UPDATED 6/4/2013 • On Saturday, June 1, the scene at the newly reopened Roosevelt Library in South Minneapolis was a happy one. Neighbors, local dignitaries, and Hennepin County Library staff were on hand to celebrate the 15 month long renovation of this beloved neighborhood landmark.
As soon as the ribbon cutting ceremony ended around 10 a.m., the door to the library was opened and people streamed in, anxious for a look at the redone interior. Many families with young children were in attendance and they immediately headed to the inviting, kid-sized bins of picture books, expressing delight at what they found. “The library is great,” said a father of two young readers. “It’s beautiful. Even better than I expected.”
Some teenagers in attendance bypassed the gleaming collection of books and instead took out their own laptops, eager to test the library’s wifi connection. With Roosevelt High School directly across the street, encouraging young people to use the library was important to those guiding the remodel, and providing an accessible wifi connection both inside and outside of the building was not overlooked.
Many there for the opening lingered in the new 500 square foot community room, which is the only new space added to the library. With plenty of natural light, doors that can be closed for privacy, and a large display screen, this room is designed to expand the library’s role in the surrounding Roosevelt neighborhood. It will also soon feature the work of local artist Sheryl Tuorila, whose colorful tile work will be installed throughout the library. For a sneak peek at her work, click here: http://sheryltuorila.com/. The Hagen Christensen & McIlwain Architects firm was the architect for the project. Click here for photos of the work-in-progress earlier this year.
Alongside glimpses of Tuorila’s artwork, those who came to the library’s reopening saw that the Mission-style design and decoration of the 1927 building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was maintained and improved upon. New accessible and eco-friendly interior features and exterior landscaping have created a bridge between the old and the new, and echo the availability of not only printed material, but also technology. The Roosevelt library has twelve iPads available for rental, with a library card, as a way to allow people to use both technology and the library in new and different ways.
All of these features, along with the local artwork, the community input, and the newly open floor plan will please the eager families, curious onlookers and library lovers who came to see the Roosevelt Library’s rebirth. As Anne Moore of Minneapolis waited to check out a stack of books, she surveyed the glowing, jubilant mood around her and said ““I love the look and feel of this library. It seems warm and timeless, not just new.” The Roosevelt Library was indeed missed, and has now been enthusiastically welcomed back, with its history intact and its future embraced.