Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jaime’s KCLS Jaunt #24 and #25: Woodmont and Des Moines

Go South!I think this trip epitomized more than most how I never know what delightful experiences I’m going to have when I visit a new library!  Chris joined me for trip number 14 – visits to the Woodmont and Des Moines libraries, both located in Des Moines.


The KCLS sign in the background says "Woodmont". I was trying to stay out of the pouring rain. My last-minute-morning-of map printing troubles non-withstanding, we easily found the Woodmont branch as it is conveniently located off the Pacific Highway in south Des Moines.  “Jewel of a building” is something I’ve heard a lot when this building is mentioned, and it’s so very true! The library was expanded and renovated in 2008 and like most recent libraries has plenty of natural light and soaring ceilings. Rachel, the Teen Librarian, was kind enough to spend a few minutes with us before we looked around.  A recent Alice in Wonderland party with film viewing was a success and the weekly Game On series continuously proves popular with visiting teens at Woodmont.

Inside View at Woodmont As Chris and I wandered around admiring some of the artwork, I saw a familiar face – Xiomara, the Spanish Story Time storyteller that Doris and I were so enthralled with when we visited the Kent library! (Yikes, three months ago now!)  With smiles all around, we chatted with her for a few  minutes.  Woodmont is one of the 6 KCLS libraries that she visits.

As we parted from Xiomara, a patron at a terminal next to what appeared to be lockers, caught our eye.  The Disc Express Machinepatron scanned her card, scanned a DVD case, and out popped the disc from the machine!  Automated DVD checkout!  KCLS is piloting this system, by Integrated Technology Group, at Woodmont.  Heather, another KCLS staff member, showed us how the system worked from a librarian’s perspective.  I’ll be interested to see how the pilot turns out!

Puget Sound Turtle We took the scenic route to the Des Moines branch, along Marine Drive that gave us views of the Puget Sound.  And fittingly, as we got out of the car, we could smell the “sea air”.  Outside of the library building, there is a wonderful sculpture of a turtle, with a relief map of Puget Sound carved in its shell.  Since it was raining, water was filling the map, and it was quite neat.

Wheelie and Des Moines Sign Once inside, we were lucky enough to receive a library tour from Pauline, the Cluster Manager.  Also renovated in 2008, this library contains an abundance of natural light (of course!) and has a children’s area that seems to take up much of the library.  There was much discussion on how awesome and popular the Caspar Babypants programs are for children.  Now, I really want him to visit a library that’s still on my list! 

We took our leave from the Des Moines branch and headed just a few minutes away to lunch at Wally’s Chowder Broiler House.  Sadly, the weather was not cooperating and we didn’t get to dine on their patio.  However, my fish and. . .onion rings. . .were delicious, our server was super friendly, and the conversation was lively.  There’s too many books to recommend and discuss over one short lunch!



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jaime’s KCLS Jaunt #22 and #23: Federal Way and Federal Way 320th

Go South!

Much pomp and circumstance awaited us for trip number 13 to the libraries in Federal Way!  Bruce, Lorin, and I headed out early-ish Saturday morning for the re-opening of the Federal Way Regional branch after a little more than a year of closure for renovations and expansion. We also visited the Federal Way 320th library and, of course, finished our trip with a bite to eat.

The 600 other people also welcoming the newly re-opened library meant that we had to park a couple of blocks away.  Wheelie on Wood Table But, on a beautiful Saturday morning, and to the tunes of the high school jazz band serenading the crowd, the walk was perfect and gave us a sense of how leafy the environs around the library really are.  One of the design principles for the site was to incorporate the wooded surroundings as much as possible.  Only a few trees were cut down for the expansion, but they were turned into beautiful tables and other decorating accessories to grace the inside of the library. Lighting, shelving, and carpeting also emphasized a forest theme.

Light Art We learned many more interesting facts about the library from our volunteer tour guide, Susan, an Arts Commissioner for the City of Federal Way.  She guided us through the library so that we could enjoy the newly spacious design and its functional art.  This library has to have the best study rooms I’ve seen so far – there is one that looks out over the rain garden and three of the four walls are glass such that two face outside and one faces the rest of the library.  Everyone mentioned how amazing the building sounds in the rain. . .I almost wished it had been raining! (not really)

Woodland ViewI also want to give a special thanks to Bill Ptacek, the King County Library System Director, and Lee, the Special Projects Coordinator for the Automated Materials Handling System.  Both spent a very generous amount of time chatting with us about what makes Federal Way special and their enthusiasm for the libraries is absolutely contagious. Did you know that KCLS is the most automated library system in the U.S.?  I didn’t either, until Saturday!

Before we headed over to Federal Way 320th, we spent a few minutes watching Brothers from Different Mothers entertain the kids of all ages.  Standing room only crowds greeted them. . .and while it was a far cry from their most recent gig in the Bahamas, everyone seemed to be having a grand time!Where's Wheelie?


A few miles separates Federal Way Regional from Federal Way 320th, and, fittingly, as we stepped inside, one of the patrons commented how quiet the library was now that the Regional branch was open again.  Though, it still looked pretty busy to me! The librarian at the check out did let Federal Way 320thus know that they increased their hourly check outs from 50 to 500 per hour during the Regional branch closure.  That sounded simply exhausting. Also, one of the neatest spaces I’ve seen in a library was in 320th’s children’s area – there’s a “2 puppet” limit!


Our final stop for the day involved the, nearly required event now, sampling of a local restaurant.  We selected Indochine. Located just a few minutes away from both libraries, it has wonderful interior decor!  My tofu pad thai was delicious. . .and even more so for lunch two more days afterwards. As we headed back home, I reflected how unique all of these jaunts continue to turn out to be - how many ways can one really visit a library?!  It turns out, a lot. Though good company and good food remain a constant. . .all of the libraries and communities continue to offer something unique, delightful, and inspiring!


Library Map

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tales of the Truly Unpleasant: The Humor of Steve Johnston

Tales of the Truly UnpleasantWhen my wife and I moved to Redmond over 20 years ago, we were regularly entertained by Steve Johnston's humor column, Sunday Punch, in The Seattle Times. Steve also wrote the Just Ask Johnston question-and-answer column for the paper's Eastside edition. He was even gracious enough to answer my question about “de-beaked” chickens in one of his columns. Steve’s writing was a regular staple of our leisurely Sunday morning routine.

An Unpleasant Reality
Steve Johnston Steve was diagnosed with MS in the 1980s. He persevered — raising his four children, and continuing his writing for the paper. He even wrote a story for the paper’s Pacific Northwest magazine about having MS. One line in the story said, “MS won’t kill me. It will just bore me to death.”  Classic Steve Johnston…

The MS has progressed to the point where Steve now lives in a West Seattle nursing home. Unfortunately, he was also recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

His daughter, Molly, has been helping him put together a compilation of his Sunday Punch columns, which have been published in book form as Tales of the Truly Unpleasant. You can find info on buying Steve’s book at Steve Johnston’s Book.

Redmond Library Board