Sunday, August 30, 2009

2: Rohnert Park Library

Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library 6250 Lynne Conde Way, Rohnert Park, California, 94928

Time of Visit: Friday afternoon/evening: 5 - 6 pm
Books Checked out:
"Endpoint," John Updike
"Plum Lucky," Janet Evanovich
"The Murder Room," P.D. James


Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 4 bookmarks
Staff : 4 bookmarks
Ambiance/Architecture: 4 bookmarks
Overall: 14 bookamrks

Opened at this location in 2003 and very modern, (like, actually new, as my friend Michelle will be pleased to know) this library has pleasing cream-colored stucco exterior walls, lots of tinted glass, some small trees and a bright, clean approach. It is a part of a complex of civic buildings for Rohnert Park, that include the police and fire station. The three buildings share a large courtyard that includes a maze, a fountain (not running in this season of drought) and some very interesting sculptures. One is an Alphabet Wall, another a History of Written Language wall, both created by artist/designer Martha Crawford. The language wall has many concentric arches centered around a large Rabbit Hole, each ring representing an advancement in writing. Along the plaza leading to these walls are two lines of delightful Alice-in-Wonderland-like concrete stacks of extra large books, 3 or 4 “books” high that could function as seats, or bases in a game of tag, or whatever. The A-i-W theme is carried further with quotations from the classic embedded in the walkway of the maze nearby.

It’s a beautifully designed, intriguing space, but hotter than a pistol on this exceptionally muggy, superhot August afternoon (earthquake weather, says Alice). Walking across the plaza to the front doors, I think my brains, already scrambled from the week, are about to be cooked into some sort of bad omelette. In fact, I feel so roasted that I neglect to get a shot of the entrance, so I'll have to go by and grab it to post later.

The air-conditioning is welcome relief when I step into the lobby, the doors gliding shut behind me. To my right is a conference room with an ongoing photography show, with some excellent work and some not-so; to my left, an entire wall devoted to community announcements and bulletins and flyers of a civic nature. It’s nice to see adequate space devoted to the diverse activities of a community: farmers' markets, rights organizations, poetry slams, classes, etc.

The interior design matches the exceptional landscaping. Walking in is like entering a sky boat, with light-filled rooms that feel airy, spacious. A skylight runs the entire length of the main reading room, just above the truss-framework of the high ceiling. Soffits at the top of the walls and light fixtures running between the stacks leave no dark corners. Much of the exterior walls are windows; the light walls help to bounce light around.

There are many tables with comfortably wide, sturdy chairs and plenty of softer, easy-type chairs and study carrels, such as you'd see in a school library.

Don't you just want to sit down and set up your study-shop?

One wall of windows looks out on a garden, representing, the brochure said, the groves of learning from the days of Socrates.

This is a library easy to love, even though the collections seem thin and the fiction section even thinner. It's comfortable and inviting, even inspiring. On this Friday evening, the place is almost full with a wide range of people and activities: moms, kids, families, teens, adults, oldsters. Volunteers shelving ands assisting at the circ desk. Some math tutoring. A long bank of computers, all in use. Also wireless, though one poor fellow couldn’t get his wireless card to work and wanted to know if he could “borrow” one. That was a polite "no" from the Reference Librarian, who no doubt wanted nothing to do with the innards of this guy's laptop.

The Children’s library is particularly well-designed, with kid-sized furniture, kid-sized shelving, and lots of space for reading or quiet play with building sets (Duplos and the like). The Children's library is easily half the size of the main reading room and may account for a sizable chunk of the library's volumes.

Fiction is definably a low-count collection, though. I browse through the Mysteries section; the heavy hitters were all represented: PD James, Elizabeth George, etc. I pick up a Janet Evanovitch book, a “Between the Numbers" novel, because my friend ND conducted a craft study on her work and was suitably impressed. Also the latest Updike book, “Endpoint,” a collection of posthumously published poems because I haven't read much of his poetry (just what I find in the New Yorker, sad to say) and a PD James, for old times sake; not her newest but the next back, "The Murder Room."

The coolest part of the experience? Using the Ready, Check, Go! system similar to the self-checkouts in some grocery stores. When I get in line at 5:55 ("The library will be closing in five minutes"--accck!), one of the volunteers motions me forward, saying that one of the machines was free. Ok?! So I walk over and she guides me through it. Put the books on the black apron or landing pad or whatever you want to call it, either stacked up or spread out, it didn't matter she says. Then the card swipe. Wow! Then my PIN...oh, shit, I can't remember what I chose last week when I got my new card! and I know I didn't write it down; I'd just selected something random, not thinking I'd ever have to really use it (yeah, I'm a dummy). But I remember using two repeating numbers, thinking that's a dumb thing to do (detecting a pattern are we?) I punch in my two fav numbers, but noooooooo! Now there's a line forming behind me, lights are being clicked off; I make a wild stab at it, using a phone number as a wild guess, and yowzers! it works! There's some computing and dinging and screens changing and then it spits out a receipt that not only had the new books printed on it with due dates, but the previous three books too, with their due-dates. I'll never be late again, I joke to the volunteer, a bit ruefully. I kind of like being a Library least I know my fines are going to a worthy cause.

But as we all know, no matter the system, Library Felons have a high rate of recidivism. So until next week, happy reading!


  1. Wow, that is indeed a lovely building and grounds! I'll have to stop by sometime when we're up in the area.

  2. it's really peaceful... plenty of nooks and reading crannies and the AC is top-notch. I want to go back, too! plus the plaza has more things to enjoy, like a River of Words...

  3. thanks, Jane. I'm enjoying playing Camera again!

  4. I love Janet Evanovich! She's great for a quick read when I need a break from school work, though I haven't read Plum Lucky, you'll have to let me know how it is. Sounds like a great library!

  5. I enjoyed it; glad I discovered her. Like you say, she's a quick read and I found her funny and quirky. It takes skill to be this fast paced and engaging.

  6. Who knew John Updike wrote poetry? I'll have to check it ou.

  7. I'd read the poems published in The New Yorker, but had never read a collection of his. While the poems definitely sound like Updike, they add a different perspective to him as a writer. Reading them as a group has been interesting. He published a collection called "Midpoint," too.


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