Saturday, November 28, 2015

373 Willmar, MN

I visited Willmar on "Black Friday," the shopping day after Thanksgiving. Why? I don't shop all that much, and certainly not on this day. Minnesota State Parks offered free admission to encourage people to get out, rather than shopping, so I looked on my map for a cluster of towns with libraries--and a nearby state park. Willmar and two others (you can guess, or read the next two entries) got my vote.

The building has a one-story "older part" that now houses the children's area (it once held the entire library!) and a two-story "newer part" with the adult library on the first floor and the headquarters of the Pioneerland Library System and a large meeting room upstairs.


As I often do, I headed for the children's area first. Two display cases held models of buildings in NYC and Washington. Some appeared to be paper models; I've built some like these, but simpler, and mine never come out looking this good! There is also an alcove with a display of new books and media, posters about upcoming programs, and table seating for browsers

As in many MN libraries these days, there is an extensive play-and-literacy area provided in coordination with the Minnesota Children's Museum. Those that I've seen have each included a boat; we are the land of (at least) 10,000 lakes, after all. Here, the boat has an "outboard motor," a "tackle box," and a couple of real life vests. Next to the boat are a "cooler" that can be used with two "fishing poles" and some letters to make word families. The poles and letters are not in the picture--they must be requested.

To complete the imaginative play scenario, there is a picnic table with supplies and a "grill" for cooking. Nearby, not pictured, is a "Farmer's Market," in case some last-minute products are needed.

If fishing and picnicking are not to a child's liking, there is also a clever castle/puppet theater. I call it "clever" because it is fastened together in a way that would allow it to be disassembled for storage or to gain the space.
Or perhaps Zuckerman's Barn, with its large animals and wall painting is more appealing!

At the far end of the space is this delightful windowed corner with a curvy bench, child-sized chairs, bright carpet, and bulletin boards.

There are also two "Little Tykes" computers and several other computers for kids to use. 

The picture above shows the circulation service desk and the long view into the adult part of the library. The information/reference desk is around the corner to the right, at the far end. The fiction stacks are to the left in this long view, non-fiction to the right. Between these two is a generous Teen Space with four carrels, two booths, a shelf of table games, plenty of books--and a clear sight line to the Information desk. I like that the teen area is in view, but is somewhat buffered from adult oversight by distance.

The adult area feels very spacious. There are easy chairs by windows in two areas, for pleasant browsing. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be carrels or study tables, and there are six study rooms for individuals and small groups. Twelve spaces at study tables are "Reserved for Study Center Monday and Thursday 5 - 7." I counted at least a dozen Internet computers for public use, plus two others limited to 15 minutes for quick reference. Finally, a windowed room beside the information desk serves as a combination conference room and genealogy center, with books, a computer, and a micro-reader.

For more about the Willmar library, go to or check them out on Facebook at


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