By Mike Slavik, Dakota County District 1 commissioner

We recently celebrated the reopening of the Pleasant Hill Library following an eight-month remodel. Just as exciting as all of the library's new features was the enthusiastic response from the community. Dakota County Library staff counted about 675 people visiting Pleasant Hill during the June 25 celebration.

That remarkable turnout on a wonderful summer evening really demonstrated the value that we as a community place on the library as an important resource and gathering place for our families and neighbors. I believe the time we spent expanding and improving the library was well worth the wait.

The remodeled library is a reflection of the Hastings community. We received valuable citizen input during the planning phase. We incorporated local details into the project, such as a floor design illustrating the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers as well as historical images, including of the Spiral Bridge, on interior windows. I believe even these details can help to further strengthen our sense of place and celebrate our history.

There is a lot of history at Pleasant Hill itself. Did you know it is one of the oldest libraries in the Dakota County system? In fact, the library in Hastings was one of the original two city libraries that joined a newly formed county system 50 years ago. (Farmington was the other founding library.) Pleasant Hill continues to be popular with area residents. Last year, more than 208,000 items were checked out at Pleasant Hill, and the library saw over 100,000 visitors.

Children's programs are back at Pleasant Hill, which are a big draw. Between storytime and other programs we offer, we're supporting children as they get ready to read and succeed in school. Kids also will enjoy the interactive children's area that includes a baby garden.

Adults also benefit from programs at Pleasant Hill. There is space for classes where you can pick up a new hobby or learn new skills for work or school. I think many library users will enjoy exploring the new iLAB technology, including a 3D printer.

Pleasant Hill is a gathering place, and we created more opportunity for that by including additional meeting rooms. I know the library staff and our community partners are excited about the chance to continue inviting authors and to host other learning events for the public. The new fireplace lounge and the outside patio will be popular spots, too.

The expanded Pleasant Hill Library is more accessible and offers additional services and resources for families, students, children and other visitors for years to come. I hope you'll discover for yourself all that our library has to offer.