Transforming Libraries

Co-creating a community-centered vision to transform Saint Paul Public Library’s facilities.

Final Community-Informed Building Designs and Floor Plans Announced

When we talk with community members about their wants, needs, and dreams for their libraries, we consistently hear this: people in Saint Paul want libraries that are safe, inviting, affirming, and comfortable for people of all cultures, abilities, and communities.

Over the past year, community members have extensively engaged with SPPL and LSE Architects through a series of virtual and in-person open houses, pop-up events, community meetings, and surveys to help us visualize improved Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries. When paired with technical guidance, together, we have created final building designs and floor plans that will transform these well-used, well-loved, and well-worn buildings into community gathering spaces to meet the needs of our community members now, and for the next generation.

The final building designs and floor plans for the three libraries maximize accessibility for all community members, are environmentally responsible, and provide new spaces for families and teens to play and learn and for community members to gather, meet, and work or study independently. Each of the designs is also distinctive, reflecting the uniqueness of the neighborhoods served by each of these libraries.

Read the full reports from LSE Architects:

Hamline Midway | Hayden Heights | Riverview

Community Engagement to Co-Create Schematic Designs

To create community-informed schematic designs for Hayden Heights, Hamline Midway, and Riverview, we designed an equity-centered community engagement process with our design partner, LSE Architects. Together, we sought to ensure historically excluded perspectives and communities were at the center of this work. Our community engagement efforts included the voices of young people, BIPOC communities, people who identify as trans or non-binary, and people with disabilities.

Read a summary of the Transforming Libraries’ Community Engagement and Design process.

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Updated September 26, 2022. Timeline subject to change based upon the project's progress.

Community Involvement


Through a series of progressive surveys, community members were asked to provide input and react to designs. Surveys were available online and paper surveys were available at Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries.

Community Open House Meetings

All community members had opportunities to stay involved through progressive open houses (virtual and in-person). Through these open houses, community members were able to stay informed, provide feedback on analysis and alternatives, and have their concerns and aspirations reflected in the alternatives that were developed that ultimately led to the final building designs.

Meeting Materials

Community Open House Virtual Meeting on February 24, 2022:  PowerPoint presentationmeeting recording, and Mentimeter results

Community Open House Meetings on April 23, 2022:

Listening Sessions

Separate listening sessions for Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview were offered in-person at each library location. Community members were invited to stop by to engage with designers and architects from LSE along with library leaders to share ideas, ask questions, and learn more about the project.

Additional Community Engagement

Artist Advisory Cohort + Creative Encounters

Led by experienced public art curator and community organizer Tricia Heuring, the Artist Advisory Cohort is a creative approach to community engagement.

The Artist Advisory Cohort conducted creative engagement sessions in the neighborhoods of Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries to gather community members’ feedback. They used their experience as Saint Paul artists and community members to inspire dialogue with the community about the future of libraries as cultural hubs. More specifically, they used their skills in curiosity and creativity as artists to identify points of relevance—whether tensions, connections, or opportunities—and developed creative community engagements, or encounters, for further public conversation (through a pop-up or attending a community event).

The Artist Advisory Cohort includes:

Library Design Project Ambassadors

The Library Design Project Ambassador group includes selected individuals representing neighbors or other stakeholders of the three focus libraries: Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview. It is comprised of neighborhood groups, associations, community organizations, City representatives, and youth leadership teens. As representatives from these areas, they meet monthly to get updates to share with the community and bring to us concerns they are hearing from their constituents or neighborhood groups.

The project ambassadors group helps ensure key community stakeholders have opportunities for regular informational updates, opportunities to bring forward feedback and questions, and feel confident serving as information ambassadors for the library design work underway in their neighborhoods. It is comprised of members who represent neighborhood groups, associations, community organizations, and the youth experience.

Meeting Schedule, Materials and Members

If you would like to connect us to a community publication, organization, or group to help ensure we are reaching all community members, including historically excluded perspectives and communities, please contact Marika Staloch at

A Vision Shaped By You

Community members are showing up to shape their libraries. 

  • 3,000 people participated in the Strategic Direction process in 2018-19
  • 1,680 people completed surveys and 110 people participated in neighborhood forums on library facilities wants and needs to inform the Facilities Direction in 2019
  • 35+ letters and testimonials were shared with City leaders as part of the Capital Investment Budget process in 2021
  • 47 youth shared their desires for library buildings at youth-led youth engagement events in 2021
  • 664 people attended and/or provided feedback at community open houses, listening sessions, design workshops, and open office hours in 2022
  • 2,355 surveys were completed online and at pop-up events to inform the design directions for Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries in 2022

Updated August 23, 2022

Key Findings that Guide the Vision

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

Facility Direction - Icons

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."

Facility Direction - Icons2

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.

Facility Direction - Icons3

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.

Facility Direction - Icons4

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.


2022 and Beyond

  • February-September: LSE led community engagement to develop community informed schematic designs for all three priority libraries. Hamline Midway community engagement process invites community to inform direction: new building or renovation plus expansion at current site.
  • Develop construction documents and begin construction of any projects (Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and/or Riverview) funded through 2022/23 CIB process or other.
  • Continue to seek public and private funding for the priority projects outlined in the case statement.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated November 3, 2022

Resources and Documents

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