On a beautiful crisp day last fall we drove through the undulating hills and forests of southwestern Missouri, passing 100 mile views and heeding reminders of Amish horse and buggies in the area, to arrive at Pineville, the largest location of McDonald County Library (MCL).
Near the elementary school and ball field, it’s a sturdy one level brick structure. The ramp next to the wheelchair van parking leads to a stylish plot sporting old fashioned streetlamps and inviting green benches, perfect for gazing at turkey buzzards circling in the bright blue sky.
On one side of the small glass foyer stands a case of discards and spindle of magazines for sale. The other side has a basket for the paperback exchange under a bulletin board for community notices.
Just beyond the water cooler at an attractive curved circulation desk dotted by pumpkins and seasonal tchotchkes, Katharine, Hazel and Velta greeted us warmly. I mentioned Director Amy Wallain had gave me permission to use my camera but had warned me to avoid a short closure for some upgrades. We chatted about the next stage of the rehab. In the last couple of years they’ve replaced shelving, ceilings, lights, carpets and flooring, renovated the public and employee bathrooms and the director’s office, and put cabinets and countertops in a staff room cut from a former reading enclosure.
Though Pineville, the county seat, has only about 700 people, their service population is 23,000 so MCL has branches in Noel and Southwest City and is open six days a week. Via a reciprocal arrangement, visitors from Newton County, on the northern border, are given borrowing privileges.
Twice yearly booksales include audiovisual and children’s items plus unneeded fixtures quickly snapped up by bargain hunting residents or given to teachers at no cost. Patrons play Scrabble, have painting, embroidery and knitting classes, get basic computer instruction, go to monthly book discussions and check out DVDs stored in miniature trunks behind the desk. Missouri Libraries 2 Go gives access to downloadable e-mags, e-books and e-audio books.
In the Reading and Study Room, old photographs of buildings complement the stacks of reference tomes and cushy chairs have flat black surfaces for comfortable note taking while you do research. The space doubles as a function venue and has a big TV and to keep the noise in, a door with cheery ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns stickers.
Pretty relief sculptures adorn the walls above the clean lines of blond wood furniture.
The Facebook page reports an IMLS grant for system wide wifi printing and a presentation from a Civil War expert. Shots of hay bales decorated by churches and local organizations let you vote on your favorite, be it a toasting marshmallow, pink nosed bull, cheery bumblebee or a winking sunflower. Hear about job openings or watch videos of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newest facility and rapt kids enjoying juggling mimes. When one of the villages had severe flooding last June a post wished them well and waived late fees. Customers send appreciative comments and love and from the great reviews are obviously proud of MCL and even use the page to announce funerals and suggest donations be made to the library in lieu of flowers.
The iWrite Celebration! contest for adolescents brought in local authors and awarded cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners in three age categories. MCL often teams up with regional entities so adults finishing summer reading enter a drawing to win cool stuff like a BBQ grill utensil set, succulents and wind chimes. YA’s get gift certificates, movie tickets and more, all generously provided by stores in the vicinity.
For last year’s space themed program older folks had word searches and a NASA scientist from the area spoke on Starry Nights. Teens had their own evening event, drop in trivia and scheduled times to hangout, socialize and compete at games while children had a popsicle party, learned about moon rocks and Galactic Galaxies, listened to music and humorous tales, made paper airplanes and went to astronaut boot camp.
The kid’s section is great for curling up on a beanbag in a tepee, playing with the Brio train set or dropping tokens into the tracks on a Rube Goldberg whiteboard. Padded blue cubes allow for adjustable seating and raccoons, birds and foxes peer from the limbs of birch trees stencilled on doors and the end of the face out easy reads console.
Little ones from the Head Start center and elementary pupils come in for Thursday story times or take field trips for a picnic lunch at a corn maze and a college theatrical production of “The Cat in the Hat.”
Educator cards mean no fines and extended loan periods. Meet-ups for homeschoolers cover STEAM subjects and explore emojis. Put on puppet shows, try out a real fire hose and climb into an engine, do the Lego design challenge, go to a children’s book giveaway or use crayons and hairdryers to make exploding rainbows. At Christmas, mail letters to Santa or pose on his lap and get a free photo and teddy bear generously provided by the telephone company.
The end of the line of public terminals has neon green headphones and colorful pint sized spindle back chairs at an AWE game computer so youngsters can immerse themselves in the action onscreen.
At Pineville there are nine adult stations, six Chrome books and laptops. The website has a form for requests, highlights new arrivals and upcoming releases and promotes an Amazon partnership so over four percent of your spending is given back to the library. Subscribe to weekly email updates or search Ebsco databases, HeritageQuest, What’s Next or Tumblebook’s animated offerings for kids up to the third grade.
Board books are within reach of curious kids as is a cupboard full of toddler toys, crayons and drawing supplies and a rack of gigantic storytime selections. To the right, proclamations in Juvenile Fiction advise youths to Explore, Imagine and Dream and a carousel holds recent acquisitions.
No appointment is necessary for Tuesday technology help and there are lots of fun adult crafts. Create intriguing holiday trinkets, burlap wreaths, and journals or pour candles at a glitter votive workshop for Valentine’s Day. Attend lectures on gardening in small spaces or identifying wild edible plants and listen to an honored guest speak on MCL’s impact at an early morning catered breakfast for business leaders. On Facebook I spot photos of seniors showing off sketches of windmills and farming country and a notice for after school art sessions.
In the Genealogy nook by the new microfilm machine, cartons of fiche and volumes of regional histories, bound censuses and family records pack the shelves spilling into the main collection where big flat boxes house old gazettes. The system has compiled scans of high school yearbooks going back to the 1940’s (a tremendous effort which I’m sure is greatly appreciated by former students) and an index of newspaper obituaries. A web based Media Archive has some death notices and images of headstones from district cemeteries as well as miscellaneous documents like marriage licenses and they link to official deeds, tax liens, veteran discharge papers and ownership data and the state historical society.
Multihued bags full of props teaching shapes, numbers, animals and various topics sit by simple puzzles for tiny tots.
MCL delivers loads of entertainment opportunities to its denizens. Adorable pictures of tiny Easter egg hunters, smiling participants romping in the park, eating delicious snacks and dipping into a chocolate fountain abound as do ones of a junior high agricultural group tending the gorgeous landscaping out front. Other young volunteers painted Noel’s computer lab.
What a pleasant and welcoming place!