Thursday, November 30, 2017

473 Dresser Village Library, Dresser, Wisconsin

Dresser was my second stop on this trip, and I was surprised when my gps indicated that it is only about five miles from Osceola. I think this demonstrates how important libraries are to their communities. In a way, it reminds me of the Hayfield, MN, library, but with some important differences. The similarity? We WILL have a library in our community. Differences? Hayfield is all-volunteer, Dresser has a library director. Hayfield is independent, not connected to any library cooperative, and Dresser is part of the MORE system in Wisconsin. But never mind all that, let's visit.

Here is the bright and festive Dresser Village Library...

...with its welcoming door.

Usually I introduce myself to someone who is staffing a service desk. I provide information about the blog and ask for permission to take interior pictures--without people in them. Once in a while I am immediately offered a tour. This can be a mixed blessing; sometimes it means that I see things I might have missed on my own, and sometimes I get caught up in the tour and forget to take notes...or pictures. Here in Dresser, I had the best of both worlds. First, Library Director Amber offered a tour, and I did indeed see things I might have missed. And then she "turned me loose" to look around on my own. It added up to a very nice visit.

There are three Internet computers available for public use; the third one in the row was indeed being used. The adult fiction section is full, and is subjected to regular weeding, an unpleasant but necessary task for any library. There is a sizable collection of large print books, but the audience for these books seems to be dwindling. One thing I would have missed on my own is a back room with copy, print, and fax equipment.

One corner of the children's area includes this "gears" manipulative and a door painted with chalkboard paint. Those of us who remember classroom blackboards remember the difficulty of getting them really clean (unless the teacher used a wet sponge) and the fun of "clapping the erasers" outside the door (while breathing chalk dust into our youthful lungs). But it's still fun to have a chalkboard available as a creative outlet.

What looks like quite a small library at first turns out to have a labyrinthine set of rooms. This is where my tour guide came in handy. However, I also could have followed the yellow-tape road, created by the librarian's daughter for the edification of people who seldom ventured beyond the first room.

The children's collection includes many popular series. Children's books, including fiction, are shelved by categories, similarly to the way they would be shelved in a bookstore. I'm still not comfortable with this system, though I'm seeing more and more often. It's not only the choice of small libraries; I think the first place I saw it was in Rochester, MN, where it was just being phased in for non-fiction.

This room also includes the Young Adult collection.

Other features of the children's area on the day I visited were this dinosaur display by the window and the friendly round table ready for four kids to read, color, or play.

The Dresser Village Library is an example of a small library striving to meet the needs of a changing population. I wish them well.


472 Osceola Public Library, Osceola, Wisconsin

I was going over some maps and realized that I had somehow missed two libraries in Wisconsin; I'd apparently leapfrogged over them in my travels across the state. The beautiful weather and a bit of restlessness convinced me to fix this oversight.

I wish I had gone closer to the library before taking the picture below, so that you could read the sign. Why? Because this small town is in the process of raising matching funds for a new Discovery Center that will include a new library, senior center, community gathering area, business hub, and "Fab Lab" --a center for developing all sorts of high tech skills. So...if you are reading this before the end of 2017, just step over to and make a donation that will be matched. OK?

The library's "back yard" includes benches, picnic tables, and a gazebo. A bit too chilly for hanging out here on the day that I visited, but think how pleasant this must be for at least half of a northern year!

The first thing I noticed as I entered was a heads-up sign, a "trigger warning" in modern parlance, about Mr. Licky. Who? Mr. Licky is a snake that is usually in a large tank but will sometimes come out to visit. If that's going to be a problem, speak to the librarian. It's a very nice, respectful sign.

When you enter from the lobby, the children's area is to the left. The central attraction, of course, is Mr. Licky himself; he was napping when I was there. Several signs provide information about Mr. Licky, who is a Ball Python, and about how to interact with him: wash your hands well before and after visiting with him; sit quietly and let an adult bring him to you; don't make loud noises; and stay away from his face, because he's shy. OK, sounds good. [By the way, I told the staff that I had one other library in the blog that has a snake. I was wrong; Exeter, NH, has a Russian Turtle that at times gets to roam around. But there are no other snakes that I know of.]

Turning our attention to everything else, we find shelves of books and media, plus various playthings for children of different ages. The library participates in the "1000 Books Before Kindergarten" program. There is a rack with a decent selection of periodicals for kids, and these look as if they are well-used.

The wooden train table is one of the most elaborate I've seen. It faces the story-reading corner, and I understand it has to be moved regularly to make room for program activities. I almost missed one more sign that I haven't seen before. It's in a small box and says, "If toys have been in your child's mouth, please put them in this box." Several blocks were there, waiting for a scrub.

"Food for Fines" programs are popular this time of year, combining fine forgiveness with food shelf collections. Here the food brought in was displayed along with a wide variety of cookbooks for the season.

The adult area has natural light, a chess game that looks as if it might be hand-carved, and a variety of seating possibilities for browsing and study. Four Internet computers are avaiable.

If you scroll back up to the picture of the library entrance, you'll see three small square windows up quite high on the left. These mark the teen area of the library, which is complete with books, assorted tables and chairs, a popcorn maker, and a huge collection of table games.

Those steps on the right go up to the teen area. Here at the bottom of the steps the wall has been transformed with chalkboard paint, and assorted chalk is available nearby.

Finally, how did I miss this on my way in? In the spirit of Little Free Libraries (Take a Book, Leave a Book), a rack in the lobby invites patrons to leave what they can share, and take what they need.

This library is already using great amounts of creativity and care to serve the community of Osceola. I'm looking forward to visiting when the new space is ready, to see how they continue to serve.