Tuesday, July 19, 2016

410. Grace A. Dow Public Library, Midland, MI

OK, where is Midland, MI, you ask? Easy answer: hold up your left hand. That's Michigan, minus the UP, which should never be ignored. Midland is just to the left of the web between your thumb and first finger.

OK, now that we have that settled, this is a beautiful small city. As I drove down what I think is the main drag to the library, the street was lined on both sides with dense rows of yellow and orange flowers. The city seems to be full of well-maintained parks of various sorts.And there is a wonderful library, right acrosss from what is probably a wonderful museum. I didn't get into the museum.

The long passageway to the library entrance holds a couple of tables with chairs, where patrons can sit and chat, and were doing so, making the photo angle a challenge.

Beyond that walk is a sort of patio area in the "L" of the building.

I was unable to take pictures inside because the library was busy. It was about 9:45 in the morning, and people were coming and going, sitting and moving around, and they were everywhere.

I'm especially sorry I couldn't take pictures, because the interior is amazing in the use of color and pattern. The term "colorblock" comes to mind, and maybe a touch of Mondrian. When I learned that the building dates to 1955, I thought that the interior might be the result of recent redesigning, but that's not quite right. There was some re-design a few years back, but it was to return to something close to the original look. An example of updating is the use of carpet. The original had hard-surfaced floors with the distinctive colorblock design; the update has the bold design and color, but with carpet. A similar design is used for signage, making a unified appearance.

There is a coffee shop called "Cup and Chaucer." This area was being used for tutoring. Beyond it were shelves of many books for sale by the Friends of the Library.

Another large corner is dedicated to local history and genealogy. One shelf is labeled "Dow Chemical Documents" -- ahh, that explains why the town name seems familiar. There are three microfilm readers and many drawers of microfilm reels.

An emphasis on reader guidance is reflected in racks of printd bibliographies. I saw these in the biography area ("Biographies of African Americans" and "Biographies of People with Disabilities" are two of many. There were others on general non-fiction topics.

A large "Quiet Room" has a wall of windows looking out at a landscaped area, a current periodical collection, and many bright easy chairs. The next large space is similar, with windows and easy chairs but without the need for silence. This is near the non-fiction collection, where I also saw a notebook titled "Quick Subject Guide." This was an alphabetical listing of topics with their Dewey Decimal numbers, very nice for finding your way to the right shelf when you are not looking for a specific title.

I saw at least 12 computers for patron use. There is an area with three "diner booths" and nearby a wall of truck and auto repair manuals.

Downstairs I first saw the offices of MCTV, which I expect stands for Midland Community TV. 

Then the large, colorful children's area. I noted several displays, including "Babysitter Bags," with books and games. I've seen similar bags for parents, but targeting babysitters seems like a good idea. There was a display of kids DVDs with the suggestion "How about an animated story for your road trip?" A collection of easy readers was labeled "Easy Readers Kids Want to Read." It's certainly true that many easy readers are not much fun to read!

Picture books are in the area below the adult "quiet room." Shelves of books create "bays" that each hold a table and four chairs, as well as a section for the preschool crowd to play in. There are lots of book-and-CD sets and a variety of tables and chairs throughout.

Teens have a large space of their own. An arc of deep, free-standing black shelves holds displays and also serves to create some visual distance between the computers and lounging areas, while maintaining sight lines throughout the space.


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