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The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and Minneapolis City Council approved the merger of the Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Library systems effective Jan. 1, 2008.

As a condition of the merger, three closed Minneapolis libraries – Roosevelt, Southeast and Webber Park – will reopen Jan. 3 Community celebrations for the library reopenings are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 12.

Last May the Minnesota Legislature approved enabling legislation allowing the libraries to merge. The merged system, to be called Hennepin County Library, will include 15 Minneapolis libraries and 26 suburban Hennepin libraries. All individual library names will be retained, including the Minneapolis Central Library. The combined libraries will provide more streamlined services to all county residents, offering more than five million books, CDs and DVDs (in 40 languages) and nearly 1,600 public computers. Hennepin County Library Director Amy Ryan will oversee the new merged system.

“This merger provides residents of Hennepin County with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits and resources of two premier library systems united into one seamless system,” said Randy Johnson, County Board chair. “Not only will all Hennepin residents have access to the extraordinary collections of the Minneapolis Public Library, but Minneapolis residents will enjoy the additional resources of the award-winning suburban libraries.”

"Our libraries – in Minneapolis and the suburbs – are the cornerstone of our communities,” said Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, whose entire district is located in Minneapolis. “The whole goal of this consolidation of these two great systems has been to strengthen and improve access to our fabulous library resources. We believe this step will ensure the vitality of our libraries for decades to come."

Library customers can continue to use their current library cards as the catalog and computer systems consolidate over time. New welcome signs announcing the merger will be displayed at the 41 libraries in January and information on the consolidated system is available at all libraries and online at www.hclib.org.

In a related action, the County board approved $15 million in funding to replace Webber Park Library in North Minneapolis. Planning for the new library will begin in 2008, with construction starting as soon as 2009.

The Hennepin County Library, nationally recognized as one of the top libraries in the nation, consists of 26 suburban libraries and serves a population of 762,000. The system includes children's readmobiles, outreach services and an extensive website – www.hclib.org.

The Minneapolis Public Library provides service through the downtown Minneapolis Central Library, 14 community libraries, technology centers and online at www.mplib.org.

In 2006, library users from both systems checked out more than 16 million books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, made nearly 12 million website visits and applied for approximately 115,000 new library cards.

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