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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

New Northfield Public Library opens to the public

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6f42eb37-cf06-818d-9357-ef5a2d364075">After extensive renovations, the Northfield Library reopened to the public with a grand re-opening ceremony on May 7th. The new library includes updated facilities, a new atrium with large glass windows, a new staircase location, new shelving, an outdoor patio, and more space for the collection, said Library Director Teresa Jensen. The library consists of three sections: the Carnegie library, which was built in 1910; a section that was added in 1984; and the new 2016 addition. “The glass atrium ties together the 1910 [building] and the 1984 addition,” said Jensen. “So the building is much more open, it’s much lighter.” The relocation of the staircase has also made the building much more accessible. “In 1984, they put a staircase in the middle of the building, and that kind of divided the building up quite a bit,” said Jensen. “So what the architects did was they took the staircase out of the building and put it on the exterior of the original Carnegie library. So that opened up the floor.” This reorganization and addition of space has enabled the library to expand both their children’s and adults’ sections, as well as to get new computers for public use.

How many Carleton students use the library and will appreciate its new appearance? “I think we see them fairly often,” said Jensen. “I don’t see packs of students using study spaces; if they come, they’re coming quietly and individually and looking for what they want to read.” Faculty, she said, use the library more often. “They live in town, they’re not living on campus, so they’re a part of the community and they use the library,” she explained.

The Carleton and Northfield Public Libraries serve members of both communities. Ann Zawistoski, Head of Reference and Instruction at Carleton’s Gould Library, said that Northfield community members use Carleton’s resources, too. “There’s a good understanding that the library serves students and faculty and staff first, and so during the term we don’t see as many community people,” she said. “But during breaks we see quite a few community members. People are doing their own research, or they’re finding books to read for fun, or they need the computer access.” Northfield residents can check out books from the Gould Library with a library card, or a “Friend of the College Card,” if they live within 15 miles of Northfield. Library users can also put money on this card to use it for printing.

The relationship between the Gould Library, the Northfield Library, and St. Olaf’s libraries is primarily one of reference back and forth. “I think all the librarians here will refer students to the Northfield Library,” said Zawistoski, particularly for resources like travel books, popular literature and children’s literature. Jensen added that all of Northfield’s librarians get together once a year; this year’s gathering will be a chance for the Northfield Library to showcase its renovations.

Looking ahead to the future, Zawistoski said that she would love to expand the connection between Carleton and the Northfield Library. “We’ve talked about at some points, especially the public services groups in both libraries, talking a little bit more about when we refer back and forth, what are the different sources that we have available, so that we know,” she said. “I don’t want to send someone to the Northfield Library if they don’t have what someone needs, and vice versa.” Jensen agreed that the potential for more coordination and interaction is there. “Sometimes I think the public library is…not a secret, but maybe it’s possible that Carleton students don’t know so much about it,” she said. “So I hope they take the opportunity to come. It’s right off campus, it’s really close.”

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