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3 St. Paul libraries to get major makeovers

The City of St. Paul will spend $8.1 million on transforming one of the three libraries. Funding is still needed for the other two projects.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The St. Paul Public Library has revealed plans to transform the Riverview, Hayden Heights and Hamline Midway branches. 

"We have spent the past, well, probably four and a half years in conversation with community members about their wants, needs and dreams," director Catherine Penkert said. "They want libraries that are safe, inviting, affirming and comfortable."

For Riverview, that will mean a full interior renovation of the historic Carnegie library. Outside, they'd like to remove the "accessible entrance" on the side of the building and replace it with an addition, which would serve as a single entry point.

"If you get around using a wheelchair, a walker, if you have kids in a stroller, or you're coming up on foot by yourself, that all people enter through the same door," Penkert said.

At the Hayden Heights Library, the community envisions more technology and green space.

"And then Hamline Midway, we are looking at a new building that bridges past with future," Penkert said of the 90-year-old library. "There's an iconic arch over the doorway. Incorporating that arch in the new building."

Penkert says the City of St. Paul committed to covering the $8.1 million project at Hamline Midway, with work scheduled to begin next year.

Yet funding isn't secured for the other two sites. As St. Paul Public Library seeks state and federal investment, the Friends of St. Paul Public Library are working on securing philanthropic donations, however, but at least the vision is there.

"It feels really important and really hopeful to be able to have these conversations right now," Penkert said.

Although project renderings are now out, the community input period isn't over. Penkert said there will be more opportunities to give feedback in mid-June.

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