Sunday, September 4, 2016

371a Kasson Public Library, Kasson, Minnesota

I first visited Kasson Public Library on November 9, 2015. [To see that entry, put "Kasson" or "371" in the search field.] At that time, the library was located in a downtown building, a former store, I think. But they had just broken ground on a brand new building. In fact, I was able to get a picture of the early earth-moving stage. I've been following construction news on line, and now it was time to go see the results. It's amazing!

Start with the overall shape, the shallow dome. Pretty neat, isn't it? I forgot to ask, but I'm guessing that this shape contributes to the building's secondary role as a storm shelter for the community. It also allows for a spacious uninterrupted interior design

The lobby has a strikingly blue floor (that's a compliment). There are a couple of storage closets, restrooms, and a "hydration station" -- a drinking fountain that encourages the use of reusable water bottles by a) making it easy to refill them, and b) showing the count of how many have been filled. These are starting to be common in newer construction, and I think they are a great concept.

A sign informs us that shoes are a must, no Rollerblades, no running, and children must be supervised at all times. [That small red Porsche by the door? I watched a couple of preschoolers arrive in that and deftly back into an unmarked parking space. They were supervised, from a distance.]

As is my custom, I walked all through the library and took notes before asking permission to take pictures. When I got back to the service desk, ready to make my request, I discovered that I was not the only person taking pictures that day. This local gentleman with his well-traveled horse had just returned from the Grand Canyon, and was preparing to pose the horse for pictures throughout the library. (I'm sorry, I did not get his name; would someone please tell me in a comment, so I can add it?) UPDATE: I've just had an email from Don Vaughn from Kasson and his horse, Virgil. I've asked him for the story of his travels with Virgil, and will update further with his information or a link.

In the picture above, you see a corner of the service desk, the windows into the Library Director's office and other offices, and at the far right a window into what will soon become Maker Space, with a 3-D printer and other goodies.

Below, the bright yellow corner is part of the Teen area, with a "diner booth" and a tall counter with stools.

I'd been fascinated by the ceiling since seeing it in pictures on the library's website. The lighted rectangular panels are referred to as"clouds" by Art Tiff, the Director. He showed me a small control panel on the wall that controls a whole light show that is available with these panels. They are very cool. In the center, an 8-bladed fan turns slowly and quietly. This modern design and technology is a wonderful surprise in such a small town!

The curved walls are lined with shallow adjustable-height shelves. In the first picture below, they hold DVDs in a way that makes excellent use of space. Various seating is available. To the right of these shelves is a fireplace and a very nice "living room" area, which I can't show here because people were using it. Two study rooms are located nearby. I spotted a small quilted wall hanging that I remember from the old library: Ten Ladies, Ten Books, Kasson Public Library 1899-1999. As is true everywhere I have visited, libraries are not new to the scene, and they are always proud of their early roots.

After the fireplace area, there are more wall shelves. Here they are used cleverly for recorded books on the top three shelves, a good height for adult browsing, and children's DVDs on the bottom three. Looking at the furniture one might guess that some tables are in the future, but the "conversation circles" seem just fine without them.

I never got a picture of the fiction and non-fiction stacks, but they certainly are present. Another feature not pictured is a conference table with seating for ten, right behind the service desk. There are also six public computers; several of them were being used by school-age young people. These youngsters are apparently attracted by the new building, as I was told they rarely showed up at the older library.

KidSpace is in one corner, the mirror image of the Teen area, with a couple of computers, rocking chairs, shelves of books, puzzles, and toys, and a Little Tykes computer. A quotation from Dr.Seuss is on the wall: "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" Why, indeed?

In the spirit of the "Corridor" in the Arnprior, Ontario, library, the hallway from the entrance to the library proper is used as an art gallery which will have changing displays.

So there you have it, the new Kasson Public Library. From the entrance with its bright blue floor, through the short hallway and art gallery, to the service desk right where you can't miss it, and on to the spacious interior: treats for the eye and the mind, friendly staff, comfortable seating of many types. Kasson has built a treasure.


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