Performance and exhibit celebrate 125 years of library service in Hennepin County

Whether delivered a century ago by a Model-T "book truck" or today by high-speed Internet, public library service in Hennepin County has played an essential role in creating a literate and informed citizenry in this region. You can explore this fascinating history at a free exhibit, "For Use: 125 Years of Library Service in Hennepin County," which runs from June 30 through Sept. 30.

A grand opening program, which includes a performance by a Minnesota Historical Society history player, will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 30 at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, and will be followed by a reception at 7:40 p.m.

The exhibit, program, and reception are free and open to the public. The exhibit is funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The program and reception are sponsored by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.

Exhibit goers will learn about revered librarian Gratia Countryman, who was zealous about library service to residents of Minneapolis as well as "rural" Hennepin County. Hennepin County Library’s recently-adopted mission to "nourish minds, transform lives, and build community together" has been its underlying philosophy since library service began more than a century ago, apparent in the exhibit’s depiction of how readers, children, families, new immigrants, and the business community have relied on library services through the years.

Exhibit visitors will see how technology has expanded the community’s access to the library collection and will continue to be a key factor in library service in the years ahead.

Visitors will also learn how strong support from the community, including thousands of library volunteers, the Library Foundation of Hennepin County, and the Friends of the Library, has facilitated the Library’s growth.

Today, Hennepin County Library offers 5 million books, CDs, and DVDs in 40 languages, 135 databases, and 1,700 public computers. Last year, an estimated 5.8 million people visited Hennepin Countys 41, national award-winning libraries, more than 17.5 million items were checked out, and there were almost 20 million visits to the Librarys website, www.hclib.org.

June 22, 2011

Published Jun 22, 2011