Monday, January 25, 2016

372a Rochester, MN, interior pictures

I haven't visited Rochester again, but I just received some photos of the interior from a former co-worker (well, OK, my boss's boss, for a while). She made a visit shortly after mine and was able to get some interior pictures. She didn't provide captions, but I will do my best.:'

It seems that all, or most, MN libraries, when they collaborate with The Children's Museum,
get a "boat feature" of some sort.
I've seen sailboats, outboard motor boats, and here we have a canoe that appears to come right in through the wall.

I'm not sure, but I think this shows a window to the outside
at the "stern" of the canoe.

I did not see any Billy Goats Gruff beneath this bridge into the children's area,
but it would be a natural (if a tight fit) for story time.
You don't have to go over the bridge--but why wouldn't you?
The glass-walled area beyond is the teen/young adult room.

Another feature showing up in a lot of libraries these days is a set of free-standing panels
with activities on each "wall."
It's a neat way to provide varied activities for a bunch of kids
in a relatively small space.

I don't know whether this wide-screen monitor is for patron or staff use...but I want one!

[NOTE:To see my earlier entry about Rochester, MN, put "Rochester" or "372" in the search box.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

379. Hayfield Minnesota Public Library

Hayfield Public Library is not one-of-a-kind, but it is unusual. This community library is open 22 hours a week, every day but Sunday, staffed entirely by a dedicated group of five volunteers--and it's been this way since 1993! The town of Hayfield pays their rent and utilities and a tech fund shared with other town services covers two Internet computers and wifi. They provide service to about 900 families.

A once-a-year spaghetti supper (free-will donation) raises about $1500 for materials, and contributions, of materials or cash, are always welcome. An effort is made to acquire newer books, because, I was told, "We don't want to be a library of old books, except for the classics."

What if you want something the library doesn't have? Well, because of its independence you can't turn to inter-library loan, at least not directly. But the high school library may be able to help. And several nearby communities, some as close as 10 miles, belong to South East Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) out of Rochester. Residents of Hayfield can have a SELCO card and use the services of SELCO libraries.

The Hayfield volunteers maintain a good old card catalog, though with authors and titles only--no messing about with subject headings! Books are checked out by stamping the date in the back of the book. There are no overdue fees; the volunteer I spoke to believes that people should have all the time they need to read a book, though she might make a friendly phone call after a few months! [I did mention that I've visited libraries with a "Conscience Jar" in lieu of fines. Exeter, NH, is one example.]

Overall, I'd say the people of Hayfield have quite a treasure here: A labor of love community library, and access to a large regional library system. And as the sign at the library says, "Volunteers are not paid, not because they are not worth it but because they are priceless."


The Hayfield Library website is at

The unpretentious doors to the volunteer-run Hayfield Library

A table in the seating area, made locally of real books with a wood-and-glass top

Many communities have re-purposed the card catalog for seeds, audio cassettes, or simply decoration. In Hayfield, it's exactly what it looks like: an active, up-to-date card catalog.

378, Blooming Prairie Library

Like many of the smaller communities I visit, Blooming Prairie has a community building with multiple services under one roof. In this case, the Chamber of Commerce and City Council share a lobby with the library. Another part of the building houses the police. I didn't see the fire department, but I'll hazard a guess that it's here, too.

In the library there is a "living room" with upholstered chairs near the periodicals, just right for browsing. A display of Star Wars material includes a model of a large space vehicle that I won't presume to name, as I am quite untutored in these matters. A second seating area is in a corner with windows. I believe there are four Internet computers available to patrons.

The children's area is a treat, and I'm glad I could get some pictures. (Just I was walking back to take the pictures, a small boy arrived with his adult and headed for this corner.) The central feature is a free-standing play structure with various activity panels, similar to one at the new Arlington Library in St. Paul. Other activity panels are mounted along the wall, and the walls, as you can see, have been painted with bright flowers. At the far right of the murals are painted the words "In Memory of Robert Kubista." A very nice way to be remembered, indeed.

There is also a play kitchen (somewhat sidelined by the newer material), a large Duplo set, a couch, platform rocker, and easy chair providing places to sit and watch kids play...or read to them. The E books ("everyone" or "easy," generally meaning picture books), are on rather high shelves that must require adult help for the highest, fourth from the floor. I saw fiction books labeled J FIC, Teen Fic, and jT FIC. That last one puzzles me, but I forgot to ask. Comment, someone?

The best find was a collection of three-ring notebooks of "Blooming Prairie Library History, on a top shelf. They appear to hold all sorts of photos and clippings. I spotted 1996-1999, 2000-2001, and 2005- . This last was incomplete. I think there were a couple of others, maybe five volumes in all. It's too bad if these are not being maintained.

The library website is at or visit them on Facebook at


One corner of the community building that holds the library

Entrance to the main lobby

Library entrance inside the lobby

This structure was customized for the library to reflect the town name, "Blooming Prairie."

The blooming prairie theme continues in murals and activity panels along the walls.

377. New Richland Public Library, New Richland, MN

I made the first picture extra large so you can see the NEW RICHLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY sign above the door, and get a good look at this interesting building. Perhaps you are savvy enough to know that the three oval links above the center window tell us that this was once the Odd Fellows Hall. Architectural interest continues in the lobby with pressed-tin wainscoting.

Now, if you look in that front window, or the window in the picture below, you'll see a welcoming area with seating and a place to build with Duplo blocks...which two small boys were doing. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm always looking for things I haven't seen before. In this case, what I found was a seating piece that came from the Odd Fellows days. Three "thrones" with cushioned seats are joined into a single piece of furniture. I couldn't get a picture because one of the seats was in use, but it's very unusual.

Anything else unusual here? Well, there's a wooden "car" in the kids area, large enough to seat two young readers and with space in the back seat (or trunk?) for books. A very nice example of a two-sided reading table with a sloped surface, with cushioned stools pushed underneath. A display of movie memorabilia featuring a "studio picture" of movie stars, dated 1948-49. I'm sure I would have recognized a few of them if I'd looked closely, but I did spot Lassie in the front row, and there is a key with all the names. I learned that a gentleman installed this display and said he would leave it "for a while;" I gather that quite a while has passed, and he has not returned.

There are non-fiction books, mysteries, westerns, large print, and young adult, as well as "regular" fiction and books for kids. A rebound book caught my eye, since nobody seems to rebind books any more. It turned out to be Sinclair Lewis's "Main Street." I think there are about five Internet computers for patron use.

The librarian on duty when I was there was very friendly and knowledgeable, and fun to talk to.

The library's website is and you can find it on Facebook at


376. Waseca Public Library, Waseca, MN

Classes at the U don't start for a couple of weeks, weather is cold and sunny, roads are clear---time to head out and collect some libraries. I chose a cluster of four as-yet-unvisited, found that all were open on Monday, and headed south. I drove out of the sunshine into gray skies, but the frost on trees and plants more than made up for the grayness. Look at the picture below...that's a sample of almost the entire trip.

First stop, Waseca, Minnesota. The lobby has just been remodeled and looks ready for the Friends of the Library to start receiving donated books for sale. I don't know what it was like before, but now there is a corridor to the right with restrooms that appear new, a mid-sized meeting room, and wooden shelves ready for those donations. There are two drinking fountains, one of which is a "hydration station" designed so that water bottles can be conveniently refilled. These stations have a counter indicating how many new bottles of water have been saved; 88, as of 1/4/2016, early afternoon.

A detail that I didn't notice until I was leaving is a "tree" that divides the lobby from the library itself. This "tree" consists of several vertical wooden pieces painted brown, attached to the wall an inch or so apart, for the trunk, and several more pieces painted green that simulate branches and leaves overhead. I regret that I didn't take a picture. Perhaps someone will share one in a comment? It's a very nice touch.

To the right are the adult and young adult areas, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on a park. Upholstered chairs with arm desks face the windows. I spotted about a half dozen Internet computers, and of course, wi-fi is available.

It looks as if some reorganizing or some serious weeding is taking place, judging from a row in the stacks with no books at all. This allowed me to spot something I haven't seen elsewhere, a system in which metal bookends fit into a track on each shelf. This is pretty neat. First, no "missing" bookends. Second, a slanted sort of bracket on the right side of each bookend means that it will be difficult to "shelve to the right of the bookend," a major no-no in shelving (in my experience).

Another set of chairs by a tall window is near the newspapers. A sign asks that patrons "Please do not tear out may make copies. A new copier is nearby; pay at the desk, 10 cents for B&W, 25 cents for color--very reasonable.

DVDs are shelved directly across from the service desk and are limited to three per family.

In the children's area, a pair of large green nylon "leaves" add a whimsical touch. Non-fiction picture books are in bins, labeled by topic (400-519 Counting, Science Experiments), while other picture books are shelved by the author's name.

I liked seeing "Tween Recommended Reads" posted on the end of a shelf of J Fiction. Junior fiction these days comes in such a wide variety, guidance is helpful. Many books have Accelerated Reader or Advanced Reader stickers on the spines. I'm familiar with Accelerated Reader; I'm not sure if these are two labels for the same thing, or if Advanced Reader means something else. Either way, these stickers suggest school and library cooperation.

There's a nice big light table with Xrays and something I haven't seen before: transparencies with line drawings of the objects shown in the Xrays. So, for example, I was able to place the line drawing of a face over the Xray of a skull (with a rather creepy result).

I inquired about a group of "things" made of recycled materials and lots of tape, and learned that they are child-created Star Wars Droids. The library offers programs like this on "early release" days, and hosts up to 50 kids. I suggested that this must be quite a crowd and was assured that "It is, but they are very well-behaved."

The library website is There is also a Facebook page,

Nice frosted trees for the backdrop for the library.

A closer view