Sunday, March 20, 2016

384. Oskaloosa, Iowa

The Oskaloosa Public Library is a Carnegie library, with a major addition in 1997. The addition was nicely done, with features like the muntins on the square upper windows, pillars by the new entrance, and interior woodwork, all echoing or complementing the original architecture.

The first things I noticed on entering were an invitation to teens to join the Teen Advisory Board and "Go Ahead, Boss Us Around!" and an aquarium with two rather large goldfish. Or two hefty fish of a bright orange hue, at least.

A table in the kids area was ready for various "passive programming" activities. There's a computer for kids, plus two catalog computers, and two DVD viewing stations; get headphones at the desk! There are bins and shelves of board books and picture books. Near the display of media is a sign indicating that books on CD are shelved with the chapter books, next to the same title. For what it's worth, I like this practice.

For some reason it was here that I made note of a PBS Kids "Raising Readers" rug, and realized that I had seen such a rug in most, of not all, of the Iowa libraries I've visited. There is also a "Ready for School" rug from Iowa Public TV and some very tall posters from the same source that appear to unroll from a base, rather like an upside-down window shade. I saw all of these in other libraries, but for some reason they only got into my notes here.

Junior non-fiction is on regular shelves, but from place to place the third shelf up is slanted to create a display surface. A sign asks patrons to please not reshelve books, rather put them in the return slot.

Something unusual: Large patterns on the wall created with various colors of 3x3 sticky notes. For some reason, they made me think of Native American rock art, but they also look like enormous pixelated art.

Stairs with deep treads and short risers make it easy to get upstairs. Here, there is a generous teen area with more sticky-note art. A display encourages teens to join the Kiwanis Key Club.

There are about 20 computers, some in a separate lab. A genealogy room has two computers, a couple of micro-readers, and plenty of books.

The main space has non-fiction stacks to the right, fiction to the left, and media in the center. An interesting shelving practice in non-fiction has biographies first, then Dewey Decimal for the rest in order. I'm sure many patrons appreciate having biographies so readily locatable.

A display of "Staff Picks" includes colored copies of each book jacket and a rather thorough review or reason for recommending the book.

Visit the library website at or read about it on Facebook at

Side note on this trip: I chose to visit Oskaloosa partly because I heard about the Book Vault, an independent bookstore just a couple of blocks from the library. Good place, I recommend a visit. There is also an eatery next door where I thought of having dinner. However, it was St. Patrick's Day and it appeared that some folks were setting up to create live music. Being an impossible oldster, I escaped and found some dinner to take back to my motel room!

Read about the bookstore here: and here:

6/17/16, car

The Carnegie facade

The new entrance

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