Posts Tagged ‘Wall words’

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A place for everything…and everything in its place

May 16, 2012

Prior to our library expansion, we had many issues with noise in our library.  Because everything was crowded, there was zero ability to allocate space appropriate to activities.  If you wanted to study in a quiet area, you were generally out of luck because right next to you was a person having a conversation, a child crying, or some other sound that was guaranteed to disrupt your concentration.

In our newly renovated library, we have an area dedicated to quiet.   We try hard to keep the atmosphere peaceful and serene, perfect for studying, reading, and contemplating.  We don’t ban computers; many people sit at the tables with their laptops or tablets and quietly work.  But we do ask people to turn off the ringer on their cell phones.

Here is the text of our sign posted in the area.

Designated QUIET AREA

This area of our library was built in 1916 and has been restored as much as possible to that period of time.  Take a step back into the past and enjoy it as if it were 1916!  We appreciate your honoring these rules for this area:

  • No cell phones please  (meaning either ringers or conversations)
  • Only the quietest of conversations among the  people here (think “shhhh”)
  • Laptops are allowed (yes, that’s anachronistic but with all these tables we recognize it’s a good place for computer work)
  • No sound allowed from computers, iPods or any other device that didn’t exist in 1916

We also recently put up some wall words in this area.  Here’s a photo:

Longhand for “Shhhh!”

I’ve always loved that quotation because for me libraries inspire reverence.    Libraries can’t always deliver on the quiet part and it’s open to debate whether or not they should.  But if you have a building that is well-planned and large enough for your community, it’s possible to have a mixture of quiet and noisy spaces.  A library should have a place where you can gather, discuss, and connect, a place where you can bring your baby even if you know crying is likely, and a place where you can sit alone and dream about tomorrow.

Not only do we have different needs at different times in our own lives, but we are not all the same.  Over the years, I’ve had people leave the library complaining about the noise on the same day someone else would mention to me that the they didn’t feel comfortable bringing their 2-year-old to the library because it was “too quiet an atmosphere.”

One of the best things about our library expansion and renovation is that our building is now able to accommodate the widely varied needs of our citizens.    It’s comforting to know that whatever the future holds, one of our library’s most important contributions is to offer a physical space for the crying baby, the cramming student, the scholarly thinker, the social connector, the happy retiree, the driven genealogist, and the auto mechanic on a mission for that electrical diagram.

We have much to offer our citizens in terms of community space, much like what’s discussed in this interesting piece entitled:  Libraries that matter.  As libraries continue to reinvent themselves, the role of the physical space seems ever more important.

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Surround yourself with Lorine’s words

May 5, 2012

As promised, I’m sharing the wall words recently installed in our Niedecker Room.

The words in the Niedecker Room are Lorine’s, of course.  A verse in the poem entitled  —  Linnaeus in Lapland, these words manage to evoke a mood and provide a glimpse into Lorine’s story.  They are positioned perfectly all the way around the room and when you enter your eyes will be drawn to them.  As you circle the room absorbing it visually, it’s likely your mind will be wrapping itself around the words.  First you’ll think: “Where do I start reading?”  Then: “What does it mean?”  Finally:  “Where can I read more?”

The photos don’t begin to capture the beauty of  Lorine’s carefully chosen words brought to life on the walls in our library.  Please note that I’m not showing *all* the wall words here.  To see them all you’ll just have to visit!  A great big thanks to Ann Engelman for the idea, Amy Lutzke for finding the words, Mary Kay Grunow for tackling the layout and design, and Greg Misfeldt and Jeff Armstrong for the installation.

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Sequestered nooks everywhere you look

April 17, 2012

Last week I was speedy enough to catch the installation of our wall words with my camera.  Not that I needed to be speedy; the task was as tedious as expected.  Measuring and positioning, then holding and affixing, all while onlookers were holding their collective breath in the hopes that it would be straight when finished was no small feat.   Kudos to Greg and Jeff for their diligence and willingness to listen to jokes about spelling and questions from the worried library director (that would be me) about whether or not we could reposition things if a second try was needed.  (The answer?  No do-overs possible.)

"Hey, if there's a misspelling, do you think anybody will notice?"

Installation complete!  I’m happy to report that it’s positioned perfectly on the wall, absolutely level, spelled correctly, and…well…simply stunning.

Thank you Greg and Jeff!

So why did we choose this quote from Longfellow?

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books.

Well, because it reminds us about the importance libraries as a place.  In this digital age, I think we are wise to remember the role libraries play as a public place for people who want to settle themselves into a sequestered nook and read, think, and learn.   Recently there was an interesting discussion about just that at Will Manley’s blog which you can find here.  (If you read the comments, you’ll see I made a comment about our library.)   Will Manley is one of my favorite librarians.  He actually started his career in Burlington, Wisconsin, spent many years in the profession and eventually became the city manager in Tempe, Arizona before his retirement.   Irreverent yet thoughtful, if you want to learn about libraries and life, his blog is well worth reading.

Back to the point.  We’ve got more wall words coming.   Stay tuned to see which nooks and crannies will be next.

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