rather than a simple desk, like an island, it is backed with file drawers and cabinets. I regret that I did not take a picture of it.

A teen area is provided in a corner of the adult area, for grades 6 through 12.

The adult area has the usual collection of fiction, non-fiction, periodicals, and media. There are easy chairs by windows and several study tables with stained-glass shades, giving a somewhat traditional look without being at all stuffy.

There are eight computers, a study room, and rest rooms near the service desk. Large windows behind the service desk allow a view into, and out of, the circulation workroom. Because this is an issue under discussion for the library soon to be built where I work (or perhaps already decided and I don't know the result), I asked staff how they liked the window. Both said they like it; the most concrete reason is that a person in the workroom can readily see if help is needed at the desk and be there in seconds.

Staff here were very friendly, and I was given a tour of the space. Since this was after I had done my main wandering around and note-taking, I felt that I had the best of both worlds! [Notice: The staff was friendly at all of the La Crosse County branches I visited!]

For more about this library, see the La Crosse County Library website at

6/30/2015, car
The manicured grounds and handsome library sign

Interesting architecture; a very nice building

Entrance; the rounded section to the left is part of the children's area.

A cozy reading corner

 Let your imagination take you away!

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