Siskiyou County Libraries: Mount Shasta Branch – 2/13/2013

Located at the picturesque base of Mt. Shasta, the Mount Shasta Branch library has a long and varied history: before the completion of the library’s current building, the collection was housed on the second floor of the old City Hall and even at the Mount Shasta Community Hospital!

2013-02-13 15.38.442013-02-13 15.49.39The library is small but packed with homey touches including: living room style couches and recliners, homemade quilts, awesome tables from the 1970’s, and old-school library signage.  Combined, these make the library seem more like the common room in a liberal arts college dorm  than a government institution.  The ambiance is welcoming and reflects the hippie, artsy, small town character of the city.

While finding a comfortable place to sit and read is easy at the Mount Shasta Branch Library, finding a book seemed as though it might be slightly more challenging.  The library appeared to have a good selection of local authors, audio books, and youth materials but when browsing through the collection, I noticed several copies of the same book completely different shelves.  I could not discern any reason for this strange arrangement and was left to assume that it was most likely the inevitable result of a small staff trying to stay on top of busy branch (the library was bustling!)

Despite its small size, I noticed the library using several tricks to maximize their services.  Since they had limited shelving on which to display new titles, the library staff kept may of the new books behind the desk.  To alert patrons of to these additional materials, they placed laminated guides that included pictures of each new title as well as short descriptions on the shelves.  While this system does raise privacy and confidentiality issues, I thought it was an interesting way to attempt to provide access to a wider variety of materials than space would seem to allow.

2013-02-13 15.53.45The library also partners with the Siskiyou Art Bus Project.  In addition to providing arts and crafts courses, the bus is parked next to the library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and is a place where youth can engage in after school art and craft activities.  I thought the bus was a neat alternative for small libraries who are nonetheless interested in introducing some type of maker space for patrons.

Next time you find yourself on a pilgrimage to ‘White Mountain’ (as Mt. Shasta is sometimes called), take a moment to stop by the Mount Shasta Branch of the Siskiyou County Library System.  For more information, visit their website:

City of Willows Library – 2/12/2013

2013-02-12 15.48.08Downtown Willows, CA is home to numerous beautiful old buildings – unfortunately, the library is not one of them.  My first impression of the Willows Library was the extent to which its building (which also houses the police department and civic center) ressembled my junior high school.  This association is particularly damning as it was rumored (never confirmed) that the junior high school’s design was based off that of a prison.  Things were clearly not getting off to a good start but I was desperate for internet access so I pressed on…

Upon entering the library I was relieved to find that my initial trepidation had been for nothing – what the library lacks in physical appeal it more than makes up for in spirit.  It’s obvious that the library staff have worked to make make the small space inviting for readers and technology users alike.  Particularly charming were quirky touches like the literary decals plastered all over the bathroom walls and the the hand-made love your library valentine’s day signage (not pictured).2013-02-12 15.45.43

In addition to the work they put into improving the physical space, the library staff were all over the reference desk!  During the hour or so that I spent bumming free internet, they handled numerous patron questions on topics ranging from farm equipment to children’s book recommendations, each with unfailing friendly professionalism.  While this library might not be much to look at on the outside, it stands as a warning to all of you who, if you;re like me, are too often guilty of judging books by their covers.

If you ever find yourself in Willows, CA or (perhaps more likely) just on the I-5 corridor in desperate need of wireless, check out the library here:

San Mateo County Law Library – 2/4/2013

Everything about this library – from the building to the vintage furnishings to the near silence – seemed like a blast from the past:

2013-02-04 10.51.00When I entered the library, the librarians were curious about my presence but let me wander and generously offered to help me navigate the shelves of identical-looking law books.  Since I know almost nothing about law and even less about law librarianship, I can’t offer any insights about the collection.  I can say, though, that while the library is small, if you’re looking for a peaceful place to study or simply trying to live out a Mad Men fantasy – the San Mateo County Law Library is the place for you!

For more information about the library, visit their retro-themed website at:

Historic Theaters Library – 01/30/2013

I’m sorry to report that I have no photos of this library.  I went with a friend and one does not embarrass one’s friends by taking nerdy library photos.  Nevertheless, I hope this text is enough to encourage you to stop by the Historic Theaters Library at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle.

This tiny (one room) library is simply lovely.  Even if you are like me and have minimal interest in historic theaters, the passion of the volunteers who run the library will spark your curiosity.  You will suddenly, as if by magic, find yourself intrigued by historic blueprints and painstakingly collected photocopies of newspaper clippings detailing the whole history of the three Seattle Theater Group theaters.  You might even find that you are lingering to hear stories about people and artifacts that you had previously taken entirely for granted.

For more information about visiting the library, check out their webpage: