The beleaguered Minneapolis Public Library voted 7–1 to merge with the Hennepin County Public Library at an emotional March 7 board meeting. If approved by the state legislature, the Minneapolis system—which has struggled since 2003 with reductions in local funding, staff reductions, and branch closings—will become part of a new system to be called the Hennepin County Library.
At least three Minneapolis residents would be appointed to a new 10-member board, thus ending the MPL board’s 80-year oversight of their system, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported March 8. “Times have changed,” Board President Anita Duckor said before voting in favor of the merger. “My heart is full; I see a bright, bright future. Without [the merger], there will be no future.”
If the merger succeeds, Mayor R. T. Rybak has promised a $2.6-million allocation to reopen three closed MPL branches. This would add to the city’s $1.2-million supplemental appropriation toward the library’s 2007 budget. In the first year of the proposed merger, the city would contribute an overall $7.8 million in state aid, plus another $1 million to cover the system’s expected deficit.
The Hennepin County Board is scheduled to vote on the merger March 13.