Monday, April 9, 2012

Minneapolis Public Libraries

The above postcard shows the first Minneapolis Public Library that was built in 1889 at Tenth Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. That library was the main library of the Minneapolis Public Library system until a new library was built in 1961.

The 1961 library is shown in the postcard below. This library is described on the back of the postcard as follows:
The new gold and granite Minneapolis Public Library, headquarters for both Minneapolis and Hennepin County Libraries, is located in the Gateway Development Area, 300 Nicollet Avenue. Vivid colors, light and space combine with glass, Italian marble, teakwood and anodyzed aluminum in this modern library. Smoking lounges and open shelves invite the visitor to browse and wander. A blacklight hall of time and space and a planetarium, where regular shows are given, are unique features of the library.

The next postcard is a view of that library's interior, described as follows:
All callers at the new central building of the Minneapolis Public Library, whether they enter it by telephone or in person, are greeted by trained librarians at the Information Desk. They answer quick reference questions, directing other to the proper subject departments.

The next postcard shows the library's statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, holding a book. This is a seven-foot bronze statue by Jakob Fjelde that stood at the entrance to the Heritage Hall auditorium. Both the statue and the mahogany paneled background were from the old central library building that was demolished in 1961.

By 2000, the 1961 library was considered inadequate. The existing library was closed in 2002 and was demolished. The current central library was built on the same site. I haven't seen any "tourist" postcards of the new library, but I have a couple of postcards that were available at the library bookstore.

The first card shows an artist's view and solicited support for the new Minneapolis Central Library when it being built. This building was designed by architect Cesar Pelli, and was to "be home to an outstanding 2.5 million collection - the largest of any public library in Minnesota and the fourth largest in the nation." The last postcard reproduces a watercolor painting of the library which opened in May 2006. The building is 353,000 sq. ft. and "boasts a collection of over 2 million items, a green roof, and an exterior of 4,000 panes of glass."

The last picture is not a postcard. It is a photo I took at the opening of the new library on May 20, 2006.

After some financial difficulties, the Minneapolis Public Library was merged into the Hennepin County Library in 2008.

This post was written to celebrate National Library Week, April 8-14, 2012.


  1. The first one was great. After that. it is like they forgot how to build buildings.

  2. I don't if I like the new architecture compared to the first library in the old style. But it might be more comfortable in the modern library.

  3. The first one was indeed great, but I also think the last one with all that glass is probably a very nice space.

  4. The Hennepin County Library occupied the 4th floor of the 1961 library. Now it is a huge library system.


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