Thursday, September 3, 2015

368. Baraboo Public Library, Baraboo, WI

Another handsome, classic Carnegie library, this one from 1903. I was given a copy of the history of the library (you can find it on the library website home page, under "About the Library"). The Baraboo library building opened 112 years ago, in 1903, but the library had already been chartered by the State of Wisconsin eight years before. A photocopy from A Book of Carnegie Libraries by Theodore Wesley Koch (H. W. Wilson, 1917) includes this paragraph: "The plan is of the simplest.--center entrance, delivery room in center, with stack room in the rear. The reading room, with reference alcove, is on the left, the librarian's room at the right. The book capacity, all in wall shelving, is about 8,000 volumes, with floor space for stack cases olding 5,000 more volumes. Free access is allowed. The building, designed by Claude & Starck, shows what can be built for $15,000, properly spent." (Emphasis added.) NOTE: These are the same architects who designed the Tomah library about 10 years later.

Each side in the front has convenient curved bench seating.

There is a large display of Duncan yoyos inside the front door. I know I have visited another library with a Duncan yoyo display, but I can't locate the post. It's possible that I didn't include it in my comments, and I'll have to dig back through my notebooks to find it.

The hanging spheres are "book art," created from a global form covered with circles cut from books left after the Friends' book sale. They continue to be sold, I understand, from time to time. The frieze along the wall is a copy of Cantoria by Donatello. It was originally in the children's room before the 1969 remodeling that moved the kids to the lower level.

You can see the high windows here along the side of the building, allowing for wall shelves. The  front of the building has taller windows. To the left of the entrance is a room with a fireplace and study tables. To the back, in the newer space, there are shelves along the wall and stacks of fiction and non-fiction placed diagonally. There are a lot of "special interest" (non-fiction) DVDs, plus TV shows and movies.

There are eight computers for patrons to use. The reference shelves include a set of The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, a 16-volume Oxford English Dictionary, and lots of Chilton car repair manuals. As in New Glarus, the old card catalog is now used to store seeds for a seed exchange.

When I saw this intriguing and unique piece of library furniture, I assumed it was a feature from the original building. Not a bit of it! This was built within the past year and placed in the center of the main floor, near the service desk. The knobs on the side serve to open double doors for removal of books.

When I went to the lower level and tried to take pictures, my camera quit. Fortunately, I had spare batteries in the car. Out to the car and back to the library, where I took this picture of the "corridor in the style of Piet Mondrian." I learned that one staff person here is "a real artist," a nice plus that you can't really put into a job description! [Another is a professional clown and was off at that time giving a tour at the Clown Museum. [ ] For anyone not in the know, Baraboo is also the home of the Circus World Museum. [ ] I believe that the museum also houses a library. I really must make another trip here when I have more time to explore!

I didn't take other pictures on the lower level for the very good reason that it was well-occupied, especially by teens. I was told that a Teen Services Librarian has been building the program for youth and having a lot of success. Have a look at the many pictures posted on the Facebook site (link below) to see what is going on with clowning, sewing a quilt with three donated sewing machines, the "Dance Walk," and more.

Tables in the school-age children's space were being used by a couple of tutors with adult learners.

The space designed for the youngest patrons has board books, picture books, puzzles, toys, a puppet theater, and two very large plush horses. A couch in front of the fireplace is the scene of many pictures of graduates from the "1000 Books before Kindergarten" program. That program, by the way, is sponsored by Baraboo Elks Lodge. Good for you, Elks!

I'll end with a sign I liked in this preschool space: "Keep books everywhere--in the diaper bag, in the car, in the bedroom, and all over the house--but find a cozy nook in a space where there are few distractions and make that your special reading place."

Thanks to Gail in the children's area and her colleague upstairs (sorry, I didn't get his name) for tons of information. I hope I was meant to keep the printout of the info about the library history.

More information about the library can be found at,j and there are loads of pictures at


367. New Glarus Public Library, New Glarus, WI

I probably had never heard of New Glarus, WI (pop. 2111), until someone called my attention to a series of pictures of libraries in New England, posted by Rachel from the New Glarus library. [Of course, as things tend to go, I can't find that post now.] I enjoyed the pictures, swapped emails, and started following the New Glarus library site on Facebook. So I saw the request for board games on July 27. I inquired, and yes, one that I had would be welcome. So on September 2, I headed for New Glarus (and a couple of other Wisconsin libraries, of course) to deliver the game and "collect" the library.
Luck was with me...Rachel was there and we had a good chance to chat. And...on to the library visit.
This is the building that houses the Town Clerk's and public utilities offices, as well as the library. Just to the right of the picture is the police department. In a side corridor from the lobby that serves the library and offices is a series of old prints from William Tell. I had to read William Tell when I studied German in college, and I could almost read the German version of the captions on the pictures. Almost.

New Glarus was founded by Swiss immigrants, and still retains much Swiss atmosphere and pride. [The town webpage is at] The picture above is pale, just as it looks.


I took this odd-angled picture to try and show the "shields" high on the wall. I think, but I failed to confirm this, that they represent the various cantons of Switzerland. Perhaps someone will leave a comment and either confirm or correct my hunch.
The children's area has a computer with a colored keyboard and a broad bench, one that would seat two, maybe three, little kids. This is much nicer than places I've been that insist on only one child at a computer at once. [Never mind socialization, we want quiet!] There is a nursery rhyme-themed rug, a Duplo table, and a collection of puppets. The backpacks shown above the puppets in the picture hold collections of books and toys on related themes, like raptors, bugs, and birds. In the upper left of the picture is something new to me, children's CDs in yellow-and-black zippered cases. It seems to me that this would make it easier to keep track of borrowed CDs, with less risk of losing them among the family's collection. There is also a good-sized collection of CD and book sets. I learned that about 270 kids participated in the summer reading program--in a town of just of 2000!
There are two computers for the older kids with a sign requesting that the limit be two kids per computer. (See comment above.) There seem to be quite a few YA titles for the size of the library and town.
The card catalog is now used for seed sharing. A corner with seating is near a rather large collection of periodicals. Most of the titles are familiar to me from the library where I work; I bet there's about an 80% overlap. But this is the only place where I've spotted the "Swiss American History Society Review!"
Music CD covers are displayed in plastic sleeves; the disks themselves must be requested from the librarian, I think. There are stacks with about 11 bays of non-fiction, perhaps 20 of fiction for adults. DVDs are in individual cases--no multiple-DVD sets. So, for example, Season 1, Disk 1 and Season 1, Disk 2, of your favorite show are in two cases. A sign nearby provides a reminder: "New Glarus Municipal Ordinances: Theft of library material, $248.00 fine." That's explicit--and motivating!
I saw a wonderful display of cut-paper art. And as I left through the lobby, something else new to me: a place to dispose of unused medicine, provided, I think, by a nearby hospital.
This is the view diagonally from the library, just to give a slight flavor of the town. Also, a shout-out is in order to Kennedy's Ice Cream--it was just what I needed.

Finally, here is my reason to plan a return trip in a year or two:

"On May 5, 2015 the New Glarus Village Board unanimously passed a Resolution that reflects the results of the 2014 referendum on the library-building project.  Specifically, the New Glarus Village Board has endorsed Glarner Park as the new downtown home of the library, and has agreed to reserve $1,000,000 in borrowing capacity for the library project."

The library website is at, and you'll find the on Facebook at

191a. Tomah Public Library, Tomah, WI

NOTE: I was looking for one of my older posts and made an interesting discovery: I visited the Tomah library before, two years ago, in August 2013! Does that count as short-term memory loss? Many of the things I commented on were the same on both visits. If you want to see the first post, search for "Tomah" or "191." I changed the number to 191a to indicate a re-visit, because this is my system for keeping track of how many individual libraries I've visited. No regrets; it's definitely worth a second look!


Welcome to the Tomah, Wisconsin, Public Library, a Carnegie library that will soon celebrate its centennial. From a paper about the library that I was given during my visit: "In 1911 Ernest Buckley, who was a successful geologist, left the city $12,000 in his will to be used as needed for a park and/or a library. ...   City leaders set aside $7,000 of Buckley's bequest for a library ... By 1915 they had received [a] Carnegie grant ... secured the services of Claude and Starck, who were well known in the Midwest for their library designs for small communities. ... The architects produced the last of the four Wisconsin versions of their 'Sullivanesque' design -- a two story (raised basement and main floor), red brick rectangle topped by a green-tiled hipped roof .... " In 1980, a flat-roofed addition provided needed additional space.


So what, you may want to know, is that cut-out thing leaning on the side of the library sign? I didn't know either when I took the picture, but I learned that it is a "place holder" for a fountain that will be part of the centennial celebration. You can see a model of the fountain at the library website (link below), but if you look closely here you can see silhouettes of a boy and girl leaning against a stack of books and reading. I have several reasons that I plan to head to this part of Wisconsin in a couple of years; one reason will be to see the fountain after it is installed.
The children's area is on the lower level. This fireplace is, of course, in the original part of the library. That over-exposed rectangle above it is part of an exterior frieze removed during the 1980 remodeling. You can get a much better view at the library website. This area has cabinets with pull-out shelves for CDs, a very nice way to store and display them. There are lots of media on wall shelves under the high windows. Children's non-fiction and the librarian's desk are nearby.
Murals fill the walls in the new space, including this one in a story time alcove...

...and this one over a bookshelf. This one goes beyond "mural" -- I believe that's a real stuffed fish. One mermaid seems to be enjoying the panoramic view in the mirror!
I've never seen this sort of display before and I like it. Plastic pocket-pages hold reading suggestions in the form of book jacket pictures, color-coded by grade.
The murals have a Peter Pan theme, which makes it very appropriate to have a pirate ship on display. This three-foot long model was carved by John F. Downs, who gifted it to the library.
One corner of the children's space has a study table with a "Quiet Please" sign and a vase of "placeholder sticks" for browsing. Many board books are shelved in their own bookcase, alphabetically by title. This may be the first place where I've seen board books kept in order, not in a jumble.

And just as I was putting the camera away, getting ready to leave, I spotted this remarkable table. I couldn't resist it!

I didn't take any pictures in the adult area upstairs, but I didn't neglect it. I like the way that shelves are labeled with authors' names in the fiction section, for authors who have multiple titles. Commonly-used sections of non-fiction also have shelf labels to aid patrons in quickly locating their interests. Bookshelves along the walls are 5 or 6 shelves high; wooden bookcases with adjustable shelving allow good use of space, with shorter shelves for many classifications and taller ones for art and craft books, which are often taller. Free-standing cases are four shelves high. Paperback fiction is shelved on spinners.

There is a "living room" area near the fireplace (above the one in the children's area) and another area of easy chairs and a study table. With assorted chairs throughout the adult area, there is a large variety of places to sit and read. Twelve computers are available for patron use.

A map/atlas case that looks quite old is used for...well, maps and atlases, of course. Another similar case is used for newspapers.

Finally, as I headed to the children's area, I spotted a picture of Caroline D. Voswinkle, Librarian from 1901 to 1945, and a photograph of her with children filling every seat at tables in the library. That kind of tenure is rare these days.

I'll be back in 2017 to see that fountain, folks; I'm already looking forward to it.

The library website is and they are active on Facebook at