Media Commons

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Just outside of the Indiana Room, we arrive in the Media Commons. This is a very versatile area which serves many purposes. This room is frequently used as a reading and study area. It is in close proximity to the newspaper and magazine area.

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The large glass wall in this area provides a favorite place for patrons to just sit and contemplate. The wall looks out into the library’s arboretum (which will likely appear in a future blog when the weather is warmer). Note the art work lining this wall. There is art of all kinds throughout the library. We saw some examples of this already in a previous post about the Indiana Room.

Lake Manitou Sunrise

The library is not far away from Lake Manitou  in Rochester, Indiana so you will notice that there is a wetlands wildlife theme running throughout the library. Even the carpet represents wildlife habitats. There are several nature preserves located in the vicinity. You will also see various live plants throughout the library and the majority of furniture is even crafted out of natural materials.

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You may have noticed the TV in this area. Libraries are changing considerably and are often a place just to hang out. This TV is usually muted, but set up for closed caption. Patrons can check out the latest news and weather among other things. The closed caption not only helps hearing impaired patrons, but also is considerate of patrons who may be reading or studying. Below the TV is a small shelf holding some games.

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This area also is a place where patrons can socialize with each other. Many times they will play games.  Gaming is becoming a part of regular programming at many libraries, including this one. Many patrons will bring games in and the library also owns several games that patrons can use. In this area, it is usually some sort of board game. There are a few multipurpose tables used from anything from reading and research to game playing and tech activities.

Fulton County Public Library (FCPL) offers two free tech classes a week and usually meets in this area at the Rochester branch. Taught by  Tweak Turtle cool turtle

and Twain Turkey, proud turkey

the tech classes offered at FCPL are as varied as the people taking them. Tech classes offer instruction and support for patrons who are users of laptops, tablets, kindles and other e-readers, smart phones, digital cameras, geocaches, gps, and various other devices. (If it’s technical, Tweak and Twain can probably help!) In addition to using the actual devices, they can also instruct on how to use a limitless array of software. A few examples (but by no means a complete list) include Excel, Email, Photoshop, and Microsoft products.

The furniture in the Media Commons area is versatile and easy to move, providing large floor space area when needed. Often staff meetings are held in this area. The possibilities of this space are endless. Many spontaneous meetings occur here. Homeschoolers  and various other groups frequent this area.

Media Commons 002Just some more comfortable seating in this picture.

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Bridging the gap between the Media Commons and the stacks, we find these study carols. These are also a popular destination for many patrons. Please note the art work above the back wall which continues the lake environment theme.

I have this odd urge to take my books and read at Lake Manitou!

foggy sunrise lake manitou

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Little Free Library and Community Outreach

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Many communities are now offering Little Free Libraries. The basic idea is simple: take a book to read. Keep it or return it. Patrons may donate their used books directly to the Free Little Library.

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Our community is fortunate to have several Free Little Libraries. I found it interesting to learn about how these Little Free Libraries were set up and how they are maintained. When I realized that this process begins in the Reference Department of the Fulton County Public Library (FCPL)  right behind Grant Station, I just had to do some investigating.

Once again Ricki Raccoon helped me to discover the following information:

The Sentinel, our local newspaper, donated several old newspaper vending machines which turned out to be the perfect size for use as a Free Little Library.  These old machines also have the advantage of being water proof which is important in a community with cold, wet winters. One such Little Free Library sits outside of the Fulton County Public Library in Rochester (the first picture) and is available even when the library is closed. A precautionary measure of sealing any holes to prevent bug infestation has been taken. Two others are located in Talma and Grass Creek. Both areas are unserved by a library. This is one way that the FCPL reaches out to unserved neighbors.

In addition to books directly donated into the Free Little Library, The Fulton County Public Library also makes periodic checks of the Free Little Libraries and replenishes books from time to time. I was curious about how books are chosen for each library.

Behind Grant Station in the Reference Department is a bookshelf that is a work in progress.

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All of the books and magazines that land on this bookshelf have either been withdrawn from FCPL (which makes room for new ones) or they have been donated by public library patrons but are not needed in the library collection (for example if we received multiple copies of a book). These books and magazines actually end up in various locations. The items shown here are destined for area nursing homes, the jail, the honor book collection, or the Free Little Libraries. Of those destined for the Free Little Libraries, it is interesting to note that the location and populations vary. FCPL attempts to target specific books for specific populations. For example areas with more children are left with more children’s books. In some areas there is a high population of Amish patrons who use the Free Little Libraries, so books at those locations tend to reflect the types of books that Amish patrons might choose.

As part of the FCPL community outreach programs the books that do not go into the Free Little Libraries are also targeted to certain populations. There are some special considerations for placement. Nursing homes generally prefer larger print books. Books destined for the jail must meet certain criteria. Our local jail requires paperback books that contain nongraphic material and don’t promote violence. As a result the types of books taken to the jail tend to be paper back, nonfiction, self help type books. Some magazines are acceptable to the jail, but inserts with sharp edges must be removed first. All staples in the magazines must also be removed before donation. When the jail books are dropped off, they have to be approved by jail staff before the inmates are permitted to read them.

The remaining books go to the FCPL Honor Book collection. These books are actually labeld “Honor Book” and are placed in either the Pontiac Entrance foyer or the Fulton Entrance foyer. Most of these books tend to be paperbacks, but there are some exceptions. Honor Books are books that aren’t barcoded and don’t have to be checked out on the patron’s library card. Patrons are requested to let the Adult Circulation desk know how many Honor Books they have chosen. The books are then recorded as “In House Circulation” items. Patrons are on the honor system to return these books.

The Pontiac Entrance Foyer has books in black cases with doors that pull out sideways.

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Slightly larger books do no fit well into these cases, so there is a box for them on the floor.

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Honor books in the Fulton Entrance Foyer are displayed on spinners.

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The community response to the Free Little Libraries and community outreach is overwhelmingly positive and popular.