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.
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.