Future of SSP Library

Community Engagement

In October 2019, City staff kicked off the community engagement process at “On the Road Again” to share information concerning options for the future of South St. Paul Public Library and to obtain broad-based and representative citizen input to aid in the decision-making process.

A basic general Library Survey (PDF) was created to gauge the library needs of our residents as well as their interest in a library upgrade of any kind.

Help Us Write the Next Chapter (PDF), a library fact sheet, was created to outline the essential points of the discussion surrounding the library. These points follow an ABC approach of Autonomy, Build-Out, and Cost Impacts.

An in-depth look at these options, as well as other factors impacting future choices, is provided in the Final Report on Potential Options Dealing with the Future of the South St. Paul Public Library (PDF). This document, with ample appendices, addresses the question of a City- vs. County-operated library, site options, financing options, continued operations of the library during construction, potential partners/shared services in a new or remodeled facility, potential uses of the current library building, and community engagement.  It is the result of the Library Action Plan, which was drafted in the spring of 2019.

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.

2019 Library Action Plan

On April 29, 2019, the City Council and city staff participated in a goal-setting exercise to determine top priorities for the coming year.  The future of the South St. Paul Public Library was a top goal for both council and staff, and a Library Action Plan (PDF) was devised to study current issues and options in order to present potential scenarios to the public based on current information.  

The June 24, 2019 Council Worksession Report (PDF) includes a Memo regarding the Library Action Plan; Dakota County's response to specific questions regarding the library; a Memo from LeVander, Gillen & Miller, P.A. concerning the creation and control of the city library; the June 10, 2019 Worksession Packet regarding the Library Board's value of an independent library to this community and support of LSE Architects' Option C1; and the Phase One Report of Discover Together: South St. Paul.

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.

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.

  1. Kathy Halgren

    Library Director

  2. James Francis


  3. Lori Hansen

    Council Member

  4. Bill Flatley

    Council Member

  5. Joe Forester

    Council Member

  6. Sharon Dewey

    Council Member

  7. Joe Kaliszewski

    Council Member

  8. Tom Seaberg

    Council Member

Rendering of a possible renovated exterior of the library site