There still will be thousands of books at Brooklyn Park's new library, but the building will emphasize community gathering spaces and technology.
Hennepin County officials recently showcased plans for the $23.5 million library that will be built on a 6-acre site near the corner of 85th Avenue North and West Broadway Avenue. The goal is to open it in early 2016.
At just over 38,000 square feet, it's more than double the size of the current library at 8600 Zane Av. N., which it will replace. Future plans for the current building are still up in the air.
The new library will include 78 computers, a teen learning lab, a family-friendly children's area, a multimedia studio and walls of windows and skylights.
It will also have more of a community destination feel than the current 1970s library.
Space, technology and a sense of community were brought up again and again at community meetings held to gather input for the new library.
"They were looking for a building with a greater civic presence and they wanted more space," said Lois Lenroot-Ernt, capital projects manager for Hennepin County Library, who is overseeing the project.
The larger library will help meet the needs of the growing city. Brooklyn Park had a population of 26,000 in 1970. The city has now grown to nearly 78,000 people.
Library use has also risen dramatically in that period. During 2013, more than 402,000 items were checked out and about 154,000 library visits were recorded.
"It's that wonderful, free place where everyone can go," Lenroot-Ernt said.
The new building will feel more spacious with more windows and lower bookshelves, which improve patrons' sight lines.
"Natural light improves your sense of well-being," Lenroot-Ernt said. "It creates a more friendly environment when you have more daylight."
Lenroot-Ernt said the children's area will promote parent-child interactions and will foster a love of learning.
"We will have an early literary area that reflects the library goal to talk, sing, read, write and play together," Lenroot-Ernt said.