Wednesday, July 6, 2016

106a Brooklyn Park Branch, Hennepin County Library, MN

I debated whether to give this library a new number, since it is brand-new, but decided to keep its lineage intact. I visited the old Brooklyn Park library in 2012, one of my last visits for the initial "all MELSA libraries" project. And now I'm back to see the new building.

I'll start with this view from the far corner of the parking lot. I wanted to take a picture as I approached, but the traffic light changed before I could get the camera in place. Suffice it to say, the "lines" of the library are very handsome and intriguing from the other side.

Coming closer, you can see the brand-new landscaping.

Closer still and the outside benches show up,
along with the impressive rounded glass wall.
Another feature that didn't quite make it into the picture
is a Fix-It station for bicycles, 
with an air pump and assorted tools attached to retractable cables. Nice!

This stone sculpture near the entrance gives a hint thalt all the meeting rooms inside are named after rocks. I'm guessing that this must be a quarrying area, but I didn't have a chance to ask. Every staff person I saw was BUSY--I had the impression that there must still be some pent-up desire for library access here, since the building has only been open for three weeks. At least two staff seemed to be issuing new cards.

There are three easy ways to return material: a drive-up return, a walk-up return outside, and a return in the lobby. I like the view provided of the automated materials handling equipment near the inside return.

The lobby inside the tall windows pictured above is spacious--spacious enough, in fact, to make me wonder if some furniture had not yet arrived. There are cushioned window seats, upholstered chairs, and several tables with electrical outlets for laptops and such. The window walls are very tall, perhaps three "normal" floors high. As you enter the library proper, the ceiling is a bit lower. The wall above has an atistic feature that is hard to describe. It's a zigzag pleated ... painting that stretches for many feet. Because of the right-angled pleats it looks a bit different depending on where you stand in the lobby. It's very attractive and like notheing I've seen elsewhere.

Toward the back of the library on the left are the fiction stacks, more windows with seating for browsers, newspapers and periodicals, and a blue carpet that is so attractive it made it into my notes! At this point, I saw about 40 computers, many of them in use. The non-fction stacks are nearby. All non-fiction, children's and adults,' is shelved together, so an "Adult Non-Fiction" sign above the shelves seemed a bit puzzling. 

There are at least six small-group study rooms with tables, seating, whiteboards and windows, as well as several larger meeting rooms in various places around the library. The small rooms seemed to be mostly "first come, first served," but apparently they can also be reserved using the computer reservation station. A couple of special-use areas are a room with six easy chairs, windows, and a whiteboard that looks just right for a book club meeting; a snack room with a vending machine and "clean up after yourself" signs; and an alcove with bulletin boards for library and community announcements, the computer reservation station, and a printer.

Teens have a large glass-walled area with about 18 more computers in groups of three. This space is for teens only from 2 pm to closing each day.

The service desk is centered near the lobby. There were three staff persons there when I dropped of my "check out the blog" card, and they were all busy.

At this point you may be wondering "don't they have anything for kids?" Oh my gosh, yes they do! The feature that was getting the most attention is an array of plastic tubes, maybe 4 or 5 inches in diameter, mounted on the wall. The tubes within reach have "gates" tht can be opened and closed to control the flow of air inside, and there is an "entry point" where kids put colord scarves, then look to see what route the scarf will take through this array. Such a display of hypothesis testing; I could have sat and watched them for a long time. 

But all is not tubes and air and scarves. There is a large playhouse made of heavy plywood with cutouts that suggest trees, and an assortment of windows, bins, and padded benches. A smaller array of plastic tubes mounted on a vertical surface allows younger kids to experiment with colored balls. There is a sort of microscope with things to look at mounted in wooden frames, and the results projected on a screen above. There is a place to pretend that you are having a cookout. A "light board" area provides many large transparent colored pegs that can be placed in both horizontal and vertical surfaces. And there is a construction set that I've never seen before involving cubical structures with holes, plus all sorts of parts that can be attached. A girl about 8 or 10 years old was working hard on a project here.

And of course there are bins and bins of picture books as well as shelves of children's and teen's fiction.

So, all of these wonders and no pictures? True, for the best of reasons: the place was loaded with kids, using every bit of equipment available.

There are about 20 computers in or near the children's area, and a Mother's Room is adjacent to the restrooms.

On may way out, another special item: a world map on the lobby wall, probably 12 or 13 feet long, 7 or 8 feet high. And handsome! The wall is wood. The map itself is laser-cut metal with country boundaries indicated. And a plastic overlay provides the names of countries and many cities.

Nothing quite like a brand-new library to make my day!


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