Future of SSP Library
2019 MOU with Dakota County Library
On February 19, 2019, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dakota County regarding a study to determine the feasibility of merging with the Dakota County Library System. On March 12, 2019, Dakota County did not approve the Memorandum of Understanding, but did agree to the collection of data regarding the guiding principles in the MOU.
Items in the MOU concerned staffing; service levels; the possible transfer of the collection, equipment, etc.; the short-term and long-term options for the library on its current site or elsewhere; community engagement; and a timeline with a preliminary decision on potential library coordination or joinder by September 30 when the maximum levy is set by the City.
The County provided these reasons for not approving the MOU:
- The Dakota County Board of Commissioners recognizes the important step that the City of South St. Paul took in requesting a study of the City Library with the County Library. However, the Board chose not to formalize the MOU study agreement with South St. Paul until they have a better understanding about the future of the current South St. Paul library facility, which wasn’t addressed in the document.
- The timeline for decision making in the MOU wasn’t sufficient given the complexity of the issues related to the long-term future of the facility
- The County staff will continue to work cooperatively with the City to develop information that will assist the City in their decision making.
- Having a clearer sense of the City’s direction and expectations about their current library facility is necessary before the County formalizes any agreements with the City to study the future of the library systems.
Community engagement opportunities will occur in the future, but residents do not need to wait to express their opinions on their City Library! Please do contact members of the City Council or the Mayor regarding your concerns.
2016 Library Redesign Study
In June of 2016, the library contracted with LSE Architects of Minneapolis to conduct a space study/mechanical needs assessment of our current site. KFI Engineering was responsible for assessing the building systems (heating, cooling, electrical, etc.), while LSE staff focused on workflow, public needs/uses of the building, technology improvements, etc.
The library was originally built in 1927; in 1964, the library was expanded to provide better service to the community. After retiring the bookmobile, the bookmobile garage was converted into a meeting room in 1999. The current library is approximately 11,800 square feet.
Libraries are increasingly becoming community gathering places for programs, quiet study, lively discussions, and interactive learning. Some issues regarding our current building concern lack of parking, difficult sightlines for staff with four distinct levels, confusion about the library’s entrance, no performance space/large meeting area, no smaller private study rooms, and meager workroom space.
Library staff provided input regarding their work areas, and the public responded to print and online surveys regarding current library services. The study (PDF) was completed in December 2016 with a recommendation to remodel the 1927 original library while creating a new addition with underground parking, enlarging our current footprint to 17,000 square feet. This concept would alter the current four-level library to two levels, bring the library up to code (mechanically, electrically, ADA, etc.), provide private study areas as well as larger community rooms with current technology, move the teen area up to the second level, and provide staff and patrons with improved sightlines throughout the building. The initial cost estimate for this remodel is $4,494,320. The Library Board approves this recommendation but is also open to further study of various designs and potential collaboration with other agencies.
This is but one possible vision for the library. More reflection, public input and assessment will follow this initial proposal. The full study, as well as a handout (PDF) with features of this proposed renovation, is available for viewing at the library.
Kathy HalgrenLibrary Director
Lori HansenCouncil Member
Bill FlatleyCouncil Member
Joe ForesterCouncil Member
Sharon DeweyCouncil Member
Joe KaliszewskiCouncil Member
Tom SeabergCouncil Member
Rendering of a possible renovated exterior of the library site by LSE Architects
"County rejects library merger study, wants more information" - South St. Paul Voice, 4/19.
"Too many questions, not enough answers" - Southwest Review, 3/18/19.
"Dakota County rejects South St. Paul’s request to study takeover of city library" - Pioneer Press, 3/12/19.
"South St. Paul to study library merger with Dakota County" - Star Tribune, 2/27/19.
"South St. Paul asks Dakota County to partner in studying possible takeover of city library" - Pioneer Press, 2/25/19.
"Study recommends $4.5M expansion, upgrades to South St. Paul Library" - Pioneer Press, 2/2/17.
"South St. Paul’s ‘old-time library’ has charm, but not a lot of space" - Pioneer Press, 12/11/16.