Pandemic also prompted innovations

The manager of Burnhaven Library in Burnsville says he hopes full and regular library hours will be restored in the next six months, along with children’s storytimes, early literacy classes and other services.

“It has been a painfully quiet place at the library this past year,” Chad Lubbers told the Burnsville City Council on Tuesday.

He gave the council an update on library activities during the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for the future.

Current library hours at Burnhaven, located at 1101 County Road 42 W., are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

A proposed “interim level of open service” for Dakota County library locations is before the County Board, Lubbers said.

While some library activities have been curtailed, others been introduced during the pandemic.

Burnhaven distributed 4,970 lunches last summer, a joint effort with School District 191, the Burnsville YMCA and several churches, Lubbers said.

It provided 75 Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to financially troubled families for job searching or school, he said. Expecting fewer visitors, the library raised its budget for ebooks and books by mail, Lubbers said.

Children could pick up Summer Discovery reading program kits last summer and work on literacy projects at home and online, he said.

The library has seen increased demand for study and meeting room space from high school and college students and small-business owners seeking wireless hotspots, Lubbers said.

Teleconferencing hardware is being installed in the library’s conference room, with room for up to 12 people, he said.

The library is working with county courts to provide remote access to hearings for people who can’t get to the courthouse, Lubbers said.

A 120-foot art rail is being installed with the goal of hosting art exhibits that rotate every two months, he said. Within six months, he hopes to establish “a community venue for people to experience a variety of artistic styles and talents,” Lubbers said.

The library is providing Chromebooks and help to people seeking the county’s employment and economic assistance services, he said.

“You have really taken the library and reinvented its service,” Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said.

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