Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis’ North Branch Library, the first open-shelf library in the U.S., is about to be transformed into a state-of-the-art jobs center.
A $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration is helping make the historic library, which opened in 1893, a destination for much-needed computer access and job training in the community.
For more than 30 years, the library has sat unused, but groundbreaking for the jobs center is set for the first of next year. Once again, the building is set to be an investment in the development of people.
A study commissioned by the City of Minneapolis found that 45 percent of homes in North Minneapolis have no computer access while almost 70 percent of jobs require computer access and training every year.
According to Emerge Community Development, the organization that will run the library’s job center, the library will provide more than 1,000 North Minneapolis residents with computer access and training.
Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson said she remembers the days when she lived just down the street from the library. She said her mother and others would read and gather at the library for social events.
“North Minneapolis was built for working class people, and there weren’t a lot of people who had libraries in their own home, so that is where they went,” Johnson said.