Last Wednesday the staff at my place of employment had our bi-annual staff day. And we spent it at the Minneapolis Public Library.
Now I remember once, vaguely, after moving to Minneapolis in 1995, and found myself downtown. I don't know why I was downtown but I saw the public library and decided to go in. I must have thought, "Cool! The public library! I'm gonna go get me a library card!"
So I walked in.
I remember there were escalators. Everything was grimy beige. I couldn't find the circ desk. I couldn't find the stacks. All I seemed to see were smelly, greasy-looking men huddled by the magazines. Probably looking for pornos. It smelled like musty paper and pee. This was pre-Internet and dirty old pervs had to shuffle down to the library to flash people in the stacks before heading over to Schinder's to pilfer the boobie/butt books.
And didn't return until 2010.
What a difference 15 years makes.
It also helps that they demolished the old building and designed a new one. Well, Cesar Pelli designed it. He's the same dude that did the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur.
And this is the new library.
It's pretty cool. And it's beautiful. And wide-open and designed to be accessible for everyone. It has a huge center atrium, a bookstore, a coffee shop, an amazing children's section, a green roof, their own bindery, free piano rooms, and a section just for and designed by teenagers, complete with beanbags and vending machines. It is also totally wireless.
Of course, you'll still find the old pervs, but they designed the library with many low stacks so there is an open line of sight throughout the floors.
Plus there are cameras everywhere.
And obnoxious people like me who take pictures like this.
I guess even the pervs like to see what the starlets are wearing on the red carpet.
The coolest part was the tour of the special collections.
They had stuff like this:
page of Deuteronomy from the Gutenberg Bible. Yes, really.
A first edition of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Inside the book was a personal note by Thoreau thanking the U of M professor who had taken him up to Duluth to visit the Dakota Indians in the summer of 1861. This was one year before the infamous Dakota conflict of 1862.
But I saved the best for last.
Yes, a photograph of Prince from his high school yearbook. He is the one labelled P. Nelson in the top center of the middle six.
But that's not the best part. The dude below him...on the bottom left. A. Paule. Oh man, the picture is just priceless. He looks like he just came back from smoking a blunt in his car. After school it looks like he will probably hang out with his burnout friends and then go and shoplift Marlboros, Slimjims, and Hubba Bubbas at the 7-11.
I wonder what A. Paule is doing today.
The things I wonder....