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BEST LIBRARY Minneapolis 2004 - St. Paul central library

To step into the immaculately renovated St. Paul central library just off Rice Park is to be transported back to a time when public libraries were the locus point of cities and hothouses of civic life. The library has all the modern amenities you'd expect, of course: convenient internet access, an efficient and helpful staff, and a terrific children's room with frequent storytelling and puppet-show programs. But when St. Paul gave the 1917 building its two-year, $17 million makeover, it was equally important that the city was careful to preserve the burnished, dignified character of the place, even keeping intact the old stacks in the main reading room. Minneapolis would do well to take a cue from its neighbor as it reinvents its own downtown library.

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