Stunning Sedona Public Library

Considered truly mystical by many, Sedona, Arizona is a land of incredible color and timeless scenery. 

A lovely red sandstone facility with windows reflecting the surrounding buttes and mesas, the Sedona Public Library echoes that magical feel. 

A statue of Sedona Miller Schnebly (the city’s namesake) by Susan Kliewer welcomes patrons to this striking building.  Out front, benches, yucca and desert plants are surrounded by a layered rock ledge perfect for appreciating the sculpture of two girls reading on what looks like a branch coming out of a real tree and “Of Fears and Dreams”, a mixed media piece by Red Rock High students.

Enjoy the expansive view through plate glass windows in the lobby which has Shaker furniture and a cart for the physically challenged to borrow.

Just inside, the Friends of the Sedona Public Library handle the huge booksale area which has signs by category (World History, Westerns…), multimedia items and face out display racks for the most popular authors.

Volunteers shelve and run the checkout desk and internet area.   Accounting for nearly half of staff hours, more than 125 volunteers, from teens on up, help keep the place going.  In fact, volunteers started the library in 1958.   

Paid employees include Reference, ILL, Collection Development, and some Children’s, Circulation and Tech Services staff as well as the Latino Services Librarian and the Director, Virginia Volkman.

It’s a beautiful, busy place with lots of plants – a cactus garden with Christmas overtones lies under jewel like stained glass windows and behind several cases with information about the quilt show.

They have wifi and 28 adult computers including two sandwiched between towering pillars.  Additionally, eight laptops are used for programs only.  You can pick up your own holds and the big community room with a drop down movie screen can be rented even when the library is closed. 

In lieu of a bulletin board there’s a big poster style book to leaf through for information on the many events – free movies, chamber music, tea parties, meditation class, ESL, Spanish conversation, ebook workshops and programs on subjects running the gamut from healthier living to near death experiences.

Exquisite hanging quilts from the annual show draw the eye to the lofty wood plank ceiling and decorative trusses.  Natural light from a row of high windows makes these marvelous creations translucent and to celebrate AZ’s 2012 centennial there’s a special display of vintage quilts this year. 

A shady outdoor patio in back amidst the Piñon pine provides a chance to see passing wildlife. 

Or sit by the soaring fireplace under a dazzling chandelier with a cozy front row seat of an approaching storm. 

Besides this location, SPL has a service center in the nearby village of Oak Creek.  It’s got public computers, wifi and a small browsing collection and you can pick up holds and return things there. 

The library is actually a private nonprofit and the website has a donation page which lets benefactors know that contributions are tax deductible and spells out what items can be accepted.

Though Sedona and both Coconino and Yavapai Counties pay for regular library operations, all assets (the materials collection, technology, furniture, building etc.) are funded by private donations. 

SPL is part of the Yavapai Library Network.  More than 50 libraries share most materials.  New books with pink tape are the reward for people who come in for a visit.  Essentially, YLN works like one system and customers can place holds to be picked up at any location. 

They’ve got numerous databases including Auto Repair Center, Heritage Quest, Mango Languages and Reference USA plus downloadable ebooks and audio books with specific instructions for using with Kindles, iPads, Nooks etc.  There’s also a Spanish version of the website and you can access a librarian by phone or an email form, or follow SPL via Twitter, Facebook or RSS feed.  

The YA materials shelves are below this fascinating art installation and include manga and anime, but Daryl, the Assistant Children’s Librarian acknowledged they would love a separate YA space and are working to add one. 

Another indoor garden is next to a small meeting room where four sets of people were playing chess.  There’s a topographical map case and they have Playaways plus video games that the Teen Advisory Group uses for events. 

Not surprisingly for such an artistic community, there are paintings all over with many works paying homage to AZ’s amazing skies and nearby geological landmarks. A large reading area has a tall CD carousel and a substantial collection of magazines and newspapers, while a display case houses a doll collection and crèche. 

With the same ruddy stone walls as the exterior and wood accents in teal shades, the interior colors have a southwestern feel.  Mountains and red rock formations are visible everywhere.  

But perhaps the most delightful section is the Children’s Area with its portable puppet theatre and army of stuffed bears.  A charming bench backs up to an enchanting storytime area with semicircular upholstered seating and huge pillows on the floor where little ones can sit.

Above this seat, muted lights are interspersed with little windows; transparent cutouts in different colors turn the lamps into captivating works of art.

The kids have four big screen computers plus two AWE workstations with multicolored keys.   There’s a parenting section, a case full of toys and storage cupboards decorated with children’s artwork near a sink.

The website has TumbleBooks with over 300 fiction and nonfiction ebooks for kids, plus language learning, read alouds, puzzles and games. 

I chatted with Daryl at the large rounded desk with built in shelves beneath the counter and she mentioned that their storytimes are sometimes so big they need to use the community room. 

Young ones have a plethora of programs to choose from.  Database training classes are great for sixth graders learning how to do research, infants and toddlers have Tiny Tales with stories, music, activities and signing.  For older preschoolers, there’s bilingual English/Spanish storytelling with music, puppets and crafts.  They even hold dance parties.

The library is essential to the community – a recent Sedona Citizen Survey showed that 88% of the inhabitants used its services within the past year with 63% using it three or more times – a testament to the creativity, generosity and hard work of the residents, volunteers and staff.

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