Wednesday, July 20, 2016

412. St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, ON

From across the street the St. Thomas Library is an imposing concrete eminence, but don't be fooled--it is thoroughly human inside. Two examples of its concern for people are found in lobby signs stating that this is a "scent-free environment" and that a wheelchair is available for any patron who might need it. The lobby also has a wooden wall with metal "leaves" of various colors forming a tree and indicating contributions to a 2009-2112 "Imagine" fund-raising campaign. Two stone slabs at the bottom represent (I assume) especially significant contributions.

A communal coloring project is underway near one of the adult browsing areas. It appears that pictures are printed out in a large format, and people add to the coloring as they desire. This is somewhat like the jigsaw puzzles I often see in libraries, where people add a piece or two (or spend a morning!) contributing to a joint project. This is clearly not the first of these projects to be undertaken here, as there are many completed ones on the walls. There is also a great deal of original art in various media mounted on the walls.

Two tilting catalog computer screens are mounted on the ends of stacks, one in fiction and one in non-fiction. I've seen something similar in just one other place, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, library. It's a nice convenience for a patron wanting a quick look-up right at the point of need.

St. Thomas was an early adopter of the "seed library" concept. A set of wooden drawers hold seeds in square envelopes, about the size of a CD sleeve. This set of drawers looks a bit like a repurposed card catalog, though a different size. A librarian assured me that it was bought especially for this purpose.  [So, seeds are now enough of a "thing" that special furniture is being devised for them!] Seeds are in the library computer catalog, but they cannot be reserved.

World languages include small collections of books and DVDs in Chinese, Dutch, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

The John and Dorothy Palmer Youth Library is downstairs and can be reached from inside the library or through a nicely landscaped entrance with ramp and stairs. I imagine that the separate entrance is very helpful when the library is deluged with children for a reading program! On the way downstairs I saw a poster about "130 Reasons to Celebrate St. Thomas Public Library." Reason 34 is "At the library, kids can be kids." I discovered later, on the library website, that there really are 130 reasons, written as part of a celebration of the library's 130th anniversary a few years ago.

Teens have their own glass-walled area, Teen Street.

A program room is labeled the Fred and Ethel Ingram Activity Centre for Children, indicating an awareness that children need activity along with books. I had hoped to get pictures of the wonderful children's area, but as so often happens, there were patrons all over the place, making picture-taking impossible.

One more comment about the inclusivity at the St. Thomas library. As I was leaving the children's area, I saw an Awareness Atlas display, this month featuring "Read with Pride." The display included gay pride parade pictures and pictures of Stonewall "then and now."


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