Facilities Direction


A vision for Saint Paul Public Library’s facilities


Building off the library’s 2022 Strategic Direction, the Facilities Direction presents a vision and recommendations for Saint Paul Public Library’s facilities.

The Facilities Direction includes recommendations for system-wide technology and play-based learning.

The Facilities Direction focuses on three branches that have not been renovated in more than 30 years: Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries.

A community engagement process reached 1,680 people by online survey and over 53 community members at three neighborhood forums.

The Facilities Direction is not a detailed implementation plan or branch-by-branch facility design.

Read the Direction

Download the Facilities Direction Fact Sheet (PDF)

Learn more about the key findings and next steps for Saint Paul Public Library's Facilities Direction.


Libraries in Saint Paul are well loved, well used, and well worn.

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Community members feel pride for their neighborhood library.

The average rating for neighborhood libraries was 7.68 out of 10. The library is a strong connector in Saint Paul neighborhoods and patrons would like the library to play a stronger role.  More than half of the respondents in the survey said,  “I am willing to help make the library better."

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Across demographic and age groups, the library is viewed as a place for exposure to new things and people and as a place to have connections with other people.

The majority of white respondents strongly valued access to diverse resources and the physical space and feel of the library. In comparison, Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) respondents strongly valued their library as a place to spend time with family, exposure to new things and people, and to attend meeting/gatherings.

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Outdated buildings struggle to support high use.

While circulation and visits remain strong, the collection large and diverse, and program attendance increasing, technology is falling behind, surfaces are worn, and the buildings are in serious need of investment. In SPPL’s historic two-level buildings, many spaces are not easily accessible. These buildings have limited access to power/data and many are experiencing water infiltration. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems need significant investment.

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Saint Paul Public Library facilities are falling behind their peers.

Interior spaces are inflexible and are challenged to provide consistent, quality learning and play spaces. Entry areas should be more welcoming. Exterior and interior signage and way-finding need improvement. Sight lines and staff work areas need reconfiguration. Meeting rooms require enhanced flexibility and improved AV technology. Furniture throughout the system needs replacement.


Technology and Play-based Learning

As the role of libraries is evolving beyond access to a physical (and digital) collection to a service-enriched, community-oriented space, technology and play for learning are impactful strategic opportunities.

Technology within the library must evolve. As the role of the libraries is evolving beyond access to a physical (and digital) collection to a service-enriched, community-oriented space, the technology within the library must evolve as well. Development of a consistent, base level of technology services delivered throughout the library system will create resources patrons can rely on.

Library spaces should evolve to support play-based learning. Patrons helped SPPL understand the vast definitions and approaches of how play supports their learning and connecting—with themselves and others. The different modes, including play to learn, create, or express different ways of being represent new considerations to explore more deeply as a library system.



  • Community engagement to inform SPPL Facilities Direction


  • Share community-informed facilities vision and recommendations with City of Saint Paul leaders and community
  • Make limited, budget-approved mechanical and electrical improvements and other repairs


  • Funding secured for design work for Hayden Heights renovation and a limited number of additional mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) system upgrades
  • Community engagement to inform decisions on future project proposals (delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19)
  • 2021: Submit project proposals for the City’s Capital Investments Budget (CIB) process and other funding
  • Work with The Friends and City of Saint Paul partners on capital fundraising strategy

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March 18 CIB Presentation

Library slides are on pages 26-41.

Facilities Direction Report Appendices

Team, data, maps, trends, and meeting minutes.



Reimagining the Public Library to Reconnect the Community

Creating a library that is welcoming to all and bridges socioeconomic divides. Presented by Shamichael Hallman at TEDxMemphis.

Breaking the Model: Community Centered Libraries

Breaking the Model: How Community Centered Libraries Celebrate Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity - Library Journal, August 6, 2019

Download the Facilities Direction Fact Sheet (PDF)

Learn more about the key findings and next steps for Saint Paul Public Library's Facilities Direction.

Supplemental Information row 2

Playbrary: A new vision of the neighborhood library

Play-based learning design has morphed the library from “shhh” to a vibrant interactive family learning center

Libraries as the original coworking spaces

How the possibly most underappreciated coworking space isn’t staying quiet about its role as a free resource for entrepreneurs.
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