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Hennepin County Library-Northeast is more energy-efficient following its $5.2 million renovation

Sustainability, community, and technology are a few of the key words to describe the $5.2 million renovation of the Hennepin County Library-Northeast at 22nd and Central avenues northeast.

Nearly 300 people showed up for the library's grand re-opening on April 2, according to Lois Lenroot-Ernt, a spokesperson from the library capital division.

The library's collection of books, CDs, and DVDs has been "refreshed," while the physical space has been modernized, with some features that pay homage to its roots, she says.

It's one of a number of libraries that are being improved throughout the county system.

A big part of the Northeast library's major renovation involved revamping the 1973 bricks-and-mortar building, she says. But a portion of the building was removed to make way for a 2,400-square-foot addition, for 16,900 square feet altogether, according to library information.

Sustainability was an underlying theme for many aspects of the project. For example, the addition's exterior is covered with long-lasting zinc panels. The material "naturally maintains a protective patina and will self-repair imperfections and scratches over time," a prepared statement reads. A new stormwater management system on the building's roof also helps out  environmentally, while the lot has been landscaped with native plants.

Inside, the building has automated daylighting controls, while windows and mechanical systems have been replaced to be more energy efficient, according to library information. 

Lenroot-Ernt says community gathering spaces were a priority. As such, the renovated library has more spaces for reading, studying, and meeting, equipped for laptops and wifi access. Twenty-four computers have been added.  

She says the children and teen section allows for better browsing, with books available in bins, and there are some interactive components. Additionally, customer service points have been streamlined, she says.

Other aspects of the project incorporate details from the building's history. For starters, the wooden plank ceiling was kept, and was extended into the addition.

Near one entrance a cleaned-up concrete medallion, a library artifact, is displayed along with a pen and ink drawing of the original Carnegie library building; historic photos line the walls. Among Lenroot-Ernt's favorite additions are the occasional tables that a local woodworker crafted from an aging oak tree that had to be removed during construction.

All in all, the library's profile has been raised, she says, adding, "People can see it from Central Avenue and I think it's going to be a great asset for community members."

Source: Lois Lenroot-Ernt, spokesperson for capital division of Hennepin County Library
Writer: Anna Pratt

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