Sunday, July 30, 2017

460 Hoyt Lakes Public Library, Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota

It's my impression that communities want libraries. Some of the libraries I've visited have histories going back to the 1800s. The Hoyt Lakes Public Library is newer: At the time this library was formed, I was settling in as a freshman in college. In 1992 the library moved to its present building, shared with the city offices; this was soon followed by it joining the Arrowhead Library System, computerizing records, and heading on into the future.

A book sale was set up in the lobby; it was not clear whether it's an on-going sale, or preparation for a specific sale.

Enter the library from the lobby, turn left, and you are in the children's area. The aquarium visible at the rear has many very small fish. The shelves at the right hold junior fiction on this side...

...and young adult fiction on the other side. The teen area includes a gaming system, gigantic beanbag chairs (the library website calls them "poof" chairs), and a study table. I was told that this area was planned by the library's teenage patrons, and that they painted the wall with the colored lines. The website also explained the use of this area: ages 12-18 only, except that younger kids can be here if there are no teens, or they have permission from the teens who are present. They can even be asked to leave if teens arrive, which seems fair. It sounds as if those older than 18 are excluded in all cases!

For pleasant days, a patio is available for al fresco reading...or visiting...or just hanging out.

This is a very interesting corner of the library. The hand-made totes shown here are specifically made for the collections they hold. They include a Language Development Resource Bag, a Play to Talk collection of books and media, and Alzheimer's resources for caregivers. I see collections like these more often now, but the unique feature here is  to house the collections in these special totes. It's a wonderful touch.

Nearby are some other special items: cake pans on the top shelf, cookie cutter sets, and implements for knitting and crocheting. I first saw cake pans for loan at the Osage, Iowa, library. Knitting needles and other craft supplies can be borrowed from the Canaan, New Hampshire, library, This is the first library where I've seen cookie cutters on offer!

I recently saw a post on Facebook about the role of libraries in maintaining town histories. It's certainly true that many of the libraries I visit have town history sections, sometimes whole rooms; it is not unusual for a library to share space with the local history society or museum. Here, this role is taken by a collection of photo albums, the Hoyt Lakes Photo Library, that would surely reward a browsing session.

My mischievous self wonders if adults have favorite chairs ("I always sit in the blue chair!") and what they do if "their" chair is taken. I'm sure this is just my imagination.

These glass panels were created by Ron Benson of Two Harbors, MN. I was so interested in what the library staff was telling me about these that I forgot to take notes; there is something special about the glass, and I knew at the time I'd remember what it is. And of course, I don't. Please, will someone leave a comment and remind me? Please!

It's always a good idea to look up when leaving a library. In Hoyt Lakes, you will be rewarded with the view of this handsome mural.

A final comment about Hoyt Lakes. On my way out of town, I stopped for gas. To my surprise, there was no way to swipe my credit card on the pump. When I went inside to pay, I learned that the pump is not self-service; if I'd waited just a bit longer, the attendant would have pumped the gas for me. Oops, my bad!


Saturday, July 29, 2017

459 Babbitt Public Library, Babbitt, Minnesota

I arrived at Babbitt with greetings for the local librarian from the librarian at my last stop. This partly explains why I spent most of my time talking to the librarian in her office, which was great fun; it doesn't happen often. However, time spent chatting is time spent not taking notes! But I think I captured all my favorite bits in the pictures below.

The library is part of the municipal center. Here's a view of the entrance, from the parking lot...

...and here is a charming metal sculpture, mounted on the wall to the right of the entrance.

At first glance, I thought this was a table of prizes for the summer reading program. I quickly realized that it's a collection of items for sale by the Friends of the Library. Nearby was a cart of yarn, also for sale by the Friends at a very generous $1.00 a skein!

A recent development is this attractive seating area, a memorial to Ray Rikhus. You can just glimpse the periodicals behind the sofa on the right. Babbitt is pretty far north, in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, on the Iron Range. I was assured that "Rangers" are very much into the northern lights, and this is clear from the handsome picture above the fireplace. I have only seen the northern lights once, from St. Paul, and they were so subtle I didn't realize at first what I was seeing. I should get north more often.

Two snowy owls have taken up residence on top of a bookshelf. My picture does not do them justice.

The day before, children had been in to paint rocks from Lake Superior. And why should kids have all the fun? The day I was there, adults and teens were arriving for their turn. Check out the Babbitt Library on Facebook to see the older crowd in action.

Another program coming up for adults involves cookbooks, recipes, and sharing food, almost certain to be a winner.

While you're on Facebook, scroll down and you'll find a picture of teenage  library patrons hanging out in this space.

A variety of shelving units have been combined here to create a lively area with "inner" and "outer" spaces formed by unexpected angles.

Every corner of the library has something to see, including this quilt. Other quilts are shown --where else?--on Facebook.

None of the computers were being used when I was there, but they are ready to go. Take a look at the antique map on the wall in the right-hand background. Looks like a large poster, right? That's what I thought.

I was blown away to learn that this is actually a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. I think it must be close to four by five feet, and the jigsaw pieces are the normal size you'd expect in a 1000-piece puzzle. I learned that it was assembled in just a week by library patrons, somewhere off-site. (Where do you even find a flat surface that size?) The puzzle was then coated with glue...and donated to the library! How do you transport something of this size and fragility? That wasn't part of the story!

The walls in the children's area have a fresh, bright coat of paint.

I realize that a lot of things I usually mention are not covered here. Be assured, the library has shelves of fiction and non-fiction for all ages, media, everything that you'd expect to find. The treasures here are in the people. Before I left, everyone invited me to stay for the rock painting (and I was tempted). Lisa, the librarian, was very generous of her time. If you are ever in Babbitt, stop in at the library; it's one of the friendliest libraries around!

Oh, and if you are looking for a place to donate books, I learned that here they add to their collection any donations that are not already in the collection; the rest go to the Friends of the Library book sale. I know that at many libraries, donated books are rarely if ever considered for the library collection. I've been clearing out my bookshelves, and I was happy to leave a bunch of books here.


Friday, July 28, 2017

458 Ely Public Library, Ely, Minnesota

Some years ago I took a Continuing Education course through the Architecture department at the U of M. My one takeaway from that course is that buildings need a sense of "entrance" -- and the Ely library certainly has such a sense. The entranceway is sheltered, and leads clearly to the door. It's very welcoming.

The library sign gets a bit lost against the pattern of stones. However, on the adjacent wall to the left a larger sign is much more eye-catching. Sorry, no picture. I didn't see it until I returned from a walk to the Chocolate Moose, and at that point I was focused on getting to my car and heading for my next stop. And I was a bit out of breath...Ely is rather hilly!

A place to sit before entering the library, or perhaps while waiting for a ride, is welcome and often found. But it's not often as unusual as this metal bench with a dragonfly pattern. [Hmmm...something similar at the Lanesboro, MN library, perhaps?]

The Ely library, like most libraries, is full of interesting things to see. In the lobby, there is a display of Native artifacts labeled Native People on Burntside. A model of the library, built of Legos, is in a protective case.

Further along, there is a display of art by Cecilia Rolando. (Sorry, I didn't get a picture.) Stained glass windows overlook this bright corner with places for reading and study. I am totally kicking myself for not getting a picture of the newspapers on sticks. [This is what happens when I walk around first, then get permission to take pictures; I forget some of the spots I wanted to return to.] Suffice it to say, there were many papers, and the sticks, of course, are classic.

Someone must have a green thumb, because the library is livened by the presence of living plants on many of the shelves. There are two study rooms, sized for individual use or perhaps a twosome.The six computers for Internet access were all in use, four by kids and two by adults. There was also at least one patron making use of the library's wi-fi with her her personal laptop. In another spot I saw a sign reminding patrons to respect copyright laws when using wifi; there was a clear indication that this has been a problem at least once.

All shelves are labeled consistently with black-framed signs, like the one you can see below. They provide information and a touch of instruction, with content like this:
In order by author
Call number begins
with "F" followed by a
space and 3 letters

This welcoming spot in the children's area uses the space under a window seat to store foam mats or pads. To the right is a large space with adult seating, probably used for programs. One wall is stone, like the exterior wall, and I'd actually written "fireplace" in my notes before I realized that, no, there is no fireplace, just an attractive stone wall that looks as if it would like to have a fireplace.

Shelving for J Fiction and Picture Books forms a rectangle around a colorful rug and a small table.

I had been to Ely once before, in the mid-1980s, so I followed my library visit with a walk through part of the town. I was rewarded by spotting this mini-library space between a yarn shop and another business. I don't think the width is much more than eight feet. The canoe-shaped shelves are well stocked. In addition to the seating, there were several hula-hoops hanging on the fence in the left foreground, and a box of sidewalk chalk was available for your artistic impulses. Very cool.

Finally, I had one memory of Ely I wanted to check out, and that was the Chocolate Moose. It's the building on the left below. I remembered it as an ice cream place; it has evolved into a full-fledged restaurant. Not wanting a solid lunch (though perhaps I should have), I got my ice cream fix with a bakery treat a la mode. The ice cream was as good as I had remembered, and the chocolate mousse cake was extraordinary!


457 Eveleth Public Library, Eveleth, MN

How's this for a classic entrance? My hunch that this is a Carnegie library was borne out by a plaque in the lobby; in 1914, Carnegie provided $15,000 for this building.

On a nice day...which this day was...a gazebo on the library grounds provides a fine place to read or visit while enjoying fresh air.

Unfortunately, the librarian was busy on the phone while I was visiting this library. She gave me permission to take interior pictures, but otherwise had to devote herself to the call. I gave myself a tour, but it's possible that I missed some of the unique features. This historic poster about Eveleth backs a collection of literature and historic material.

One issue with Carnegie libraries is accessibility. Here, an elevator has been added to the back of the building. It provides a convenient approach for nearby elderly housing, without diminishing the classic look of the library..

When looking for the elevator, I found a bulletin board with this charming ad for a dog walking service. The young entrepreneur has done a great job of defining the service and setting limits. I agree that friendly dogs are the best, and I think 4 dogs is a challenging limit!

Another sign I saw was a cartoon of Shakespeare asking to have a book placed on reserve at his library. The librarian's response? "No holds, Bard." For some reason I seldom see humor posted in libraries. [A notable exception is New Hampton, NH, where they keep three-ring binders of library-related comics.]

Yet another sign said that Legos are now available at the library, just ask at the desk.

One thing I noticed is that many of the library furnishings appear to be original...and they still work very, very well. I would bet that the rack shown below, as well as the chairs and perhaps the tables, have been here for at least a century--and they are still doing their jobs.

Likewise for the slanted table top fronting the storage cubbies for books. I really like that piece. They just don't make 'em like they used to!

The children's area is in the back of the library, with multi-paned glass doors (which must always be kept open).

Another classic table holds the prizes for the summer reading program, including a pretty large Lego set. The program ended on July 21, and I visited on July 27. My guess is that today, the 28th, all of the prizes are being distributed. But I could be wrong...

This table near the entrance and within sight of the librarian is set up for a make-it-take-it project called "Galaxy in a Jar" that apparently can be done independently by individuals. The instructions say to put some glow-in-the-dark paint (not too much!) inside the jar, add some space-related stickers to the outside, put the jar in sunlight for a few hours, then look at it in a dark place. Sounds like fun, and it's nice that it is flexible for drop-in patrons instead of being a formal program.

A partially-finished jigsaw puzzle was on a table nearby. The adult stacks can be seen in the picture above and in others. There are four public computers. Shallow glass-fronted display cases on either side of the door hold historic photos from Book Week 1951 and 1952. There are pictures of elementary school classes that seem very large; I couldn't tell whether the kids were photographed at school or had come to the library for Book Week. There is also a newspaper story from 1952 (I think) headlined "Eveleth Has One of the Best Libraries." That's a lot to live up to!


Friday, July 14, 2017

Help me plan the next big trip!

I'm working out the route for a major trip from St. Paul, MN, to Mesa, AZ. The outbound trip roughed out, and will probably include the following libraries. Choices at this point, unless otherwise noted, are based on location, intriguing name of the library or town, interesting website, days and hours open.

  1. Des Moines, IA, Forest Avenue Branch
  2. Kearney, MO
  3. Independence, MO (home of Trixie the cat; Carnegie library)
  4. Bartlesville, OK (basis for movie "Storm Center" with Bette Davis, about a librarian fired for refusing to remove "subversive" literature from the library; true story)
  5. The Village, OK (a town actually named "The Village" intrigues me)
  6. Amarillo, TX
  7. Vega, TX
  8. Tucumcari, NM
  9. Albuquerque, NM, main library
  10. Gallup, NM, Octavia Fellin Library
  11. Gallup, NM, Children's Branch (I'm intrigued by a children's branch separate from the main library)
  12. Holbrook, AZ "The Library on Route 66"
  13. Show Low, AZ
  14. Globe, AZ
  15. Apache Junction, AZ, main library
I'll return without retracing my steps, of course. I'm looking at a route that will take me through Denver. If any reader of the blog knows of any interesting libraries that might fit my path--and my path is not yet determined--please respond here with the library name, the town name, and why I shouldn't miss it.

The trip is tentatively planned for May 2018. Yes, that's a lot of lead time. Hope to hear from you!