Wednesday, October 5, 2016

432 Harmony Public Library, Harmony, MN

The Harmony Public Library is one of many organizations housed in this building which appears to be a former elementary school. I think I chose the wrong place to park, as the library is at the far end to the right.

Other occupants of the building range from a Senior Citizens Center to an Early Childhood and Family Education program. Entering the building where I did brought me into a lobby with a courtesy phone and a telephone directory, two features that are useful and increasingly rare. The hall to the right is lined with pictures of high school graduating classes from 1919 through 1993, plus 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1912.

The library entrance is down the hall all the way on the left. The area for little kids, shown below, has plenty of scope for imaginative play and a cute toddler-sized couch. Beyond this is the area for school-aged kids, with a sign on the wall indicating that "This corner is brought to you by the American Legion of Harmony, Lions Club of Harmony, and Torgerson's Paint and Flooring. It's always great to see such community support for literacy.

One window at the rear looks out on a reading patio with a mural on a nearby wall.

To the right of the door to the patio is an area full of light from large windows, with casual seating and a study table. In general, fiction is shelved along the walls, with non-fiction on diagonally-oriented stacks. One feature is an especially large collection of Western fiction. Many libraries, especially in small towns, have such collections, but if you are looking for something along this line, I suggest you visit Harmony!

I didn't have a chance to talk to the librarian here, as she was busy on the phone. As I left, I chanced to see that a former classroom across the hall serves as a program center for the library, which is great for hosting programs without having to rearrange or clean up the general library space.


431. Mabel Public Library, Mabel, MN

Here's the Mabel Public Library...take a good look at the ramp up to the door, because by the time I'm writing this, it's no longer there. The town is replacing it, which is very nice. Fortunately there is another entrance that doesn't require a ramp, so the library remains accessible.

I had an interesting conversation with the librarian about how this space has grown, thanks to the town. The library started in the space to the right, inside the window shown above, an area now housing the junior and teen library and the large print collection. I noticed on the fiction shelves a large set of "New Tom Swift Junior" books from the 50s, which I rarely see. I also spotted a set of "Real Life Math" books, that look interesting. [I found a series with this title in Hennepin County; I don't think it's the same series, but I have requested one to have a look.]

The space behind this was once the town public restroom; now it hold the five public computers! No picture, because several of the computers were being used.

The cheerful children's space shown below is up a short ramp. I think the colorful valance is just right to soften the lines of the window. All told, I saw about two dozen child-sized chairs, suggesting that children's programs are probably well-attended.

The back of the library is up three steps, made accessible with a lift that is large enough for a wheelchair. As you can see, there is a small table with craft supplies overlooking the main level. But the largest area holds a very long conference table, the non-fiction collection, and periodicals. An exit to a parking lot from this level will provide accessibility while the ramp out front is replaced.

I forget exactly where these were, but my notes reference an unusually large collection of VHS tapes, with no mention of DVDs, and what looks like a complete set of Louis L'Amour westerns in matching brown bindings.

The librarian I talked to is a delightful woman with a background in elementary school teaching and school librarianship. She told me that kids do not trick-or-treat for Halloween in Mabel (they have a party instead)--so she keeps candy treats on the circulation desk for the whole month. Lucky kids!

With staff like her, and the support of the town, the Mabel Public Library patrons are indeed fortunate.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

430 Spring Grove Public Library, Spring Grove, MN

Far down in the southeast corner of Minnesota, I visited the Spring Grove library. Spring Grove was one of the first Norwegian settlements in Minnesota, and there are a number of framed documents displayed to remind you of this fact. I became aware of the Norwegian roots when I was here in the early 1980s for a couple of Volksmarch hiking events, but I haven't been here since then, and at that time I was not looking for libraries.

Well, let's get inside. The library shares space with a number of organizations in this building:

Before heading down the ramp to the entrance, I noticed an addition to the universal library symbol on the bookdrop. I forgot to ask inside, but I think that is a Pokemon figure, indicating perhaps that this library, like many others, is involved in Pokemon Go. [And at this point, I really don't know what I'm talking about, so I will stop...!]

Two ramps lead to the entrance, one from the main sidewalk, and the other from the parking lot. I always like seeing a bench by a library entrance.

It should be no surprise that in addition to the displayed documents (mentioned above), there are many old photographs displayed in the entrance hall. A number of these go back to the days when an "old home day" involved getting everyone together for a town picture. I also enjoyed the photos of brass bands, since my grandfather once led such a band back in the same era.

Inside the library proper, to the left, is an area for teens. Beyond that there are two offices and a sign on the wall with some good advice: "Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go." To the right of the entrance is the service desk with generous counter space and work space. I chatted with the person working there and we agreed that library work requires lots of "stacking space"-- there always seems to be the need for more piles!

There are ten computers for public use. Non-fiction is shelved along the back wall in unusual built-in shelves, seen in the last picture below. A rather large collection of "local authors," which seems to mean Minnesota authors, fills one section of stacks. Given how close to Wisconsin and Iowa this town is located, I wouldn't be surprised to see authors from those states also, but I didn't spot any.

The children's area features the large painted tree you see below. I was glad to see the pictures posted representing participants in "1000 Book Before Kindergarten." Some junior fiction has spine stickers indicating animal stories, realistic fiction, and so forth. Two tables have an interesting design with slight cutouts; you can see this if you look closely at the table in the foreground below.

The final corner, with two windows, features a Keurig coffee set up (free coffee!), a stuffed otter (oh?), newspapers hanging across (not mounted on) old newspaper sticks, and those framed documents mentioned in the first paragraph.

In the final picture you see a corner of the bookshelves built into the wall. I don't think I've ever seen shelves quite like these before. And I'm sure I've never seen one of those bulbous gray stools! There are two; I thought they were seating, but the library director explained to me that they are stools to ease shelving books on the lowest shelves. I totally appreciate that; I thought I would like to have wheels on one of these, but on second thought, with wheels I'd probably go feet-over-head as soon as I sat down!

I think this is the first time I've sought out the Director of the library, since she was available in her office. I had a great time talking to her, and I want to let her know that I thought I had a personal copy of the book about Minnesota libraries, but I can't find I have ordered one from Better World Books. Past experience suggests that as soon as the parcel arrives, the book will pop up on one of my bookshelves!