The children's area starts with a Smart Play Spot, a joint effort of the library and the Minnesota Children's Museum. These Smart Play Spots are popping up all over the state. This one has a "motor boat," picnic table, "charcoal grill," farmer's market, and a "garden" formed of three brown cylindrical cushions that fit into a wooden framework. Sturdy wooden shapes with vegetable pictures and words can be pushed (i.e., planted) between the cushions. On the wall behind the cookout area and garden is a nice mural of a natural scene. Nearby is a wooden panel with eight doors, each closed with a different real fastener or latch. Pictures inside reward the child who works the latch to open a door (third picture below).
At the other end of the children's area is more scope for dramatic play, including a kitchen and two ways to play with Duplo(T) blocks, the usual table and a series of baseplates mounted vertically. I've seen this vertical mounting in a couple of other libraries, and it strikes me as a way to encourage creativity and "doing it a different way." The ends of two bookshelves have mirrors, one regular mirror and one "fun house" type.
The second picture below shows a rounded brick wall; keep scrolling down to see what is inside that curve. Beside this wonderful story area is a puppet theater with three openings with curtains. A rack behind the theater holds puppets of many kinds, ready for a show--or for three shows at once!
You'll also find several pictures of signs I like in the kids area, especially the one about picking up after yourself and the rhyming list of how we (should) behave in a library.
The final picture shows the beginning of an outdoor space that is under construction, which explains why I saw a concrete delivery truck enter the parking lot when I arrived!
The service desk is graced with several suspended light fixtures made with thin slices of Brazilian agate, accented with smaller pieces of Lake Superior agate. There is also a stained glass tree above the library entryway, made with glass and agate. The lights and tree were made by a local artist, Greg Rosenberg. The staff kindly gave me a brochure about these features. If you visit Brainerd, be sure you see these one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
The service desk has a couple of large windows into the circulation workspace. I was amused to see that the checkout station is called the "Kitchicat Express Self Checkout."
A browsing area for adults has a circle of chairs along with racks of magazines and papers. One bay of the periodical shelving is labeled "Crow Wing energized--making healthy choices essential." This headed a display of gardening books when I was there; I assume that the display changes seasonally.
Windows line both sides of the long adult space, with varied seating. Fiction stacks are on the left, non-fiction on the right, with six four-person study tables marching down the center. The teen area is straight ahead at the far end. A reference area includes a "sight machine" to magnify text, a microfilm reader with a vertical screen, two catalog computers, and a desk and office for the reference librarian. About 10 computers are available for patron use.
I'll end with two signs I enjoyed reading:
"Polite cell phone use permitted.
Where? Lobby Meeting Rooms (ask at desk)
Turn ringers off
Respect your neighbors"
"No need to climb the walls (cute graphic)
If you can't find what you want
just ask the librarian."
For more about this library, visit Kitchigami Regional Library System at http://www.krls.org/branches/branch_br.html.
What's inside that curve? Keep looking!
Wonderful latches to manipulate
A complete kitchen and a Duplo table
Duplo works vertically, too!
How about three puppet shows at once?
There are enough puppets to perform just about any story.
A cozy story place inside the curve
Reminders to caregivers about helping children get ready to read
I gentle reminder; I didn't ask how well it works!
Another gentle reminder. Having it rhyme is a nice touch.
Looking out from the children's area to the future outdoor space