Two library advisory groups are wrapping up their deliberations on a possible "consolidation" of the Minneapolis and Hennepin County library systems. While I am still waiting to learn the details and have a chance to get answers for questions I have, I am growing more and more concerned about the rush some people seem to be in. Though no Council committee has formally reviewed the work of the advisory groups so far, there is growing support for turning the Minneapolis system over to the County. Apparently in an effort to meet a March 23 deadline of the state legilature there as been a series of community meetings planned. Additionally, there is some pressure in City Hall to have the City Council look at this next week and make a decision Friday March 9. So far no formal public hearing has been scheduled.
Representatives of the City, Library Board and County will discuss why a "merger" is being considered and what the proposed changes might bring at a series of upcoming meetings:
· Thursday, March 1, 7 - 8:30 pm, Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave
· Saturday, March 3, 10 - 11:30 am, North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave N
· Monday, March 5, 6:30 - 8 pm, Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall
· Thursday, March 8, 7 - 8:30 pm, Nokomis Library, 5100 34th Ave S
This is a very serious decision that will have long term consequences for our city for generations to come.
It is essential that questions and concerns about this proposal be brought up quickly. Even if the only concern is that we are moving too fast, that needs to be raised.
Right now, there appears to be strong support for this idea from the County Board, the City Council, Mayor and the Library Board. I have concerns that we, as a community and as a Council, are not taking the necessary time to study, consider and discuss alternatives. If turning our public libraries over to the County is the alternative that will be chosen, I think that it is very important that we make certain that the people of Minneapolis get the best deal possible in the transaction. This may mean that more discussion and creative thinking is required, and that a rush to agreement is unwise.
If this is a good idea now, it will still be a good idea 6 months or a year from now. If it is a bad idea, let's take the time to consider the issues involved and find out before it is too late.
If you care about the library system and have ideas or concerns about this, please get involved. For more information, please go here and see more on the rationale for the "consolidation" here.