SPPL’s Decade in Review: 2010-2019

The 2010s were an exciting decade for Saint Paul Public Library, ushering in a new era of e-books, 21st-century upgrades, and improved access to library programs and services. Join us on a trip all the way back to 2010 and relive the decade with these major milestones.


2010: WORKplace wins awards

  • Public Relations Society of America award for WORKplace. The PRSA Minnesota chapter recognized SPPL's WORKplace campaign as one of the best public relations campaigns of 2009 during the 32nd annual Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards held at the Minneapolis. WORKplace won awards in three categories: Institutional Programs (Government/Nonprofit), Marketing Services (New – Budget <$75,000) and Integrated Communications (Services).           
  • Mobile WORKplace launches. The Mobile WORKplace, funded by the Knight Foundation, collaborates with organizations to provide computer access, skill training, and job search and skill assistance. The classes and skill training can be provided in languages other than English.
  • First annual National Bookmobile Day celebrated. For more than 100 years, the bookmobile has played a vital role in fulfilling the mission of SPPL, bringing the resources of the library and the expertise of library staff directly to those in our community who face barriers in using a neighborhood library agency. 

2011: Year of the E-Book

  • OverDrive launches for SPPL patrons. SPPL’s Digital Library of text-based ebooks from OverDrive launches, ushering in a new era of e-books at SPPL. OverDrive’s e-books can be borrowed by patrons and transferred to a variety of mobile devices.
  • New SPPL.org launches. The redesigned SPPL.org launched in August 2011. The updated website featured a clean look, replacing the old design which dated back to 2002.                             


2012: Rondo and Merriam Park libraries get a 21st-century upgrade

  • Rondo and Merriam updated as part of 21st Century Library framework. Both Rondo and Merriam Park were updated with small automated materials handling systems from 3M to increase self-check-in by customers and to free staff for greater public service impact. In both agencies, the workrooms were reorganized for better workflow and efficiency.
  • Teen Tech Crew launches at SPPL. In collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, SPPL hired nine teens to lead computer workshops for other youth. The Science Museum has had a similar program with Hennepin County Library for a number of years.
  • Northstar Digital Learning Assessment launches. SPPL rolls out the NSDLA project at several libraries as well as the Mobile WORKplace. The library offers computer classes and the option to take the computer skills assessments at the end of the class sessions.                             


2013: The new Arlington Hills Community Center breaks ground; Read Brave is launched

  • Read Brave begins. Read Brave, originally SPPL's one book program for teens, is launched with Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King.
  • The new Arlington Hills Community Center breaks ground. The new 41,000 square-foot project, which opened the following year, integrated a recreation center and library under one roof for a total cost of $14.87 million.

2014: Sun Ray and Highland Park libraries receive an extreme makeover

  • The brand new Arlington Hills Community Center opened on May 22, 2014, with much fanfare, including a full marching band!
  • A New Legacy of Learning, a $14.8 million public/private partnership to enhance public library services entered its public phase. The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million in public dollars, and The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library raised an additional $7.8 million in private dollars for the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Libraries.
  • Sun Ray and Highland Park libraries reopen! The newly renovated libraries feature increased public space, upgraded technology, rooms for individual and group learning, and improved features for children and teens.                            


2015: George Latimer Central Library prepares for an exciting new chapter

  • George Latimer Central Library renovated. Renovations include a brand new workforce and innovation center, intended to provide job seekers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers with a place to work and helpful resources. 
  • The Bookmobile gets a new look! Sponsored by HealthPartners, the iconic Bookmobile debuted a new wrap in the Grand Old Day Parade. The full vehicle wrap features original artwork by Twin Cities illustrator Julie Boehmer. The design showcases the people and places of Saint Paul, reflecting lifelong learning, healthy living, and engagement with our vibrant city resources.

2016: Library Go provides virtual library cards for all public school students

  • Library Go launches for all SPPS high school students, followed by all elementary/middle school students in early 2017, providing easy access to the library for all public school students in Saint Paul.
  • SPPL publishes Karen children’s books. Saint Paul Public Library has published two new children’s books in Karen and English. The books, Elephant Huggy and The Hen and the Badger, are written by Karen authors from Saint Paul.


2017: Four libraries turn the grand age of 100; Rondo remodeled

  • Four libraries turn 100 and are celebrated with the 100 Years/100 Stories campaign. 2017 marked several 100-year anniversaries for Saint Paul Public Library: George Latimer Central, Saint Anthony Park, Arlington Hills, and Riverview Libraries, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Bookmobile. The anniversaries were celebrated with community block parties, new tools for patrons to share their stories, and an interactive "digital scrapbook" platform.
  • Rondo remodeled. Rondo reopens to the public after a $500,000 interior remodeling, which included a larger homework center, quiet study spaces, and more.
  • Maker Kits launched. Maker Kits, geared toward adults, include everything one needs to do an activity – equipment, accessories, instructional books, and recommendations for free software if needed. Some of our most popular kits are Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity, How to Podcast, and the Stop Motion Animation Kit.
  • Browse the top books, movies, and music from 2017.

2018: Read Brave expands; Drag Story Hour “slays” in Saint Paul

  • SPPL launches a new website and catalog. The new website features a unified experience for catalog, calendar, and web pages; responsive and mobile-friendly experience for patrons with new features that had been requested for years.
  • SPPL publishes children’s books in Amharic and Oromo languages. Saint Paul Public Library worked with Cherry Lake Publishing | Sleeping Bear Press to translate one book into two languages, Amharic and Oromo. The translation work on Teach Me to Love by Denise Brennan was led by Sitina Medda and Emebet Haile, with help from Jessica Zillhart at the library's Materials Management Center, and Guthema Roba from Hennepin County Libraries.
  • SPPL hosts its first-ever drag story during Pride month.
  • Read Brave expands to become Read Brave Saint Paul. Burn Baby Burn by author Meg Medina is selected as the 2019 primary book. For the first time, Read Brave includes titles for all ages and focuses on a theme important to the community — housing insecurity. 
  • The library launches a new website and catalog with a modern, mobile-friendly interface, personalization features, and smarter search.
  • Relive a transformative year in photos.
  • Browse the most popular fiction, nonfiction, and DVDs of 2018. 

2019: The Year of Fine Free & New Directions

  • SPPL eliminates daily late fines. This ensures that all people have access to library books and materials, which is our primary purpose as a public library. Early results from eliminating fines are encouraging. "Ditching library fines this winter resulted in the first circulation boost for the St. Paul Public Library system in years," according to the Pioneer Press. Learn more at sppl.org/fine-free.
  • New Strategic Direction announced. After an extensive community engagement process, SPPL released its new three-year strategic direction, along with a new mission and vision statement: "We welcome all people to connect, learn, discover, and grow." Download and read the full strategic direction document.
  • SPPL hosts Meg Medina as the 2019 Read Brave Saint Paul author. Relive Meg's visit with our live blog.
  • Art @ Rondo. With the support of the Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Rondo now features a new art façade, created by artists Melvin Giles, Gita Ghei, and Aki Shibata in collaboration with the community. Thousands of community members participated in the process of creating this public art.
  • Check out the top e-books and e-audiobooks of the decade.

What's next for Saint Paul Public Library? Visit our 3-year strategic direction, and consider participating in our facilities master plan survey and help shape the future of the library's facilities.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Saint Paul Public Library