This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
It may seem unusual to include a public library on a list of things to see and do when traveling around the area; however, anyone who visits the Stillwater Public Library will quickly see that the image of what a library is and can be has changed.
“In my mind, the most unique thing about this library is that we offer weddings on the terrace and rent that space for other events,” said Mark Troendle, library director. “People rent it for corporate events, graduation parties, and a variety of things. Most libraries don't do that.”
Keri Goeltl, office specialist, said many people come into the library and sit on the terrace to eat their lunch, read a book, or admire the view of downtown Stillwater, the St. Croix River, and the recently finished bridge called St. Croix Crossing.
“People are coming to the library to do more than just check out materials now,” Goeltl said. “It's to use the resources, or just find a place to retreat.”
The library features a large children’s section, a teen room, a gallery and the St. Croix collection, a room filled with local resources. In addition, unique artwork covers the walls. The library has a pamphlet explaining a self-guided tour of the art and architecture.
In 1901, Andrew Carnegie sold his ironworks and began giving away his fortune, much of it to finance public library buildings. The Stillwater Public Library was built in 1902 as a Carnegie Library. By 1971, the library was too small, so the Margaret Rivers Fund provided money to double the size. Since then, renovations have added handicap accessibility, computer stations, a parking garage, and the Johnson Terrace.
Troendle is proud that with all the additions, the library has been able to keep the flavor of the Carnegie Library. “It's a unique amalgam of old and new,” he said.
“It is a city-funded library,” Goeltl said. “It's wonderful to be a part of a community that puts so much value in their library.”
The community reaction is positive, according to Troendle. “I hear a lot of people say that this is what a library should be,” he said. “It feels very cozy, particularly the upper level. It feels very much like your living room. It's a very comfortable space.”
If you go...
Name: Stillwater Public Library
Address: 224 Third St. N., Stillwater, Minn.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday from Labor Day to Memorial Day; summer hours vary