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Busiest Anoka County library branch gets facelift

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2014 - 12:29 PM

The Northtown branch in Blaine will be reconfigured to include additional computer terminals, a new teen space and an improved children’s area.

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Northtown Library in Anoka County will close for three months to undergo a $1 milllion makeover. The makeover will include a new children’s section, where the preschool and family story time is held. Above, Becky Walpole, a children’s librarian, led the story time and read “Goodnight Me” by Andrew Daddo.

Photo: Richard Sennott , Star Tribune

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Anoka County Library’s busiest branch will get a million-dollar makeover.

The Northtown branch in Blaine will close for several months starting on March 17. When it reopens in June, patrons can expect a brighter, more open and user-friendly space, said the Anoka County library director. The branch logged more than 250,000 visitors last year.

“The key is to create buildings that are warm, inviting and flexible to meet current needs of the community as well as future needs,” said County Library Director Marlene Moulton Janssen.

A critical part of the project is the addition of a drive-thru book drop. Currently, patrons have to find parking and then walk up to the front of the building to return items.

Some of the interior renovation highlights include:

• The addition of 10 computer terminals with Internet access, bringing the total to about 30.

• The addition of more comfortable, soft seating in several areas.

• The addition of four small conference rooms for public use.

• One consolidated help desk that will be centrally located. Currently, there are separate reference and circulation help desks.

• A new browsing area in the center of the library for quick trips. The area will include newly released books, DVDs, magazines and other items.

• A new teen area with soft seating.

• An improved children’s area, including a new story-time area where parents and children can read.

• Greater flexibility for future uses

The library should also appear brighter. Crews will lower book shelves from 7 feet to 5 ½ feet. The higher shelves are harder to access and create a dark, tunnel effect, Janssen said.

Crews will tear out some interior walls to create a feeling of space and openness. They’ll position furniture and fixtures to accent the skylight and windows.

In the children’s area, crews will tear out the existing story time room and replace the existing wall with a glass wall to allow for more light.

Finally, the bathrooms will be reconfigured to allow for better access by patrons with disabilities.

This is the largest Anoka County library construction project since the Rum River branch in Anoka was built in 2000. Most of the money is coming from Anoka County. A $150,000 state library ­accessibility grant through the Minnesota Department of Education will pay for the bathroom renovations.

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