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Branch Renovations Report: Big Changes Coming to Hennepin County Libraries

The Walker Library in Uptown is closing its doors Saturday, September 22 for major remodeling. When it reopens in 2014, it will be with an entirely new layout better suited to filling patron needs. Read further to hear about this and several other exciting building renovation projects taking place (or soon to take place) in Hennepin County, and about how you can support your favorite branch during transitional periods.


Walker Library

When the present-day Walker Library opened its doors to Minneapolis residents in 1981, it was something of an architectural oddity for the Uptown neighborhood. Much of the building was constructed underground, meaning that, even just to check out basic materials, you had to go to the basement. The design was greenlit for its energy conservation potential, but has not been particularly popular with library goers.

Redesign and fundraising efforts began in earnest a few years ago. The new Walker, which will include just over 14,500 square feet of usable space, is slightly smaller than its predecessor, but makes better use of the plot.

Book stacks, computer terminals and the main reading room will be at street level, as patrons would intuitively expect. Underground space will henceforth be tapped for a more conventional purpose: parking. The new design calls for the addition of approximately two dozen subterranean parking spaces.

Improvements will also include an interactive early literacy area, a more versatile children’s area, designated teen and multipurpose/community spaces, and more computer terminals.

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Submitted Rendering (Photo Credit: Hennepin Co. Library)

Brooklyn Park

Also slated is a new, $23.5 million library facility in Brooklyn Park. Though still in its planning stages, this project is already generating plenty of excitement in the community.

And not without cause. County officials have already met with reps from the Science Museum of Minnesota to discuss novel programming partnerships and the space requirements needed to stage special events in Brooklyn Park.

Additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education initiatives are also currently being weighed by staff. 

Excelsior

Residents of Excelsior, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Deephaven and Greenwood have their own new library to look forward to.

Excelsior’s outdated 3,700 square foot facility will soon be replaced by a county-owned facility one block down that boasts nearly double that square footage.

Like the current structure, the new Excelsior Library will be brick, in keeping with the historic nature of the district. Unlike its predecessor, the new branch will be built to accommodate a host of in-demand library amenities, including a large public meeting room, ample parking space, and more computer terminals. In addition, patrons can look forward to an outdoor reading space off the exterior, right next to the beautiful Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.

Construction will begin next spring, pending final approvals.

Click here for schematic renderings of the proposed library. 

 

Public works improvement projects such as these are colossal tasks, requiring the contributions of many dedicated individuals. If you live in the area, one way to show your support is to join the local Friends of the Library chapter.  

Walker LibraryBrooklyn Park LibraryExcelsior Library

 

For future updates on the above projects, visit Hennepin County Library’s Building Projects page