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WCCO Viewers' Choice For Best Library In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In telling the story of the Northfield Public Library, we have to turn the page back to chapter one, near the turn of the century, where we meet our hero -- Andrew Carnegie.

"In Minnesota, this was one of his earlier libraries. In 1910, he contributed $10,000 to build this library," said library director Teresa Jensen.

That kind of money went a long way back then. The beautiful brick and woodwork still stand today, helping pave Northfield's road to literacy.

But the town eventually began to outgrow the 1910 building, so they expanded in the 80s, and again in 2016.

"It's a really cool space. There's sunlight, it's contemplative," Jensen said.

The newest space -- the atrium -- ties the old with the new. Carnegie's work is still visible today.

"The atrium actually has been functioning as kind of a meet-and-greet-your-neighbor space. On the average, more than 600 people come through the doors a day," Jensen said. "And in a town of 20,000, that's pretty good."

Northfield Public Library
(credit: CBS)

But while the expanding book collection and building make up this more than 100-year-old library, it is inside where the real growth is happening.

Jensen says families make up some of their best and most-passionate users.

"I would say two-thirds of them are parents and their children, and so that is really important," she said.

And their contributions are one of the reasons the library was able to complete a stunning $3 million renovation just this last year.

"The library is really an anchor to downtown," Jensen said. "I can't imagine downtown without it."

She says their patrons use their whole collection: e-books, video, music and beyond. But the books are still boss.

"Actually, they're pretty happy with having that physical thing in their hands," Jensen said.

Because even with the changing times and technology, libraries are here to stay.

In Northfield, it is their place to discover an appreciation for the written world -- and help carry on a Carnegie legacy.

Northfield Public Library has lots of events, like story time for kids, book groups and even yoga classes. Click here for more information.

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