Friday, March 17, 2017

441 Cannon Falls Public Library, Cannon Falls, MN

As you can see from the cornerstone, this building dates to 2012. I looked on line for a Cannon Falls Library site, looking for some history, but couldn't locate one at this time. Perhaps someone will leave a helpful comment and I can add some revisions. Please?

To the right of the entrance there is a nice "living room" area (not pictured because it was in use) with newspapers and periodicals close by. The "Holds" shelf and media are also in this area. Along the wall are a number of study carrels, then a nice area with a fireplace, windows, and easy chairs. And the largest, healthiest ficus tree I think I've ever seen!

The Teen corner has a number of signs indicating that the booth is "Reserved for Young Adult Patrons. Thank you!" "Let's meet at the library and go over our Physics homework in the booth!"

Close to this corner I spotted a small bookshelf with issues of "The Mailbox: Idea Book for Teachers" from 2004 to 2016, and a few other publications of interest to teachers. Nice; it's rare that I've seen libraries with resources like this specifically for teachers.

No surprise, this handsome bookcase holds historic books and genealogical resources.

Trees with leaves are a popular way to honor donors. This is a very handsome example.

As in Zumbrota, kids can sit in the magical chair to read--or perhaps just pretend to be royalty? The children's area had a display in honor of Mem Fox's birthday. I was glad to see this, especially as she recently had a very unnecessarily difficult time with Security on a trip to the US from Australia.

When I visited the Zumbrota library, the staff pointed out their very large collection of board books for babies and toddlers. Umm...they might want to take a look at the Cannon Falls collection. I didn't count at either site, but they both have a lot!

This case with wire "in baskets" is a great way to store and display junior periodicals. The shelf to the left holds recorded books for kids.

A a sign on a shelf of audio books near the service desk suggests that "Traffic--It's better with audio." I'll bet that a lot of Cannon Falls residents commute to Rochester or the Twin Cities and thus have ample time for audio!

I don't usually zero in on details like this, but this is one of the most handsome service desks I've seen.

And now, according to my records, I have visited 21 of the SELCO libraries; sixteen to go, according to a list I was given on this trip. It's always good to have a goal!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

440 Zumbrota Public Library, Zumbrota, MN

Isn't that a neat looking building? I had not been to Zumbrota since the early 80s, when I did a Volksmarch (hike) with a local club. I certainly didn't see this building back then!

Many libraries have a history that dates to the early days of the settlement. Zumbrota can take that one step further: Back in the winter of 1868 a group of settlers formed a literary society. The society grew and formed the Zumbrota Literary Society and Library Association. Lifelong family membership, $20.00. And in 1877 when the village incorporated, the society took the name Free Public Library, supported by a one mill tax, leading to their claim to fame as the first tax-supported library in Minnesota.

To the right from the lobby there is an entrance to a large meeting room. The display to the left is more interesting, however, as it is currently devoted to a display of books that have been challenged over the years. The quotation from Ray Bradbury is a tip-off to what I discovered inside: this March, many residents of Zumbrota are reading Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." Stacks of free copies were on a table inside the main door, along with a couple of audio versions for loan. I told the staff that I consider this a wonderful, but gutsy, choice for a community read, and was told that "We're kind of rebellious here." Rebellious...perhaps not the first thing you think when you think library, but it's just what a library should be, in my opinion.

Rebellion, of course, does not have to mean disorder. One thing I like a lot about this library is the way areas of the library are identified by signs hanging from the ceiling. I've been in some libraries where this can be difficult because of sight lines, with signs that are only visible when you stand in just the right place. That did not seem to be a problem here.

Teens and young adults have their own corner of the library, with their books and media nearby.

This living room corner has a definite "set apart" vibe. I'm glad nobody was here, so I could take a picture, but I'm sure this space is well-used for quiet relaxation and reading.

One corner of the children's area has two computers for kids; get the headphones at the service desk. I believe the computer on the left is for the catalog.

Want to read something special, perhaps a princess book? This easy chair with its gauzy drape would be just the place!

In keeping with the Fahrenheit 451 theme, patrons have been asked which books they would save from the flames. Thought provoking, and a neat way to use old book cards.

A display near the teen area gives instructions for "blackout poetry," with photocopied sheets from newspapers so one can try it out. The basic idea is that you read through a newspaper story (or whatever), blacking out words until the only words left are your poem. The back side of the display includes examples created by library patrons. If, like me, you have never heard of this but it sounds interesting, just google "blackout poetry" and you will be inundated with information. I think I'll give it a try.

This was an interesting visit in many ways, including good conversations with staff. I wouldn't mind stopping here again to see what they are up to!


439 Kenyon Public Library, Kenyon, MN

My next stop after Northfield was in Kenyon, Minnesota. The Kenyon Public Library was begun by the Round Table Club in 1901. In 1908, the library was formally organized as the Kenyon Library Association. Like many libraries of this early vintage, it has had several locations over the years. My favorite story from the library's website is of one location that was warmed with a coal-burning heater, requiring that soot be cleaned from the books periodically. (Keep this in mind when you get to the bullet points at the end of this post.) In 2000, the library made its final move to its current location, a new building housing both City Hall and the library.

Northfield Library is full of nooks and crannies. In contrast, the Kenyon library is a large, open rectangle. As soon as I walked in the door, I could see the whole layout. Adult non-fiction is shelved along the left-hand wall, with fiction in adjacent bookcases.  Media and computers are along the right-hand wall. The back of the space is for kids. The far wall in the kids' area has a delightful mural. A table is ready with an over-sized checkers game, and other games and some puzzles are on a nearby shelf.

The area rug has the alphabet for the younger kids and a world map for the older ones. I'm always glad to see maps; there is a more detailed world map in the corner behind the beanbags, and a US map nearby. Speaking of the beanbags, there are a couple of rules: they are for sitting, not for jumping or diving. Diving, really? I know that rules are often created to fit a situation that needs control, and I'm trying to picture it...!  A nice feature here is the semi-circle of trapezoidal benches that create a sense of sitting around a campfire...or a storyteller.

Junior and Young Adult fiction are shelved along the far right wall in the picture below. Nearby are two "Book Fortune Teller" jars, one for J and one for YA. Each contains slips of paper with the titles of book available here. Kids are encouraged to pull out a slip, find the book, and give it a try, even it it is not something they would ordinarily read. Nice idea! I saw something similar in New Richmond, WI, where they have a jar of tongue depressors with Dewey numbers written on them. The challenge is to pull out a stick, find the number, and read whatever you come up with.

The media area, with computers in the background, is "kid-friendly," with a farm-themed book and cutout animals on a small table. I was given a bookmark with some useful information. First is the "Rule of Two" -- 2 week checkouts, 2 renewals (a couple of exceptions), and 20 cents per day for overdue items. That's basic. But the fun information involves care of books:

  • Do not read books in the bathtub. Steam and water can quickly damage books.
  • Be careful when eating or drinking around books. Stained books are damaged books.
  • Please do not smoke around books.
And importantly:
  • Damaged books will be assessed a fine.
In case you are a person who thinks all this is pretty obvious...I worked at a library for eight years recently and I assure you, many library patrons are not aware of these reasonable issues.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

438 Northfield Public Library, Northfield, MN

I approached the library on a street parallel to the red-brick building you see to the left. I saw someone going up what looked like a lot of steps, which I wanted to avoid, so I made a left turn, parked on the hill, and guessed that I could find a more accessible entrance. I not only found the brand-new entrance I wanted, but I also spotted many examples of "sidewalk poetry," short poems embossed into the concrete of the new sidewalks.

Here you can see the original Carnegie building to the left and the new glass atrium on the right.

The Northfield library has roots that go back to the 1850s. In the 1890s funds were approved for a tax-supported public library, and in 1910 a Carnegie endowment funded the first library building on the present site. Through a major remodeling project in 1985 and another finished just months before my visit, the original building has maintained its "Carnegie look." The 1985 project added the brick structure shown at the right here, and the most recent project added the glass atrium.

Alcoves like the one shown here look out on historic Northfield.

As I understand it, the children's area now fills the entire first level of the 1985 addition; it formerly shared space with some of the adult collection, which is now upstairs. This tall, red, triangular display for kids' periodicals is unusual and eye-catching. To the right in the picture below you can see part of the photocopier and the beginning of a row of four computers for kids to use.

The preschool crowd has a complete housekeeping corner and a generous collection of picture books, many more than are shown here.

Shift the point of view a bit to the right and you find "community services" to complement the housekeeping corner, with a versatile "shop," a mail box, and a child-height chalk board.

Back to the atrium. Before I head upstairs, I have to mention the drinking fountains. A sign says that the fountain will come on in five seconds, and sure enough--stand near it for that brief time, and there's the water! I've never seen fountains like this!

The upper level of the atrium holds this pleasant reading area and the periodical collection. I wish the picture were not so over-exposed, but I can't complain about the bright sunny day outside!

This is one corner of the original Carnegie building...

...and this is another view.

This meeting room holds historic books and what I expect is part of the original Carnegie signage. Nearby is the original exit, which now leads to a semi-circular reading patio (seasonally).

The rest of the upper level, not pictured, holds the adult collection of fiction, non-fiction, media, and so forth. Sixteen computers area available. In front of banks of windows there are broad shelves that serve as tables for study or laptop use. The picture below shows another view, from the lower part of the parking lot.

There is so much more I could say. Several staff members were generous with their time, telling me far more than I captured in my notes. After the 2016 State Fair, this library was named by WCCO as the "best in Minnesota," and I'm not going to argue with that assessment. I left after buying a sturdy library totebag and a copy of  "The Enduring Thing We Do Today...," a history of the Northfield Public Library 1898-2016 by Bruce William Colwell. I've barely dipped into this book yet, but my first forays suggest that it is well written and will be an enjoyable read; it's on the "to be read soon" pile!