What do you do while a new library is being born? Find a temporary home, of course. In Eagle River, that home is in a former medical building, where every inch of space is being used creatively. Let me show you.
Book return? Check!
This visit was a bit different from most of my visits in that the library director, Nan, gave me a tour. It's a good thing she did...I would never have found all the nooks and crannies on my own.
The tour began on the lower level which holds the adult stacks and the media. I enjoyed the fact that the media is in the farthest corner of the lower level, "Like milk in the back of a grocery store, you have to at least see the the other stuff first!" A collection of cake pans is here, also--adjacent to the baking books, of course!
Shelving is fitted into every square foot. Nan laid out the plan, marked the floor with tape, and coded each shelving unit so that it would be placed correctly. Hands on!
Back on the main floor I saw many examples of creative space use. A STEM project area with a large Snap Circuits kit shares a closet with paper towels and other supplies. Popcorn, coffee, and tea, all free, take up minimal space on a cabinet. A large screen TV high on the wall displays nature pictures and other soothing imagery. An old card catalog case houses the Seed Library. Six computers share space near the window in what would once have been the waiting room.
The corridor leading to the examination rooms (You remember that this was a medical office, right?) has displays on the wall for "1000 Books Before Kindergarten," a program I see in almost every Wisconsin library I visit, and "On Beyond 1000 Books" for kids who have completed the first program. That I haven't seen before. I mentioned the Canadian program in which families are challenged to read a specific set of 50 books before starting school, and we agreed that there is value to that approach, also.
A cubbyhole space in this corridor has equipment for kids to make stop-motion movies, with staff support. They are expected to come in with a story line worked out and the needed props ready to go. I've read of stop-motion projects in libraries, but hadn't seen one myself.
The three examination rooms plus a room at the end of the corridor comprise most of the children's area. Here are the easy readers...
...and here is the story-telling room at the end of the corridor. The other exam rooms hold picture books and a family play room. There's one computer available for the little ones, with preloaded software, no Internet connection.
Around the corner is space for the older kids, ages 6 to 14. This room was once the surgery for this medical building. Nan mentioned that her son once got stitches right where that table is!
There's more. The corner of the corridor near this room is set up as a photo booth with curtain backdrops and assorted props. Kids can set up and take a picture; I believe Nan said that staff will email the picture for the kids.
The corner office, once reserved for the doctor, of course, is now a media conversion room--I think. At any rate, there is a media conversion room with everything you can imagine, including movie projectors and a turntable. This equipment is becoming quite common in larger libraries; I was surprised to see how complete the Eagle River setup is. And remember, this is all in temporary quarters!
Finally there is a tutoring room which is also used when students studying on-line need to have exams proctored.
Libraries are changing, yes, definitely. Libraries are dead? As Pete the Cat would say, "Goodness, No! And it's all good!"
I'll be back next year to see the new building and the programming allowed with the new space!