Dinkytown has made news recently for seeing some major potential changes to local businesses. But the student neighborhood might see another alteration to its array of businesses; the Southeast Library building may be replaced.
Numerous budgetary shortfalls have postponed changes to correct numerous problems with the Southeast Library’s current building. According to a Twin Cities Daily Planet series on the library, the county’s 2012 Capital Improvement Program stated that the building has 13,000 gross square feet, of which only 4,700 are usable as library space for staff and customers. The building currently lacks a parking lot and is inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Though the University of Minnesota has numerous libraries for its students, the public still needs the resources the library offers. Dinkytown, as noted in our Jan. 23 editorial, is on the verge of numerous changes based on the changing demographic of the University community. The Southeast Library may not fit into the wants of this new demographic, but for long-time residents and students alike, the library provides a resource for study space, rentable media and computers in the heart of the neighborhood. The University has a broad, uniquely diverse community. It needs a usable public library to aid its many neighborhoods — these proposed changes would only serve to further Hennepin County Library’s mission to “nourish minds, transform lives and build community together.”
These changes, however, should be informed with the needs of the neighborhood. Numerous groups, from the University District Alliance to Friends of the Southeast Library, are looking for the community to engage with the plans for the library. The engagement process begins this year, and all interested students, staff and University community members should make their voices heard on the issue.