When I tell people that I work at the library, more often than not, the follow-up question I get is, “the big one?” 

‘The Big One’ means Medford, and while my job is excellent, and I get to do it in all of the branches, I spend most of my time in my office in the Medford branch. 

Yet, even though I am here a lot, I have to admit that I haven’t taken much time to look at the building. So, I gave myself a tour — and thought I would take all of you with me. 

First off is the lobby; I love the symmetry in this space. The desks and bronze gates mirror each other and allow your eyes to focus on the center quote in the room.

Before we continue, I want to talk about the bronze gates. I’ve worked for JCLS for 8ish years and only recently found out some information about these gates. The artist is Peter “Pete” Helzer. He designed these gates using the metaphor of “River of Knowledge.” He wanted to use motifs from art traditions around the world to visually convey the idea that our “river of knowledge” has many tributaries. The doors average about 500 pounds each. You may recognize the artists other works — the Vogel Plaza Chess Player, the “Bench Band” situated right across from the Medford library, and the Monster Bench located in the next spot on our tour — the Medford Children’s Department.

You’ll enter the massive children’s department through the bronze gate on the right. Books for bigger kids are at the front of the room, non-fiction is in the middle, and books for littler kids and a play area live in the back of the space. Also, if you’re familiar with the Storytelling Guild and the Children’s Festival, then you will recognize Fred the Dragon, who is featured in a lot of the art here.

The other set of bronze gates goes to the Adult Fiction area and leads out to the reading gardens. There’s an adult reading garden, where I love to take my lunch when the weather is nice. There’s also a children’s garden where kids can draw with sidewalk chalk or take imaginative voyages on the boat.

Upstairs, across from the top of the staircase, you are immediately greeted with the aptly named Grand Reading Room. This is where the periodicals are, but also a space full of comfy furniture to hang out in. 

There is another set of bronze gates upstairs — both sets lead to our DVDs and adult non-fiction areas, as well as the “South Wedge” — a quiet study space.

I am going to take a break from the tour here. I want to highlight the fact that since this branch is so large, not only is there ample space for seating, gathering, and studying, but there is also lots of space for fun displays like this enormous Bookflix display.

Across from this display, enclosed in glass, is the Teen Department. This cozy space is full of seating, books (of course), fun art (shout-out to one of our library associates, Laurel, for making that dragon), and a 3D printer!

We are already coming to the end of our tour — finishing it in the newest space of the Medford library. Not only did this remodel involve rearranging office spaces and building a brand-new board room, but it also freed up a ton of space for furniture. The furniture includes study carrels and this cool meeting area with a whiteboard. What I love about this space is that it says, “we want you here.”

I hope that a lot of what we do, whether it is programming, the books we select for the collection, the furniture we buy, and the policies we create, say, “we want you here.” Not just here at the Medford branch, but at all of them.