It is finally happening — the new Webber Park Library is having a grand opening celebration on Thursday, May 18 at 5:15 p.m., 4440 Humboldt. Hennepin County invites you all to the festivities and to stay until 8 p.m. to explore the new library. There will be activities and tours, and people are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the plaza area which surrounds the library with landscaping, gardens and benches and tables for outdoor reading.
The evening will begin with remarks from Hennepin County Commissioners Linda Higgins and Mike Opat, Director Lois Langer Thompson and other local leaders. The ribbon cutting will follow the speeches; a ceremonial bookend to the ground breaking that happened on April 12, 2016. There will be additional festivities on Saturday, May 14, which will include activities with a Minneapolis Parks naturalist, a bike tour, and entertainment from Patrick Henry students and Hopewell Music.
There is much to be excited about with the opening of our new library, not the least of which is the expanded hours. The new library will be open six days a week; on Monday, Wednesday Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m.
Drive by 4440 Humboldt and preview the beautiful architectural design of the new library. The exterior design uses natural and local materials, with a beautiful mix of stone, zinc and wood, chosen for their natural beauty and propensity to age well over time. The gardens feature native plants, which are good for our local pollinators, and the extended roof provides shelter for bikes and readers on rainy or sunny days. The library is 8,300 sq. ft. which is twice the size of its predecessor and will have twice as many computers as well — 23 in all. There will be increased wi-fi access and outlets are integrated into the furniture throughout the building.
The interior is designed to be welcoming, with open and flexible spaces for reading, learning and meeting. Natural colors, wood furnishings and comfortable family areas are all designed to be flexible and changeable, to provide for future needs and innovations. There are three meeting spaces; a multipurpose room, large meeting room and small meeting room. The multipurpose room is adjacent to the children’s literacy area and has a soundproof glass interior wall, allowing parents and staff the ability to watch over children while using that space. The north entrance connects to the parkway and provides unique access to walkers and bikers. The north-facing side of the library has full length, energy-efficient windows to maximize natural lighting and provides a view of the parkway and plaza areas of the library grounds. The south entrance is adjacent to the parking lot, which has 24 spaces, and provides access to those approaching from 44th Avenue or using public transit. The total budget for the library was $12 million.
There will be a new Play and Learn Children’s area and a new After School Space in the library. Friends of Webber Park Library (FWPL) donated $3000 to purchase state-of-the-art materials for the children’s area and $200 for programming of the festivities on Saturday. FWPL President Kate Petersen said, “The FWPL board is happy to support children’s literacy through the purchase of diverse toys and learning materials. We are most enthusiastic about the cooking and nature themes, and we entrust specific purchase decisions to the Youth Services team and our local Librarians.”
Additionally, the FWPL donated funds for two memorial bench plaques in memory of Mary Martinson, founder and original president of FWPL. Mary was a life-long patron of the Webber Park Library, and strong activist for the library throughout the decade’s-long effort to keep the library, to reopen the library and to build the new library. Current FWPL President Kate Petersen said, “The Friends of Webber Park Library are very excited about the opening of the new library. After being patient for 10 years we will have a bright new library, with room for more books, rooms for community meetings and a room for book sales. I am most appreciative that the new Webber Park Library will double its hours of operation to six days a week!”
There will also be an unveiling of the public art at the grand opening. One percent of the total capital budget was designated for art, and the art will be displayed in the north and south vestibule areas, and on the wall behind the service desks. Selected artists were Michael Sweere, and artist team, Tacoumba Aiken and Chistopher-Aaron Deanes. The selections celebrate and explore the unique histories, cultures and environments of the community.
When coming to the grand opening events consider biking, walking or using transit, as parking is limited. Info: 612-348-3848.
Note: The current temporary Webber Library site at 4203 Webber Parkway will close on Saturday, April 29, so there will be no programs there in May – wait until the new Webber Library opens at 4440 Humboldt Ave. on May 18.