I made it over to my newly-remodeled library yesterday, the Merriam Park branch of the St. Paul Public Library. I didn’t have time for a long visit, but I did get to wander around and check out the most obvious changes. I wasn’t organized enough to take pictures either, but the truly curious can gaze at the St. Paul Public Library’s photos.
While you can still see the basics of the old layout—the stacks are still mostly where they always were and some of the old furniture is still in use—the new layout is more open. The self-checkout computers were moved from the circulation desk to their own little island. This makes sense as the circ desk itself seems to have been trimmed down a bit and turned into the reference desk, which means reference is now closer to the front door and more obvious. The old reference desk has been magically transformed into a circle of cushy chairs. I’m happy to see cushy chairs—I’m sure the library had comfy chairs somewhere before the remodel, but most of my memories are of sitting at tables to work on my computer in chairs that were anything but “cushy” or “comfy.” And some of the chairs have cup holders—I take it that means I can bring beverages into the library? Another change: a new feature for those of us who haul our own computers, tablets, etc. to the library rather than use theirs. There’s a whole table for laptop users, complete with electric outlets and a privacy screen. Please let it be low enough that I can use it without needing to bring a booster seat with me.
The library is planning to celebrate the reopening next Saturday with a party featuring “live music and chickens.” I did have to read that a couple of times before it sank in. I may have to stop by just to see what the connection is between chickens and remodeled libraries. I suppose it’s too much to hope that I’ll be able to bring home a few freshly-laid eggs.
So I’m deliriously happy about all this, right? Yes and no. I like all the improvements I’ve seen. This branch deserved a face-lift and it got a good one. I plan to try out that new laptop table sometime and sit in a cushy chair. But while you can ask for help, checking materials in and out is now primarily the patron’s responsibility. This is great for privacy, but I’m guessing this was mainly arranged to free up the former circ staff for other duties—since the library had to reduce hours system-wide this year for budgetary reasons, I doubt they have the funding to hire much additional staff. Those reduced hours are going to make it a challenge to try out that laptop table. My best time for hanging out is Sunday afternoons, and this branch is closed on Sundays. Maybe I’ll drop by on my next day off. Maybe I’ll even bring a beverage.
This post is the product of a Sunday afternoon spent in a café. Not, alas, in the remodeled library.