Mercilessly long review of the St. Anthony Library in Minneapolis Minnesota
All categories get a score! They are out of 100, with usual school grading applying wherein 75 is a straight up "C" and everything under 50 is just there to express various levels of pique.
(Note on the picture above : I went out surfing the web for a picture of the St. Anthony Library and could find practically nothing, which is weird. Okay, no, it isn't weird, I mean, look at it, but I found this picture of St. Anthony Library, and I followed it back to its source website and found it to be by someone I know! And she is doing a blogging project of visiting loads of libraries and writing about what she finds, but nicely, not evisceratingly. Funny, but that's very nice. Anyway, the photo credit then goes to Ellen McEvoy and her very nice blog is here if you want to check it out. Anyway, thanks Ellen.)
For first impressions and all that:
68 out of 100
They seemed to have bailed on the public art thing here for the most part, but they really didn't have much space to work with. The had a Blacklock print of Quetico (canoe country) that I think was actually a signed series print and a Jasper Johns American Flag art poster. This fit in with their, oh, whatever, vibe which is similar to their something is better than nothing vibe.
69 out of 100
I had to get a key to review, er, use the bathroom. I would have maybe somewhat understood if at "The Security Guard Northeast Library" I had to get a key to use the bathroom, but here? It just seemed a little paranoid. The bathroom itself was good. Single occupancy, thinnest towels in the known universe, clean. Marks down almost entirely for the key thing. I don't like sharing bathrooms and I don't like talking to people about having to go to the bathroom. I may be too delicate to review bathrooms.
77 out of 100
I didn't ask as they just had a tiny board for library things. Oddly this actually puts them ahead of their other branches in this category
70 out of 100
I don't know of any agreeable coffee in the area, but across the parking lot is the very good Tea Source, one of the best places for Tea in the twin cities and since I, a fierce coffee drinker, am willing to make that shift, I think anyone should.
90 out of 100
Do they have The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4 by Sue Townsend? I had to fully give the info here for her to type into the computer as the Librarian was not familiar with it. They did not have it, but with my help we were able to ascertain that there were copies in the system of The Adrian Mole Diaries, which is a single volume of the first two books. It wasn't checked in at St. Anthony. There wasn't much more than that I was offered, like fun, sympathy, or a reading from memory.
Score for library collection (I did not have a strong expectation this book would be on the shelf in this small branch. Adrian Mole Diaries is a just barely acceptable substitution and 8 copies in the system, half checked out, is a maybe ever so barely acceptable number):
73 out of 100
Score for Librarian
73 out of 100
Who is St. Anthony? "Wasn't he the patron saint of lost things?" This answer was followed by that " I better make sure" reconsideration thing. I can't remember if she looked anything up, asked another person, or just confirmed herself with renewed confidence. Her answer wasn't wrong, just lackluster and thin and offhand. If she merely showed me this picture by El Greco
I would have scored her dozens of points higher.
66 out of 100
What's the best nearby restaurant. She said, after a bit of hmmming, and saying there wasn't much around, that she guessed it was The Village Pub. This felt to me like it was the first restaurant she could think of. And for a couple days after this I thought it was a terrible answer, but now I feel a little bit less hard on it. The online reviews are mixed, but generally not hateful. And while I can't imagine wanting to eat there under virtually any circumstances, I'm not actually aware of any place in the neighborhood I really would have wanted to eat. Still, she should have asked for more information instead of just throwing off that answer, unless I misread her and she was passionate about the Village Pub and their world famous Poutine, which is handcut fries and fried cheese curds topped with their homemade turkey gravy. Ask a question based on personal taste and don't expect to get an answer based on yours.
79 out of 100
One last thing that was not a circ issue, but had to do with what I had to look at on the counter while I waited for my card. They had a small rack on the desk there that offered free "Take one only" bookmarks that were actually bookmark ads for a movie called Jack the Giant Slayer that came out months ago. The bookmarks came with a sign that said they were provided by the friends of the library. I worry about the Hennepin County Friends of the Library. They seem pathologically desperate for recognition. The clerk? Well, I actually work with someone sort of like her.
68 out of 100
I searched for the DVD Moonrise Kingdom. At first glance this search seemed silly as it looked like they had about 3 DVDs checked in, the newest of which was the delightful What's Up Doc? with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'neal. So, no, they didn't have it. But in checking their catalog I for the first time saw the sheer breadth and power of such a massive and mildly rich (comparatively) library system, something that didn't show up well with my more idiosyncratic searches. There were 65 copies of Moonrise Kingdom! And there were even 2 that belonged to St. Anthony, albeit both checked out.
88 out of 100
The St. Anthony Library in Minneapolis is a strange solution to a neighborhood library. Perched anonymously with other shops in a seriously unbeautiful strip mall it certainly could come into its own with a creative staff, some clever ideas and energy, and a tightly curated collection. It didn't come into its own. Unfortunately the branch mostly struggles to get by on the power of its system and the simple fact that it is, well, a library. The staff seemed to be more of the sadly sleeping kind we'd been seeing all day, but also ventured out into even more strange territories of the often tragic human landscape. Strange hints of paranoia and an emotionally questionable "Friends" group rounded out the picture of this odd and uninspiring library. But, in the end, it is a library. So...
70 out of 100