Monday, November 7, 2016

436. Houston Public Library, Houston, MN

 Libraries of Minnesota

The Houston (Minnesota) library has been on my "must visit" list ever since I spotted this book, published in 2011. Hey, how many libraries are featured on book jackets, hmm? This weekend I made it happen with a trip to southeastern Minnesota on a beautiful, warm (!), November day.

I learned from the librarian that this clever paint job was inspired about 11 years ago by some gift wrap. Talented patrons of the library created the plan, and many people spent a summer executing it. Paint, I believe, was donated by Valspar. It is just plain fun when something I've been wanting to see looks just as I expect it to!

Inside, non-fiction is shelved along the walls, fiction in stacks. Fiction books have large yellow spine labels with the first three letters of the author's last name, highly visible for easy selection. There are DVDs to circulate and at least five computers for patron use.

A corner with a bay window by the non-fiction shelves holds a round table with four chairs, ample cushions for those who would like to curl up with a book by the window, and a globe. On the walls are a number of posters from the set I saw at Spring Valley, with sets of pictures illustrating "We All Need Water," "We All Dress," and so forth. This is a great series of posters, and I was glad to see some of them here.

I'm always drawn to children's areas, and this one is a delight. It fills a corner of the library, with a door placed diagonally in one corner. One of the "We All..." posters is to the left of the window. The framed pictures to the right show kids "Reading to Lexi," a reading dog.

As a one-time builder of dollhouses and a long-ago builder of model planes, I was pleased with the displays here.

A mural brightens one wall above the shelves. Many picture books are grouped by topics, like Counting, Grandparents, Illness, Shapes, and so on. Others are alphabetical by author. I spotted several "book bundles" of related titles, with the helpful notice that the books in a bundle must be checked out separately, but do not have to be returned as a set. I've seen book bundles before and hadn't thought about the logistics involved.

Skinny "easy readers" that can so easily get lost on regular shelves are placed face-front in colorful box-shelves. They are divided by level and series, and must make it easy and fun for new readers to make their selections.

If you find yourself in this corner of Minnesota, there are many libraries to choose from--one in almost every town, in fact! But for some unusual interior and exterior designs, permit me to suggest Houston!


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