Library Advocates Breathe New Life Into A St. Paul Landmark


St. Paul’s historic Arlington Hills Library closed its doors this March, after just under a century of operation as a public library. Thanks to the devoted efforts of a small group of community volunteers, however, the building now has a new lease on life – and a new lease from the City.

Over the past year, residents Peter Rachleff and Beth Cleary have spearheaded a community initiative to repurpose the beautiful 7,900-square-feet Carnegie building as a nonprofit library with a very specific purpose. In its new incarnation as the ‘East Side Freedom Library,’ its mission is to "organize and present programs that provide participants with a larger historical context through which to understand their own and their neighbors' experiences” – to quote the 15-year lease agreement inked with the City.

Specifically, its private collection will focus on labor, immigration, and African America, Asian American, and Asian history.

It’s a tall order, to be sure. At present, organizers are putting a wrap on a 'Raise the Roof! Open the Doors!' campaign to replace the building's 30-year-old roof. Thanks to a matching grant from the Neighborhood STAR program, they’re off to a good start!

But there’s work yet to be done. While the East Side Freedom Library (so far) has no official Friends group, it can only reach its full potential through the continued efforts of library advocates like you. To learn more and see how you can get involved, visit the East Side Freedom Library’s websitefollow them on Facebook, and sign up for their e-newsletter updates.