Some Downtown library materials become less available

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February 14, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

The Interim Downtown Library, 250 Marquette Ave., will reduce access to its collections in the next 18 months as it prepares to move to its building.

The Special Collections section, including the Minneapolis Collection and the Kittelson World War II collection, is now open only four hours a week, and by appointment only: Tuesday, 1-3 p.m. and Wednesday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Much of the material in the closed stacks (pre-1994) will not be available after the end of February.

Local history researchers and genealogists use the Minneapolis Collection. It includes everything from old reverse phone directories and Prince's yearbook to a 1907 Minneapolis post card sent by tenor Enrico Caruso during a visit.

The new Downtown Library won't open until the summer of 2006, but library staff is already working on the behemoth task of organizing the move, said Betsy Williams, director of collection and technical services. All materials need to be reviewed and organized and any damage repaired.

Edward Kukla, the head of Special Collections, is retiring and is moving back to Michigan.

Kukla said Special Collections shared the library's staffing cuts, and with his retirement, the area only had one staffer. A part-timer will fill Kukla's job until the new building opens. Special Collections was also used less than other library areas, such as the Children's Collection, so it got closed.

In his job, Kukla emphasized collecting primary source materials, such as old Minneapolis postcards and menus, rather than newspaper clippings, which are now available online. He enjoyed firing history trivia questions to visitors, as he did on one of his last days. (Who won the best actress Oscar in 1949 for playing a deaf mute? Hint: Ronald Reagan's former wife. Answer: Jane Wyman.)

Williams said the Special Collections room in the new Central Library would be one of the nicest spaces.