To step into a new era, the
James J. Hill Reference Library
in St. Paul, which specializes in business materials, is inviting patrons to use it in new ways.
Greg Heinemann, a representative of the library, says that it’s trying to adapt to the drastic technological changes that have hit libraries over the past decade.
Gone are the days of going to the library solely to conduct research or find information in books and periodicals or on microfiche. “Reinventing libraries has become necessary to make them relevant,” he says.
It doesn’t mean that buildings, like the ornate James J. Hill, which dates back to 1921, are obsolete or that the library's resources should be scrapped. But it has shifted its focus. For example, Heinemann is thinking about how the building can be a “platform to create content, promote discourse, entertain, and gather communities while still making information and help available when it is needed,” he says.
To carry this out, the library has recently embraced everything from weddings to retail events. It hosts a roots music show, which has become a "wonderful, live event that promotes gathering, entertainment, [and] culture and gets people to the library,” he says.
Come December, the James J. Hill will have a pop-up store called Holiday Grade, which it’s creating with partners Katherine and Mac MacMillan, who founded the Pierrepont-Hicks
clothing company. The store will bring American-made fashion pieces “to a very hip and cultured audience,” he says.
It's also working to bring entrepreneurs together to share information and insights. Right now it's exploring ways to help veterans find new careers or grow their businesses.
At the same time, the library is renovating parts of the building. Soon, the conference rooms and reading room will be updated, as will the electrical, sound, and lighting systems. New bathrooms will be added as well.
All in all, the idea is to “keep our building in great shape, our services top-notch and our future intact,” Heinemann says.
Source: Greg Heinemann, James J. Hill Library
Writer: Anna Pratt