Tuesday, August 4, 2015

1a. City of South St. Paul Public Library

This is the first library I visited in 2012 when I started my "every library I can" project. At that time, I did not carry a notebook and my entries (which started life as FaceBook posts) were very short. Let's see if I can do the place justice this time.

The library has Carnegie-esque characteristics; note the tall windows with curved tops. But Carnegie had nothing to do with it. The older building seen to the left in the first picture below dates to 1927; it was built when the first South St. Paul library, started by WW1 vets, outgrew a temporary site. I did not get a date for the newer building, but I have a hunch. For a year or two, in 1979-1980, I lived in an apartment about 3 blocks south of this library, yet I have only vague memories of ever going to it...which would be odd for me. This makes me wonder if that is when the new part of the library might have been under construction. Perhaps someone reading this will know the answer and will scroll to the bottom of this post and leave a comment...please?

You enter the library into the newer portion. A large two-story space houses adult fiction, audio books, large print, genre books, and the Lions Club Memorial Large Print Books. Most of these are around the edge of the room on wall shelves, or on low free-standing shelves. Higher "stacks" for fiction are tucked under a mezzanine level to the left. This leaves room in the center for a browsing area with casual seating, newspapers, and periodicals, plus at least six computers for Internet access. I liked the list of "read-alikes" on the end of one shelf in the stacks: If you like this author, try these other authors. An added touch that I don't recall seeing elsewhere is a brief description of the type of books by these authors: horror, suspense, vampires, etc.

Moving into the older building, I noticed that the teen area is down about a half level. I could see long teen legs stretched out from chairs in this area, so I decided to let them be and headed upstairs. Upstairs to the left, after a U-turn, is a small mezzanine space overlooking the adult area below and holding fiction paperbacks on spinners. A right turn at the top of the stairs leads to the larger portion of the mezzanine and the adult non-fiction collection.

Straight ahead is the children's area. The theme for this year's summer reading program is "Every Hero Has a Story," and the first thing I saw at the top of the stairs was a display of "antique" computer games from a local game shop. The main room of the kids area has a fireplace with shelves on either side (they once had glass-front doors, I was told) and a slant-top reading table in front. Juvie fiction and non-fiction are on wall shelves and free-standing low shelving units. Newbery and Caldecott winners are featured in one area, with lists current to 2015 available nearby. It looked as if the collections are complete; at any rate, the collection includes the first Newbery winner, "The Story of Mankind" from 1922.

Paintings hanging high on the walls represent various children's literature, including an impressive Smaug from "The Hobbit." There are table games available to play in the children's area, some video cassettes in addition to DVDs, and various Storytime Kits. I saw a sign for a "Moo" play kit that said "Take me home." Apparently someone had, and I have mixed feelings because I would have liked to see it. A binder of Read-Write-Draw pages from the summer reading program was full of book reports of all types. I like the "What will you read next?" question at the bottom of each page.

The pre- and early-literacy crowd has a nice dramatic play area near the children's librarian's desk. When I was there it was set up with a post office and various manipulatives. The picture book room is visible to the right in the fourth picture below. Directly across from the desk are separate restrooms for boys and girls, a really good feature.

On a door marked "staff only" I saw many letters from young readers to various superheroes--and better yet, all of the letters have been answered. My hunch proved true: the responses are written by Amy, the librarian I chatted with. That's going somewhat above and beyond, in my opinion. Nearby is a paper mache figure (third picture); I learned that this is the elusive Bookawocky for whom the regional (MELSA) summer reading program is named. It's been around for several years now and is brought out each summer. That gaping mouth serves as a mail box!

For more about this library, check out their website at 
and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SSPlibrary?fref=ts

8/4/2015, car

A view from the southwest
 A signboard in front tells the public what is happening at the library,
even if the public doesn't choose to go inside.

Meet the elusive Bookawocky!

For the youngest; picture books are in back to the right.

 The fireplace and study tables give the children's area a classic look.

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