Sunday, August 20, 2017

274a Cazenovia Public Library

This was a re-visit; my first visit was August 6, 2014. At that time, I was not taking interior pictures, so this post will serve as a fuller introduction to this handsome library. [Note: there is also a history museum here, but I did not visit it, as I arrived less than half an hour before closing.]

One thing I remembered, not specifically about the library, was the free public parking in back. Not just library parking, but public parking. Free! This meant that I didn't have to worry about finding parking on the busy main street; I could simply drive around a couple of corners. I hope Cazenovia can keep up this practice

Walking up from the parking lot yields a rear view of the building. Perhaps not the first thing to see, but at the end of that sidewalk... can turn around and get the full impact of the classical facade. A note on the door directs the visitor around to the side...

...where a sheltered portico runs the length of the building. Keep walking...

...past the sunflower/book/bike rack. I think it's a bike rack. Why do I think so? there is a clue on the left-hand leaf of the first flower.

Beyond the bike rack is the official greeter. I remember this creature from my earlier visit, but I don't know the significance.

I don't usually make second visits; there are so many libraries! In this case, however, I wanted to see if Page was still on the staff. I met her on my first visit, and this time I had a gift for her from my Frankie and Jerry. And there she was, patrolling the premises. She is the fourth in a line of library cats going back 32 years:

  • Dewey, 1985 to 1988
  • Kitty, 1988 to 1999
  • Jesse, 1999 to 2009
  • Page, 2009... and going strong for many more years, I hope.


The Lego Checkout Club has spent the summer adding to a Lego structure one piece at a time, each piece representing a book checked out by a kid. I understand that this is very popular. However, younger kids are likely to move pieces that are already part of the structure...and older kids are likely to remember exactly where they put that yellow piece, and why isn't it there now?

There are plenty of books of all types, and the preschool area includes blocks. These have prompted this sign: "Blocks are for building, not throwing. When others are building, please don't knock over their work." I was slightly alarmed when I read this, picturing wooden kindergarten blocks of maple; the blocks I spotted, however, are similar in shape and size, but made of foam. Whew!

This part of the children's area invites parents to sit and read to their toddlers, or watch them at play.

Many libraries include thematic bags or boxes of related books. Here they are called "Grandma Sally's Bookbags;" themes I saw were "Birthday Celebrations" and "Read and Guess," each with 10 books. There were quite a few others on the shelf.

I include this picture for two reasons. First, to give a good look at the painted border that runs around the wall. Second, to show the Nancy Drew silhouette, on the prowl with her magnifying glass so that you will "get caught reading."

This final picture gives another look at the border, the high clerestory windows, and the much-larger-than-life monarch butterfly.

It appears that I have totally ignored the adult portion of the library. No pictures, but I do have some notes. There are a couple of reading/studying tables that caught my eye because some of the wooden chairs have cushions. Nice, for a prolonged study session especially. Four computers are available for patron use.

In the media area, there is a significant collection of foreign DVDs. You can borrow a fancy cake pan, not here but at the Kirkland Town Library. A Facebook post that I chanced to see today says that the Cazenovia library also lends fishing gear (I've seen that quite a few places) and croquet sets (a first).


464 Roger B. Francis Branch Library, South Bend, Indiana

This branch of the South Bend library system is in an agricultural area. I knew this from the countryside I'd been traveling through, and especially from missing the turn for the library driveway and discovering a horse farm just beyond the library property.

The library was designed to fit into and honor its agricultural heritage, which it does well, both outside and in. It is named for Roger B. Francis, the South Bend Public Library Director from 1952 to 1977.

On the day I visited, a glass case in the lobby held a display by the Haiku Club, with books, some Japanese articles, and many cards with haiku that I assume are by club members. I especially liked this one by Ray Flory:
With large hungry eyes
Waiting on log fence...
The black barn cat.

Double-hung windows on two sides of the lobby, between the lobby and the library interior, give a down-home feeling to the space.

A neat display of books was labeled "Last chance to read. Give these books a second life." I checked with staff, and my hunch was right: These are books that were about to be weeded from the collection because they had not circulated in a long time, This is a neat idea, and I haven't seen it anywhere else. Sort of the library version of an animal shelter that tries hard for adoptions!

A prime example of the agricultural theme is the red silo reading area for kids. It reminds me of a similar feature in the Farmington, Minnesota, library.

This corner of the children's area provides comfortable seating and ample room for little ones to play.

I've seen the chairs with cut-out animals several places, and they always catch my attention. Such a small detail, but it just adds...something.


Four iPads are available on the red tables, ready for kids to use. And the Very Hungry Caterpillar (or maybe a bookworm) is guarding the books that are stored under the padded window seat.


The tall ceiling and long sight lines evoke the rustic barn theme. At the far end, a fireplace provides a focal point for a seating area. A piano is to the right with a sign: "Do you play? If you'd like to play a few pieces, ask at the desk."

These constructions, and many others like them, intrigued me. I read an interpretive sign about them, but didn't really dig into what they are all about. They are fascinating and would reward a longer time of consideration.

This expansive snack bar is near the adult and youth graphic novels. I'll bet there are times when this area is jumping; right after school gets out, perhaps?

I like these stone pillars that are throughout the library. In another life, they would be holding up the hay loft!

I hadn't really spotted this bench on my way in; my attention was taken by the over-sized double-hung windows. On the way out, I couldn't miss the pitchforks that form the back of the bench. A patron entering the library looked at me as if it was a bit strange for someone to be taking a picture of a bench. But I love it!


463 German Branch Library, South Bend, Indiana

My gps said "turn left, arriving at...", but the only buildig in sight was a medical center of some sort. Hmmm? A couple hundred feet more and ... WOW ... there it was, looking just like its website picture, the German Branch!

First, outside. There is ample parking, but instead of a massive rectangle of cars, it is divided into several landscaped bays. Different parts of the grounds are linked by curving sidewalks and a circular driveway at the entrance allows easy pick-up and drop-off.

Notice the tower; we'll come back to it later.

A meeting room off the lobby was humming with a meeting that involved ... sewing machines! A display case held baseball memorabilia that I was too uninformed about baseball to appreciate, but it looked to me like there were some very special items there. 

After getting permission for pictures, I started my wandering around. First, I noticed that the automated book return offers receipts, like the ones in St. Paul. It's a very nice feature, expecially for anyone who has had "claims rturned" issues in the past.

Next, I came to the Scan and Fax Station shown below. Here you can "Convert books, documents, photos, to PDF, Word, or JPEG. While I stood here scribbling in my notebook, a young man on staff came over to offer help. Although I did not need help (if I'd planned to use this station, I certainly would have!) I saw this as a great example of staff being alert to library users and their potential needs and responding proactively.

There are four of these wooden tables with white lamps in the center of the library, and all of the chairs have these attractive designs in the back. Tables, reading lamps, chairs, have been library staples since Carnegie's time or earlier. Little touches like these give a sense of tradition and continuity, without in any way looking old-fashioned.


There are a couple of these nooks that allow a person to curl up in moderate privacy with a book or device...note the electrical outlets. To the left is the mirror image of this space.

A fireplace is almost an essential in modern libraries, it seems. Whether wood-burning or gas, real or decorative, they provide a welcoming focal point for "living room" settings. Other clusters provide outside views. I like the contrast, which I didn't notice until I was assembling the pictures for this post, between the "light" fireplace area and the darker area on the right. This is probably part of the reason this library seems designed for everyone; there is such a variety here.

The metal pull-out shelves for CDs are very practical, but a bit surprising among all of the wooden furnishing.

I like maps, so I was surprised and delighted to see these tables in the children's area. These two show Middle Earth and Narnia. Two others show the Winnie the Pooh woods and Hogwarts. What can I say? They are wonderful!


If you go back to the very first picture, you'll see a round tower. Now we are in/under that tower, looking up. I'm showing this picture extra-large so you can see the owl overhead and the rabbits gamboling on the wooded path below. It's quite magical.

Remember the reading alcoves over in the adult area? Kids get something similar on either side of this circular area. Circles certainly do rule here!

Now I'm going to back up a little bit. There is an enclosed place for reading, using devices, and even has a vending machine. It's also popular, so no picture.

Through that area and there is another very private-feeling reading area, with wicker furniture and a sign "Patio is Open." [And a patron; no picture.] I went outside, surprised that nobody else was there; it was a beautiful day. Here there are paths, gardens, benches, more circles, a paved area that looks a little like a sundial (but I didn't spot a gnomon. [I took a picture, but it's totally fuzzy.]

I'm often asked, "Which is your favorite library?" I truly do not have a favorite--how to choose between a tiny storefront staffed by devoted volunteers, on the one hand, and the Minneapolis Central library that I use so often, on the other?

But if I were to try to choose a favorite, German Branch of South Bend would be right up at the top of the list.


Friday, August 18, 2017

462 Peru (Illinois) Public Library Central Library

After checking in at my motel, I asked the GPS to take me to the library. It had me approach from the side, so my first picture is of the "back" or "lower" doorway (under the pink/red canopy). The children's area is on the lower level, but I went up to the front door to enter. We'll start there.

The front facade features a tapered stone wall and careful landscaping.

The entrance is welcoming and sheltered; benches on either side of the walk are memorials. The yellow sign indicates that this is a "Safe Place." An Andrew Carnegie plaque in the lobby clues us in that Peru had a Carnegie library. I talked to the Director and learned that the Carnegie was built in 1910. We agreed that Carnegie libraries cannot always evolve gracefully into buildings that meet today's needs. Here in Peru, the "new" library was built in 1985.

A room just inside from the lobby holds the Friends of the Library bookstore. One thing I don't recall seeing in other library bookstores is comic books for sale. I didn't buy comic books, but I did get a nice stack of gently used children's books for next Halloween, including some board books for the youngest trick-or-treaters. 

By the way, eating is allowed in the lobby only, and those eating are asked to clean the area when they are done.

Welcome, teens! The teen space has lots of manga and anime, hinting at why the bookstore has so many for sale. It also has plenty of fiction, and a modest collection of non-fiction. [Teens, of course, may also use the adult non-fiction section, and in many libraries they are shelved together.] Shelves beyond the tall table hold table games, including my favorite, Apples to Apples; the blue chairs in the foreground face a large flat screen TV for viewing or gaming. There were also coloring sheets with elaborate designs, and a large bin of colored pencils.

This was one of the busiest libraries I've visited...busiest at the time of my visit, that is. Behind the genealogy shelves to the right, a full house crowd was enjoying a presentation by a costumed actress. Study tables are visible in the back, by the windows, and to the side. Adult fiction is shelved to the right, non-fiction to the left. I asked about a couple of old-looking tables in the non-fiction area and my hunch was confirmed: they originally were in the Carnegie library. Nice "recycling"!

Before heading downstairs, there is one feature I came here looking for. The library's website  mentioned comic books, often anathema to public libraries. Here, they are on display in sets protected by plastic envelopes. Reading is reading, and I expect these are a welcome draw for reluctant readers.

OK, on to the children's area. Of the three ways to approach, elevator, stairs, or around to the side of the building, I chose the stairs. Although this space is partially below grade, there is a fine sense of airiness and light. The picture book area includes a floor-level whiteboard. Perhaps those benches also came from the Carnegie building?

The "pond and bridge" rug invites creative play. I wonder if the bridge is ever used to act out "Three Billy Goats Gruff"?

The castle seems very sturdy, but just in case the Vandals attack, it is guarded by a very tall dragon!

The children's librarian was preparing props for a "Star Wars Day," and the books had already been placed on display.