Elliot Park helps fund Franklin Library

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September 22, 2003 // UPDATED 11:04 am - April 30, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc. approved directing $5,000 toward the interim Franklin Community Library. The appropriation came after EPNI leaders listened to heartfelt comments by a resident attesting to the value of the library in one of the city's poorest communities.

Julie Steller, an Elliot Park resident and member of the Friends of Franklin Library, told the EPNI board of directors at a Sept. 8 meeting that the library draws a number of users from the neighborhood on Downtown's southeastern edge.

Immigrants, in particular, depend on it for English classes, she said.

The library at 1314 E. Franklin Ave. is undergoing an 18-month renovation. Fund-raisers had collected about $132,000 toward their $275,000 goal as of Sept. 10 to keep an interim site open next door.

"It meets a tremendous need in one of our core city neighborhoods," Steller said. "It's just a positive influence in what has been a beleaguered neighborhood."

Built in 1914, the Franklin Community Library is the oldest public library in the city. Besides its book collection, it features a learning center, homework help center and computer center.

Community Librarian Sally Munger said it serves a diverse range of users and features one of the city's largest Somali collections.

Another fund-raiser, Joani Essenburg, who lives in the Southeast Minneapolis Phillips neighborhood, said she tells neighborhood kids that they "own all the books at Franklin if they have a library card.

"So many families don't have books in their home," she said. "For us, this library provides an essential service."

EPNI's financial support will come from grant funds controlled by the neighborhood.

The interim site will be at 1308 E. Franklin Ave. It is expected to open in mid-October. Due to budget cuts, its hours will be cut in 2004. The library will be open Monday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. and Wednesday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It will be closed Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.