What’s really happening – or not happening – at Minneapolis Central Library


“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.? The quote belongs to our beleaguered postal employees, of course. It also applies to independent researchers with a deadline – people like me.

And so I headed out this morning for the Central Library, inhibited by the icey sidewalks far more than by the purveyors of evil about whom I have been reading in the Strib of late. Since I hadn’t been to the library for a couple of weeks I had assumed that the letter writers to the Strib had the latest take on what goes on at this beloved bastion of learning.

During my hours at Central Library I observed:

  • Moms and dads, caregivers and grandparents, introducing toddlers to the wonders of the Children’s Room.
  • A couple of grey-haired gentlemen deeply engrossed in the Genealogy 4th floor Genealogy collection.
  • A clutch of young folks digging into the Government Documents collection
  • A young man earnestly exploring the Foundations collection.
  • Two scholarly-type colleagues delving into the magnificent riches of the Minneapolis Collection.
  • Dozens of seekers, or others who don’t have broadband in their homes, using the technology in an earnest search for employment or food assistance or housing options..
  • Avid readers eying the exhibit of fiction related to “Growing Up.:.”
  • Earnest citizens solving problems over a cup of coffee at Dunn Brothers.
  • A string of teens obviously on a field trip from a local high school, last seen headed for the revamped Teen Room on the Second Floor.
  • A gaggle of “suits” absorbed in the business collection.
  • Bargain hunters spending their lunch hour treasure-hunting at the Friends book store.
  • An ESL class or discussion group hard at work in one of the meeting rooms adjacent to the New Americans collection.
  • Bibliophiles engrossed in a read, totally oblivious to their environment.
  • Optimistic green thumbers exploring the early seed catalogs.
  • Aristocratic looking gentlemen reading the Wall Street Journal.
  • Library staff and volunteers on hand to point me and my learning colleagues in the right direction.

I saw Minneapolis residents working to solve personal and civic issues in an environment rich with information and conducive to clear thinking. I’m sure some of these residents of the city are homeless, at the library to get a grip on a job or a home or a life.

What I did not see were the thugs that others apparently encounter – or fear they might encounter – at Minneapolis Central Library. The public library may not be to everyone’s taste, but then again it is for everyone.