In the past month the Ramsey County Library system has open a new and supposedly improved library in Maplewood. Do not be fooled. It is not improved. It is, in fact, quite awful. I wish I could tell you that I have positive feelings toward this new library, but my experiences and observations are far from that.
First off, I don't see what was wrong with their previous location. It wasn't falling down. It could have been updated a bit inside, but it was functional. The new library is located in an already busy location, let's make it busier, right? Secondly, the building is long and an awkward shape for a truly functional library. The parking lot, like the building, I'm sure due to space restrictions, is very long and narrow. This causes issues. It is difficult to find a child safe parking spot where they might not have to cross traffic. Secondly, there is a "loop" near the front door for drop off of media. The blacktop that was used in the parking lot was NOT used in this "loop", thus making it the same color and texture as the sidewalk. Kids, those with disabilities, people on their cell phones, etc. may not be aware of this and could be struck by a car.
That's just the parking lot, imagine the mistakes inside. The book drop is no longer a drop. It is an inconvenient conveyor belt system that is impractical for patrons. "Place your media one-by-one with the bar code facing up". Seriously, what if you have a BUNCH of books? What if you have your kids with you? What if you're in a hurry and need to go? Come on.
From the book drop you take a left into the children's media area. Floating above are magical, twirly bird sculptures that when I first saw them reminded me of butts with wings. Think I'm joking? Go take a look for yourself. Whoever designed the children's section, clearly, is not a parent. Nor have they worked with children. The area is not enclosed. As a parent you cannot leave your child there unattended. They could, potentially walk out the front door, into the "loop", through the parking lot and into the busy street. Yes, it could be that simple. In the old library there was a defined area, that you could see from the non-fiction and some of the fiction area. You knew if your child left the area. Then you have to walk through the movies and dvds to finally reach adult fiction and non-fiction.
When you reach your destination you will have passed the librarian on the left wall and a "teen" section on the same left wall with "McD" type booth seating, computers, a few (seriously few) books. First of all, there are more problems. The librarians are not helpful. This is a self serve library apparently, do it yourself, as in they do not help (from my, or my friends experience). Additionally, the librarians, who typically hold down the fort, apparently have NO SAY over the rowdy teenagers who simply need a reminder that is, in fact, is NOT McDonald's and they should stop wrestling (yes, wrestling) and be quiet.
Finally, you're at the fiction area. There is SO little available it makes me sick. Imagine being elderly, imagine having 3 kids with you, imagine you have a disablity. Do you want to walk that far? CAN you walk that far? Do you want to haul your children with you?
The Maplewood library is such a disappointment, I will, to the best of my ability, no longer use the facility and I urge you not to as well. When will public services be made for the public? Did they do ANY market research? Are they ABLE to think for others and not for themselves? Did they consult the people they would be serving? I honestly do not think so.
Then, in the hubbub of all this, just a few years back they closed the old North Saint Paul library saying it wasn't used enough, they didn't have the money to support it, etc. Well, what a lie. Building a new library. Sick. What a jab. Then, the people of North Saint Paul ask for it back, they PAY for there own little library to be added to their community center. Now that, my friends, is a library for the people. Finally recognized by the Ramsey County Library association, but far over looked.
Support your local library. Keep it real.