After the Library Planning seminar on Friday we had the opportunity to tour an amazing historic library in downtown Pasadena. This is a marvelous library was dedicated in 1927 and remains with the same look and feel of the year. It is a beautiful building and while I could go on and on about every room, I’ll spare you the details and the long drawn out blog entry (that this library actually deserves) and just give you the highlights of the building.
The entrance to the library is located at the dead end of Garfield St. making for a spectacular view of the library from the street into the main entrance. Walking up the steps leads into a small atrium or patio area with great stonework, a fountain, seating area, and beautiful classic architecture of the time period that the library was built in.
Even more fabulous is the entrance into the library itself. Walking through the timeless dark wood doors and into the main lobby I felt as if I was yanked from the 21st century and thrown back the mid 1800s. I immediately wanted a pipe and coat and simply discuss the pressing issues of the century with other sporting fellows over the latest edition of the New Yorker. beginning. But I was sharply brought back to reality when I noticed the computers on the circulation desks and the patrons with laptops shining under the old time lamplights on the worktables. It was a marvelous blend of olden Americana and modern amenities. I was fairly thrilled from the
As I walked around the building I became more and more aware of the technology that was almost grafted into the building in an almost cyborg (think “The Borg” from Star Trek). It was done throughout the library in a brilliant way. I’m going to have a hard time describing each of the places that I found that had computers and technology built into the soul of the library itself so I’ll just post the pictures.
My next favorite room was the Children’s area of the library. Again, the building was showing its classic design and attention to details that I had noticed in the rest of library. As I walked in I was greeted with marvelous vaulted ceilings with hanging lights that accented the room even though they must have been installed many years later as I’m not sure that the original lights could have possibly remained functional. There was a giant fireplace of the variety that I’m sure Hansel and Gretel would have pushed the Witch into that was decorated with figurines carved into the stone. At first I was a little worried about little naked children carved into a children’s library features (this would never pass nowadays) but as I looked closer I realized it was Peter Pan!! There was Captain Hook, the Crocodile, the pirate ship, Wendy, Peter, Toodles, and everyone! Absolutely gorgeously carved into the details of this fireplace. I hope my photos do it justice (but I’m sure they don’t).
Of course, to be fair… I do have to make two complaints mostly because nobody’s perfect. The first was simply regarding the children’s collection. I am a HUGE fan of the importance of weeding a collection and their children’s picture book and early reader collection must have a mean date of the early 80s. Of course that’s just speculation because I don’t have the data, but if you look again at the pictures you will notice that the shelves are packed end to end with books with no space for meaningful in-shelf displays or even comfortable browse ability. Many (I’m going to maybe say most) of the books were dirty, torn, old, grungy, dirty, and basically on the borderline of being unsafe due to various contaminants. So my only change would be a massive fundraising by the friends to replace and HEAVILY weed the children’s collection. To be honest, I would almost eliminate 65-70% of this collection with plans to buy back 35-40% with the Friends fundraising and the extra space would be used to “sell” the books from the shelves with more meaningful in-shelf displays. But what a problem to have? Too many books?
My second was the computer center located in the basement. I can’t be too hard on the situation as they are dealing with a historical building and they’re providing a service for a high-demand need in the best way they can. However, the poor people are squeezed into the room like a bunch of chickens. There is no room for side-by-side collaboration and in retrospect (I didn’t notice it then) there were NO TEENS in the computer room. Who has that problem in their library? But I think, once again, these issues are stemming from the problems associated with the building and they can’t be blamed with the situation they’re in.
Overall, I loved this library and the kind of classic, warm feelings it seems to cultivate in my librarian soul. Aside from the two (almost non-problems) problem areas this was a fantastic space to tour and if you get a chance to take a look, I suggest you stop by. I’ll leave you with a picture of this device I found in back of the library that I’ve never seen before, but if you can identify it and let me know it’s (I’m sure sinister) purpose is, I would appreciate it. Thanks team.