August 15, 2017

Bethlehem Public Library

I think this is my favorite library in the system. I’ll give you a definitive answer when I’ve visited them all. It’s in a beautiful suburban area Northeast of Albany (on the Western side of the Hudson).  It’s very well-funded, but it’s not just about that.

“People think innovation is about one massive change, but it’s not, it’s many little changes, over time,” said Director Geoff Kirkpatrick. It’s experimenting, accepting failure as a part of growth.  Trying new things like 3D printers, charging stations, mini golf in the library, wifi at the pool and lending out things like fishing poles and metal detectors.  Even under-funded libraries like mine can get that mindset, and experiment with things like traveling story times, seed libraries and appliance repair nights.

Let’s start outside. A beautiful landscaped area includes a parking lot, drive-up book drop, donation bin and lots of seating (including a covered bus stop). Banners are “Read” posters.

   

Inside, the building hosts a community television station.  The long hallway has seating and a gallery, as well as a vending machine, bulletin board and brochure display.

The whole library is on one floor.  There is a set of stairs leading off to back offices, which really should be better marked.

The children’s area has its own service desk and computers.

I LOVED this sign.  Such a classy, tactful way of nudging parents to clean up with their kids.

A charging station- put your device in with a combination, pick it up later- no worries about someone going off with your stuff!  I am predicting this will be in a lot of places soon- I just saw one at the Capital Repertory Theatre.

 

There’s a cute little plastic couch next to the check-out desk, a place for little ones to sit out of the way when they’re waiting for parents to get their books.

 

If I was pressed to come up with negatives for this library, I’d say that the teen area was bland (but well-stocked).

Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)

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