Popular Port Townsend

On the northeasternmost corner of the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend is almost completely surrounded by water and has amazing views in four directions of the Olympic Mountains, Vancouver Island’s peaks in Canada, shy Mount Rainier to the south and northern Washington’s Cascade Range.

Home to over 9000 people, weekends are busy as the town is a quick escape from Seattle via the Bainbridge Island Ferry.  Quite hilly, it’s a neat little place that resembles a New England seaside village (though not many of them are close to huge mountains like those seen from Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge just minutes away).

There are a number of historic buildings, including the graceful Carnegie library which bears a startling resemblance to the Fukagawa library in Tokyo that I visited in April. While that facility is undergoing renovation, Port Townsend Public Library temporarily resides in the old Mountain View Middle School complex by ball fields, a park, the YMCA and the police station.

I think this is the first library I’ve written about that wasn’t in its intended location and it was interesting to see how they’ve made the best of the situation.  There are two parts, with the kids in one section and the older folks a few (quiet) feet away via a covered walkway.

Though Beverly in Children’s told me they’ve only been there two months, so it’s a work in progress, I was amazed by how enticing they’ve made it.  I love the hula hoops hanging from the ceiling and the colorful kid’s artwork on the walls.  A “Sense of Place” contest provided many of the pictures – children created representations of their town for it.   This one depicts the old Carnegie Library front and center, right on top of a boat.

On the other side of the room there’s a play area with colorful stenciled wood seats, sturdy puzzles on the tables, toys and stuffed animals, and a comfortable chair with a teddy bear for guardians.  A large painting with bumblebees and flowers promises summer will soon arrive in the abnormally cool northwest as does the information on the Summer Reading Program, “Movin’ & Groovin’ @ Your Library!”  Read, be read to or listen to eight titles and get a free book and a chance to win one of three new bikes.  SRP’s theme is intended to encourage fitness, so there’s a bicycle repair workshop and two field days with plenty of physical activity and healthy snacks.  And there are lots of other programs – arts and crafts, book events etc. and a magic show started the festivities.

Young Adults  get a chance to win ice cream store gift certificates, a messenger bag or a bike with their “Own the Night!” SRP, and they can even get credit for attending an archery session or the grand prize drawing (where they all get banana splits).

Their space is with the adults over by the pool – as you walk in you smell chlorine and a great Loch Ness monster style mosaic creeps down the staircase while other dragon representations adorn the walls.

Though part of this section must have been a lunch room at one time, they’ve made it very welcoming, and except for a few anomalies, its former purpose isn’t obvious.

Materials at PTPL are chipped and they will have self check soon.  Adults have a large computer room and ten workstations to choose from, including ADA, research/job search and express internet and there’s wifi.  Children have three terminals and teens two, with those needing the units for homework getting priority.

The web site was quite rich with full name/title/contact info for all the staff (yay!), library podcasts, reviews, a bunch of new materials lists (fiction and nonfiction by age group, DVDs by genre, audio books and CDs) and several blogs including a teen one promoting a zombie-feltie making event and one where YA’s create scenes from their favorite books or movies with Peeps 😉

Director Theresa Percy has a blog about the Carnegie library project there, while this display keeps it at the forefront of patrons’ minds.

Such a stately edifice and its wood trimmed reading room is gorgeous!

PTPL offers book club kits, audio and e book downloads as well as a wide assortment of databases and suggested links arranged by category.  Two meeting rooms are available at the adjacent Library Learning Center and volunteers provide Books on Wheels to the physically challenged and elderly.  There’s also a Books to Grow On delivery system for child care providers.  Appropriately for this beach town, they have a 2000 item Maritime Resource Center.

There’s a big magazine collection, paperback spindles, CD’s in flip through cases by genre, manga, graphic novels, those lovely green shaded lamps reminiscent of libraries of yore in Reference, and heaps of programs.  Kids can read to Rover and go to baby lapsits and storytimes.  Adults get to choose from book chats, fiber crafting circles, speakers, author visits, films, classes and even a Haiku group.

Teens can text a librarian 24/7 via Multnomah County’s Homework Help (Oregon!  a good example of states working together) and they’ve got their own facebook page with some cool zombie and alien pics advertising events, movies and writer visits. They can also attend a film making workshop or go on a five mile hike.

Decorated with nice old solid wood tables, cushy seating and a stuffed black leather couch enjoyed by a laptop user simultaneously listening to his iPod, this area may have been a stage, as some of the sides are raised up a step or two.  It’s surrounded by storage closets – such a valuable commodity in libraries – and has a Teen Area near the piano.

Everyone was so friendly and didn’t even mind having their photos taken.  Info Services staffers, Kiesy, (ILL) and Lynn (Circulation) at checkout (once the kitchen) laughingly pointed out the dishwasher behind them in the shot (isn’t the cafeteria tray rail the perfect place for patrons to rest their materials as they wait?).  And they proudly let me know that PTPL’s been rated a three star library and in seven of the last ten or so years has held the record as the busiest library, per capita, in Washington state.

What a fun place to visit – they truly make the most of their resources.

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