Library boosters organize; critics welcome

Library Board member Diane Hofstede is heading a monthly ad hoc citizens group to bolster support for libraries, but the group is not shying away from potential critics.

Its next meeting is Saturday, Feb. 21, 10 a.m., at the Southeast Library, 1222 4th St. SE, and won't be all rah-rah. The group has invited library-debt critic Bob Gustafson to speak.

Gustafson, a Southwest resident, is a member of the city's Capital Long-range Improvement Committee (CLIC), a group that sorts through various borrowing requests and recommends projects for City Council approval.

Gustafson and CLIC have said the Minneapolis Library Board needs to slow its building projects because it can't pay to operate what it already has. Gustafson said he would talk to the group about the CLIC process and its past library recommendations.

CLIC's August 2003 report said the committee could not justify additional building-renovation funding "if the library continues to operate their remodeled libraries at such a reduced service level, or worse yet, if they decide to close renovated libraries in the near future."

Hofstede and former Library Board member George Garnet started the citizen participation group, Hofstede said. It grew from neighborhood-level meetings on library budget cuts. People at those meetings repeatedly asked the Library Board to continue to involve them in the process.

The group has four goals:

  • Keep all libraries open.

  • Increase funding for more hours at all locations.

  • Have programming that meets the needs of the community each library serves.

  • Make citizens and communities more aware of, and actively involved in, supporting Minneapolis Public Libraries.

    The Minneapolis Library Board adopted the goals Jan. 21, Hofstede said.

    The ad hoc citizens' group also meets March 29, 7 p.m., Catholic Eldercare, 817 Main St. NE and April 17, 10 a.m. Southeast Library.

    For more information, contact Hofstede at 952-835-0334, ext. 102 or [email protected]