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Monday, March 30, 2015

Library of the Year


Library of the Year



A.  Part of the space station circling earth? 
B.  The inner workings of a robotic eye??
C.  A four story high part of a library?
D.  None of the above.   

Logically, since this is a blog on libraries, the picture must have something to do with libraries. But the rational side of our brain cannot connect the picture above with anything we have ever seen in a library.
     When you walk in the door of the Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL) on Rose Street you will see this four story high structure that lights up the glass panels. I don't understand all the workings of this sunlight driven display but here is the architecture that makes it possible.
     It all starts 80 feet above the ground floor with a skylight.  The rainbow effect is created by the holographic panels that line the inside of the skylight. Although my camera thought the ceiling was black it really wasn't. (see below)
Glass panels below the skylight catch the "rainbow" and glow in various colors.  The glass panels shown to the left are part of a large domed structure.

The picture below was taken from the balconey outside the administrative offices, 3rd floor.  

Below the dome is a circular opening in the second and first floors for light to shine all the way to the lowest level.


Peeking over the edge of the dome we can see the second floor with rows of computers and access to other parts of this large library.

Moving down to the second floor we can see the bottom side of the dome of glass panels.


And overhead there is a multi-colored display..

Here is a view from the lowest level looking at the tables on the 1st floor with the opening to the 2nd floor above.

Now the picture above makes some sense. We can see the opening in the second floor and the thin
white ring is the opening in the top of the dome of glass panels. I know what all the parts are but I still don't understand how it all works. But I don't need to. I can just enjoy how it looks.
     While the light display is huge and fascinating, it is not the most important part of the library, and it is not the reason KPL was selected as the Library of the Year in 2002. There were three factors that judges considered when selecting the library of the year.
     1. Service to the community
     2. Creative and innovative community programs
     3. Leadership in creating programs that other
         libraries can use.
The Central library has several well done programs in operation, such as the Local history room. 

The genealogy collection is housed here. This section was recently redone. The collection is unusually large compared to other similar sized libraries. Here are cabinets of Microfilm of years of local papers, county records and shelves of books that include other counties and other states. The common sense organization makes retrieval of information very easy.

Attractive book cases hold the large collection of genealogical and local history books.

 If you noticed in the earlier picture of the Local History Room there was a man seated at a desk. His name is Jerry and he is one of the reasons the KPL is such a great place.  I asked a question about my family surname and he roared into action. Within a few seconds he had located a dozen or so names of people I wanted to research. I did not know there were any of my family in the Kalamazoo area. He demonstrated how to locate references and use the Microfilm. He found books, made several good suggestions and stayed 15 minutes past his time to leave to be sure I was able to access the information I wanted. Somebody at KPL should give Jerry a pat on the back. During my time at KPL I found the same helpful attitude with any of the staff I met.
       The children's library was wonderful. I found
many fun things to photograph.

 There are lovely stained glass hangings in the windows.

Turning structural columns into trees is always fun. But I had never seen Jack in the beanstalk with a giants boot coming through the ceiling.

 This gate way was a fun addition. The pink stone look was repeated in other places.

Next to the Queen of Hearts chair...

...and by wall pictures of fairy tales... 

...and even by these lions guarding a window.

The colorful "story Hour" room caught my attention as I walked by. There were many small, simple, but lovely touches to this well done Children's library. 

I nearly missed this brass turtle. His bright shiny back indicated children enjoyed riding on him.

This whimsical snail lives on top of a bookcase. He is also cast bronze, and typical of so many other things I did not photograph. The staff here was enthusiastic about what they did and anxious to show me so many nice things.

Another excellent feature of the Rose Street KPL is the used book store. I bought three books here, my wife bought one and I think it cost a total of $5 or $6 dollars. Instead of a single shelf for used book sales this library has an entire room filled with shelving.
Part of the used bookstore.

Art is everywhere in this library. I nearly walked by some of it. Here is a wall hanging I passed several times before I realized I needed to take a picture of it. It hangs in a stairwell.

More art work


 This stained glass panel was saved from one of the previous libraries. The history of this library can be found at

One of the reasons Kalamazoo has such a great library is the people of the area. They have been willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done. Few people know that the first free High School in the United States was started in Kalamazoo. The picture below was taken from the library and is of a building nearby. It's message is both a reminder of what happened here and an answer to why this town has such a great library. 

As the Title of my Blog suggests I collect Library cards. Here is the one I received from the kind people at KPL.
I would like to express my appreciation to all the people who provided information for me and assisted me in my visit to the Kalamazoo Public library. 
This last picture was hanging on a wall in the library. It caught my attention and I looked at it for a while. I think if the young girl is from Kalamazoo, she is looking into the future and thinking. Spend a few seconds looking at it and consider what you think this picture says.