Report on community input for North Regional Library

Planning for the North Regional Library building project is underway. To help shape the project, Minneapolis nonprofit Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) engaged residents in a variety of ways in summer 2018, including pop-up events, patron interviews and door-to-door visits in the neighborhoods surrounding the library on the north side of Minneapolis.

Findings

Residents value features of the current library:

  • Computers – patrons use computers to access the internet, work on résumés and job applications, print documents, play games and listen to music.
  • Peace and quiet – patrons appreciate having a quiet space in their neighborhood.
  • Convenient access to resources – patrons value having resources and knowledgeable staff to help them with learning and literacy needs.
  • Connections to friends and community members – patrons meet friends and neighbors at the library informally, as well as through library programs.

In a renovated library, residents want improved:

  • Spaces, workshops, resources for teens and youth
  • Meeting and study rooms of different sizes
  • Group activities and workshops for people of all ages
  • Access to resources and community information
  • Technology and library materials

Other themes that emerged:

  • Awareness – residents want to learn more about online resources the library offers. Some residents are unaware that the library’s second floor is open to them. They also see the library as a place to become aware of what is going on in the community, from special events to changes in city policy.
  • Feelings of safety – residents expressed concern about the safety of the nearby bus stop and other areas around the library, including crosswalks.
  • Community center – North Regional Library is more than just a library. It is a hub for residents to get information, connect with others and access resources. Residents recognize that people of all ages should feel welcome, and that space should support both quiet and collaborative use.

While some residents want separate spaces for each age group, others want family members of various ages to feel comfortable in spaces together, with friendly supervision of youth. Residents identified opportunities for better use of the second floor of the library, as well as potential to make outdoor green spaces more inviting.

More about JXTA’s community engagement

During the summer of 2018, JXTA hosted community engagement activities around the upcoming renovation of North Regional Library. JXTA’s goal was to learn what resident priorities are for the renovation, including how people currently use the library (or why they don’t), what they want to see in a renovated library, how the library can be more accessible to them, and their thoughts about potential space configuration.

JXTA held activities both in the library and in the surrounding neighborhoods to gather input. Activities included art-making at the Folwell Neighborhood Resource Fair, interviews and observations at the library, a pop-up event at a nearby bus stop, conversations with residents at Hawthorne EcoVillage, door-knocking and a community bike ride.

Survey respondents

Of those engaged, about 200 people shared demographic and library usage information.

Race/ethnicity of respondents
Race/ethnicity Percentage of respondents
Black or African American 64%
More than one race 12%
White or Caucasian 11%
Latinx 4%
Asian American 3%
Native American 3%
Other 3%
Age of respondents
Age Percentage of respondents
under age 18 47%
18-24 11%
25-34 10%
35-44 10%
45-54 14%
55+ 6%

 

Surveyed residents use and visit North Regional Library in a variety of ways:

  • 80% live or stay in North Minneapolis zip codes.
  • 64% go to North Regional at least once per week.
  • 44% go to North Regional with family, while 33% go alone and 23% visit with friends.
  • 46% walk to the library, 22% take the bus, 21% drive and 11% bike.

A handful of those surveyed do not use North Regional Library. Given reasons include the quality of the collection, technology, use of other libraries, lack of transportation, too busy, and concerns about safety.

Next steps

In the coming months, residents will be invited to see the refined renovation plans and provide further feedback. JXTA will provide special opportunities to comment at the library, in addition to community meetings with library staff and project architects.

More about this building project