Monday, November 9, 2015

372. Rochester, MN, Public Library

Happy 150th Birthday to the Rochester Public Library--I missed the party by two days!

After the most recent libraries I've visited, including little Kasson less than an hour before I arrived here, Rochester was almost disorienting in its size. I knew what to expect--the library website even provides a pdf of the floor plans!--but even so, I came to a full stop in the entrance area. Wow!

I started out to my right, the kids' area. This space is carpeted in subdued blue, green, and yellow, reflecting the water, grass and trees, and ripe fields. If you choose, you can enter by a small arched bridge over blue carpet, an option clearly enjoyed by the smaller patrons I saw.

There are ten Internet computers to the right of the entrance and four aquariums to the left. I won't try to describe their interesting shape, and I was unable to take interior pictures because the place was jumping. Kids everywhere!

I saw signs indicating that "Book Map is coming soon." I talked to a children's librarian about this and learned that it is a way of shelving books that I've only seen at much smaller libraries, so far. Rather than Dewey numbers, books will be labeled and shelved by "neighborhood," like Space, Animals, and so forth, then by progressively more specific word labels. I found an article about this here:  When I expressed regret over the loss of Dewey, the librarian pointed out that with the loss of school librarians, kids aren't learning the system any more, and the new way is more intuitive. Sadly, I can't argue with that. [In a couple of small libraries I've visited, I've been told that it means organizing books "like a bookstore."]

The children's area is perhaps the largest I've seen, at least equal to Minneapolis Central (not counting the compressed stacks). One wall, about 36 feet long, has a mural of common Minnesota animals. There is plenty of room for programs and a Play Spot in collaboration with the Minnesota Children's Museum. These Play Spots are becoming ubiquitous; this one includes a post office, a writing table, a puppet theater in a gigantic "hollow tree," and half a canoe that seems to be coming through the wall on a blue plastic platform of "water." Many picture books are shelved by category, like alphabet, shapes, nursery rhymes, and numbers. There are plenty of others shelved by author, also.

A large room with windows on two sides seems to be the teen space. I didn't go in, but I did make note of a sign outside: Last summer, 355 teens completed 18,060 hours of reading, which was 4180 hours more than last year. That's a lot of reading!

The other end of the first floor is the adult fiction area. There is a windowed seating area near the new mysteries, followed by many rows of stacks. At the far end is a space that fooled me into thinking it was round. In fact, it is rectangular, but has a round design in the carpet topped with a large round table. Yes, I admit it, I was fooled and slightly disoriented for a minute.

Since parking ramps are free on weekends, I decided to take time to visit the second floor, the non-fiction collection. On the elevator on the way up (favoring my knees) I saw this sign: "Please do not leave children under 10 unattended." I wonder how many times that has stopped a parent from heading upstairs and leaving the little ones in the children's room?

Upstairs I found rows of tables with reading lights; many newspapers; a computer lab; a case of flat drawers for topo maps, next to a globe with the directive "Abuse it and lose it;" a series of vertical pamphlet files; and many periodicals shelved on spinners designated A-B, C-E, etc. Older periodicals, it seems, must be retrieved from the "Periodical Room." A fairly extensive International Languages section reflects Rochester's role as the home of the internationally-famed Mayo Clinics.

The Dewey Decimal system still holds sway on the second floor. Would that ever change? "Not in my lifetime," was the heartfelt response of two librarians! I also learned from these librarians that the library is starting to look into adding a third and fourth floor, in order to house their growing collection. To those who think that libraries are dying dinosaurs I simply say, "You need to look around,"

Learn more about the Rochester library at and visit them at

Now, I think, to be fair, I should visit the Rochester, New York library on my trip to New England next summer!

11/7/2015   car

I couldn't find a good angle for a "front door" photo, so I settled for
this bookshelf mural near the drive-up book return.

1 comment:

  1. One of the best libraries I had the privilege to go too. And your bookmobile is outstanding, with the nicest staff..


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