Tuesday, January 9, 2018

30a North Central Library, Ham Lake, Anoka County, Minnesota

I was at the dental school at the University earlier this week, and my student mentioned that she lived in Ham Lake. I asked if Ham Lake has a library, and after a bit of thought she said that it does. I last visited here on July 12, 2012, as part of my "all the MELSA libraries" challenge to myself. At that time I knew it by its proper name, "North Central," which I think is why "Ham Lake" didn't ring bells for me. In any case, I slightly remembered the exterior. The library is located next to Anoka County offices in a strip mall, and the plain exterior gives no hint of the space within.

The large, open space is nearly a square, and every corner is put to good use. The librarian greeted me when I entered, and the first thing she brought to my attention was the Winter Reads adult reading program. "Winter Reads" is quite broadly used in this area, but North Central has put a spin on it by wrapping books and labeling them with a genre; borrow a book, perhaps read something you never would have tried otherwise! [This is helped by the use of RFID tags...check out the book without unwrapping it!]


I pretty much missed the "Reference" sign on the wall when I took the picture below. Reference collections are shrinking these days, and the shelves below the sign now hold media. But the endcap and some of the adjacent shelves do have reference materials, including the first 2017 World Book Encyclopedia that I've seen. The librarian explained that a few of the largest libraries in Anoka County get the most up-to-date encyclopedia, in this case 2018. Recent editions move down the ranks, and at this point the 2015 edition is in the Junior non-fiction area as part of the circulating collection.

A row of study carrels is nearby.

Fiction, including adult graphic novels, is located on various shelves and spinners.

I saw a sign about some of the special items the Friends of the Library have provided, and I believe this set of puzzle/pattern blocks is one of them. Others were a plant and a play kitchen for the preschool area. This set of blocks was more appealing to me than coloring sheets would be, but I resisted!

Periodicals provide a focal point for this seating area.

Adult non-fiction is on stacks, with "E" and "J" on adjacent wall shelves. I like the fact that all non-fiction is together, and the E and J books are intershelved.

The whole library receives natural light from large windows (and good interior lighting), but this children's corner is especially bright. I don't recall seeing these green and white picture book bins anywhere else in my travels; they really add zing to the space, in my opinion.

There's the play kitchen provided by the Friends, along with a doll house and other toys for the youngest set. Baskets on the bottom shelf in the background hold more toys, and a bin on the windowsill is for toys that need to be washed. It's funny...one of the last libraries I visited, Osceola, WI, was the first place I saw a bin for toys to be washed; two libraries later, here's another. Have I just been missing them in the other 470+ libraries I've visited?

At Columbia Heights, young patrons were invited to write their wishes for the new year. Here, the request is for "What book lights up your winter?"

A copier/printer and a few office tools create a mini-business center. I believe there are four public Internet computers. One was being used by a patron who, at the librarian's request, helped me figure out a route home that would not involve retracing my steps. It worked just as you said it would, folks...thanks!


25b Columbia Heights Public Library

As you can tell from the "b" following the number in the title of this post, I've visited Columbia Heights before. My first visit was 7/7/2012, the summer when I decided to visit all the MELSA libraries. I went back on 8/3/2015 and took a more thorough look. That's when I learned that a brand-new building was on the drawing board, and from the bus I saw a sign indicating the location.

Then time went by, and yesterday, 1/8/2018, I decided I had some catching up to do. This is the view of the new building from the parking lot. Library offices and service areas are on the right. The lobby entrance is straight ahead, and a community meeting room is to the left.

I walked around to the front of the building and on my way spotted this sign describing a new (to me) way to handle water run-off from the roof. It's pretty neat. I also noticed that several parts of the parking lot had a permeable surface.

The new building stretches along Central Avenue. I couldn't get a good picture of the sign (without playing in the traffic), but you can see where it is.

A roomy lobby opens to a large community room on the right. Restrooms and a "hydration station"-type drinking fountain are located here. This area can be used while the library itself is closed, which provides great flexibility.

I don't think I've seen a more enthusiastic "Thank You" donor wall! The vertical boards in the picture above have words I was unable to read. My guess is that they say "thank you" in languages of the community. Leave me a comment...am I right, or do I need to make a correction?

The library proper stretches nearly the length of a city block, with large west-facing windows. Not pictured are the 16 or so computers for public use, a browsing area with new books, and assorted seating and tables.

At the end of the stacks there is a modern two-sided fireplace, with casual seating on each side.

This is the teen area, showing the computer stations and the lively cityscape outside. Yes, I know there is a way to rotate the picture, but I don't remember it right now. In the interest of getting the post posted, I ask you to tip your head to the right or your screen to the left. I'll come back and fix this later.

To the right of the teen area there are shelves of Junior fiction

This desk in the children's area holds materials for a new New Year activity. Not "resolutions" that will never be kept,  but "wishes" for the coming year. These are written on paper stars and posted as you see on the right. Neat idea!

This "golden cave" was a surprise when I got to the corner of the children's area! A set of hooks nearby hold superhero capes of various sorts. A "height chart" lets kids compare their height to that of various superheroes (Robin is the shortest), and a scavenger hunt sheet encourages kids to locate the logos of six heroes, then bring the sheet to the librarian and get a sticker.

Baskets like this make a convenient way to display small chapter books, like Junie B. Jones. [I took this picture mainly to show the aide who is running a St. Paul school library and who was looking for ideas.]  And the array of nine convex mirrors made me really wish some kids were present so I could see their reactions.

This final corner of the kids area has a family restroom and a great display of information about literacy and community services. I like the bin for materials to be reshelved, too.

As I headed back to the entrance, I passed on my left a series of glass-walled meeting rooms. The first has a sink and space for displays by the window. On this day, there were some very creative LEGO creations on display. Then there were several small study rooms, one that holds printer, copier, and community notices, and a larger room, big enough for a dozen or more meeting attendees. (I counted them!) Finally, a glass case invites patrons (and others) to share a collection. Today's collections was snow- and winter-themed.

Columbia Heights waited a long, long time for this building. It certainly seems to have been worth the wait!