Rochester Public Library looks to the future


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ROCHESTER, Minnesota (KTTC) – It’s in a central part of town, and for those who use it, the Rochester Public Library is sizable and sentimental.

“I think it’s just a great resource for anyone who needs to have access to books, computers,” said Julian Rutten, a Rochester resident.

“I came here a lot growing up, having been in Rochester since 3rd year. So it’s a bit nostalgic, ”said Rochester resident Bella Dunbar.

“I know him very well, I live nearby,” said Katherine Degnan, a resident of Rochester.

However, over the past two years, the library has seen a significant decline in its use.

“Starting in March of this year, earlier this year, we were able to really reopen our doors and bring people back,” said Karen Lemke, Marketing and Community Engagement Manager at the Rochester Public Library.

Yet, with city council approval of the city’s 2022 budget, its funding by the city will remain the same. Lemke gave some options on how this funding would be used.

“We know it’s all online and we’ve learned so much about it during the pandemic,” Lemke said. “We have a new app to make it easier for people to find our resources. “

According to data from the City of Rochester, the library recorded more than 470,000 visits in 2019, a number that fell to around 115,000 in 2020. Estimates for 20-21 have that number much lower. Their projections predict a return to pre-pandemic numbers by 2023, reflecting the comments they have received from the public.

“We have a really, really robust survey system,” said Lemke. “Libraries are always appreciated and precious, we constantly hear from our visitors. “

The library users we met support its continued funding.

“It’s a really important public resource to have the physical space available,” Dunbar said.

“I would probably try to pick them up if they decided to fund them,” Degnan said.

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