Saturday, October 27, 2018

499 Hazel Mackin Library, Roberts, Wisconsin

I think my gps is angry with me, or something. Yes, it gets me to my destination. But sometimes I feel as if I've been driving a spiral course. The gps seems to think like this: "Here is a little back road that cuts a tenth of a mile off the state highway route. Let's take the short way."

But nevermind that. Here we are at my last stop for the day, the Hazel Mackin Community Library in Roberts, Wisconsin. The handsome building was built in 2010. I parked on the street on the south side of the library, because that's where my gps took me. Just a little farther and I'd have found the parking lot on the north side. No matter...the glass-walled entry is the same from either side.

I couldnt' even wait to get inside, I just had to get a picture of the curved outside wall, all glass...

...and an outside-in view of the rounded indoor seating area.

And in we go.

This large room serves may purposes. Here it is set up for an after-school program involving Legos. I was told (warned?) that in five or ten minutes the library would be "invaded," and it certainly was. The kids looked to be upper elementary. They started out sitting on the carpet, listening to the adult running the program. Then half of them headed for the tables and Lego bins while the rest came into the library proper to look for and check out books. If I recall correctly, this happens twice a week. The program room seems fairly soundproof, but adult patrons are advised that if they are looking for a quiet time for reading or study, they might want to avoid these program afternoons!

This old suitcase is larger than it looks. Like the roll-top desk in Osceola, it is used for displays. Can you imagine it, in an earlier life, packed for a long trip? A modern airline would want extra fees for it, for sure.

As it's name implies, the library honors Hazel Mackin, an early educator in Roberts. I have several flyers about the library, and I've looked on the website, but I can't find more to say about Ms. Mackin. I was told more, but the info didn't make it into my notes. The pictures below are of the lady herself and her original high school diploma. If someone reading this has a few more details, please put them in a comment and I'll gladly add them.

Here's an attractive corner with a fern and a fireplace, but what really caught my eye was the Hoosier cabinet that holds the coffee service. This is the first time I've seen a Hoosier cabinet in a library. [Will I ever run out of "firsts?"  I hope not and I doubt it: librarians are an endlessly creative bunch.]

This is part of the history room. It's my impression that in any community that does not have a history center, the library steps in to fill that role.

Another first: racks with Plexiglass covers to hold newspapers in place and keep them tidy. I've lifted the cover up just a bit to try and show what I mean.

Somewhere along this wall we enter the Teen area. Wherever it is, it is getting new furniture soon.


These tables and chairs were custom made for the children's area by a local craftsman. The splayed slats on the chair backs make them special.

Another view of the children's area, with small scattered windows and a long padded bench.

I like the signage on the walls. I thought it was done by someone with a very steady hand, but I learned that the letters are vinyl cutouts. Of course...that means that they can be relocated when the library reorganizes the collection, which every library does from time to time.

Eight computers are available for patron use.

Here is a close-up of the end of one stack, a very handsome way to acknowledge a significant gift to the library.

Before I leave, one more picture of the children's area, I believe, with a wooden tic-tac-toe game ready for players.

Did you know that there are more libraries than McDonalds in the USA? And every one of them holds surprises.


498 Clear Lake Public Library, Clear Lake, Wisconsin

The third stop on my Wisconsin day trip brought me to Clear Lake, where the library shares a building with the village office and the police department. Take a good look at that large window with the curved top; it adds wonderful natural light to the library..

I tried to shield the camera from the bright sun, but didn't succeed very well. Oh well, after the clouds and rain we'd been having, it would be churlish to complain in any way about a sunny day.

These days, a library without computers would be like a library without encyclopedias back in the day. Here there are three, ready for patrons to come in and use them. I saw a couple of signs representing policies that I would have appreciated when I worked at a library. One says that the computers will be turned off five minutes before closing. The second says that DVDs cannot be checked out less than 15 minutes before closing. The reason for the DVD rule is the same as it was where I worked: Cases are displayed and discs must be added by the circulation staff, and that really eats up time.

The children's area is toward the back of the library. The wooden table and chairs are classic!

Here's a closer view. The red bookshelves hold picture books, and represent a challenge facing many small libraries. Stacking picture books five shelves high limits the browsing ability of small children, but there simply isn't space to put flip bins on the floor.

Behind the wooden storage unit to the right we find...

...a collection of construction toys, waiting for young patrons to arrive and dig in. I also saw a notice about the"1000 Books Before Kindergarten" program.

Junior non-fiction is on the shelves to the right and fiction is on the stacks at the left. The presence of Captain Underpants and Junie B. Jones on the fiction display was a puzzle until I realized (I think) that all children's fiction titles, J and YA, are intershelved. There is a white metal rack visible in the background, holding CD and book bagged sets.

Back into adult territory, this area offers periodicals in a rack, newspapers on the table, adult stacks in the background...and a handy box of tissues. Adult books are in the stacks, media are shelved along the wall. I saw a reminder I haven't seen in a long time, though it's still timely, reminding patrons to avoid leaving DVDs and books on CDs in hot vehicles.

A sofa faces the adult non-fiction stacks, very nice for looking through a half-dozen books and deciding which one/s are the ones you need.

I often say that each library I visit has something I haven't seen in a library before. And here's the example for Deer Park:


497 Deer Park Library, Deer Park, Wisconsin

I almost didn't visit this library. When I got there shortly after 1 pm, a sign on the door said the library was open--but the door was locked. This brought up memories of my September road trip to southwestern Minnesota, when the third library on my itinerary really was closed, although the hours listed on the website said it would be open.

But this time was different. As I was turning to return to my car, a voice called from across the parking lot "I'll be right there!" The librarian had been doing an errand at the Community Center, and here she came to my rescue.

More than that, she gave me a very thorough tour of the library, and some interesting facts. The most intriguing: the town of Deer Park, population 216 at the last census, is the smallest municipality in Wisconsin to have a public library. Of course, it serves the surrounding area, so the population served is much larger than 216!

There has been a library in Deer Park since 1970, and the current building is 21 years old. Last year it received new paint and carpet, among other upkeep. Kudos to those who support this library!

Entering the library building, there is a short corridor with the town office and restrooms on the right and a program room on the left.

The name of the town is Deer Park. Therefore, it wasn't too surprising to find that the program room  boasts nine sets of antlers (I think they are called "sheds," the ones that are lost annually) and the head of one deer that did not lose its antlers naturally.

This corner is just inside the library door. The shelves to the right hold a growing collection of Large Print books. To the left a display of Wisconsin-themed books tops a couple of shelves that hold beautifully bound classic volumes, donated by a local resident. Unlike many other libraries, here these books circulate.

Current issues of pulications are in the rack to the left. Only back issues, to the right, are circulated.

Entering the children's area we find back-to-back arm chairs and a large collection of puppets. I learned that the puppets are especially popular. Seeing the alphabetic labels on the bins of picture books reminds me that on the shelves and stacks, attractive alphabetic labels are printed, then wrapped around old VHS boxes. What a great re-use...they fit the shelves and even can help keep books upright.

The big books are in a big bin on wheels.

As is the case with many town libraries, historic material is kept here, in this glass case and in a desk to the right. There are many interesting artifacts here, including a "candlestick" telephone.

The chairs are fairly modern, but the handsome table goes back a ways. 

These days just about every library has a sofa or some easy chairs, usually near natural light, for reading or hanging out.

Many of the sturdy, handsome bookshelves were built locally and donated to the library by a local family.

There are three computers, plus one to access the catalog and one that is used to schedule public computer use. It's easier, I was told, to enforce policies for computer use when another computer takes over the job. Staff can override policies in case of real need, of course. Copying, printing, and faxing are also available.


In the corner of the library near the computers, a door leads out to a modest planted area. The  librarian would like to see this become something more, perhaps a rain garden. I suggest looking at blog post #477, Rosebush, Michigan, to see how they turned a similar space into a seasonal reading garden.

What to do when the bank moves to a new building and no longer needs the bank manager's roll-top desk? Donate it to the library, of course! It makes an eye-catching background for a changing display of books. And if you visit, take a look at the interesting filing system in the top right-hand drawer.

Finally, back at the entrance. Many libraries I've visited have a "tree" theme somewhere. Sometimes it dominates the library; other times, as here, it is more subtle. I like these trees!


Friday, October 26, 2018

472a Osceola Public Library, Osceola, Wisconsin

I really do know better than to visit a library just a couple of weeks after it has moved to a new building. I've seen this with two libraries right here in Ramsey County, Minnesota: it takes time to "grow into" a new space. But...I was really eager to see how Osceola was doing, and it was a beautiful day for a drive, bracketed by many not-beautiful driving days, so off to Wisconsin I went. And I promise that I will visit again next spring.

To see "before" pictures, you can put "472" in the search field. The changes are huge. First, there is the building, which will house a Discovery Center and the town offices in addition to the library. From where I parked on the street, stairs lead up to the entrance. Past these stairs and around the corner is a ramp from the parking lot.

I entered through the door shown to the right. The library is immediately visible through a glass wall; there is no guessing "where do I go." Looking into the library from the lobby, the adult non-fiction collection is visible to the right.

Near the non-fiction is a space that will have comfortable chairs for reading, with an interesting textured blue wall that will soon hold a fireplace.

If I recall correctly (my notes are a litle fuzzy here), this room will house the history, genealogy, and Wisconsin collections. Special note: Gustav Stickley, the designer of mission-style furniture, was born in Osceola, and the new furniture will be in his style. That will definitely make a return trip worthwhile.

Outside the history room, which is visible through the windows, there are six computers and a "Pharo Station," which patrons will use to sign up for computer time.

Nearby are the stacks for Westerns, Mysteries, and other Adult Fiction. I didn't get a picture, but a current fundraiser involves raffling a sharp-looking kayak, $10.00 for one ticket, $25.00 for three. The container with the tickets suggests that there is a lot of interest in the boat.

Near here is a large blue wall with the wavy texture, like the wall where the fireplace will be located. It spans the space that will hold study tables and such. I like the color a lot; my eyes tell me that it would take me a while to get used to the texture.

One end of the spacious teen area has a carpeted floor and a variety of seating options and games.

The other end of the teen space has a tiled floor, ready for messy projects, and three computers.

Running the full length of the teen area, books are temptingly displayed. The collection is varied and inclusive.

Now we arrive at the children's area, which fills the end of the library space. The long counter, sink, and cabinets are conveniently located between the teen and kid areas.

The table, chairs, and hefty wooden chess set is tucked in a corner in the kids area. Missing from  area: Mr. Licky, the ball python. Fear not, he's just in temporary quarters until his new habitat is ready. He'll be back.

The sensory table is filled with dried lentils, artificial leaves...and cinnamon sticks! Lots of senses come into play here. I like the fact that a lid can be folded up to cover the table. By the way, those "dots" on the tile floor are...lentils, of course. Task for the end of each day, sweep up the lentils!

In the background of this picture you can see that picture books are in the heavy plastic bins that libraries use for, among other things, shipping books from branch to branch. These are temporary until the flip bins arrive, but I heard that little kids really like having their books at floor level. [Adults who have to find specific books are eager to have the regular bins.]

You can't really tell from the picture, but the armchair is adult-sized and the adirondack chairs are kid-sized. Windows, windows, windows, and outside these windows there is...

...a broad deck, ready to be an outdoor reading space next Spring when the weather warms up again.

No picture, but walking back into the adult space I passed a long counter with outlets, clearly a place to use your laptop. And although the library has been in this space for just a few weeks, the Friends already have a couple of shelves of books for sale. I found some good ones for Halloween. [Grinch that I am, I give books instead of candy, so I'm always on the lookout for bargains.]

Before I left I asked about what the Discovery Center, which shares the building, will include. That led me to google "Fab Lab," with these exciting results:

"Fab Lab" is an abbreviation for Fabrication Laboratory, a group of off-the-shelf, industrial-grade fabrication and electronics tools, wrapped in open-source software and programs. Fab Labs give users around the world the ability to locally conceptualize, design, develop, fabricate, and test almost anything. The engineering capability for design and fabrication at micron length and microsecond time-scales opens up numerous possibilities for innovative solutions to common problems. Since local communities foster this innovation, it can lead to sustainable solutions. As yet, high-end technological solutions have not been addressing problems faced on the local level; therefore, we believe Fab Labs will provide a thriving incubator for local micro-businesses