Monday, May 23, 2016

178a Forest Lodge Library, Cable, WI

My weeklong trip around Lake Superior was over and I was headed from Bayfield to Hayward, Wisconsin for an ice cream treat before getting the cats from Casey's Place in Stacy, MN, and heading home. As I drove through Cable on Rte. 63 something prompted me to look left...and I got just a glimpse of a library I've visieted before. After something resembling a U-turn, I parked across the street from the Forest Lodge Library.

This library was fouded in 1925, 91 years ago, by Mary Livingston Griggs. It is now on the National and State Register of Historic Places, and is the oldest log cabin library in Wisconsin.

When I came here before almost three years ago I did not take interior pictures of the libraries I visited. Now I generally do, when permission is granted, and so I can share this special place with readers of the blog. 

The fireplace is the centerpiece, straight ahead when you enter.

I wanted to show the joinery that is used to create the log shelves,
but I'm afraid I really didn't capture it.

There are several "bays" like this along the right-hand wall, with wall shelves along the left.
The books on the very top shelf are antiques and do not circulate.

Although it is on the Register of Historic Places, the library provides wi-fi and a couple of computers for patron use. The motto of the library is "Where the future resides in the past." In addition to being the community library, it is a poular tourist stop. I recommend it.


And look for Forest Lodge Library on Facebook!

408 Bayfield WI Carnegie Library

The Carnegie library in Bayfield is located high on a hill, clearly built in pre-ADA times. There is access to the main floor from the right, however. Other than that, it's quite intimidating:

There is one set of steps:

Then another set of steps:

But as I said, there is an alternative. And that second set of steps has a very good handrail.

Go back to the second picture and look at the smaller windows between the columns. These windows are in two small rooms, each one set up with three computers. This seems like a good use of these small spaces (which are quite common in Carnegie libraries). To the right of the entrance, beyond the computer room, there are couches and a long table, close to periodicals and newspapers, all set for browsing. Or, if browsing isn't on your mind, there is a fancy chess set of polished and matte crystal pieces, all set up and ready to go. The windowsill holds Bayfield yearbooks back at least to 1953. A brick fireplace with birch logs is probably for show these days. The rest of this space holds the non-fiction collection.

A separate shelf holds the nautical collection, labeled and with a model sailboat on top. Even with a sign and a boat, I would have missed this if the librarian had not pointed it out. Good thing I'm nearing the end of my trip!

To the left of the entrance, past the second computer room, is the fiction collection. This includes graphic novels (classified 741.5) and four glass-front bookcases of science fiction, Other shelves hold large print, inspirationsl, romance, mysteries, westerns, YA books, and just plain fiction. Media is shelved behind the circulation desk, but is freely available. Two posters I like are "It's Our Water... Protect It," from, and one that offers suggestions on "How to Build a Community."

To reach the lower level you go through a small anteroom by the side door and down the stairs. This level holds the children's collections plus toys and a few surprises. A couple of easy chairs face a rack of comics and grapphic novels (like the graphic versions of Nany Drew). There are some backpacks labeled 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, but I did not see any of the usual literature about this program. Tucked on a low shelf are two Montessori "graduated cylinders" manipulatives.

Of course, what one can't miss is the large, apparently much-loved dollhouse. A sign says that "Having this dollhouse in the Bayfield Library is a privilege. Please treat it with respect." This sign is on a flat part of the roof, along with a few bits and pieces that need to be glued back in place. It happens; you can't play with a dollhouse (or live in a real house, for that matter) without things happening.

Behind the dollhouse is one final surprise, a very unusual reading nook. It is enclosed with woodwork that makes it look as if it might have been part of a pulpit in an early church. What a geat place this would be to curl up with a favorite book on an inclement day!


407 Washburn WI Public Library

Washburn has had a public library since 1885, and the library has been housed in this Carnegie building for over 100 years. 

The children's area is to the left inside the door, with those nice tall windows you can see in the pictures. The Dr. Seuss rug is cute, and I don't recall seeing one anywhere else. There is a classic fireplace hiding behind a bookshelf, a wooden rocking horse that looks pretty old, and ten, yes ten, beanbag chairs. I would love to see a scrum of kids esconced in those chairs! There are all the types of books you would expect to find, including a lot of audio books. The area for fiction is labeled "Fiction: Stories that have made-up characters and events." There is even a basket of free books for kids. This is fairly common in library lobbies or adult areas, but I'm not sure I've seen such a thing specifcally targeted at kids.

Can you name the characters shown?

Three of the ten beanbag chairs, and a gigantic teddy bear. See the fireplace hiding behind the books?

The space to the right of the entrance is the adult area. The fireplace on this side is complete with birch logs, but looks as if it is no longer in service. There is a "living room" area with easy chairs, and a couple of tables for reading, browsing, and study. One shelf holds books that have won the Nobel Prize for LIterature. 

Toward the back of the building are six computers with a sign asking nicely that computer users "Please Be Quiet." There is a modest shelf of Amish Fiction and many, many books on CD. There's even a sign that "More books on CD are in the basement reading room."

And there is something I've only seen once before, and it was on this same trip: an old card catalog cabinet with doubledrawers.

Steph, the librarian, assured me that I could have a look at the teen area and the reading room in the lower level, that the class meeting there was accustomed to people walking through, but when I got partway down the stairs I could see that the class was Tai Chi. I know the concentration required for that art, and I couldn't bring myself to go in. Next trip.

Check out the library website at, or visit their lively page on Facebook.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

406 Vaughn Public Library, Ashland, WI

This downtown library is located on the first floor of a good-looking brick building. The entrance is around the corner to the left in the picture below, where there is a long, narrow lobby with a pair of benches. Entering the library proper and turning right brings you to a "living room" area for browsing and reading. I counted eight computers nearby, and a sign informed me that this day, May 20, is "National Pizza Party Day." No pizza or party for me, but I caught up when I got home the next day.

A window corner houses the children's area, with lots of bins and cubbies for picture books, along with a rack displaying the newest additions. A large collection of hanging bags with chapter books and audio CDs was nice to see. In my experience, sets like this are often limited to picture books. There is also a collection of "Travel With Me Backpacks" (actually bags) that provide a variety of activities suited for a trip. One example hold four books, three monkey puppets, a dry-erase board, and a CD. There is a shelf of board books in alphabetical order and a shelf of children's music CDs, as well as junior fiction and non-fiction. A rack holds a set of Beatrix Potter books (and one A.A. Milne). One computer is designated for kids' use.

Over the teen area and part of the non-fiction stacks is a "ceiling" of black straps and colored panels. Very unusual, and interesting.

The library has a LOT of books on CD. I've noticed during this trip that most libraries have more audio books than I'd expect. In one place I stopped, I learned that many of these are donated. Perhaps that is also true here, but I didn't ask.

During the summer, story and activity programs are presented at the Ashland Farmers Market from 10-12 on Saturdays. A nice way to take programming to where the kids are likely to be. And perhaps it keeps kids occupied while their parents shop?

Watching over the whole libary is Sage, a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g sea serpent. How long? Well, about as long as the whole children's area. There was a contest to name Sage; the significance may relate to wisdom...or may not. Here's a picture of the magnificent beast. Look way down by the far window to see its tail!


Saturday, May 21, 2016

403 Ontonagon MI Township Library

The Ontonagon Township Library is located in  the Ontonagon Town Memorial Building. Ramps lead to the building from the parking lot and sidewalk.

The first thing I saw in the lobby--I couldn't miss it--was this home-grown box for after-hours book returns. I sometimes think I should create a post with all the interesting book returns I've seen. This one would be in it, for sure!

The picture below shows the lively children's corner of the library. The are two small chairs, an easy chair and a rocker, for little kids, plus a ride-on rocking airplane that you can just glimpse in the lower left corner. Magnetic letters are scattered on a metal panel on the wall, and there are a play kitchen and bagged sets of games and puzzles to borrow. There is an octagonal tale with kid-sized chairs, and I especially like all the live plants on the windowsills.

When I was there, four of the the six public computers were in use and a woman was using wi-fi to work on her own laptop. This shows clearly how valuable the library is to the community. There were a goodly number of books for kids, teens, and adults, plus CDs, DVDs, and Play-Aways.

A sign says that the last checkout is 15 minutes before closing. I'm sure that saves wear and tear on staff, but it seems a bit rigid. I wonder how strictly it is enforced?

Each library I visit, and it's more than 400 now, I see something new. Here, it's the signs in the non-fiction area that guide one to the books. I was told that the librarian, Leo, is responsible for these. He has created "word clouds" appropriate for each category and used these as a background for the numbers. For example, the 900s would have a word cloud formed of words related to travel and history. It's a really nice touch. If you see Leo, please tell him I said so!


405 Hurley, WI Public Library

I thought my gps was pranking me when it said that my next stop after Ironwood was five minutes away! There is a simple explanation: Ironwood and Hurley are "twin towns"--but in different states! Sure enough, five minutes got me there.

The sad news is that my camera did not save correctly; there is a file, but there's no picture. Batteries that had been freshly charged when I set out in the morning were now as dead as doornails. So I strongly suggest you go to the library website for pictures and more information.

The library shares a building with the city offices. It is in a single bright and pleasant room. I noticed particularly a collection of local history books, including The Murder of Andrew Sigler, which looked like a book I'd enjoy reading. So far, I haven't been able to find it online at any library where my card works, but I will keep looking.

One thing that struck me was the large number of audio books on CD. Actually, I've seen a lot of these on this trip, and guess that this might correlate to the level of cabin fever during the winter up here. At one library, (Nipigon, I think) the librarian told me that many of the audio books were donated. I suspect that is true elsewhere, perhaps here in Hurley. There are also a lot of DVDs, and the same reasoning applies.

There are of course fiction, non-fiction, and picture books for the youngsters.


404 Ironwood MI Carnegie Library

The Ironwood, Michigan library is an early Carnegie: 1901. One hundred fifteen years old and still serving the community. Furthermore, it is the oldest Carnegie library still in service in Michigan.

And what did I find here that I hadn't seen before? Several things. First, look at that double radiator! The librarian tells me that it throws out a lot of heat and keeps the place toasty in winter.

It's probably appropriate that Ironwood has an early Carnegie library, when ou think of how Carnegie made his money. A poster in the library makes this clear.

The main floor of the library has a fireplace that looks as if it is not used, and perhaps not usable. A reading/browsing room to the left of the entrance holds the fiction collection, which includes many Star Wars books in their own shelf, westerns, mysteries, inspirational fiction, and romance paperbacks on spinners.

To the right are several computers with signs saying "You must be 18+ to use this computer." I'll hazard a guess that Internet access on these computers is not filtered. The non-fiction collection is here, along with a microfilm reader and many boxes of microfilm, including old Ironwood Times. There are bound copies of National Geographics (old, but I didn't get the dates), and a shelf of local history, and the Michigan Collection. It was here that I spotted a DVD titled "Hurley: The most Infamous Town in America." (Hurley is the next town along the route, five minutes away and in another state!)

On the lower level the is a space for teens with fiction and non-fiction and a tall table with the tall stools/chairs that teens seem to enjoy. A sign suggests that if you "can't find it on the shelf, ask a librarian."

Before you enter the children's area there is a room with a bright geometric carpet, a pair of comfortable-looking chairs, and an alcove filled with material from the Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center. The material includes zipped bags and plastic bins with learning materials to check out, plus a collection of parenting books. A nice place for parents to wait while children are in a library program.

In the children's area I noted the sturdy bins for picture books, some on legs...

...and some on the floor.

There are five or six of these floor chairs that kids like.

And watching over all is a not-too-scary dragon!

Back upstairs, while saying good-bye to the librarian I noticed this unusual card catalog; look closely and you'll see that it has double drawers, holding two rows of cards each. This card catalog is no longer used, and the librarian pointed out with a laugh that its role now is to hold up the computer that now serves as the catalog.


Take a look at the library's website at

Friday, May 20, 2016

402 Portage Lake District Library, Houghton, MI

At one time, this handsome Carnegie library was the home of the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

But times have changed. If we go down that very steep hill, about three blocks, we will come to this building.

I looks pretty nice, right? Well, let's go inside. This building is filled with creative touches and programs that blew me away.

This gateway to the children's area is elegantly simple. One feature of this area is a good-sized aquarium. I like the adjacent plaque: "Dedicated in honor of Dr. C. Dexter Lufkin, lover of fish and quiet children." I wonder what he would have thought of the two large groups of preschoolers who had been in earlier in the day to plant seeds in small milk cartons. The plants that grow will later be planted outside in a children's garden. The tarantula mascot will stay inside in its cage, I assume.

This corner of the preschool area welcomes kids with everything from games to the large plush pony from Wells Fargo, plus plenty of books and media. By the way, that tree? and the gateway pictured above? the bookshelf ends that have local pictures routed into the surface? the circulation desk? All are the work of local craftpersons.

Two other items of note on top of shelves in the kids' are are a barred owl (Take note, Angela from Thunder Bay.) The owl starved during an especially bad winter a few years ago. There is also a telescope with a fanny pack of accessories, which can be checked out.

Moving to the other side of the building, you see that it is built right on the edge of the Portage Canal which provides a shortcut across the Keneewah Peninsula. It also provides a pleasant, relaxing outlook for patrons choosing to sit along the generous windows. The farther end has a comfortable "living room" feeling. Teens have their own area by the windows, with a computer, couches and chairs, and YA books. Media are shelved nearby, including the music CDs, which seem especially right for teens.

Patrons were asked to "bring in your favorite stone," and these stones were used to build a unique two-sided fireplace. Fireplaces are very popular in new libraries, but I haven't heard of another library that collected building material in this way. What a wonderful way to help patrons feel ownership in the library.

A couple of computers have features I haven't seen before, keyboards with extra-large, extra-visible keys. A sign indicates that the computers are connected to both the regular and adaptive keyboards, so either can be used seamlessly. Wonderful!

A librarian gave me a lot of the information here, and I hope I have accurately captured all that she told me. When I was leaving, she walked me to the door and made sure that I knew how to find the old Carnegie building. In the lobby, I took one final picture, of the unusual way to acknowledge contributions. She explained that each of the wooden "books" is held in place with Blu-Tac. Just as with a real bookshelf, perhaps in your home, books are added and others must be rearranged.

The patrons of this library should know that they have a very, very unusual and special library. Treat it well!


291a Munising, MI Public Library

I first visited the Munising library in August 2014, and so I was planning to give it a miss this trip. Then I came through the town, around the bend in the road, and there it was. So, what the heck, I'll give it a couple of minutes for a refresher.

Well, it didn't even feel like the same place. For one thing, the librarian was there, and she was friendly!

The class pictures are still on the walls. These are large sheets with all students in their separate spaces. They have been moved all around town, from one school to the library to another school and back again. I didn't check how far back they go, but...far. It's quite a project to get these fragile pages cleaned and framed--somewhat like the project going on at the library in Paradise, MI. Here in Munising the heroes are the class of 1957; after their last (thinly-attended) reunion they decided to disband--and they turned over the remainder of their treasury to the library for this project. Way to go, Class of  1957!

I glanced back at my earlier entry and think that the children's area has changed the most in two years. A reference section is in a back room, which I didn't explore. The library serves as a county library. The old card catalog drawers are being used for a seed library. And the librarian is definitely not the "quiet, incurious" person I met on my last visit!


401 Tahquamenon Area Library, Newberry, MI

The Tahquamenon Area Library is located in Newberry, MI, a town called "quaint" in at least one website. On the day of my visit, quaintness was well masked by a consruction project the length of Newberry Avenue! But I knew the library is in a school, so it was not hard to find. I did not take a picture when I arrived because someone helping me find the right entrance to this large K-12 building let me in an employee entrance; and when I left by the correct, front door, I forgot to take a picture because I always take them on arrival. So this is one of very few entries without a picture. My bad.

On entering from the lobby, I first noted the Van Gogh-ish painting on the wall to the right. That's what I really wish I had a picture of! This is clearly the space for the youngest library users. Many "puppet kits" hang on a rack.

To the left is an area of adult fiction, with many lighthouse models displayed above the books. Easy chairs make this a "living room" area for reading and browsing. Living plants make the space even more welcoming. Adult biographies and non-fiction are nearby.

Beyond this area is J fiction on low shelves under the windows, with a special section for "authors of Michigan." There are tables and chairs to seat at least 20. Some new, tall shelving divided the study area from a group of 16 computers. This may be temporary, as I learned that the shelves are newly arrived and some rearranging will be done. I was intrigued by a set of bright backpacks called "Books Alive," apparently sets of books, accessories, and games, that appeared to be a 4H project.

I chatted with the librarian for a while and learned that, as she put it, "the library is in the school but of the village." It appears that this is a fairly common arrangement in Michigan.

As I left I noticed a display of "Older books but new to our library...Thanks for the donations." I like this. In my experience, donations of books that a library adds to its collection are slipped in quietly. A display of Staff Picks includes "Our Patrons Recommend..."

And finally, a poster asks "Which grade will use the library most this school year?" A chart of data by grade follows, with some additional questions: "Will the winning streak for 6th grade continue?" "Will the Seniors come back from last place?" COME ON SENIORS!


no picture

400 Paradise, MI Whitefish Township Community Library

This community library is in the aptly-named township of Paradise, Michigan. It sits next to the local school, on a long stretch of road with views of trees, rocks, and the south shore of Lake Superior. It's a basic fancy architecture here. But as soon as I walked in the door, my sense was of warmth and light. Nothing in my visit changed that. And I'm pleased that such a pleasant small library is number 400 in my quest to visit "Every Library I Can."

To the right is an area for the kids, with picture books, easy readers, and a cozy place to sit with a stuffed animal and enjoy a book. Several people who have donated books are honored with framed displays of donor's name and picture and the names of the books donated. A display of picture books on a table here held a number of newly released titles.


Large framed photographs of historic scenes in the area are the subject of some special fundraising. Patrons are invited to "adopt" a picture for a donation of $100: $75 covers cleaning and framing and the other $25 is a donation to the library for other purposes. There were, I think, 10 pictures, and all but one have been adopted. Here's an idea for other libraries, or historical societies, that are trying to restore old material.

Along the front of the building to the left of the door is a bookshelf holding Pulitzer Prize winners and Oprah's picks. There are sets of Masterplots Digest of World Literature (I haven't seen those in a long time), Britannica Great Books, and what looked like the complete Westerns of Louis L'Amour. Then there are shelves of large print books, fiction, and non-fiction.

A community room has shelves of books for sale, and I found several that I will give out next Halloween (instead of candy). There is a popcorn machine here, ready for movie programs.

Finally, there are YA and J fiction, a sizable collection of reference materials, and lots of audio books and other media.

An attractive seating area features two wooden rockers made by a local craftsman. He also made the birchbark-and-twig frames that can be seen in the picture below and smaller ones that hold Dewey Decimal numbers on the adult non-fiction shelves.

A few days ago I was in White River, ON, where Paddle-to-the-Sea got his start. There, I learned that this year marks the 75th anniversary f that classic book. I was pleased to see here in Whitefish, on the south side of the lake, that each year the school children send boats into the lake...and some have received replies from quite far away!

The warm, friendly staff add to the welcoming ambiance here. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

399 Sault Ste. Marie ON Public Library, Korah Branch

The Korah Branch of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, library is located in the Northern Community Center, where I was startled to hear a repeated message outside the building reminding me not to smoke. Not a poster, an actual recorded voice. Effective, I'm sure, but maybe a bit creepy?

Entering and passing the circulation desk, I saw a row of four computers including an "accessibility station" that appeared to accommodate a wheelchair; that's a nice touch.

Beyond the computers is the Teen area. There are two computers for teens; one was being used by a girl who looked high school age, perhaps working on a paper. She seemed very engrossed. I like the practice of putting paper "flags" on some of the YA fiction, indicating specific genres. There are teen events every Thursday afternoon, and teens are invited to bring books to a "summer book swap" to get some fresh reading material. I don't recall seeing another library that aimed a book swap specifically at teens.

The centerpiece of the teen area is a long table with "diner seating." Lots of Teen areas have this sort of seating, you say? Yes they do...but in this case, that table is a Smart Table. Kids bring a computer, get the controls from the library staff, and can work or play right on surface of the table. I do wish kids had been using it when I was there! And my thanks to the staff person who went the extra mile to get permission for me to take the picture below.

The children's area is defined by several long bookshelves holding children's fiction, non-fiction, picture books, and a couple of shelves of books in French. Kids can check out a "Builder Box" for two hours, for use in the library only. Pictures on the poster about this suggest that LEGO and K'nex boxes are available. First time I recall seeing K'nex offered in a library.

Board books for the littlest kids are in their own bookcase, shelved by author's last name. One computer is designated as a "Children's Early Literacy Station," and there are two others for older kids, plus a catalog computer.

Thursday evenings the library holds a story time at a local mall. This is an interesting approach to "reaching out" but it does it increase library use? Is that an issue?

Tall windows brighten a browsing and study area. A couple of tables were ready for coloring and jigsaw puzzle solving. Children's and adults' periodicals are nearby. A row of upholstered chairs with round surfaces for a book or electronic device are along these windows. Beyond this area are shelves of adult fiction and non-fiction, large print books, a few Xbox and Wii games, and audio books. Language learning sets, typically a book with one or more CDs, are shelved in zippered plastic cases, rather than the fitted cases they usually come in...cases that tend to break and fall apart. This looked like a very practical solution. "Express Reads" are popular books that can be checked out for one week, with a fee of $1.00 for each day overdue.

A very unusual idea is that new adult books are wrapped in brown paper, labeled "Surprise Reads," and have a sticker that gives the general genre of the book inside. I often see books wrapped this way, especially "blind date books" around Valentine's Day, but I've never before seen new books handled this way. Staff told me that they are quite popular, they encourage people to read beyond their usual tastes, and it's rare that a patron returns one and complains.

I had planned to visit all three Sault Ste. Marie, ON, libraries today, but I was running late. I'll be back through in late July and hope to visit Centennial and Churchill then.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

398 Wawa, ON Public Library

I think there is probably an unwritten law (it might even be written!) that anything about Wawa, Ontario, must include The Goose, so here it is, at the visitor center. The goose was easy, but the library, through my own error, was a bit of a problem. Somehow I managed to put in my itinerary that the library would open at 10:30 on Wednesday. Nope, I should have written 11:30. Now what? I had three libraries on my list for the afternoon...

With less than an hour to wait, I decided to stick around and perhaps eliminate one of my planned stops for later in the day. I spent a bit of time outside the library, using its wifi to catch up with some email. Fueling the car and getting a cookie from Tim Horton filled the rest of the hour. And once I was inside, I was glad I had waited.

It's a very visual library, and I took many more pictures than usual. I always take exterior pictures to showcase special touches like this friendly bench.

This is one view of the children's area, obviously. There are two computers for kids, each with a brightly colored chair. The nearer chair is shaped like a hand with the fingers facing up. And you see that staircase? Well... leads to a balcony that at this time housed the book sale. I understand that these books will be moved down, perhaps quite soon.
And here's a small table with a Noah's Ark theme. Do you see that dark circle in the middle of the picture of the ark? 

Well, that circle is a finger hole, allowing one to rmove the lid on a cache of crayons. Go back to the last picture and you'll see a rack of coloring papers waiting for kids to arrive.

I've visited quite a few Canadian libraries, at least 16 at last count. In both the US and Canada, I've seen colorful rugs in children's areas. I've seen alphabets, Dewey Decimal schemes, numbers, ponds... but this is the first Canadian map rug I've seen.

And the very plain back door, with the NO EXIT sign in the middle, is brightened with book jacket art.

One school is a block away, and I learned that there are two others. After school, the library is filled with kids who stop by to do art projects. Among other things, they have made small clay sculptures of all sorts, and some of them are for sale. I bought a really nice leafy plant in a white planter for my dollhouse, an when I get home in a few days I intend to take a picture of this miniature plant in its new home. Check back in a week or so to see if I remember!

And I DID remember!

Yes, there are books, media, and computers for adults, too!