Sunday, February 22, 2009

Minneapolis Central Library

Central Library

Since I have arrived in Minnesota the libraries have fascinated me as being relatively larger, more connected, and newer than their brethren in Canada.

The Minneapolis Central Library is the epitome of that. There are four floors, full of books and computers. Despite the number of computers, you still usually need to book a time to use one. The stacks use the Library of Congress system, so much of my time is spent browsing the familiar Q and QA sections, with occasional forays into G465 and other familiar places.

Unlike the University of Calgary library, the books do need to be renewed more than twice a year and so I have racked up some fines.

This photo shows the almost crystalline structure of the entrance. During a thaw, police tape and pylons block off most of the entrance to protect us from the ice which falls from that overhang.

It's about a fifteen minute walk to the library, a frequent destination to pick up books or escape the roommates for a time. The Minneapolis skyway system provides a longer, indoor route most of the way when it is bitterly cold out. If I just walk down Nicollet Mall, I can see beggars, hear a jazz trumpeter, pick up supplies at the Target of Targets, and see the point where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat up in the air at the beginning of her TV show.


John said...

The Champaign library has also been recently renovated. It does seem as though library projects are now a relatively prized contest opportunity for architects. I think that libraries are coming to terms with other media than books; also consider the emergence of coffeeshops inside of libraries (true of both the Champaign library and the Urbana Free) in resemblance to the big box bookstores of the early-mid 1990s (bookstore/cafe/music/DVDs). Maybe libraries have moved to recapitulate the social role that bookstores pioneered.

Then again, it could just be reflection of boom times and affluence, and doesn't have anything in particular to do with trends in media. The Carnegie libraries were certainly very nice.

I hesitate to point to architecturally prestigious libraries, such as the Koolhaas Seattle library, but this has to be a contributing factor.

Kevin Saff said...

The Minneapolis Central library also has a coffee shop, although you need to check out your books before crossing over to that side.

Minnesota is surely richer than Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined, but Alberta has less of an excuse. Although Calgary has a lot of things going for it, culturally it feels weak for its size.