To the delight of library staff and their loyal patrons, Roosevelt, Southeast and Webber Park public libraries reopened on Thursday, January 3. ‘It’s great to be back,’ exulted Eric Heideman, Southeast’s librarian. In all three libraries, within the first hour of doors opening at noon, patrons were using the services.
The libraries closed in 2006 due to budget issues, and their reopening is one of the highlights of the merger between Hennepin County Library and the Minneapolis Public Library. The merged system has more than five million books, serves more than one million customers and is in 41 different cultural centers and buildings.
At the celebration of the merger of both library systems on January 2, Senator Ann Rest remarked that it was, “a celebration of neighborhoods and an exciting boost to all of us who live in Hennepin County.”
The first patron who walked into the Southeast library, the only general library on the east bank, came at 12:01 p.m. She came to use one of the nine computers that have Internet access. Close behind her was Bob Vincent, an administrator at the Second Foundation School, who had been anxiously awaiting the library reopening. He came to peruse the library’s new additions to its already large, well-balanced collection. Since its closure, he had “been missing it like a friend,” he said.
Rev. Douglas Donley, Pastor at the University Baptist Church, another of Southeast’s neighbors, pronounced, “it is a good place for the synergy of the community and I am thrilled to have it reopen – its closure was a huge loss to the community.”
At the Roosevelt library, a parent and two toddlers played in the snow outside, a distinct indication as to who are the most common users of that library. In fact, at the opening hour, a family was already waiting to enter the large one-room open floor plan space. The children’s section to the left has two computers programmed with the Web for Kids starting page with links to popular kid sites. By the end of the first hour, 25 children with parents had entered Roosevelt library.
Webber Library is located in beautiful Webber Park. From the large picture windows, patrons can enjoy the scenery of the park or watch others ice skate while sitting in the main room of the library and basking in the sunlight that beams through the skylight above the vaulted, wood-paneled atrium. Ellen Buskirk, Webber’s librarian, says, “It is a safe and good place, especially to be in the park but be inside.”
Each library has increased its number of computers – almost double – and has added new materials in all formats – new books including audio books, music CDs, and DVDs. Southeast Library is especially proud of its jazz collection. The libraries are located at:
–Roosevelt, 4026 28th Avenue South, 612-630-6590
–Southeast, 1222 4th Street Southeast, 612-630-6850
–Webber Park, 4310 Webber Parkway, 612-630-6640
A special celebration for the local communities will be held in the three libraries on Saturday, January 12. Special events and remarks from city and county elected officials will be held at Roosevelt at 10 a.m., at Southeast at noon, and at Webber Park at 2 p.m. All three libraries will open at 10 a.m. on January 12.