Fabulous Flagstaff

Flagstaff perches at a lofty 7,000′, just a few miles from skiing at the Arizona Snowbowl on Humphreys Peak (12,637′), the states’ highest mountain.  It’s a great location with four seasons, but not too far from the warmer climes of Sedona and Phoenix.  National Forest surrounds the area and there’s a vast urban trail system. 

Known for the Lowell Observatory where they discovered Pluto…

…it’s bisected by Route 66 and has an historic downtown where Amtrak drops off passengers at the old Tudor style train station and there’s a park with a curved wooden bridge and the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library

A lovely wood, stone and glass structure with drive up book drops, it’s fronted by trees, juniper bushes, crushed red rock and bike racks (despite the snow I noticed lots of bikers in town).   

The sky lit lobby has lots of informative available from a wall mounted rack and a case with locked cabinets for storage.  Conveniently, the entrance to the community room (also used for storytimes) is here too.

Inside, above the A/V return, two big screen TVs promote programs etc. and plexiglas holders everywhere advertise library services, book clubs, lectures and movies.

Opened in 1987, the 34,500 square foot building is constructed of domestic and malapai (aka malpais) stone – a rounded volcanic rock used in many local houses.  The sun streams in from a center arch skylight and enormous windows with views of the nearby San Francisco Peaks.

An extensive Friends of the Library (FOL) book sale is right by the entry and includes magazines, paperback spindles and even LP’s (for collectors?).  The bustling central area houses 43 adult internet stations and bar like seating for wifi users.

With four fireplaces, including this two sided adobe beauty with a tapestry and cat sculptures, it’s designed to suggest a ski lodge.  It really does, albeit one with a Native American feel, as there are many Navajo rugs and baskets on the walls.  In fact their logo is a Hopi design that has been used since prehistoric times and this year on Cinco de Mayo,  they will a Diné drum troop (as well as food, lectures and events to represent the Latino community) to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Wood tables and slatted chairs sit beside tall Norwegian potted pines and there are framed aerial photographs and topographical maps of significant areas everywhere.  There are several study rooms, including one reserved for people using the Kurzweil Reading Machine.  Lots of other adaptive equipment is available including a walker, wheelchair, CCTV print enlarger, voice amplifier, TDD, Braille typewriter and a study carrel with wheelchair access.

A huge music store style CD area by self checkout is sorted by classical, holiday etc.  There’s a sizeable new books shelf and they lend video games.  As befits a library serving an active population, they have Delorme gazetteers for each US state in Reference.  Residents can also research topics from home via their online databases and the exhaustive collection from the AZ State Library and they have downloadable ebooks. 

One showcase has items from Flagstaff’s sister cities in Australia, Taiwan and Mexico while another promotes the FOL sponsored book club kits which contain eight copies of the book, author info and discussion questions.  A patron exhibition changes monthly – sign up to show your favorite photos and tell the community a bit about yourself.  There’s a display of things the library sells – book bags, cups, flash drives, fanny packs, security locks, a cookbook etc.

A circular checkout desk is near a large paperback area categorized by romance, mystery, sci-fi, westerns etc.  The DVD, audiobook (inc. Playaways) and magazine/periodical collections are also generous and there are cabinets full of back issues of newspapers.  Spanish speakers have audio and video options as well as books. 

Since astronomy is a local passion, a space devoted to the Lowell Observatory has photos of Percival under a giant telescope, and a quote from him.  In the computer lab big pictures of galaxies loom above patrons taking Introduction to Twitter (or Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, computers, email, internet, databases and catalog) classes.

A quiet reading area with woven crafts and art uses a glass covered map of Canyonlands NP in Utah (the CO River winds its way through Canyonlands before reaching the Grand Canyon, just 90 minutes away) as a table top. 

And speaking of art, the Children’s Room has some eye catching pieces.  It’s like an enchanted wood where fantastical creatures spy on you from above.  Local artist, David Grandon, painted a rainforest mural on one wall.

Staffer Holland was a font of information about the life size boy riding a bright blue bicycle, dragon, dinosaurs, soaring eagle, Trojan Horse, musical skeletons, castle and tree house.  Many were created by local author S.D. (Steve) Nelson’s middle school art classes.

Perhaps this Day of the Dead effort was an homage to the library’s ghost.

A white Siberian tiger reads a book above four AWE workstations (they have nine regular kids computers too).  Stuffed animals abound – one shelf has teddy bears sliding down a snow slope on a toboggan and a giant Merry Chris…Moose stands above the PACs.   There are English and Spanish book/audio combos and a children’s book sale. 

The play area has a mini puppet theatre, toys, a play kitchen with microwave, a children of the world rug and scattered cushions to sit or kneel on.  Cubbyhole board book shelving can be restacked to make new configurations and there are puzzles, games and blocks and both child and adult rocking chairs by the hearth. 

Kids and teens have a host of programs to choose from – tea parties, sleepovers 
sign language classes, family movies, an Anime club, teen and tween book clubs and Wii/Xbox as well as board gaming days.

Both the Children’s and YA areas have an eclectic combination of sturdy painted furniture -a checkers table and old benches make a nice reading space by the kid’s magazines. 

But I think the Teen Zone (don’t enter unless you’re old enough!  A crimson floor mat gives notice – “Teen Zone  Ages 12-18 only Past this Point.”) is my favorite place of all.

It’s just perfect – their Teen Advisory Group planned the entire area.  They raised the funds, selected the furniture, made the rules for their space and painted it in shades of dark purple and blue.

My favorite piece is the loft bed – what a fabulous and totally original reading spot.  It was built for a school but their ceilings were too low so the fire marshal wouldn’t allow it, and they donated it to the teen area. 

Besides their comfy old couch, rocking and easy chairs, hassocks, cushions and pillows, there’s a table to rest your weary dogs on and one for chess.  They also have four computers, lockers and manga.

And yet one more really cool thing – they made the dividing curtain of library cards that couldn’t be used because of a missing “b” –  library was misspelled as lirary.

What a creative and welcoming library!

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