St. Paul’s busiest library is closing all summer for a makeover.
The Rondo Library will shut down Thursday and reopen this fall with a teen zone, study rooms and dedicated quiet area. The city is also expanding the homework help center, which serves more than 100 students a night during the school year — far more than it can comfortably handle.
Mayor Chris Coleman highlighted the $500,000 overhaul of the 10-year-old library in his speech about this year’s budget. The facility, at University Avenue and Dale Street, is a “jewel” in the community but needs investment to keep up with users’ demands, Coleman said.
The library overhaul comes as some St. Paul residents and mayoral candidates are saying the city is not spending enough on community spaces, like libraries and recreation centers.
Library Director Jane Eastwood said she and the nonprofit Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library encouraged the mayor to overhaul the inside of the city’s most-visited library — instead of tackling other multimillion projects — because it gives St. Paul a lot of bang for its buck.
“This isn’t a big price tag to make some really substantial improvements,” Eastwood said.
The city plans to better use the library’s space without adding on to the building and will make it more welcoming, she said.
Nearly 365,000 people visit the Rondo Library annually, according to the city. To fill in the gap while the space is closed, St. Paul is encouraging people to use the Hamline-Midway or Rice Street libraries, which are a couple miles away from the Rondo branch.
Other libraries and community centers will take on some of the library’s programs, like English and citizenship classes and summer performances for kids. The city’s roving Bookmobile will also spend more time in the neighborhoods around the library this summer.