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!


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