Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) today announced the Hamline Midway Library will close to the public May 28, 2023 for decommissioning as the next phase begins in the process of building a new library.
“We are thrilled to be moving on next steps to deliver a brand new, state-of-the-art library for our community,” said Mayor Carter. “This is an exciting time to be part of the SPPL story as we continue to bring our Transforming Libraries vision to fruition.”
Once closed, the staff will begin moving all the books and materials into storage and removing furniture, equipment, and other materials. This is anticipated to take several months. Construction on the new building is planned to begin this fall and is expected to take up to 18 months.
SPPL invites community members to check out books, DVDs, and more from Hamline Midway Library shelves and keep them for the duration of construction and return them to the shelves once the new library opens.
While Hamline Midway is closed, library users are welcome to visit one of the 12 other SPPL locations. Nearby locations include Saint Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Rice Street, and Rondo Community libraries. Additionally, the SPPL Bookmobile will continue to make stops in the Hamline Midway neighborhood, including at Hamline Hi-Rise, Victoria/West Nevada, Lyngblomsten Apartments senior residence, and a new weekly stop at Hamline Hancock Recreation Center. Information on location hours and the Bookmobile schedule can be found on the SPPL website.
Materials placed on hold can be directed to any library location. Hold lockers are available at nearby Rondo, Rice Street, and George Latimer Central libraries.
“I am ready for a new library, and the community I represent is ready for a new library,” said Councilmember Mitra Jalali. “This important new community resource represents four years of listening to community members to shape the vision of a space for families and children. The Midway neighborhood has endured significant challenges while remaining one of the places in the city with the fastest-growing population of kids and families. This critical city investment is long overdue.”
SPPL received $8.1 million in funding through the City’s 2022-23 Capital Investment Budget process to reimagine the Hamline Midway Library. SPPL submitted proposals for three library projects (Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries) and a community-informed process led to the funding of a Hamline Midway Library transformation.
Last year, SPPL conducted extensive community engagement and sought input from technical experts to determine the best design option for Hamline Midway Library to meet the community’s goals around accessibility, environmental responsibility, and creating new gathering and workspaces for families, teens, and the community. SPPL heard from approximately 3,000 community members through a series of virtual and in-person open houses, pop-up events, community meetings, surveys, and more.
The final, community-informed design for a new Hamline Midway Library includes features such as an outdoor reading garden, an interactive children’s area for learning through play, a teen area, study rooms, two community meeting rooms, a wellness room, and space to feature public art that connects the library to the variety of cultures represented in the Hamline Midway neighborhood. The one-story layout maximizes accessibility for everyone and provides additional safety with low shelving, strong sightlines, and all amenities on one floor.
The design incorporates the community’s desire for a library that uniquely reflects the cultures of the neighborhood while including elements of its rich history. A preserved stone arch entryway and cornerstone will lead to a meeting room, salvaged brick will be incorporated in the interior, and salvaged wood from the stage will be used in the community room. The existing mosaic above the fireplace will go above a new sustainable fireplace. The diamond brick pattern discovered in the existing library’s original 1929 draft documents will now provide a unique look to the new library’s exterior.
“We are deeply committed to building a new Hamline Midway Library that will allow us to equitably serve everyone in our community, especially those who are not currently using the library,” said Maureen Hartman, Interim Library Director. “We are grateful to all community members who participated in the process and are excited to welcome even more neighbors to the new Hamline Midway Library.”
SPPL is participating in an environmental review process with the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board to ensure all environmental impacts were considered as part of the design process for a new library. The city is also participating in a consultation process with the State Historic Preservation Office following the building’s listing to the National Register of Historic Places. The listing does not preclude SPPL from moving forward with a new library.
Beth Burns, president of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, added: “We are thrilled to see this project move forward as part of a holistic vision to transform libraries across Saint Paul. We represent thousands of library lovers who donate and advocate on behalf of our library system so that each branch can be a welcoming, safe, joyful, and inspiring space for every person in Saint Paul.”
SPPL is co-creating a vision to transform library spaces to meet the wants and needs of community members, both now and for generations to come. In 2019, the SPPL rewrote its mission, vision, values, and goals through community input. One of the key goals resulting from this process was to invest in spaces that are safe, inviting, affirming, and comfortable for people of all cultures, abilities, and communities. Community input also helped develop the Facilities Direction, a document that presents a vision and recommendations for investments in library facilities, including the Hamline Midway, Riverview, and Hayden Heights libraries.
About Saint Paul Public Library
At Saint Paul Public Library, we welcome all people to connect, learn, discover, and grow. We are at 13 library locations across Saint Paul, the Bookmobile, and online at sppl.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.