This is such a nice library! The design, the services, the materials – all have been designed to connect to their patrons. That care taken in libraries for the needs of patrons is always impressive! On this trip I was escorted around the building by Vi Bergquist, CIO for SCTCC – and Treasurer for the CMLE Board.
If you do not think “comfortable seating” in a library is important – you are missing an important element of good service! In a research study I did across the state of Illinois, this came up as one of the big things patrons wanted. In this setting, the furniture not only looks well designed and comfortable, but they have thought about user needs. You can see the entrance just behind the couch; these high backs help to block out noise and to let students continue to converse and work together. Great planning like this leads to great results for patrons!
I absolutely loved this! As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I know some of the struggles veterans and their families face. The work this school is doing to reach out to veterans in the community is truly impressive! This table, part of a national tradition of remembrance, was set up in the common area, for everyone to see and to reflect. They have a Veteran Services department in the school, which can really help out veterans and family members. A couple of meaningful awards are listed on their page:
- “The Military Times Best for Vets distinction recognizes St. Cloud Technical & Community College for its commitment to providing opportunities to America’s veterans.”
- “G.I. Jobs, the premier magazine for military personnel transitioning into civilian life, has awarded St. Cloud Technical & Community College the designation of Military Friendly School® for the third year in a row.”
As someone who has spent the last decade teaching in assorted classrooms, I approached this one with the eye of a professional. And I was so impressed! Look at those student chairs – they have wheels to allow easy movement for small group discussion in class, they have cup-holders in the base to avoid spilling in the library, the desks are adjustable and can be either right or left-handed (just swing them around back). These are just great for encouraging student learning. The classroom is also equipped with assorted technologies to provide a good learning experience. I kind of wanted to hang out and attend a class, but there was more to see!
One of the important offerings in a library is always going to be computers. These computer desks were built for the library, and Vi suggested adding in the dividers. The translucent material lets light filter through so it still feels spacious; and it gives people some privacy as they work online. Some of the other furniture in the library was purchased from the MINNCOR program. “As the Minnesota Department of Corrections industry program, MINNCOR Industries maintains a delicate balance of providing works skills training to offenders and premium products to customers while maintaining financial self-sufficiency. Receiving no state subsidies, taxpayer dollars or grants, MINNCOR runs a contemporary, cohesive, self-sufficient business operation, featuring 18 diverse product lines.” The furniture looked lovely and well made; and working with state or local vendors is always desirable for libraries. Does your library need furniture? You might check their library furniture page!
Of course in libraries we have expanded our services to include so many additional things, but books are always one of our staple services and our foundation. So it was great to see these nice books displayed so well. Notice the shelves are not too high- accessible for patrons in wheelchairs. This is a fairly new location for the library; and as you are planning a new space or a new building, it is always good to consider ADA requirements to be sure all your materials and services are available to everyone. You can find a few basic ideas from the ALA. Vi mentioned the large number of eBooks that are also available to students, dramatically swelling their collection numbers – always good! Ensuring patrons can get to your material, no matter the day or time, is one of the benefits of connecting technology to service.
Every library has at least one or two special collections that really set them apart. At SCTCC one of the very special things they have is a Holocaust collection of books, posters, and other materials like this concentration camp diorama. This was donated by a retired faculty member Joy Sjoberg, who also is available to do presentations for library patrons, and for school visits. The material available here is interesting in itself; and also serves as just another value provided by the library!
There were so many other neat things to see here, I literally do not have time and space to list them all. You just need to stop by the library for yourself and admire it all! It is hard for our members to leave their own libraries to visit everyone else around the system; but hopefully these reports inspire you to reach out to your colleagues to talk about the things they are doing. CMLE Headquarters is always available to help build some networks and partnerships across the system. We can all be stronger in our service when we work together!
Thanks to Vi and Patricia for showing me around! And if I have not been to your library yet, let’s get connected on a date and time so I can admire your great things too!