The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on a project involving Libraries without Borders and Park Plaza Cooperative, a community of manufactured homes. I wrote about the project last October (2020); it’s fun to see that they are able this year to provide in-person programming without COVID restrictions…
[A] call came from Libraries Without Borders, a nonprofit with the mission of bringing knowledge and information to people in need. And with it came the offer to turn the diverse community’s storm shelter into a learning hub by supplying Wi-Fi connections, books, art materials, computers and iPads.
“It could be everybody’s dream to walk to a building and use a library,” said Seefeld, who has lived at Park Plaza since 1998 and served as its president for the past 10 years. “Reading brings people together.”
Many of the 83 families who live at Park Plaza are immigrants whose primary language is not English. About 30% have trouble accessing a library due to a lack of transportation, or can’t get to a library when it’s open, according to Anoka County Library and Libraries Without Borders officials.
But residents did turn out Saturday for a celebration kicking off an ambitious series of live programs that will include everything from English language classes to reading, writing and computer skills.
It’s not the first program in the area…
In 2018, Park Plaza opened a new aboveground storm shelter strong enough to withstand an F5 tornado. The building has a kitchen, gyms and rooms with tables and chairs — a perfect space for a learning and literacy hub.
“I think it’s great,” said Fridley Mayor Scott Lund. Using the building as a library and connecting people to it can only be positive, he said. “It’s great thinking on their part.”
Libraries Without Borders had already brought its “Wash and Learn Initiative” to Minnesota, partnering with libraries to bring story times to laundromats. As the nonprofit in 2018 launched its Manufactured Housing Initiative to reach the estimated 22 million people in the United States who live in manufactured homes, it called Seefeld.
And the model in Minnesota could start a bigger trend…
Park Plaza could serve as a model for other manufactured home parks, said Libraries Without Borders Executive Director Adam Echelman. The nonprofit is looking to bring library services to a few such communities in southern Minnesota, he said.