Plans to merge the Minneapolis Public Library (MPL) into the Hennepin County library system — including the reopening of Southeast Library — are moving ahead. The Minneapolis City Council and Library Board have tentatively set Nov. 7 for a joint public hearing on consolidation. The place and time have yet to be announced.
According to a recent Minneapolis Public Library update, Southeast, Roosevelt and Webber Park libraries, temporarily closed due to budget cuts, would reopen Jan. 2 if the consolidation proceeds. “Hiring for the libraries will begin shortly; employees at these three libraries will likely start Nov. 26 or Dec. 3,” the update stated.
One merger hurdle has been blending city library staff and county library staff, which have different bargaining agreements. According to the library update, Hennepin County Human Resources “has made substantial progress” in assessing how MPL employees would integrate into the county’s classification system.
Minneapolis Public Library has 290 workers represented by five different unions. Jerry Serfling, field director for AFSCME Council 5, said his union is satisfied with the process up to this point and has agreed to a process for resolving disputes. AFSCME Local 99 represents more than half of the MPL’s workers.
Megan Peterson, MPL library spokesperson, said staff positions at the three closed libraries would be filled through an open hiring process. Interested parties, including the former Minneapolis Public Library staff at Southeast, Roosevelt and Webber, could apply. The positions would be part-time, three-day-a-week jobs.
Hennepin County Commissioners, the Hennepin County Library Board, Minneapolis Public Library Board and Minneapolis City Council all have to hold public hearings before approving consolidation.
Through Oct. 25, Hennepin County is taking applications for openings on the Hennepin County Library Board, including three of four new seats for Minneapolis residents, who will be appointed by the board, in consultation with the Mayor and City Council. To apply, call 612-348-3257 or visit www.hennepin.us and click on YOUR COUNTY GOVERNMENT for an Advisory Board application form.
Patrons and interested citizens are invited to bring questions and comments to any Minneapolis or Hennepin County Library Board meeting.
The next Hennepin County Library Board meeting starts at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Ridgedale Library, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka. The board typically takes public comments early in the meeting. Speakers may sign up at the meeting.
The Minneapolis Public Library Board has regular meetings set for Oct. 17, Nov. 21, Dec. 5, and Dec. 19 at the Central Library Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall. On Nov. 7, it will meet at Hosmer Library, 347 E. 36th St. Meetings start at 6 p.m. Speakers may sign up at the meeting; public comments are taken at the beginning.
For updates, see www.hclib.org. To comment online, go to http://www.hclib.org/merger/.
According to a county fact sheet, the consolidated system would be called the Hennepin County Library. All individual library names would be retained, including Minneapolis Central Library. The current Hennepin County Library board would expand from seven to 11 citizen members. The Hennepin County Board appoints Library Board members. Three of their initial appointments to the expanded board would be Minneapolis residents.