Monday, February 20, 2017

437 Jessie F Hallett Library, Crosby, MN

If the weather serves up a warm week in mid-February, thus promising clear roads, the only thing to do is hop in the car and head for a couple of libraries to the north. I started with the independent memorial library in Crosby. The library is adjacent to, almost surrounded by, a wooded park. At one corner of that park is a gazebo with a "Little Free Library," one of a handful of cases where I've seen LFLs on or near library grounds. I learned that this gazebo was a project by a local Boy Scout--in eighth grade! If he can accomplish this so young, I expect he has quite a future ahead.

This handsome sign tells us that the Crosby Library was established on June 15, 1914, and was dedicated in 1978 by E. W. Hallett in memory of his wife, Jessie F. Hallett.

I always feel that a bench outside a library adds a welcoming note. Judging from the snow, Crosby has not had as much warm weather as the Twin Cities. Not surprising, since I've traveled about 100 miles north,

Welcome to the library! The vestibule holds shelves of books for sale by the Friends of the library, as well as assorted baby booties and doll clothes, More about the Friends and their entrepreneurial spirit when we get inside. There is also a glass case with pictures and memorabilia related to the Halletts.

I gave myself a tour around the library, starting to the left as I entered. I've seen many attractive rugs in the libraries I've visited, but I think this is the first place I've seen a braided rug, and one with such bright colors. Doesn't this look friendly and welcoming? I was told that it would shortly be redecorated for St. Patrick's Day and Easter; apparently the busy staff and volunteers here keep the decor in a constant state of seasonal flux.

One corner of the library is this well-lighted room with a piano and a dragon rug. Since some children's programs bring in 50 or more kids, this room is very busy. [Fifty is no big deal...I learned that the summer reading program serves about 150!] A long table and stacks of chairs indicate that the room is also used for adult programs.

We're up in lake and resort country, so of course kids would like beach chaises--with umbrellas! The play corner also includes a plastic boat and house, both large enough for toddlers to play in, plus a doll house, a Leapster Explorer handset with a suggestion to "Try Me...and put me back (on the charging station).

There are, of course, many books. I was pleased to see the picture book shelves marked "Everybody Books." The Assistant Librarian told me about a high school teacher who displays a few picture books in her classroom for the teens to read if they have just a bit of time at the end of class. What a great idea! Many picture books have wonderful vocabulary and mature concepts that are "wasted" on the younger set. (Think "Mrs. Marlowe's Mice" and others by Asch, for example.)

The clear plastic cases above the YA and J fiction shelves hold T-shirts from summer reading programs dating from 1988 to 2016, a different design every year. There is a "Curbside" teen corner with a zebra rug, a gaming system, and more. No picture, because it also held...teens.

In the center rear of the library there are nine public computers. An old card catalog appears to have a few cards in each drawer. Nearby is a station for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, not too unusual in libraries these days, and a locked mini-fridge with cold beverages, an amenity I've not seen before.

A word here about the layout of the library. I've been touring around the edges. When you enter, the circulation desk and workroom/offices are directly ahead. This area also opens to the back, near the beverage center, providing good access and visibility to almost all corners of the library. This seems like a very practical design.

Back to the very active Friends of the Library. Not only are there items for sale in the entry, CDs and DVDs for sale just inside the door (where staff can keep an eye on them), a donations box (ditto), and this corner toward the back...

...there is also this separate room. Photographs and photo greeting cards, kitchen towels and aprons, signed books, special editions, 1 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica with its two-level bookshelf for $75 or best offer, a one-of-a-kind clock made from a Little Golden Book, and, well, you name it. If it might bring in some money for the library, the Friends are probably selling it! It's amazing.

Continuing around the library I came to this sunny spot where newspapers are available for browsing...

...and further on, to the front of the building, another "living room" waiting for readers who want to relax. Near here there are frames with "My Library Story," a project from 2012; each frame holds a document with the picture of a patron or family group and their library story. Sometimes a librarian has added a note.

When I was chatting to the librarian before leaving (it was hard to tear myself away), a gentleman came in with a repaired wooden car from the play area. I don't know whether he's an official "Friend of the Library," but clearly this library has many, many friends.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your visit to our Library and for your very kind words! For more information about the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library, visit our website at
    Peggi Beseres
    JFHML Head Librarian


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