More than 75 people gathered in the meeting room of the on Saturday. As Golden Valley celebrates its 125th anniversary, the library celebrates its own birthday—40 years. But Saturday's party came with a strong message from many—the library is needed now more than ever.
"It's become more important than ever," said Lynn Tarkow, a member of the Friends of Golden Valley Library. "People come here to get jobs, to attend community meetings and to use the computers."
Speakers echoed those remarks as everyone from library staff to the mayor to Hennepn County Commissioner Mark Stenglein stressed the importance of the library's place in Golden Valley.
"This is the face of our city," Stenglein said. "It says a lot about what we value and what's important to us. Libraries have always been the great equalizer and we need to keep the doors open."
Libraries around the country have been on the chopping block in the past few years, as cities and states have battled with shrinking budgets and a tough economy. And in Minnesota, the mayors of our three biggest cities are concerned that without enough state aid, cuts to funding for libraries would be inevitable, according to a Minnesota Public Radio report.
"Contrary to what some people think, the number of people who use libraries continues to increase," said Jeanne Stevens, adult services librarian.
Stevens has been with the Golden Valley library for more than five years, but she's been a librarian for nearly 40.
"We're much more than a place to borrow and read books," she said. "There's a digital divide in this country, and the library has become a place where everyone has access."
While the building has been around for 40 years now, historians say its presence goes back to the city's beginnings, when people would share and borrow books using horses. In the 1960s, the city sent out a bookmobile to the neighborhoods, until a building was finally erected in 1971.
To celebrate some of that history, attorneys Marshall Tanick, Cathy Gorlin and Lynn Gitelis presented 10 legal landmarks in Golden Valley. And the library celebrated what's to come by displaying dozens of photographs and artwork created by students.
"People who make decisions about what kind of funding we get should come and visit us," Stevens said. "Anyone who hasn't been here in a while should visit. We've evolved beyond the book."