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


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