Monday, March 21, 2016

386. Fort Dodge, Iowa

The first trick was finding the library! My GPS did its thing, but brought me to a location where I couldn't see the sign, which is perfectly clear. The library is set in a large park, and once spotted, it was impossible to miss.

Off the lobby is a large Friends of the Library bookstore. They had a cart with many kid's titles for 25 cents, and on my way out I bought a bagful to put aside for next Halloween. Thanks, Friends!

There is a historical display about the Karl L. King Municipal Band. I went here:  and read about its founder, Karl L. King, circus bandmaster, march king, and composer. The band still exists and the statue I saw out in the park was of King, of course. This was of special interest to me because my grandfather was a band director in New Hampshire in roughly the same era.

Inside, I went first to the adult area, where I saw 10 computers in a lab setting and at least eight others. A genealogy collection is near a microfilm reader. Newspapers back to 1887 are available on microfilm for this reader. Along a window wall there are two "living room" clusters and a couple of large study tables.

The Teen area is designated by stars hanging from the ceiling. There are two nearby study rooms and a couple more computers in carrels.

Walking through the non-fiction stacks I saw that the last row includes a lot of very old books and a bound set of Palimpsest, Iowa's Popular History Magazine from 1920 to 1994. I also by chance spotted a book, 613.96, shelved with the 940 history books. I think I know why, but I'll leave this as a riddle for the reader. I'm sure it wasn't mis-shelved by anyone on staff. I placed it flat on an empty shelf so they could spot it easily and put it back in the right place!

Fiction stacks followed the non-fiction. The periodicals are close by a couple more "living room" seating areas, a fireplace, and some carrels.

This was the day after St. Patrick's Day and the children's area had green and white globes plus "pots of gold" hanging from the ceiling. One area by a large window has four kid-sized easy chairs arranged around a table; there's a picture below.

I like the way kid's non-fiction shelves are labeled. Here's an example:
               J Non-Fiction               BIOGRAPHIES located
               917.3 - 999                   in this aisle
                                                    Popular Books in this aisle:
                                                    States, War, Indians,
                                                    History, Presidents

This reminds me of the new practice in Rochester, MN, of having children's non-fiction books in "neighborhoods" instead of by Dewey numbers. The Fort Dodge system combines the two practices in a useful way, I think.

There are six computers for kids. A Storytime Room has a small door set into the large, adult-size door, similar to the entrance to Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis. (I was happy to learn, by the way, that the children's librarian is familiar with that bookstore.) There are lots of Junior and Picture books.

Puppet theaters are often found in the children's area of libraries, but here the theater reflects buildings from the town's business district. And the puppets are kept in individual, brightly-painted  cubby holes, as you will see below. You'll also see a picture of Skittles the parakeet.

I like this sign: "This area is for use by children and their caregivers. No cell phone conversations allowed." In addition to the obvious meaning, I hope that means that parents should pay attention to their kids and not distract themselves with their cell phones! Another sign shows tornado safety routes, a sobering reminder of what the weather can do in this part of the country.

Every corner of the children's area (of the whole library, really) shows creative and decorative touches. The children's librarian, who was working on the next display even as we talked, made clear that it was a team effort...but, yes, she is the head of the team.

Visit the library website at and see it on Facebook at


Once I spotted this sign, the rest was easy.

The puppet theater reflects the town buildings...

...and each puppet has its own colorful storage space.

Skittles the parakeet was absorbed in his own business and paid no attention to me.

A paper-chain rainbow on the bulletin board leads to a pot of gold.
The text on the left reminds patrons that registration for the summer reading program
will start on March 31.

Go to and you'll see
the significance of the white arch on the wall of this child-scaled "living room."

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