I had a picture in my mind of Spring Grove, a southeast Minnesota town I've visited a couple of times. What I put in my GPS was Spring Valley. And when I got here, it didn't bother me at all that it wasn't what I expected, because I found a truly wonderful library. [And I'll catch Spring Grove on my next road trip!]
Supporters of the library are recognized with polished stone plaques in the lobby, very handsome.
On entering from the lobby, I first saw the very convenient service disk...then my eyes were quickly drawn to the circle of book shelves that define the children's area. And what an area it is, with a genuine tree trunk up to the ceiling--with fake leaves attached to each branch. Brilliant: the ambiance of outdoors, with no watering or fallen leaves to deal with! And beneath the tree, two colorful, kid-sized pup tents to provide "hiding places" for readers, or perhaps for pretend campers.
By the window, a cozy chair large enough for an adult and a kid (or two) to share, plus a colorful rug and a selection of toddler toys.
This being a Summer Olympics year, sports and gold medals are a popular theme for summer reading programs. The program is over, but the motivation lingers on. I think it's very clever to cut the rims from paper plates and paint them to create the Olympic rings.
Beyond the kids area are stacks for the J books, DVDs, Large Print books, and the YA collection. Teens have a section of the library with a large bean bag chair, a tall table, a bench and a bright rug. There are a few carrels for studying. On a shelf nearby I saw an interesting collection of "Table Talk" cards, with provocative questions to use as conversation starters. Two that I noted were "If you could shop for free in one store, which story would it be, and why?" and "What's not being taught in school that should be?" I like the second question especially. I'd love to hear teens, or even younger kids, discuss that.
Paperbacks are shelved by themselves, which makes very good use of space. I spotted westerns, science fiction, romance, mystery, and general interest books.
An alcove for local history holds an unusual, rather old , wooden desk, some old photos, and a collection of books.
At the end of the building there is a semi-circular space with tall windows, the periodical collection, and "living room" seating. US and Minnesota flags in stands might suggest that civic meetings are held in this space.
There are six public computers near the service desk.
I was tempted to sit down and work on the puzzle. I see jigsaw puzzles quite often in my library travels, but this is the first time I've come across one that didn't have the outside pieces all put together, my favorite stage in puzzle construction. But I moved on.
A surprising alcove holds this kitchenette with tables and chairs that look ready for a cup of coffee or a snack, perhaps a good place to visit with friends.
Two things about the picture below: First, I like how the utilitarian metal shelves are softened and jazzed up with the handsome wooden ends. They are a real touch of class. These are the non-fiction stacks, but fiction stacks have the same feature.
Second, notice the row of posters along the wall. There are others throughout the library. They are from a series with titles like "We all use energy..." "We all need good health..." and "We all need a home." Each poster has a group of pictures from various cultures illustrating the theme. Hanging by each poster, in page protectors, is a set of pages providing information about each picture. This suggests a community with a broad world outlook, which is very nice to see.
After I had made the rounds with my camera, I chatted with a librarian for a bit. We got on the subject of programming for children, and I learned that they had recently done a "stuffed animal overnight" program, where kids bring a favorite stuffed animal, which stays overnight and has adventures. Those adventures are captured in photographs. Here in Spring Valley, each child got four or five pictures; the logistics of getting the right number of different pictures of each animal are awe-inspiring. The library website shows a picture of all the animals (or it did, the last time I looked). Look for the post about the library in Arnprior, Ontario (where the critters are called "stuffies") for more about this kind of program.