Sunday, May 14, 2017

443 Appleton Public Library, Appleton, WI

Don't judge a book...or a its cover! The Appleton library is so much more than I expected from the exterior.

For starters, one enters the library across a sort of bridge over an indoor garden or park. This reminded me somewhat of the R. H. Stafford Library in Woodbury, MN. Stairs lead down to the garden level, and a sign says that it is open from a half hour before opening to a half hour before closing.

It would be worth getting to the library early, especially on a winter day, to enjoy the warmth and greenery.

Once inside, I was blown away by the size and the features of the children's area! I walked around the whole area before getting permission to take pictures. There's so much to see, but here are some of the highlights:

* A World Languages area with books and media in American Sign Language (DVDs), English as a Second Language (ESL), Spanish, French, plus some in Italian, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Somali, Zulu, Dakota, Navajo, Cree, Tagalog, Tibetan, and Braille. A few of those languages have only a couple of items, but the variety is certainly impressive.

* Signs in English and Spanish explain the color-code system for children's books. Most of the categories were what one would expect, but the last one on the list was new to me: "For parents to read to children to help with difficult issues."

* One area has what seems to me an unusual variety and quantity of media, including Launchpad kits ("replacement may be up to $150" -- parents beware), computer games for a variety of systems including Wii, many Playaways and books on CD; and it stands to reason that there must be a large collection of DVDs. Hmm...I think I saw a collection of "fiction DVDs" in another area. Perhaps non-fiction DVDs are shelved with non-fiction books, as I've seen other places. I wish I had thought to check.

* There is a separate program room that looks as if it can be divided into two sections. A comfort room and children's restroom are nearby. A list of "Program Room Expectations" is clear and appropriate.

On to the pictures from the kids area:

I got lucky concerning this train...two of the cars were full of kids reading when I arrived, but they left before I did. I was told that this is a historical element at the library: parents bring in children and tell them, "This was here when I was your age!" What great continuity!

These computers for the youngest patrons are quite new, I was told. Each one is attached to the table with a pedestal. It's all touch screen, with no moving parts to contend with. I assume that the little ones who have been amusing themselves with a parent's smart phone since infancy will take to these like the proverbial ducks to water.

The graphics on the wall here, and elsewhere, are bright and unusual. I meant to ask about them, but...  The major design pieces are set apart by lines sort of incised or impressed into the board. Very interesting.

Many libraries, especially in Wisconsin (in my experience) are participating in the "1000 Books Before Kindergarten" program. This is the first library I've seen, however, to devote an entire wall to record-keeping and display.  Each book's spine has cut-outs with the names of kids who have reached that level.

The entrance to the children's area is marked on both sides by much-larger-than-life books.

This is a wonderful sentiment, written by a Wisconsin poet. Google her...she sounds very interesting.

Moving on to the adult side of the library, we find the old card catalog being used for a Seed Library, a library service that is relatively new and has taken off like gang-busters in many places.

A Hmong Resource Center includes the cultural display shown here, books and media in Hmong, materials to aid in learning English, and a shelf of Easy Readers for Adults. Nearby are books in many languages, somewhat paralleling the World Language section in the children's area.

This area is near YA fiction. Perhaps the biggest tip-off that it is a teen area is a chair, barely visible on the left, shaped like a hand. You sit on the palm and rest your back against the raised fingers. Behind this area, the fiction stacks and wall shelves seem endless!

The stairway to the second floor is brightly decorated. Looking down, you can see the entrance and a tiny bit of the indoor garden.

The second floor is given over to non-fiction, plus 28 computers and a Digital Creation Lab. The cabinet shown above is filled with Appleton Memorabilia of all sorts. Nearby is an extensive genealogy and Wisconsin history collection, plus a good-sized selection of reference books. Even on this quiet Sunday afternoon, the reference desk was staffed with two librarians. A large study area near the computers, provides a variety of tables and carrels.

Staff here were very friendly and informative. I actually have to be glad that the library in Steven's Point was closed today...I needed every minute here, and I still have probably not done it justice. [For example, I think someone mentioned a bear on the lower level? I never got down there, and didn't think of this until I spotted a statue of a bear at Culver's!]


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