Sunday, July 19, 2015

81c. Arlington Hills, St. Paul

I visited this library on opening day in May 2014. What I learned on that visit, which was the grand opening of the community center and the library, is: Opening day is not a good time to visit a library for blogging purposes. At least, not for me.

 So, I returned yesterday on a day without music and dancing and food and speeches and what-all. Heading from the shared lobby to the library, I first saw a glass-walled room, the Community Learning Room. It seemed to be set up for a computer class, and a group of young men were gathered around. A back corner of the room seemed to have some play equipment, suggesting accommodations for students with small children.

Past the Community Learning Room and around to the right is a large, bright children's area. There's a couch and two small tables of different heights, with chairs to match. There are four computers and two self-checkout stations. At the other end of this space, beyond the J and picture book collections, is an area for learning through play. Heavy plywood panels are connected to form an abstract sort of house, with interactive opportunities on each side of each wall. [The bad news is, although I got permission to take pictures of some of the features of this space, I couldn't do it. The good news is, I couldn't do it because when I went back with my camera, a bunch of kids were playing!]

St. Paul's Summer Reading Program is called SPARK! and emphasizes being active. Some ideas on the wall include "help make dinner, "ride a bike," "make a LEGO animal," and "say 'Hi' to a librarian." Counting activities and nursery rhymes are in several languages. One of my favorite items in this area is a device for measuring height, which is attached to the wall.

There are a dozen computers for adults, and a browsing/reading area by the windows. Periodicals are displayed in crisp white racks on a large free-standing pedestal. Media in this area partially separates the adult and teen areas. I noticed that children's media is here, not in the kids area.

The "stacks" area includes three study tables and a long shelf, all equipped for laptop use. The room is enhanced by art from the Washington Technology Secondary School. A few special collections include "Countries and States" with  some travel books and a series of books about, well, countries and states; collections of books for English Language Learners and New Adult Readers; and books in Spanish and Hmong, reflecting the population of the community.

As I was leaving I spotted a notice asking for youth performers for an event coming up in August. Those selected will be paid $50 (to be split among members of a group as appropriate) and will get T-shirts. Nice!

I will return and hope for better luck with pictures--I really want to show you this "house" structure!

For more information, see the St. Paul website at or visit the Arlington Hills Community Center Facebook page, at The library is an integral part of the community center.

7/18/2015, car (could have taken bus, but was on my way somewhere else)

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