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.


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