Library meets latte

I’ve been teen taxiing to North Scottsdale for years, taking kids to orthodontist appointments and such — but always driving past the blue sign with white letters near Shea Blvd. and the 101 freeway that reads “Mustang Library.” But I decided to check it out with my son Christopher a few weeks ago, and was thrilled to be greeted as we entered by a gentleman running a lovely little latte cart.

Now that a nearby bookstore has covered all their outlets, an attempt to ban the rising class of laptop squatters, folks are likely looking for new places to get both caffeine and electrical charge. They’ll have to beat me to the Mustang Library bistro table or hope I’ve taken to one of the library’s comfy seating areas instead.

Turns out the nifty snack and beverage cart wasn’t the only thing to surprise me that day. I also discovered a children’s area vastly different than those I enjoyed as a child, or a new mommy. I was plenty excited when our neighborhood library added beanbag chairs to its kids’ area. But nowadays that would never suffice.

Children’s titles at the Mustang Library, a branch of the Scottsdale Public Library system, now live near an area full of parenting information and activities with a child development spin. The day we visited, several moms were enjoying soft conversations between themselves while watching their children try out all sorts of cool activities.

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Recently the Scottsdale Public Library was was of four libraries nationwide “recognized for providing cutting edge technologies for customers.” Seems a book recommendation tool called “Gimme!” that we discovered during our visit to the Mustang Library caught the eye of folks with the American Library and Library Information Technology Associations.   

Patrons can visit “Gimme!” on their computer or smart phone to get book recommendations based on categories they select — plus reviews by library staff members, book information and a quick link to reserve the book. “Gimme!” even integrates with “Goodreads,” a social media site that allows users to share, review & rate books they’ve read.

But we found more than high-tech tools at the Mustang Library. We also spied large windows and bright, inviting reading spaces — plus a library shop with nifty t-shirts, travel coffee cups, shopping totes and other gear to help you rock the literacy vibe. Artwork is plentiful too, as are helpful librarians no longer chained behind counters that deter interaction with patrons.

A young librarian who noted us admiring a work of art near the teen section cheerfully explained that it was once a piece of butcher paper covering a teen activity area. Seems the teens went to town with markers and such, turning the paper into a colorful work that’s now framed for all to enjoy.

If you’re still thinking of libraries as dusty and musty, it’s been too long since you gave one a whirl. They’re gathering places for folks of all ages and walks of life — and home to books, computers, seating areas, artwork and classes. And in the best of all possible worlds, lattes.

— Lynn

Note: A reader from Lichtfield Park alerted me this morning to possible library cuts within some Arizona school districts, and noted that those who support school libraries might wish to sign an online petition you can read by clicking here.

Coming up: Childsplay presents “Tomás and the Library Lady”

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