Interim Minneapolis Central Library: How Accessible?

Last month’s Access Press reported on the new downtown Minneapolis Public Library being planned for construction on the site of […]

Last month’s Access Press reported on the new downtown Minneapolis Public Library being planned for construction on the site of the 1961 building that is currently being torn down. Until that building is completed in 2005 or 2006, the Central Library will be housed in the old Federal Reserve Building at 250 Marquette Avenue, known as Marquette Plaza. So, how accessible is this interim site? Here are a few details for Access Press readers.

 

Physical Accessibility: The best way for wheelchair users to enter the building is on the Marquette side. (There is a sloped ramp to the building on the Nicollet side, but it is extremely long and many people have complained that it is exhausting.) Upon entering on Marquette, go straight ahead to the main hallway, take a right, then another immediate right to the elevators. The main library is on the 3rd floor; children’s and popular collections (audio books and new popular fiction) are on the 2nd floor.

 

Wheelchair users who are familiar with the downtown skyway system will be happy to find that visitors can access the library from the skyway across Marquette Avenue. (The skyway, however, is not open on weekends.)

 

Parking: The nearest parking meters on the street are along Marquette Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets. These are often full, so can’t be relied on to be available for accessible parking during the week. Street parking is free on Saturdays.

 

There are seven stalls of accessible parking in the underground parking ramp of Marquette Plaza. The entrance to the ramp is from 3rd St. (one way, heading west) on the right side of the street. There are four spaces on the south side of the ramp and three spaces on the north side, all near the entrance to the corridor leading to the shuttle elevators. The ramp is open Monday through Friday, when the rates are $3 for up to 2 hours and $7 for 2-4 hours. Anything over 4 hours is $8, unless it’s after 4:00, when there is a flat $2 rate. (Due to recent budget cutbacks, the library now closes at 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.) On Saturdays, when the library is open from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., street parking is the only option. There are some accessible parking spaces in a couple of the surface lots nearby, but because they are on the Nicollet side of the building, they are not as convenient to use due to the reason given above.

 

For the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing: Sign language interpreters are available for all library events. To schedule, call in advance: 612-630-6000 or 612-630-6003 (TTY). There are 4871 closed captioned videos and 929 DVDs available at the Central Library.

 

For the Blind and Visually Impaired: The phone number for recorded hours, locations and events is 612-630-6230. The Central Library has Internet computers loaded with Jaws speech synthesizers and Zoomtext magnification systems. There is also an Arkenstone open book reader (which, as of this writing, is in need of repair.) Magnifying lenses are available at the service desks. There are over 6,000 large-print books at the Central Library, plus 5,000 adult fiction and over 10,000 adult nonfiction audiobooks (books on tape). In addition, visitors will find 300 juvenile talking books, and over 11,000 other types of juvenile audiobooks. Finally, the Central Library currently has 45 descriptive videos and 3 DVDs.

 

Of General Interest: The Minneapolis Public Library system has numerous collections and services that are of interest to the general public, including:

  • Helpful staff
  • The Twin Cities’ largest collection of print resources
  • 150,000 nonprint items
  • 14 community libraries
  • A telephone reference service available all open library hours: 612-630-6000
  • An electronic reference assistance on the web at: askus@mplib.org
  • Book deliveries for people who can’t come to the library
  • Volunteer Internet tutors

 

Some of the above services are provided by the nonprofit organization Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library. For more information on what the Friends do, or to find out how you can help them provide these services, visit their site at www.friendsofmpl.org/friends_home.html or call 612-630-6170.

 

The Minneapolis Public Library also maintains a site (www.mplib.org) with library events, the library catalog, on-line periodicals and indexes, links to useful Web sites, and hours and locations of all library branches. For those with a library card, it is also possible to request and reserve books on-line.

 

As of this writing, there is no information on disability access on the library’s Web site. Staff say they hope to post it “as soon as possible.” To encourage the library to address this oversight, or to submit other suggestions you may have, call (612) 630-6260, or use their on-line suggestion form found at www.mplib.org/suggest.asp.

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