Welcome! The Lake Elmo Public Library serves all members of the community by providing access to informational, educational, and recreational materials. Explore our website! You will find tools, information, resources, and other interesting links.
On December 31, 2011 the Lake Elmo branch of Washington County Library System was closed for good. Early in 2012 the city of Lake Elmo took back its statutory authority for a library and appointed a library board. A huge community effort of volunteers worked on creating the library from scratch. A building was found, and at the same time the Friends of Lake Elmo Library operated an interim library loaning out books and other items so the community would not be without a library for even one day. In September of 2012, the Lake Elmo Public Library opened its doors for the first time.
Today, the municipal library has issued more than 2700 library cards to community members, has a collection of over 20,000 books and other materials, an eBook collection, programs for adults and children, community resources such as a copy machine, printer, fax and computers for the public, as well as public meeting rooms. Lake Elmo Public Library is currently a pleasant, welcoming space, that volunteers created out of an old building, and a love for libraries and community.
Explore our website and visit us. You are always welcome at the library in downtown Lake Elmo.
An Abbreviated History of Libraries in Lake Elmo.
The Public Library in Lake Elmo has had a “hit or miss” history during the past 50 years. While the cities of Stillwater and Bayport have had longstanding libraries that pre-date the county library system, it wasn’t until 1967 when Washington County created a regional system to benefit other cities, villages, and townships in the elongated county. Library offices and the first book collection were located on opposite sides of Lake Elmo Ave., near the geographical center of the County. Later the library offices were moved to larger quarters outside of the City, and the local book collection was moved to different rental space north of the Post Office where it remained until 2003. Then, with little notice, the library was shuttered. For the next 3 years, there was no library in Lake Elmo.
Under pressure by the local taxpayers, a local branch was again opened in 2006, in its third location — this time as the Rosalie Wahl Branch Library. Many residents attended the dedication and greeted the first female Supreme Court Justice and a long time City resident. It was a day to celebrate that faded quickly.
As cities in Washington County were subject to uneven growing pains, the County decided to close the Rosalie Wahl Branch permanently after 5 years and re-allocate the dedicated library tax collected on Lake Elmo properties to maintain and improve other County libraries. This time the City and residents did not accept the County’s decision immediately and created a Library Board with local funding re-directed from the County Library System to a new Lake Elmo Public Library. After less than a year in a temporary location, the volunteers re-opened a vacant 7,000 s.f. building purchased at a fire sale price of $240,000. The Council has continued to fund the library budget in an amount similar to what would have gone to support the County Library System. This amount has been more than sufficient for the Board to rapidly pay off the building purchase loan and to implement a staged renovation plan for the library. Even with these one time expenses at the beginning, the Board was able to create a collection of over 20,000 books, DVD’s and audio books, which is more than double the collection maintained by the County when it closed the Rosalie Wahl Branch. The staff and volunteers have tried to create an unmatched experience for residents. An emphasis has been place on early childhood learning with help from the Elks Club of Stillwater, the Bank of Lake Elmo, and contributions from Gorman’s, xxxx, xxxx, and xxxx. In addition, there have been ongoing author visits, talks on many topics, movies, tai chi, and many other activities that have been developed by interested residents.
The Lake Elmo Public Library is now in its 5th year. It is an appropriate time for the Board to take the pulse of residents’ interests and concerns about the future of our library, and consider unmet needs. To gather information, the Board is holding a Special Meeting on May 3, at 6:30 PM and sending a survey to every post office address in the City for comments. The survey is also available at <lakeelmopubliclibrary.org> and at the Library Circulation Desk. Participants may provide their names and addresses, or not, as they prefer.
With the advice and consent of our residents, the Board hopes to continually improve access to valued library services. Following the State Statutes governing libraries, the Board may also “consider sharing part of (the City library tax levy) to the (County) library system fund, to be used to increase or improve public library services in the city,” or turn the library over to the County system as a branch. knowing that the county might close the branch in as little as 4 years and again re-direct all our library tax base to support the county system. The details of this possibility are in a proposed resolution elsewhere on the City website.
The next chapter for Lake Elmo is an open book. Help us write it.