Saturday, December 15, 2018

70b Ridgedale Library, Hennepin County Library System

Approaching from the parking lot, it's hard to get a sense of the size of this library. It is the main library of the Hennepin County system. It's often difficult to do credit to a large urban library, but I'll give it a try. The pictures will help. This is a re-visit after a major renovation.

The book drop on the right isn't in service yet. It goes directly to the automated materials handling...don't poke any fingers in there!

I walked up to the second floor, and the first thing I noticed is that the steps are no longer numbered. They used to go 1 to 30 on the way up, 30 back to 1 on the way down, which I thought was great. But that wasn't the biggest change.

I was looking forward to visiting the Friends of the Library bookstore to see if they had some New Yorker issues I missed. No bookstore! In fact, I was told that most, perhaps all, of the Hennepin libraries have given up their bookstores, instead focusing on periodic book sales. More about this space later.

The service desk is no longer near the entrance but has moved to a more central location. I waited there while a helpful clerk got me permission to take pictures.

As soon as I was turned loose with my camera, I noticed that I was in the teen area. The giant chess game was my first clue. The signs posted around the area clinched it: When teens are out of school, this space is theirs.

This long whiteboard seemed to be made of glass, not whatever whiteboards are usually made of.

The area includes a wide variety of seating, something for every teen taste; all tables provide power and usb connections. There are two stacks of YA fiction and six computers. Nearby is a World Languages collection with books in Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish.

Moving on around the building I was pleased to see that many windows look out on this parkland of snow (or grass in season) and trees, providing a healthful view and a break from looking at text. It's especially nice to see this in an urban library. ]Well, OK, it's really suburban, but the area is very much grown up.

Nearby are the periodicals. As is usual, current issues (with the yellow stickers) do not circulate. Previous issues, shelved behind them, circulate, but -- no New Yorkers! A mystery to be solved.

I've found that it's always important to turn around and look up when visiting libraries. In this case I was rewarded with the colored glass panels high on the windows that look out on the grounds. And I think that ceiling is interesting and probably contributes to good acoustics.

Computers are available throughout the library, and many were in use. This was the only spot where I could get a picture of computers without people. Near here are the adult World Language books in Russian, Spanish, and Chinese, plus travel books and audio books on CD.

A standing table held a completed jigsaw puzzle. I like the idea of it being on this higher table, since it would encourage working on the puzzle "just for a minute" without the commitment of sitting down to it. Also, it's healthy. I've often seen jigsaw puzzles in libraries, but I think this is the first place that I've seen these signs:

"Adults @ Play" -- what a great concept!

It's hard to know how long to wait for a visit after a major renovation. In this case, it's clear that permanent signage for the stacks is not available yet. But aren't the end caps attractive, with the wavy blue glass framed in natural wood? I like it.

The row of microfilm readers is ready for history buffs to search the extensive files that are just visible at the back. A quick look found the Minnetonka Herald from 1946, Minnetonka Pilot from 1923, Minnetonka News for 1894 to 1895, and many issues of the New York Times, Minneapolis Tribune, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the St Paul Pioneer Press, It looked as if there had been a major scanning project in the late 1970s.

A place to sit down in the stacks is always welcome. Sometimes this need is met very well with miscellaneous chairs tucked at the end of a row. Here, comfortable chairs with small attached tables show that the idea had some thought.

Remember The New Yorker mystery? Mystery solved! The New Yorker does not circulate at all, and it is shelved in the reference section.

Thanks for recognizing that not everyone has a phone, or has it with them, and it is charged. This courtesy phone allows 2-minute calls. The sign has instructions for its use.

I lost count of the number of small study and conference rooms, each with a glass wall and a flower name. At least I think Turtlehead must be a flower name, since I recognize the others, like Violet, Verbena, and Lupine. One room is designated as the "quiet room."

Having made a circuit of the adult library, I ended up back near the entrance to the library...and to the Children's Library. Fiction for the school-age kids is shelved just outside the area for the younger children. 

A seating area provides both chairs and attractive wall shelves displaying featured books.

The lab coats are signal that this space is for science.

The extensive picture book collection is held in bins and cubbies, with enough room for many children and their carers to browse comfortably.

These giant light pegs are showing up in libraries more frequently. They are almost irresistible, even for adults. Yes, that is the voice of experience.

This minimalist reading house looks inviting.

Painting in a library...without adult supervision and without a mess? Provide a chalkboard and a collection of brushes in small amounts of water. Presto: Water play, art, and a bit of science as the water evaporates!

Another area that provides seating for adults and space for wall displays.

Check out every corner! This small alcove has a family restroom to the left, drinking fountains that include a hydration station for refilling water bottles, and a wonderful added feature, a bright mirror at kid-height.

Long tables provide space for projects and larger groups. The clean lines and "up at the cabin" design stand out.

Leaving the children's area, and preparing to leave the library, this space provides more seating, perhaps while waiting for older kids to make their final selections and check out? The self-service check-out stations were behind me when I took this picture.

Back to the lobby with the Minnesota-themed mural, a glimpse of the stairs, and, not shown, the elevators.

But wait! Let's take a closer look at the space that once held the bookstore. It now houses requested books, plus this fun "rainbow of books" display along the back wall.

This space is rather detached from the library per se, so it seems that it is not always staffed. What to do if you have a question or problem? Problem solved with another courtesy phone, this one specifically to reach library staff.

So, this is the newest renovation in the Hennepin system. There are several others in the works, and I will check out each one as it is completed.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

59c Dakota County Library System, Galaxie Library, Apple Valley, MN

This was my fourth visit to the Galaxie library, which may be a record. The first visit was in the summer of 2012 when my goal was to visit every library in the MELSA library system. (And I did, 106 of them!) The second visit was simply because I was in the neighborhood, trying out the Red Line bus route. The third...just because! This time I had a real purpose, however: the library has recently reopened after extensive renovations, and I wanted to see what had been done.

The exterior was as I remembered it. It is part of a group of municipal buildings in this large suburb of Minneapolis.

Through the lobby and along the left wall I spotted the print and copy center. I really like the dark blue walls.

AMH, or Automated Materials Handling, is often a back room, behind-the-scenes operation, which is too bad because it can be neat to watch. Geeky, perhaps, but still neat. This round window gives a great view of Galaxie's AMH, with the book drop in the wall to the right. The room was busy, so I had to take the picture at an angle to avoid people. If you get to this library, take a look at the process by which books automatically are sorted into bins; it really is fun to watch.

After the non-fiction stacks there is a wall of law books adjacent to the relocated Dakota County Law Library. The Law Librarian was out to lunch (a sign said so), but several patrons were at work in this area.

I think there are at least five of these glass-walled study rooms for one person or a small group. There might be more. The glass walls are great for sound abatement and supervision.

Yes, this is the teen seating area--how did you guess? Nearby there is a free "charging station" for all the ubiquitous electronics, and a group of about 10 computers.

I think Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the first place I saw computer displays like this on the ends of some shelves in the stacks. Using a touch screen you can navigate the library and access the catalog. These computers are well-positioned at the point of need.

Modern libraries are unlikely to "Shush" patrons, but it is still important to provide quiet spaces for those who want and need them. Periodicals in Plexiglass organizers are nearby.


As I mentioned after an earlier visit, there is a World Languages area with books in Spanish, Russian. and Vietnamese, for children and adults. There is also a fairly large collection of materials for adults who are learning English.

Media is nearby, readily available but not given pride of place. Of course, that could just be the impression I got based on the direction from which approached these shelves. Perhaps I need to make a fifth visit?

There is no mistaking the fact that we have arrived at the children's area of the library. I believe that I mentioned a galaxy quilt after one of my earlier visits. Now the galaxy is represented by a large bright mural.

One wall is dedicated to this lighted peg board. The pegs are clear plastic, almost an inch in diameter, and fit readily into the back-lighted pegboard.

This picture shows just two of the interactive panels installed at a height for the youngest patrons. A family restroom is nearby. And around a corner is an enormous metallic wall. No picture, because a handful of kids were playing with a collection of magnetic gears, pictures, letters, and numbers.

I see signs like this at perhaps a third of the libraries I visit. In the past, but not on this trip, I've asked how effective the signs are. The response is generally "not very." Based on my experience, I think that some parents will always encourage their kids to tidy up, and even pitch in to help. The rest will just walk away. That's what library staff and volunteers are for, right? Of course, it just occurred to me that in the adult areas there are signs specifically asking that patrons leave books for the staff to re-shelve. Yes, there are good reasons for this, but maybe a double standard?

I like this face-front shelving that is used for picture books and easy readers. It seems to make the books appear especially appealing and accessible.

Back near the entrance and the service desk there is a large computer lab set up for training sessions. I believe I spotted two 3-D printers in the far corner.

I took this picture of a self-checkout machine just because it's different from others I've seen, and I think it looks neat.

This is something I've rarely seen but think is an excellent idea: A seating area in the lobby, outside the security gates. The restrooms are around the corner in the back. If one member of a group is still in the library, or using the restroom, or if it is necessary to wait for a ride, folks can sit in comfort.

Congratulations on a fine remodel, Galaxie!