Sunday, March 13, 2016

41b. George Latimer Central Library, St. Paul, MN

I don't get to this library very often, although it's my "home" library. The Twin Cities area is very rich in libraries, including the branches of the St. Paul library, Ramsey County Library System, and Hennepin County Library System; several of these are more convenient for me. But I like to get here once in a while, largely because the building is so handsome. Also, this is sometimes the only place where a book I want is available.

This post covers two trips, first on January 30 when it reopened after renovations and then on March 12 when the Nicholson Workforce and Innovation Center Lab opened. 

I don't know the building well, so some of the changes may have slipped past me. On the first visit, in January, I took a closer look at the teen area than I have in the past, mainly because there were no teens present, so I didn't feel like an interloper! Impression: Comfortable, cozy, three computers just for teens, graphic novels, periodicals, and magnetic poetry on the wall.

Across from the teen area is the children's room, which fortunately still has the handsome puppet theater. Changes here include a bright lounge area near the windows "especially for kids 8 to 12." I was intrigued by a short wall and a table created from large LEGO-ish blocks. It was my impression that there are more easy chairs throughout the children's area. At the far end,there is a creative play space with a table, pretend food, and a "market." Tables throughout the area hold a variety of interactive toys for the preschool set. There are seven computers and a self-check-out station.

Upstairs in the "adult" library it seems that the major change is moving many books to the stack area, leaving room for more tables for reading and browsing, with a generally more open and spacious feel. One side of the second floor is for media and non-fiction. The other side holds fiction. Here there seem to be more books readily available, including on a mezzanine level at the far end of the room. My knee was unhappy, so I didn't go up to look around. More fiction is in the stacks, of course.

Periodicals are on the third floor, and the periodicals room houses a large card catalog, no longer updated but used in the past for the document collection. I chatted with a librarian here, and she walked me out to the open space with the stairs and the elevators, pointing out architectural features and the wonderful ceiling; if you visit, be sure you look up!

Across from the periodical room is the new Nicholson Commons, which was not open yet at my first visit. It was open on March 12, however, and it's quite a space. There are books related to building job skills and finding work, and plenty of shelf space for this collection to expand. Twelve computers are available for public use, and there is additional space for using personal computers. A large area with windows overlooking the Mississippi can be closed off with a glass wall to create a quiet training space. During the open house, when I was there, it was being used for information tables from groups including Chalkboard and SCORE. [There were also coffee and cookies, but don't count on that when you visit!]

My main interest was in the Maker Lab for adults. It seems that "maker space" has been primarily for teens, so it's great to see this dedicated to the grown ups! A sewing machine was set up outside the issues, I'm sure, since a lot of people were present for the opening. There is a laser cutter that will cut just about anything--except vinyl, someone said, because vinyl gives off toxic fumes. The demonstrater mentioned that a pattern could be laser-cut, then assembled with the sewing machine. Cool!. A 3-D printer can be reserved, with some limits on the size (and thus the time required) of the object you want to print. A computer and software are dedicated to converting old VHS tapes, phonograph records, cassettes, and such to digital formats. I asked about a project I would like to tackle: I have old home movies that were converted to CD a while back, but without any editing or labels--could I use the equipment here to re-digitize and add labels and such? The person demo-ing the equipment was not sure, but on my way home I was thinking that I still have the VHS version; perhaps I can back up and work from that? We'll see.

1/30/2016 and 3/12/2016, bus both times

Reach the library website at I did not find a specific Facebook page, but searching for "George Latimer Library" yields plenty of results.

This sign outside gives a capsule history of the St, Paul Public Library.

The public library is in the foreground; the more distant part of the building houses
the business-focused James J. Hill Reference Library.

In addition to the street entrance, the library can be reached via tunnel and skyway.
Once, just to see if I could, I traveled from the renovated Union Depot to the library.
I was inside all the way, but had to make ample use of the "You Are Here" maps on the walls!

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