Gregarious Galloway

New Jersey’s Galloway Township Library (GTL) is a large brick building in the municipal complex.   Playing fields, the police station, forsythias and holly bushes fringe the library and two wrought iron mesh benches donated by the local women’s club flank the entrance.

Galloway Township Branch

Galloway Branch

Though they’ve had a library here since 1973, the current 16,500 square foot structure was financed by a bond with some help from a state grant and opened in 1995.

GTL is one of eleven locations (there’s a community reading center in a high school) of the Atlantic County Library System (ACLS) which has a bookmobile too.   The county also has four independent libraries – Atlantic City’s being the biggest.

Lobby

Lobby

Double sets of sliding doors kept the fierce wind out when I visited on a blustery, wet day in April, and an atrium over the foyer let in some welcome natural light to nourish the potted Norfolk Island palm.  The vestibule’s a pleasant space with a geometric design on the tile floor, lots of brochures, bubblers, a promotional easel and appealing triangular gold fixtures above the community bulletin board.

Meeting Room

Meeting area

A doorway leads to the 90 seat meeting room which has a kitchen, projection booth, two storage closets and walls graced with winning paintings from a recent contest that you can purchase.  Altogether the System has seven meeting venues available to the public when not needed by the facility.

Recommendations galore as you enter

Recommendations galore as you enter

Just inside, a case of rustic bird houses, many with roofs made of bent license plates, squats next to a rack of books in series.  Nearby, displays of large print, new fiction and one week titles beckon to browsers.  A marble podium holds an open tome.  Once Upon A Time…, sculpted by John Gowdy, was given by the children of the burg and others.

It’s a well used site, with busy decor that constantly catches your eye.  An Earth Day display here, a decorate your own egg table there, and Easter touches all around.  Bouquets, baskets and plants celebrate the onset of spring and the main desk is a riot of color with construction paper ovals hanging from the ceiling and standing out against black backgrounds that cover the glassed in staff section.

Patty at check out

Patty at check out

At the Circulation Desk, Library Assistant, Patty Maddox, who’s worked here a year and a half, told me it’s a very friendly place – they specialize in chitchat which hones their reader’s advisory skills and gives them lots of recommendations to pass on.

The library strives to be a part of the community – the Rutgers Master Gardener Plant Sale is held here, and they offer free wifi, at least eleven public internet computers plus the juvenile game computer.  Visitors can also use and print from the internet.  Several technology classes for older folks were advertised like Computers for Seniors and Introduction to MS PowerPoint and there’s a tech support group as well.

Children's Room

Youth Area

Children’s is quite sizeable with its own bathroom.  With plenty of sturdy wood tables it can accommodate a good crowd and a huge elephant joins the abundance of plush toys atop the stacks.

ACLS produces numerous engaging leaflets such as 2014 Winning Children’s Books.  The calendar has crafts and story times for a variety of ages, in Spanish and English (Miss New Jersey was the featured reader at one of them) and there’s a Lego club and both children’s and YA poetry slams.

Cozy place to enjoy a favorite title

Cozy spot to enjoy a favorite title

In an alcove, a faux fireplace cleverly created from wrapped discards holds grade appropriate booklists.  Next to it, the two seater little red reading house complete with a bell above the entry gives youngsters a private place to read and on the other side, the literacy shelf has stuffed animals, games, a story hour kit and books for the younger set.  This early learning nook is embellished with colorful paw prints – it’s amazing what the employees manage to do with just paper and ink.

Love the animal track border

Neat animal track border

Beyond a low shelf, a cool curved window allows views of the neighboring meadows and woods.  Carpeted built in benches surrounding two sides of the space provide seating for caretakers during storytimes and there’s a comfortable looking oversize armchair so little ones can sit on laps while listening to a tale.

A collapsible purple fabric can is a simple way to stash playthings and baubles while board books are stored in an alphabet turnstile with cubbyholes.

Lots of room for story time

Lots of room for story time

Formica tables ringed in red, yellow, green and blue with matching stools stand up to the frolics of boisterous tots and bright plastic bins hold picture books near a shelf of easy readers.  By the book/CD kits and a mounted rack of suggested materials and music CDs, the curved children’s desk is garnished with bunnies and owls.

Children's Desk

Children’s Desk

Branch Manager, Pat Morrow, who was retiring in two weeks, told me there’s a dedicated mil for the library – always a great way to ensure adequate funding.  Galloway is the largest municipality by area in the state – one side of it reaches to the ocean.  Home to more than 37,000 people it’s a mixed community with a number of retirees.  ACLS members can attend book, chess and knitting clubs, English conversation groups, or lectures on Weird NJ (covering landmarks and state secrets) and the region’s history.

A Mother’s Day tea party was coming up, and the South Jersey Astronomy Club was bringing telescopes to one of the branches for an evening of stargazing on the lawn called Public Skywatch.  Over fifty Book Club in a Bag selections can be borrowed and there are even some for teens.

Periodicals

Periodicals

Instead of signs directing users, GTL uses multihued flags to point out Periodicals, the Information Desk etc.  Beneath high skylights, black wire shelves on wheels hold TV series on DVD and popular music.  Foreign films are housed on a separate rack and they have three computers in a quiet study room.

A glass fronted cabinet holds knitted goods you can buy from a resident and by the permanent book sale, free standing cage like forms decked with garlands of flowers exhibit canvasses from the Galloway Cultural Arts Center.

Looking into the stacks beyond the book sale tables

Looking into the stacks beyond the book sale tables

GTL has a New Jersey collection and there’s a great compilation of historical resources including digitized wills, immigration records and Civil War discharge papers accessible from the ACLS website.  The home page lists recently added DVDs and texts and patrons can watch IndieFlix streaming films and download ebooks and eaudiobooks, or magazines and music via Zinio and Freegal.

Since it was near Earth Day, there was a recycled crafts program for adolescents, and Teen Scene and Teen Meet provide opportunities for like minded minors to get together.  Youths have their own movie night, a Cinco de Mayo party and the intriguingly named Marshmallow Madness.

The spacious teen area has high tables with bar stools along with these upholstered blue and chrome chairs and lots of graphic novels to choose from.

Teen section

Young adult section

With a vast collection of over 700,000 items (625 different magazines – it boggles the imagination!), ACLS presents users with a plethora of resources.  It’s got loads of databases – Acceda Noticias gives full text access to 20 Spanish newspapers while Global Road Warrior covers geography and culture for the world’s countries.  Points of View helps students understand all facets of an issue and the Oxford African American Studies Center consolidates knowledge on the subject.

The system has a blog and twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Pinterest accounts (love the idea of painting old bricks to look like books and using them as garden ornaments).  The facebook page  has DIY tips like how to fashion an invisible bookshelf and promotes sessions such as Book Hedgehog Craft for Teens & Adults.

Materials can be borrowed or returned to any location and they have a foundation.

Back at GTL, a variety of prints adorn the walls by the Information Desk and a cubicle houses Outspoken Library, a computer with braille and audio for those with limited sight.

Reference Desk

Reference Desk

I’m really impressed with the ingenuity of the people at Galloway and ACLS – they’ve devised some unique adventures for their customers and really know how to spruce up the place using inexpensive supplies.

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Not to be Missed Chincoteague

Charming Chincoteague Island Library (CIL) serves the 4000 or so people of the town and Northern Accomack County, Virginia.

The original front of the library

The original front of the library

Founded on Independence Day 1995, it used to be a barber shop, which is evident from the front of the building which faces the main street and is prettily framed by daffodils and bushes and an ageless stone fountain.  It’s conveniently situated downtown, by a waterfront park with picnic tables and a sculpture of its most renowned resident, Misty.

Chincoteague is a lovely place where mallards and white ducks blithely wander the streets, and its library carries on this quaint tradition.

The new addition from the park

The new wing from the park

Even the addition, which opened in 2010 and tripled the square footage, has a timeless allure.  Though it cost six hundred thousand dollars, it was all paid for by grants and donations – amazing for such a tiny village!  Designed for free by local architect, Richard Vesely, the striking structure has an eye-catching cupola with windows that let in the sparkling seaside rays.  The weathervane that caps the octagonal section was donated by one board member in honor of another.

There’s a wheelchair ramp, book drop, and a bike rack and parking in the back.  By the entrance an antique globe light shines on a plaque dedicated to the groups and individuals who have helped make the facility possible.

Linda at the circulation desk - notice the wainscoting that's present in much of the facility

Linda at the circulation desk – the wainscoting here can be found elsewhere too

Inside I met friendly Linda Ryan, the President of the Board of Directors, and one of the more than 30 volunteers who keep CIL open 39 hours per week.  Linda told me that they are a 501(c)(3) organization funded mainly by private donations, though Eastern Shore Public Library (ESPL) does pay for 21 hours per week of staffing which is shared among three employees.  Harriet Lonergan is their only volunteer/employee with an MLS degree.

CIL has a fundraising drive once a year which basically pays for the operations budget though they use ESPL’s broadband and courier services.  Despite the limited staff, they always try to have two people behind the desk, especially during their very busy summer season.

Original section of the library with a book rug hanging in the right window

This section was formerly the tonsorium

The stained glass in the front was here when the place was used for cutting hair.  On the right, a book rug hangs in the window which the volunteers decorate for holidays.

View from the old to the new

View from the old to the new – before the remodel, the building stopped just beyond this doorway

Here, old fashioned light fixtures illuminate the spindle back chairs and carved ducks and historical implements decorate the ledge beneath intricate white scrollwork.  Storage cupboards below the videos provide extra room.

Buy some goodies to help the library

Buy some goodies to help out

In a little alcove by the main desk, they sell book bags, library note cards, book marks, used books, CDs, postcards and a colorful print of pre renovation CIL.  Online you can buy CIL clothing, mugs, clocks, calendars, coasters, framed tiles, journals, keepsake boxes, Christmas ornaments, duffles, aprons, iPad sleeves, hats, bumper stickers, buttons, mouse pads, pet bowls, throw pillows, wallets, charms, water bottles, earrings, stickers, magnets, clipboards, trays, shower curtains, mirrors, key chains, thermoses, and more.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an impressive array of promotional merchandise, but it is one of the most photogenic libraries I’ve seen.

Just down the corridor is the kid’s space with a striped cushion on the window seat and storage for baskets of board books below.

Children's Area

Children’s Area

One corner has a stuffed version of Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat watching the tots and over by the big screen TV, ma and pa teddy bears sit on a vintage brown toddler’s seat with a carved heart on its back.  Above the older kid’s titles, a papier mâché child is stretched out enjoying a book and the floor is covered by a mat depicting children of the world.  A chair painted with scenes of tabbies sweeping, eating and riding on buses is large enough to provide seating for parents and guardians.

Linda’s very involved with the preschool program – CIL has weekly storytimes with songs, crafts and finger plays for them most of the year.  Second and sixth graders can enroll in their own book clubs and in the summer middleschoolers can participate in a reading program.   NASA has a facility nearby and their Outreach Center did a story and activity session on rockets.

The famous ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel

The ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel

Artwork abounds.  A Chincoteague Island clock and quilt (the latter donated when they put on the extension) adorn the walls behind checkout, where the Kleenex box is shaped like a pile of books.  Plants and bouquets bring spring inside and on top of the lintel leading to the earliest part of the structure, a black metal cat leans over, as if stealthily watching some prey.

Stunning reading space by the new entrance

Stunning reading space by the new entrance

Most of the library has gorgeous blond wood floors often partially covered by lovely oriental carpets.

Adults can join two book clubs, attend Scrabble nights, talks on ghost adventures, adult education programs and go to author visits, or get literacy and computer training.

Teen area also has the soft pink glow found throughout the library

Teen area also has the soft pink glow found throughout the library

YA’s have their own room with two window seats and a magnificent rug.  A gleaming roll top case by some flags holds a selection of Shakespeare tapes.

Notice board backed with a colonial fabric festooned with ships

Notice board backed with a colonial fabric festooned with ships

By the door, a dark wood pedestal with a bronzed barn owl sitting on a stack of tomes honors a patron’s mother and on the other side, a bulletin board with a distinctly maritime theme advertises upcoming functions.

Photo of Marguerite Henry  with Misty

Eminent villager with her favorite friend

And on a sill is an enchanting photograph of Marguerite Henry with Misty.

CIL’s facebook page is packed with frequent updates about library events and other happenings.  There’s a calendar for the surrounding region and I imagine that’s where townsfolk go when they want to plan their social activities for the week.  I love the post reminding people that it’s turtle breeding and egg laying season so they need to watch out for meandering testudines when driving around.  And the aerial shot of the old swing bridge midway through a turn is marvelous.  The page has tons of snaps of parties from ones for the tiniest tots to senior extravaganzas, including fishing excursions and visits from the famous local ponies.

Elevator makes the upstairs balcony accessible to all

Elevator makes the upstairs balcony accessible to all

By the elevator there’s a periodical rack and they have 24/7 wifi and six public internet computers with word processing for cardholders and visitors.  Summer people also have a choice of free books and magazines.  Customers can borrow audio books and older titles for 28 days while videos, DVDs and new publications are loaned for two weeks.

With ESPL, who catalog all CIL materials and make online searching, holds and renewals possible, they are working towards putting in RFID.

Upstairs has great view of the channel

The second story has a great view of the water

Upstairs is spectacular.  Vistas of tall sailing ships in the Chincoteague Channel just outside can be enjoyed from leather upholstered Queen Anne armchairs.  Two small closets keep supplies hidden and there are numerous oral history transcripts to peruse.  They are available on the web site too, along with the newsletter.

Brian Maughan's Misty sculpture even captures one of the omnipresent waterfowl

Brian Maughan’s Misty sculpture even captures one of the omnipresent waterfowl

What an enchanting place!

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Heavenly Kill Devil Hills Library

On the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the town of Kill Devil Hills is obviously a hopping place in summer.  The closest road to the beach has what seems like thousands of gaily painted oversized Victorian rentals with numerous balconies.  But in early April the sun was warm, the surf and skies bright blue, and the sands nearly deserted.

Kill Devil Hills Library

Kill Devil Hills Library

However, a few streets inland, where the sand doesn’t threaten to overtake the tarmac, I discovered a thriving downtown.  The Municipal Center, post office, senior center and the three schools for K-12 are here, and in the center of it all is the Kill Devil Hills Library (KDHL).  The brick and gray shingle building is surrounded by weeping yaupon, palm trees, pines, shrubs and daffodils.  By the entrance, a little foyer has a bulletin board and local information pamphlet rack. Light flows in from the atrium, plate glass windows and the smaller panes high above the shelves.

Kathy at the Circ Desk

Kathy at checkout with their Raise a Reader pack which includes a book and video

I chatted with Kathy Lassiter, Branch Manager, at the main desk. She told me that the best thing about the job and library is their relationship with the town. It’s such a close knit community that staff are familiar enough with their patron’s tastes to reserve items they’ll want.  And, if someone hasn’t been in for awhile, a quick phone call is made to ensure they’re alright.

KDHL has wireless which visitors can use for free, three pacs in the stacks and eleven computers for the public. Two are reserved for job applicants, six for the adults and the three children’s have TumbleBook loaded on them so tots can access animated talking ebooks, puzzles and games and even learn languages from stories in French and Spanish.

New book area close to the entrance

New book area

Across from circulation is a hand cleaning station and a thriving ivy spreads atop the new book shelves. Booklists abound and a binder full of more suggestions sits below a drawing of a clipper ship. Appropriately for this ocean resort, pictures of boats are scattered around and other decorations, like a piece of driftwood with sandpipers above the plaque listing a former board of trustees, stay true to this theme. By the public view documents table, a series of hurricane photographs remind you of potential hazards and quilts, including an adorable one of a bookshelf with a cat next to a book called How to Catch a Mouse :) are everywhere.

One of Don Bryan's pieces

Painting by famous local artist, Don Bryan

The Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Foundation recently brought in David McCullough for a program for the public.  McCullough did research here as his next project will be on the Wright Brothers (Kitty Hawk is just north of town and the huge Wright Brothers National Memorial, including the First Flight Airport, is on the next block).

This busy institution opened in 1990 and is one of the three locations of Dare County Libraries.  DCL has over 85,000 titles (including KDHL’s 39,000) and started in 1935. It’s one of eight in the East Albemarle Regional Library System (formed in 1964 – so they were already thinking ahead on how to maximize resources) which has a courier so materials can be picked up at or returned to any of its facilities (or at four other drops in the region).

Combining budgets helps greatly when it comes to things like purchasing ebooks and NC LIVE’s databases.  DCL also has the Dare County Digital Heritage Collection with old newspapers and genealogical data and NCKnows virtual reference.

The literacy collection

The literacy collection

Naomi Rhodes, the reference librarian, was very helpful  – she’s worked here for twelve years and does a lot with the literacy program including computer introduction, adult basic learning (ABL), the citizenship test and GED prep (which is now online so people must have computer skills to take it).  The Dare Literacy Council collection is here and Naomi wrote two successful American Dream grants – the first for ESL items and the second for GED, ABL and computer literacy titles, CDs, DVDs and sets.  DCL has the Cypress Resume database and staff go to job fairs sponsored by the local chamber of commerce and set up booths at the NC jobs council, health expos and “Hatteras Day at the Docks” and were going to a business expo the following week.  Library Director, Jonathan Wark, is on the Rotary.

Ms. Donna in the children's room

Ms. Donna in the children’s room

Donna Roark, Children’s Librarian, proudly showed me her space. Red cushioned chairs provide comfortable seating and bright artwork, ladybug and spider cutouts deck the walls. Multitudes of stuffed animals sit on top of the bookcases and a large white tiger stares at two abstract Native American paintings. A fish tank entrances youngsters and vivid yellow headphones help keep the room quiet.

Kid’s has board books, easy readers and book cassette combos.  The Child Resource Collection assists youngsters in dealing with problems and new experiences and the building has a back porch sometimes used for storytimes. Since Easter was approaching, the deck was hosting an egg hunt that day with singing and reading. There were hidden prizes to be found among the eggs too.

The story begins...

The story begins…

Perhaps the most eye catching element in here is this quilted mural of the story told in print below the picture. It’s all about Ace, the fastest bird on the beach, who shelters in the library book drop for the winter after his nest is blown away. He begins to listen to the calming voice heard at storytimes, which eventually allows him to teach himself to read. He feathers his nest with pages from returned tomes and charms a stalking cat and his fellow avians with the tales he tells.

Twenty five kids (half homeschooled and half public) wrote the yarn and came up with the fabric design with help from the Dare County Arts Council and others (including a $5000 arts grant). The children assisted with the beading and the library provided space, snacks and drinks.

A beautiful ending to the tale...

A beautiful ending to the tale…

The library has Tales to Tails where reluctant readers read to therapy dogs (the brochure presents snaps of the canines including a delightful one of a bulldog with reading glasses) and that day, a bunny was coming to the afternoon Hooked on Books session.  KDHL has game days and visits from NC Park Service rangers.  Jonathan promotes baby literacy and this year’s summer reading program is about science.  Three big name performers will be coming in to wow the 150 or so kids who participate.

Looking from Children's into the main part of the library

Looking from Children’s into the main part of the library

Ms. Donna and Kathy read at Kid’s Fest and Read Across America and the Hatteras Storytelling Festival.  The Head Start program with the Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County gives children certificates and their own books to keep.  There’s also a party with pizza and kids dress up in their best frocks and suits.

The facebook page  promotes things like the Master Garden Series and has lots of photos of Santa visits, craft and animal programs and SRP events.  A flickr account is loaded with shots of customers having a great time.

PACs in the stacks

PACs in the stacks

This branch has one part time and seven full time employees.  Funding comes from the county with the state chipping in, and the library hangs onto fines.  A 501c3 foundation began in 2002 and provided the monies to start the ebook collection as well as supporting other services.

Home bound delivery gets materials to shut ins and a meeting room with audiovisual equipment seats fifty.  Any non profit can schedule it.

Cool flip out CD storage

Flip out CD storage

KDHL has some cool features like this compact music cabinet.  Scratch and sniff bookmarks – pickles, worms, dirt, popcorn, flowers, cotton candy, jelly beans and coffee (which the adults love) – are available and contacting them is easy with book shaped DCL magnets that sport the phone number and email address.

There’s a tax form table, and no limit on how many CDs or DVDs you can borrow.  Magazines go out for a whopping 21 days and they kindly give a five day grace period plus anyone 17 and under can read fines away – just 30 minutes reduces fines by a buck.

The teen section has a cheerful mobile and classic prints above the adolescent offerings.

YA Area

YA Area

A very impressive facility for this lovely seaside community of just under 7000.

The dunes are where the area gets the "hills" in its name from

I assume the dunes are the “hills” in the town’s name

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Majestic Medellín

Rainy day glimpse of the library from the gondola

Rainy day glimpse of the library above the gondola

Erected on Santo Domingo Savio (SDS), one of the seven hills encircling Medellín, Colombia, the three black monoliths of Parque Biblioteca España (PBE) are just a short walk from the Metrocable that whisks commuters up the mountainside.   Perched high above the red tiled roofs and artfully graffitied sidewalks and edifices of the quarter, PBE truly is a park.

Part of the Parque Biblioteca España

The uppermost part of the Parque Biblioteca España

Medellín had the wonderful idea of surrounding their libraries on the fringes of the city with vast green spaces and having them address the need for more culture and education in these sections of the metropolis.  Since the first settlers started farming here in 1964, SDS developed haphazardly and its narrow and precipitous streets made access to the rest of the city and its institutions difficult until the cable car was installed.  The library park concept capitalized here on the newly available transportation and is quite a boon for the area.  This biblioteca was the fourth such facility and is named for the support given by Spain’s Agency for International Cooperation.  It was inaugurated in 2007 by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of that country.

The park follows the contours of the slope and has stairs running all through it.  Outside the building, a lamp post with shimmering silver balls casts a glow on the gray brick walkway, and wood slatted benches and chairs invite you to relax amidst the hedges and trees.

Maria Cristina

Maria Cristina

When I was checking in at the administrative office by the front door, Maria Cristina Álvarez, Directora Parque Biblioteca España, with whom I’d been corresponding about this visit, returned.  She was very pleasant and helpful though we quickly realized it would be best for me to send any technical queries I had via email, where I could continue to depend on the language skills of the free web Spanish translators.

PBE’s entrance is on Piso 1 but due to the steep slope of the terrain, there are two additional levels underneath, so it’s actually on the third.   Directional signs in Spanish and English make it easy to get around.  You’re greeted by a very modern lobby with gleaming tiled floors, five triangular upholstered maroon seats, brushed metal poles and sparkling bathrooms.  Some walls are a vivid orange or green glass while others are composed of a dark shellacked brick.

Glowing lobby

Glowing lobby

Views of the Aburrá Valley and the mountains around Medellín are visible through an arty jumble of vertical bars.

Views of the urban sprawl far below

Views of the urban sprawl far below

A corridor leads to exhibition halls, an auditorium, classrooms etc. in the two sections of the structure that are used for community edification and events.

In the part dedicated to materials and research, PBE has seven stories altogether – each has either computers (more than 100 public ones) or a collection of items for children, teens or adults with the top one given over to Medellín Solidaria, an agency that assists the neediest citizens in finding benefits and other ways to better their existences.

The architecture of this dark cube is fascinating.  It’s basically a floating interior as on most levels you can see down several floors and the main spaces are separated from the exoskeleton of the building by several feet.

Sun streams in through slanted openings

Sun streams in through slanted openings

Captivating design seems to be the norm here with neat touches like these tilted windows.  Because of the light and airy open plan, they don’t require much illumination or air conditioning – though being on a peak that’s more than a mile high and in a place nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring also helps.

Mock-ups of houses

Mock-ups of houses

Low shelving everywhere allows for visibility and affords plenty of space for curios like these intriguing models of homes scattered around the adult collection, perhaps for a contest?

The library offers books, magazines, encyclopedias, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, CD Roms and graphic novels and patrons can bring in drinks.  Open from 8am-7pm Monday to Saturday and on Sundays and holidays (!) from 11am to 5pm, it’s part of Sistema de Bibliotecas Públicas de Medellín (SBPM) which has 24 locations, a busy Twitter feed, flickr and YouTube accounts as well as a Facebook page filled with pictures, videos and announcements.  Another page on its site features a profile of one of their young users.

SPBM’s catalog is integrated and soon you’ll be able to order items from other branches.  Residents can borrow from any facility or remotely search electronic databases and download ebooks.  Titles go out for ten days and can be renewed twice if not on hold, but must be returned to the library they were borrowed from and reserves have to be picked up within 24 hours.

PBE has its own blog and provides reference support and one on one web assistance.

It feels quite spacious and its fixtures let them promote materials nicely.

Low cases everywhere allow breezes to circulate

Squat cases let breezes circulate

In the Adult area, I met Juan Esteban Prisco Cañas, the Room Technician, who was very welcoming and informative.  He speaks excellent English so I peppered him with questions (any mistakes in interpretation are mine).  Juan mentioned that they have a neighborhood room which collects history about SDS and that PBE uses artists from the district to decorate the library.  They hold concerts and theatrical events in the park and showcase local talent.  Their mission is the cultural advancement of the people in the vicinity and they also look for problems to see how they can improve their lives.  As such, they work with nutritionists, social workers, medical specialists, etc.

Juan with one of his paintings

Juan with one of his stunning paintings – “being an artist is my gift”

These are system wide aims.  One objective on SBPM’s webpage is (roughly translated) “being a bridge between the community and the various institutions that can supply information and knowledge.”  It’s great to see how they strive to aid their customers, and to make sure they are being effective, they survey their service population – statistics show their impact – and I love the comment section below the misión statement where users can give feedback and suggestions.

Perhaps due to their stated goals PBE has innovative and exciting programming – there’s a Grandparents storytelling group that specializes in making audiences of all ages aware of the barrio’s past and in November the 16th Latin American Congress of Sexology met here and held sessions centered on the helpful theme of sex and the elderly.  The previous month they were one of the sites for the International Film and Video Festival of Indigenous Peoples and earlier in the year, the Silent Glances series trained deaf participants in photography.  This month there will be a public forum on preventing sexual exploitation and child abuse.

One long term project lets teens in the region learn about nanotechnology and how it can improve their environment and another, Cinexcusa, has faculty from Uniminuto University teaching students from a local school about film.  In October kids worked on producing illustrations and then got the chance to meet an author/illustrator.

Colección infantil

Colección infantil

By the doorway to Children’s the saying in large cutout letters that reads (loosely translated) “A book can’t end war or feed a hundred people but it can feed minds, and sometimes, change them.” keeps the purpose of the library at the forefront of young minds.

Tables are arranged in hexagons so groups can study or create together.  A vibrant hand-painted sign with a girl and a boy pointing at a patchwork balloon announce the room’s target audience and a model of a ship draws youngsters in.

Inspired portable storage - love the button closures

Inspired portable storage – love the button closures

It’s a very appealing space with tot sized furniture, brilliant papier mâché containers, a big multihued elephant tethered by a chain above a wealth of board books and a bright mobile with puffy cars and pets hanging from an overhead beam.  On the wall, numerous panels by the storytime mats sport a little man in a yellow hat, perhaps a representation from Curious George, in various scenarios – including being driven in a tuk tuk by a monkey.

Reading for the tiny tots

Display for toddlers

My husband was delighted by one of the featured titles – Horrible Science’s That Chaotic Chemical.

On the other kid’s floor there are at least 33 colorful computers stuffed with games and screensavers that advertise programs like a Sunday matinee presentation of Astro Boy being held in the auditorium.

Some of the internet terminals for the small set

Some of the internet terminals for the small set

Joven (YA’s) also have their own computer and materials levels, but a sudden rainstorm after school had packed these areas so tightly, I couldn’t get any pictures.

Near the crowd, side by side garbage bins labeled recyclable and not recyclable instruct with clear descriptions of the types of things allowed.

Elevators give everyone easy access to all the floors, so I went up to the fourth where the 35 PCs were all occupied by customers sitting below two of the marvelous long murals that overlook the interior atrium.  Some of these paintings depict sunsets and skies and in another a pensive youth looks down on the bustle.

One of the friezes looming over the central opening

One of the friezes looming over the central opening

The library really is the lifeblood of this community.  Inhabitants can go to talks on water issues, or Arts and Culture for Life.  A sampling of SBPM’s calendar for just one week in February included films, erotic poetry readings, discussions, lectures, origami workshops, internet searching classes, numerous storytimes, game and book clubs for all ages and so much more.

What a magnificent place and how fabulous that Parque Biblioteca España is succeeding so well in its intentions!

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Cindy’s Scintillating Post on the Farmington, NM Library

I became acquainted with my friend Cindy Salo when she commented on my blog and we met in person at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo last July.  She’s a funny, delightful woman who journeys around the US for her job as a plant ecologist and uses libraries extensively to connect with friends and colleagues while travelling.  In November she was at one of her favorite places, the Farmington Public Library, and despite her busy schedule managed to write about it in her blog, Sagebrush and Spuds (she lives in Boise, ID after all) and graciously allowed me to include it as a guest entry on my blog – so here is her lyrical and poetic post on it, (far better than any of my humble efforts – I’m so jealous!).  Enjoy!

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Groovy Galápagos

Beach at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz

Beach at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz

The Biblioteca Pública para Galápagos y el Mundo is conveniently located right behind the municipal offices in the busy center of Puerto Ayora, the most populated town on Isla Santa Cruz, and on these far flung Ecuadorian islands.

Santa Cruz during the dry season is a curious mix.  To the north, parched landscapes give way to the foggy green highlands with cattle ranches where giant tortoises graze next to bemused bovines.  Descending from this magical area brings hotter temperatures, but the verdant foliage remains, even as you enter Puerto Ayora, one of the main tourism hubs of the Galápagos and home to more than 12,000 people.  It’s a spectacularly creative locale.  Bright red crabs scurry about beneath lush mangrove trees.  Marine iguanas and lava deposits lie next to the turquoise ocean on one side of the brick street, while intricately designed and vibrantly colored houses, hotels and storefronts attract the eye as you stroll toward the harbor.

Biblioteca para Galápagos y el Mundo

Biblioteca para Galápagos y el Mundo

Not to be outdone by local merchants and builders, the public library also features many interesting touches from a lava rock wall to the wheelchair ramp bordered in white stucco and huge curvy gray wood framed windows reminiscent of waves and portholes.

Covered entry

Covered entry

The roof over the doorway provides shelter during the rainy season and shade from the blazing light the rest of the year.

Marlena at the circulation desk

Marlena at the circulation desk

Inside, Assistant Marlena España welcomed me warmly and answered many of my questions.  They have free wifi and outlets on the floor to keep your electronics charged.   Six public internet computers are available in the adult area and there are two terminals for the younger set.

Adult computers

Adult computers

Nearby, a glass fronted cases holds Galápagos history books.

Items can be checked out, and they have a few DVDs for in-house viewing on the big screen TV which sits in a gleaming cabinet.  The system includes a stereo with tall, skinny oblong speakers.

The Japanese or one of several groups that support the library

The Japanese are one of several groups that sponsor the biblioteca

In another area, near back issues of National Geographic magazine, Japanese titles sit by a shelf of English materials.  Evidently, the embassy of Japan joined forces with the local government and the Galápagos National Park Guides to support the facility, and other companies and individuals have contributed to the effort as well.

Free purified water

Free purified water

Blessedly, the building is air conditioned (at sea level this is a very hot and humid place) and potable water is also provided from a container by an adorable penguin book holder.

It’s a pleasant space with a pretty tile floor, lovely wood furniture and shelves.  White cloth blinds and flowing curtains keep out the hot sun.

Reference section

Reference section

Reference volumes sit under a shapely window and there are lots of biology texts and encyclopedia sets, many dealing with nature, ecosystems, and the environment, all obviously topics of huge concern as the islands’ economy is greatly dependent on ensuring the propagation of the remarkable species and flora found here.   Knowing how aware the residents are of the importance of conservation, it’s no surprise that the library uses CFL bulbs in their Asian style hanging lamps.

Adjoining chess club

Adjoining chess club

Off the Children’s section, a little room, with its own door to the outside, provides a spot for enthusiasts to play chess.  The huge pieces lined up atop a cabinet must entice youngsters to pick up the pastime.

Children's area

Kid’s room

Children’s has multicolored little chairs and tiny tables and offers two programs per week.  In a corner interlocking floor mats are stored in anticipation of the next story time.  Origami mobiles and yarn dream catchers hang from the ceiling and a bin is painted with a scene of fish and crabs.

Shades with batik tropical fish on them protect the space from the intense light.

Shades

Window coverings keep the room cool

Tots can also amuse themselves with puzzles and games.  An abacus and a set of animal figures teach them about math and biology.

Games

Games

The Children’s Area has more of the cute Galápagos themed racks including a sea horse, whale (appropriately containing oversize picture books) and of course turtles.

Oversize books

Leviathan sized titles

What a unique little library – the people of this marvelous place have really made it their own!

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Quaint Quito

El Panecillo from Quito's Centro Historico

Looking from the Centro Historico toward El Panecillo up on the hill

Well, much of Quito, Ecuador is quaint, but the Parque La Carolina section around the Ministry of Education building is decidedly modern.

Biblioteca Pablo Palacio (named after the Ecuadorian writer) is located within this towering edifice, and is just one of the 600 public libraries run by the country’s National Library System, Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas (SINAB).

The library

The entry is inside the Ministry

Before leaving on the trip, I contacted the manager for this location, Lili Aguilar Mora, who good-naturedly responded to my broken Spanish request to visit.  As I was using an online Spanish translator, there is a good probability that I may have misinterpreted some of our communications, so be advised, any mistakes in the post are mine.

Long shot of the library

Long shot of the library

It’s a nicely appointed space, with tile floors, numerous study areas and a Spanish Dewey poster on the side of a shelving unit.  Lots of plants and even a small tree in a huge pot add to the airy feel.

Children's room

Children’s area

The Sala Infantile (children’s room) appeared to be set up for a special event, and the furniture for the tiny tots was stacked by the picture windows to make room for it.  But the big people seating is surrounded by racks with face-out picture books shelved on top and items for older kids below.  Mobiles featuring dinosaurs and magicians, airplanes and pinwheels dangle down from the ceiling and pictures of a pirate, tiger, and an ostrich wearing ballet slippers deck the walls.

BPP has a toy library and I noticed a set of dominoes and Upwards underneath a shelf of several toddler’s playthings.  Other board games were piled above the lockers and there’s a puppet theater behind the cubbyholes stuffed with dolls and hand puppets.

Kids can read oversize books or select a film to watch on the big screen TV from the glass fronted media case which houses feature films, documentaries and learning titles including a series of children’s movies on values (social, religious, ethical…) and a set of Spanish Sesame Street DVDs.

A green view

A green view

Near a globe and the kid’s music CDs, vowel cut-outs cover part of a plate glass window that overlooks a green area above a pretty sunken garden.

BPP has storytimes and in July children had the opportunity to build their own puppets then write and act in a show they presented.

The small furniture appeared to be stacked in a corner to make room for a special event

The small furniture was pushed to one side

Though Lili wasn’t there, I chatted a bit with another helpful staff person, Pilar Nolivos, who told me that the view from the children’s room is of El Rucu Pichincha, a nearly 16,000’ peak that looms over the city, which we visited later that day with the aid of the Teleferico cable car.

Quito from El Rucu Pichincha

Quito from El Rucu Pichincha

Biblioteca Pablo Palacio (BPP) offers reference and web help and has an archival collection.  Established in 2004, they own over 19,000 items including slides, VHS and DVD films, audio cassettes, and music CDs and are open 8-4:30 Monday through Friday.  In their serials area they also hold magazines, newsletters, reports, etcetera.

Public internet carrels

Public internet carrels

Bright prints adorn the walls by the ten free computers, where users can search CD Roms like Atlas of the Human Body and Diccionario de Biografias or insert learning disks on subjects such as physics, history, biology, mathematics, technology and the natural sciences.

Periodicals - not quite sure why so many are about Korea

Periodicals display – not quite sure why so many are about Korea

BPP has a website/blog, which advertises some of their events such as a writing workshop for young adults that was held last November.  SINAB uses this site too and recently they visited schools with a program on Palacio featuring a living author.  SINAB also brings a booth promoting Ecuadorian storytelling and legend and staging plays with puppets to country fairs and last year, gave a week long training course to library employees.

The reference section

The reference section

They have wifi, and like many facilities in this ecologically minded country, provide recycling bins for cardboard, paper, plastics…

Interesting design

Interesting design

Back out in the lobby again I noticed a couple of imaginatively constructed cases filled with intriguing artifacts.

What a pleasant place!

The next day, I chanced upon another library, Biblioteca Parque El Ejido, near the southern end of the Mariscal Sucre district of the city.

El Ejido Library

El Ejido Library

Resembling a café more than a learning space, this fascinating glass structure is situated in an enormous park filled with creative playground and adult exercise equipment.

Outside, gorgeous shellacked benches made from tree trunks sit on a patio made of thin gray wood planks with pine islands fringed by bushes and stones.  It looks like it’s mainly a very convenient spot to access the internet as there are just four stacks of books, including some in French, German and English.   Wifi service is available both inside and out, so many people were enjoying the free connectivity and fresh air just beyond the entrance.

You'd almost feel like you were outside

You almost feel as if you’re outside

Though we went in to see the 12 PC’s for public use, the Christmas tree decorated with origami birds and presents, the little tables with multicolored chairs and a tiny leather couch near the children’s books, the Christmas garlands and the TV turned on low, since I forgot my camera, we came back on Sunday, when, unfortunately, they were closed, and got the shot above through the windows.

El Ejido Park

El Ejido Park

But what wonderful views customers have of all the activity in this bustling, popular park.

How delightful to get the chance to visit two well placed libraries that obviously serve the needs of their communities.

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