New chapter begins at Lake Elmo: City’s Public Library opens this week in new home

Photo Courtesy of Judy Gibson. Library Board vice president and technology volunteer Sarah Lindner, left and volunteer Candace Ryberg catalog books at one of the Lake Elmo Public Library’s four computers.

LAKE ELMO — The new chapter in the young history of the Lake Elmo Public Library opens to the public this week.

The city-run library opened its new 7,000-square-foot home Tuesday in the “Clock Building” at 3537 Lake Elmo Ave. North. Prior to the move, the library used space in the Regional Arts Council building.

“We have over 3,000 books in our catalogue,” said Judy Gibson, library board secretary. “We have our on-line catalogue. We’re up and running.”

The new Lake Elmo library opens about one year after the City Council voted to pull the city and its levy of more than $250,000 out of the Washington County Library system. That decision came as WCL officials discussed the future of Lake Elmo’s Rosalie E. Wahl branch.

The WCL reaction to the city’s decision was closing Wahl in January and removing all materials and other county property from the building. The loss of Lake Elmo’s portion of its levy also forced the WCL to close its branches on Sunday and Monday.

Meanwhile, Lake Elmo residents answered the call of “Operation Bootstrap” to donate books to the new city library to save money in acquiring a collection, Gibson said. More than 15,000 books and other items have been donated since January and more items are coming in, she added.

“All of the items will not go into the library, of course, but the huge numbers of donations mean we can pick the very best for the library, store some for later or sell them in a book sale to benefit the library,” Gibson said.

The main difference between the new library and temporary facility is that all books in the new facility are properly catalogued and their covers protected in plastic, according to Gibson.

“Actually, the collection in the new home is all different books than those in the interim library,” she said. “In the interim library, we didn’t have all the books catalogued. It was run on the honor system.”

The new library, purchased in foreclosure by the city for $240,000, has a gathering room with complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate, public Wi-FI, a periodical room with newspapers and magazines, four public computers, a copier and fax machine and expanding collections of fiction, non-fiction, reference and media materials. The is a children’s library and Teen Zone with its own study room and meeting space for groups from 2 to 30 people.

“It’s huge. We’ve got four tenants in there. It’s almost like a mini-mall,” Gibson said. “I think the building itself is impressive. I think people will be very impressed with the space.”

Library Director Olivia Moris said the combination of donated books and volunteers has helped the library board save the balance of the city’s dedicated library levy to pay off the building in two years.

Gibson said the library has 55 volunteers, 20 of whom have undergone training to staff the library when its open. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Gibson said the library board also decided to give free library cards to any person with a card from any other metro-area library system.

“We wanted it to be a community library, so the board made a decision to give everyone a card,” she said.

Although the library had what Gibson called a “soft opening” Tuesday, the facility officially opens Friday in time for the start of Lake Elmo Days.

“On Saturday, we have hours all day long,” she said.


Now Open

The Lake Elmo Public Library is located at 3537 Lake Elmo Ave. N. in what is know as “the clock building.”

Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

To reach the online catalogue click here.