Thursday, November 30, 2017

473 Dresser Village Library, Dresser, Wisconsin

Dresser was my second stop on this trip, and I was surprised when my gps indicated that it is only about five miles from Osceola. I think this demonstrates how important libraries are to their communities. In a way, it reminds me of the Hayfield, MN, library, but with some important differences. The similarity? We WILL have a library in our community. Differences? Hayfield is all-volunteer, Dresser has a library director. Hayfield is independent, not connected to any library cooperative, and Dresser is part of the MORE system in Wisconsin. But never mind all that, let's visit.

Here is the bright and festive Dresser Village Library...

...with its welcoming door.

Usually I introduce myself to someone who is staffing a service desk. I provide information about the blog and ask for permission to take interior pictures--without people in them. Once in a while I am immediately offered a tour. This can be a mixed blessing; sometimes it means that I see things I might have missed on my own, and sometimes I get caught up in the tour and forget to take notes...or pictures. Here in Dresser, I had the best of both worlds. First, Library Director Amber offered a tour, and I did indeed see things I might have missed. And then she "turned me loose" to look around on my own. It added up to a very nice visit.

There are three Internet computers available for public use; the third one in the row was indeed being used. The adult fiction section is full, and is subjected to regular weeding, an unpleasant but necessary task for any library. There is a sizable collection of large print books, but the audience for these books seems to be dwindling. One thing I would have missed on my own is a back room with copy, print, and fax equipment.

One corner of the children's area includes this "gears" manipulative and a door painted with chalkboard paint. Those of us who remember classroom blackboards remember the difficulty of getting them really clean (unless the teacher used a wet sponge) and the fun of "clapping the erasers" outside the door (while breathing chalk dust into our youthful lungs). But it's still fun to have a chalkboard available as a creative outlet.

What looks like quite a small library at first turns out to have a labyrinthine set of rooms. This is where my tour guide came in handy. However, I also could have followed the yellow-tape road, created by the librarian's daughter for the edification of people who seldom ventured beyond the first room.

The children's collection includes many popular series. Children's books, including fiction, are shelved by categories, similarly to the way they would be shelved in a bookstore. I'm still not comfortable with this system, though I'm seeing more and more often. It's not only the choice of small libraries; I think the first place I saw it was in Rochester, MN, where it was just being phased in for non-fiction.

This room also includes the Young Adult collection.

Other features of the children's area on the day I visited were this dinosaur display by the window and the friendly round table ready for four kids to read, color, or play.

The Dresser Village Library is an example of a small library striving to meet the needs of a changing population. I wish them well.


472 Osceola Public Library, Osceola, Wisconsin

I was going over some maps and realized that I had somehow missed two libraries in Wisconsin; I'd apparently leapfrogged over them in my travels across the state. The beautiful weather and a bit of restlessness convinced me to fix this oversight.

I wish I had gone closer to the library before taking the picture below, so that you could read the sign. Why? Because this small town is in the process of raising matching funds for a new Discovery Center that will include a new library, senior center, community gathering area, business hub, and "Fab Lab" --a center for developing all sorts of high tech skills. So...if you are reading this before the end of 2017, just step over to and make a donation that will be matched. OK?

The library's "back yard" includes benches, picnic tables, and a gazebo. A bit too chilly for hanging out here on the day that I visited, but think how pleasant this must be for at least half of a northern year!

The first thing I noticed as I entered was a heads-up sign, a "trigger warning" in modern parlance, about Mr. Licky. Who? Mr. Licky is a snake that is usually in a large tank but will sometimes come out to visit. If that's going to be a problem, speak to the librarian. It's a very nice, respectful sign.

When you enter from the lobby, the children's area is to the left. The central attraction, of course, is Mr. Licky himself; he was napping when I was there. Several signs provide information about Mr. Licky, who is a Ball Python, and about how to interact with him: wash your hands well before and after visiting with him; sit quietly and let an adult bring him to you; don't make loud noises; and stay away from his face, because he's shy. OK, sounds good. [By the way, I told the staff that I had one other library in the blog that has a snake. I was wrong; Exeter, NH, has a Russian Turtle that at times gets to roam around. But there are no other snakes that I know of.]

Turning our attention to everything else, we find shelves of books and media, plus various playthings for children of different ages. The library participates in the "1000 Books Before Kindergarten" program. There is a rack with a decent selection of periodicals for kids, and these look as if they are well-used.

The wooden train table is one of the most elaborate I've seen. It faces the story-reading corner, and I understand it has to be moved regularly to make room for program activities. I almost missed one more sign that I haven't seen before. It's in a small box and says, "If toys have been in your child's mouth, please put them in this box." Several blocks were there, waiting for a scrub.

"Food for Fines" programs are popular this time of year, combining fine forgiveness with food shelf collections. Here the food brought in was displayed along with a wide variety of cookbooks for the season.

The adult area has natural light, a chess game that looks as if it might be hand-carved, and a variety of seating possibilities for browsing and study. Four Internet computers are avaiable.

If you scroll back up to the picture of the library entrance, you'll see three small square windows up quite high on the left. These mark the teen area of the library, which is complete with books, assorted tables and chairs, a popcorn maker, and a huge collection of table games.

Those steps on the right go up to the teen area. Here at the bottom of the steps the wall has been transformed with chalkboard paint, and assorted chalk is available nearby.

Finally, how did I miss this on my way in? In the spirit of Little Free Libraries (Take a Book, Leave a Book), a rack in the lobby invites patrons to leave what they can share, and take what they need.

This library is already using great amounts of creativity and care to serve the community of Osceola. I'm looking forward to visiting when the new space is ready, to see how they continue to serve.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Does Antarctica have a library?

I posed the question above to Google, and here is the result. Enjoy.

The pictures didn't come with the text, but they are fun to see. Paste the link below into your browser for the full experience. [Actually, it seems that sometimes the pix show up, sometimes they don't. No explanation from me!]


On National Library Day it was fun to take stock of the value of public libraries and even those obscure ones in the Antarctic.
Here’s Scott Base’s Library, courtesy of New Zealand’s Antarctic Program digital assets.

Linda Harrison 1985-86
A blurb on Scott Base so you see how remote the reading is:
Scott Base has been New Zealand’s permanent base in Antarctica since 1957. The Base provides services and accommodation for the many scientific research parties and groups who visit Antarctica during the summer.  The Base is located on Ross Island in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. Ross Island is 3932 km (2114 nautical miles) from Christchurch New Zealand and 1500 km from the South Pole. The Antarctic mainland is 70 km across McMurdo Sound from Scott Base. The closest neighbour to Scott Base is the American base, McMurdo Station, at 3km distance.
Lets pop over to a US Library in the Antarctic at McMurdo Station, run by the US Antarctic Program. You already have a sense that this is thousands of km from big libraries and here it’s the old-school honour system, no electronic phone calls that your books are late. From a blog Scott Afar of a one-time McMurdo Library volunteer:
“The library has over 8,000 books available for checking out. There is a specific section of Antarctic and Arctic books, as well as a section of travel guides. The library also includes a typical reference section in addition to a reference section specifically related to Antarctica. Books on tape and CD are available as are hundreds of music CDs. Patrons check out books by filling out the little card in the back of the book. The library volunteer then enters the information into a spreadsheet. Books are due back in three weeks. The whole thing functions on the honor system really. There are no fines for returning books late as sometimes it is impossible to return them on time. People take books out and then go to the Pole or remote field camps. The three book limit is also overlooked on occassion. Not that I would ever bend the rules when volunteering. Rules are rules!”
Here’s an interior, houseplant and all.

from Scott Afar blog, McMurdo Library, Antarctica
As you wander across the continent you’ll reach another  scientific base, Casey Station run by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)  where their library even has puzzles and games. The Librarian Ben “is too modest to mention himself is that on top of his day job, he also keeps the base library running! He has support from a Librarian back at Australia Antarctic Division headquarters in Tasmania”, according to a special blog guest postabout International Games at libraries.
Here’s Casey station and its nicely lined shelves.

Casey Station Antarctica

Casey library with puzzle in the works
Bellingshausen station where we lived, the Russian station up on the Antarctic peninsula had a few lounging spaces with a pool table, a major film room and books, but in Russian. We had the books we brought and of course the couple referral cookbooks Wendy carried with her. Not much time to read.
Lets take a last look at the UK’s state of the Art, Halley IV Research Station that floats on the Brunt ice shelf on the edge of Antarctica, where UK scientists first observed the hole in the ozone layer. It’s run by the British Antarctic Survey.
The station has a 1,510 metre sq base features a library, a TV room, a gym, and a communal area with a pool table and dartboard on top of scientific labs.

Halley IV Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica

A quiet room at the north end of the station. Each building sits four metres above the ice on hydraulic legs fitted with skis. This helps to prevent snow drifts accumulating, and allows Halley VI to be relocated with relative ease from Daily Mail UK
Here’s to reading wherever, whenever, and to libraries.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

61b Hennepin County, Edina, after renovation

This was my third visit to this location. The first visit, in 2012, was very fast, dictated by a bus schedule. The second, in 2013, was more or less to "make up for" that first visit. It was marked by the library being in the midst of the Minneapolis/Hennepin County blending, which involved changing Hennepin County library materials from the Dewey Decimal  classification system to Library of Congress--a major undertaking. This time, I came out here because I knew the library had recently reopened after renovations.

My first impression is hard to put my finger on, but it seemed that the parking lot was easier to navigate than it was on my second visit. Or perhaps it was just that I was using gps. But something was different and easier.

I was intrigued to see two book returns beside each other. The nearer one leads to the automated materials handling conveyor. But what do you do if you show up when the library is closed--and the AMH isn't working? In most cases (in my experience), you find a free-standing box of some sort. Here, it's just use the adjacent return slot. Neat solution.

As usual, I got permission to take interior pictures, then started to wander around. I headed clockwise from the information desk and came to the newspapers, neatly displayed in heavy plastic holders, very neat and attractive. I'm seeing these more frequently for  newspapers and periodicals. [I still have a warm spot for newspapers on sticks, but I admit these are more attractive and convenient! And modern.]

The non-fiction stacks are behind the newspapers, and along the wall there are four small meeting or study rooms, named Maud Hart Lovelace, Carol Bly, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sinclair Lewis.

After the study rooms there is a casual seating area, followed by a conference room in the far corner.

Finally, at the end of the building we come to the Friends Reading Room with this handsome fireplace. I like how it's designed with display space for books.

That was a trip down the left side of the building. The right side holds the fiction stacks and a row of tables along the window wall. Most of the tables were in use, so no picture. Continuing along that wall we come to the teen area, with two computers, a tall counter for laptop use and varied seating. This area was occupied by one adult and two teens; it was a challenge to find an un-peopled angle for a picture!

The "core" between non-fiction and fiction, and the teen area, has a cluster of twelve computers for public use. Each table holds six computers (three and three, back to back) and is separated from patron traffic at each end by the wooden features you see below, in one case a bench, the other a book display.

Copying and printing equipment are in a semi-enclosed "bull pen" set off by shelving for media.

The final feature along the right-hand wall is the children's area, across from the service desks. This area includes the "Grandview Campground" kiosk for creative play, shown below, plus all of the books and materials you expect to see in a children's library.

This built-in seating forms a nearly complete semi-circle and provides a nice display place for books and art. A family restroom is nearby in a very convenient location.

When I arrived, a small boy (kindergartner, perhaps?) was playing with the wonderful interactive piece below. What a great way to provide interaction without using floor space! The background is metal, and the round gray pieces are magnetic and sort of rubbery; they provide enough friction to hold the clear plastic tubes in place. They can be arranged to hold the tubes in any position and angle to create a ball-run game. Later, no kids were near, and I took several minutes to try it out. It's fun...and challenging!

Little touches mean a lot, like these words above the indoor book return.


On my way back to the car I took this picture of the window wall outside the study rooms, just because I like how it looks.

10/22/2017, car, on my way to the Landscape Arboretum

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Canmore Public Library, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

While I mostly visit US libraries, and some in Canada, my sisters range further afield. A while back I posted a picture that one sister took of an Irish library. Now my other sister has gifted me with a set of pictures from Canmore, Alberta. So now I want to put Canmore on my "must visit" list.

But I want to visit in daylight!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Leabharlann Chiarrai

My sister and her husband are traveling in Ireland. She kindly sent me this picture of a library sign. Yes, in Irish "Leabharlann" means library. No, I can't pronounce it for you. Even after listening to it several times in translation software, I can't begin to say it.

They have a nice website here:

Chiarrai is the place name.


Monday, August 28, 2017

471 Kress Family Library, De Pere, Wisconsin

The final stop on an 11-day trip was here in De Pere, Wisconsin. close by Green Bay. This is one branch of the Brown County Library. The other is the Weyers-Hilliard Library, covered in my last post. I did not make it to the central library. A prominent sign celebrates 125 years of the Brown County Library, 1889-2014. The history of the library, available at the Brown County Library website (, gives a timeline of the library from 1889 to 2007, as it added and shed branches, relocated, gained and lost buildings. In 1903 it was the first Carnegie library in Wisconsin.

OK, that was information that perhaps should have waited until I got to the central library, but who knows when that will be?

The Kress Family Branch opened in 2003.

I believe there are a total of 16 public Internet computers, spread out in two locations. Like Weyers-Hilliard, Kress also has "Think Tank" study rooms; I spotted three. I think they have a nice, sleek, no-distractions vibe, and the glass walls allow group work to remain quiet and staff to keep an eye out.

This study area, bright with natural daylight even on a drizzly day, has a mirror image on the other side of the building.

Between the two study areas is a handsome fireplace and a baby grand piano. And patrons scattered throughout, challenging my angle-finding skills, such as they are. Periodicals and newspapers are close by.

The Francis branch of the South Bend, IN, library, also has a piano. There, a sign says "Do you play? If you'd like to play a few pieces, ask at the desk." Here, the sign tells us that the "Piano ... provided by an anonymous donor." Nothing about playing it, or not. I wasn't tempted.


Moving away from this casual setting, I came to the adult non-fiction stacks, where I noted that biographies are shelved separately, rather than spread through the collection by topic. Personally, I like shelving them this way.

This large clock caught my eye. I wonder whether it is an antique, or a modern clock made to look antique. Perhaps it is from an earlier library or town building?

Now we come to the children's area, where a very long two-step window seat is well stocked with cushions.

This large program area allows plenty of room for groups of kids, plus various storage options under a long shelf. I enjoyed the octopus on the wall, struggling to keep track of "So Many Books!"

A separate shelf near J non-fiction holds a large collection of books about states and countries. I checked the two New Hampshire titles, and found that they were published in 2010 and 1999/2008. Perhaps the library needs a benefactor with an interest in geography to provide some newer editions? Just sayin' ...

Rover Reader Booster Packs hold books, games, and puppets for various topics. I like "Rover Reader" as a mascot name.


Another part of the children's area is brightened by these paper flowers, made and donated by Girl Scout troop 4612. Nice work, girls!


Your Library, Your Community, Your World
This "Sustainability Center" promotes recycling books through a book sale. Around the corner to the left I spotted a medal won this past summer by the teens of this branch in a "Battle of the Book" among the various branches. Congratulations! This event involved reading a specified set of books, then answering questions about those books in a trivia contest.