Library reopens in Dinkytown

Southeast Library reopened after a merger of Hennepin County and Minneapolis libraries.

After being closed since the end of 2006, Southeast Library has reopened.

The library, located on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and 13th Avenue in Dinkytown, reopened following the consolidation of the Hennepin County and Minneapolis library systems.

Southeast Library, along with two other Minneapolis libraries, reopened Jan. 3, two days after the merger went into effect. Community celebrations were held at all three libraries Jan. 12.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said Southeast Library closed because the city didn’t have sufficient funding for its library system. The merger was approved by the Minneapolis City Council and the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners under the condition that the libraries would reopen, McLaughlin said.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Hofstede, who was involved in “Save the Southeast” efforts, said the libraries closed because the City Council and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak did not support an additional $250,000 in funding to keep the libraries open.

“We did not assume that that library was going to be closed permanently,” she said.

Hofstede said if any area of the city needs more library services, it’s Southeast.

Eric Heideman, head librarian at Southeast, said he’s received a good response from the neighborhood so far. He said about a third of the library’s clients were University students, faculty and staff before the closure.

“One of my personal challenges is to think of ways to reach out more to the University,” he said. “I think a lot of students don’t realize that there’s a public library in their backyard.”

Heideman said the library has large collections of science fiction literature, jazz CDs and English as a Second Language material.

McLaughlin said the library has added several new computers and changed its hours of operation.

Although Southeast Library will still be open a total of 24 hours per week, the schedule now includes more evening hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Hofstede said she hoped to expand the library’s hours and renovate the building sometime in the future.

Dee Jackson, a philosophy and religious studies senior, was eating at the Library Bar and Grill on Thursday when she noticed the lights were on across the street at Southeast Library.

Although she will most likely continue to use on-campus libraries, she said she was pleased to see children entering that library earlier.

“I’ve been at this University for four years and never seen it open,” Jackson said. “Hopefully they can stay open.”