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Mount Royal library is back and better

Mount Royal Library patrons give feedback to the remodel on a sign inside the door. (Photo by Ryley Graham)1 / 3
Greta and Larry Zanko, weekly library visitors, pick up new books at the recently remodeled branch. (Photo by Ryley Graham)2 / 3
The new program space in the library hosts one of its first events, a children's class for painting with crayons. (Photo by Ryley Graham)3 / 3

On July 11, the Mount Royal branch of the Duluth Public Library opened its doors after a renovation that began on May 2. Among other things, this remodel included the addition of a program room to offer more educational opportunities to library patrons.

"We were able to do this through a lot of gift and grant money," said Kristy Nerhaugen, Duluth Public Library youth services coordinator. "We love expanding and being able to offer more services."

The program room was built in the space that used to house Yarn Harbor. Prior to having this space, it was difficult for the Mount Royal library branch to host programs other than a weekly children's storytime. Now with the expansion, the library staff is looking forward to putting on events for not just kids, but teens and adults as well. Some of the potential programs include author visits, movies and Lego workshops.

"Hopefully we will have programs at least once a week other than the children's story time," said Paul Griffin, senior library technician.

Another improvement to the library that came with the remodel is an increase in seating and space to hangout. Nerhaugen said that they wanted to make it a more welcoming space for reading, studying, working and enjoying what the library has to offer.

"A lot of people like to come in and pick up their books and bring them home," Nerhaugen said. "But we love it when people stay at the library and use it as a place to read and create and collaborate."

Aside from the expansion, some parts of the library were simply rearranged. The library staff worked to get all of the children's books into the children's section and to create a separate section for young adult books. They also shifted the front desk from its previous position, diagonal to the front door, to make it more welcoming.

"The area now seems more open than it was," Griffin said. "It's easier to greet the patrons when they're coming in, so that's nice."

During the two-month renovation period, staff members and library visitors were diverted to either the Main Library downtown or the West Duluth branch. Nerhaugen said that many visitors to the main library recognized the staff members that usually assist them at Mount Royal.

"It was awesome when kids who normally go to this library would come into the main library and see a Mount Royal staff member and say, 'Oh my gosh, we know you from our library,'" Nerhaugen said.

While many people ventured to other library branches to get their books, others, like weekly library visitors Greta and Larry Zanko, stocked up before the Mount Royal branch closed. They are glad to be back in their library branch, browsing the new selections.

"There's a lot of new books that the library has gotten since it's been closed," Greta said. "So I'm just looking around for stuff I haven't seen before and I found all kinds of new things."

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