Hosmer Library

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Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library
36th St Library 2.jpg
Hosmer Library is located in Minnesota
Hosmer Library
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Coordinates 44°56′14″N 93°16′13″W / 44.93722°N 93.27028°W / 44.93722; -93.27028Coordinates: 44°56′14″N 93°16′13″W / 44.93722°N 93.27028°W / 44.93722; -93.27028
Built 1916
Architect Whitfield, Henry D.; Brown, James H. and Co.
Architectural style Tudor Revival
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP May 26, 2000


Hosmer Library, originally known as the Thirty-Sixth Street Branch Library, is a branch library of the former Minneapolis Public Library system now Hennepin County Library system located in the Central neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. It was built in 1916 during a period of rapid immigration into Minneapolis. At the time it was built, the library was in a sparsely developed Scandinavian neighborhood and one block away from the since-demolished Central High School. The library was built under the leadership of librarian Gratia Countryman and financed with support from the Carnegie Corporation. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.[2]

The building is in the Collegiate Gothic style, with polygonal towers on either side of the main entrance, a crenellated parapet, and terra cotta trim.[3]

Hosmer Library was Minneapolis’ fourth and final Carnegie branch.[4] Following Gratia Countryman’s research-based application to secure the funds from the Carnegie Corporation (she prepared a compelling summary of library circulation, and analyzed the city’s residents, identifying demographic and ethnic patterns, resulting in tailored programming for each neighborhood’s library), construction of 90’ by 54’ building began in May 1914.[5] Total costs ran to $27,700 for the plans designed by Henry D. Whitefield, a New York-based architect who was brother-in-law to Andrew Carnegie. The tenth library built in Minneapolis, the Thirty-sixth Street Branch Library opened on March 8, 1916.[6] Honoring James Kendall Hosmer, Minneapolis’ second city librarian, the branch was renamed for him in 1926.[7] The two granite lion-dogs outside the entrance were donated by family of Mrs. Lewis Gillette.[8] Branch libraries were conveniently located near streetcars[9] and Hosmer was no exception. It is one of nine Minneapolis libraries still in existence which is directly attributed to the important contributions of Gratia Countryman in building the library infrastructure for the city. When built, Hosmer was situated in a neighborhood without many residents, and those who lived there were primarily Scandinavian.[10] In 1969, reflecting the changing composition of the neighborhood, an African American reading room was dedicated in Hosmer to serve patrons.[11] Today, it is one of eight Minneapolis public libraries which are listed as historic landmarks with the National Register of Historic Places.[12]

Children's Librarian Bettty Welles demonstrating a display at the library.
Hosmer Library was built in 1916 and continues to serve as a public library today.
Boys using the library.
Teens reading.
Technology training at Hosmer Library.

Roy Woodstrom[edit]

For many years, Hosmer Head Librarian Roy Woodstrom was at the vanguard of innovation in delivering services to patrons. Following significant budget cuts in 2004,[13] the City of Minneapolis elected to reduce libraries’ hours of service. At Hosmer, open days dropped to four days a week. Neighbors rallied in 2004, when the Bancroft Neighborhood Association voted to give $7,000 to the Hosmer branch following a presentation by Woodstrom so that the library could be open five days a week.[14] On behalf of Hosmer, Woodstrom explored becoming a 501(c)3 corporation, a non-profit, to raise the monies to grow the library’s open days from four to five.[14] He successfully petitioned the Kingfield Neighborhood Association in October 2004 for a Social Services Grant in the amount of $5,000 towards for cultural and community programs.[15]

Woodstrom launched the Hosmer World Music Concert Series in 2002 with weekly live music on Saturday afternoons.[16] Funding comes from a variety of sources including the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council with additional support from Friends of the Hosmer Library and KFAI Radio. Previously, Woodstrom developed the Hosmer Library Talent Show, a cherished annual event for the neighborhood’s performers, which made its debut in 1998.[17] He also started the Hosmer Library Friends Group,[18] which helps the branch meet patrons’ needs through volunteerism, book sales, fundraising, and acting as liaisons between the library and the community. His legacy also includes the World Film Series, hosted at the Library. Woodstrom retired in 2014.[19]

Updating the building[edit]

In 1951, an enclosure was added to the east side stairway for $900.[20] Recognizing the limited access of the building, a ground level entry and an elevator were added in 1980.[21] By 1996 it was determined that the building required a major overhaul to meet patrons’ needs, and the Minneapolis Library Board considered closing Hosmer. Faced with that possibility, neighbors from Central, Bryant, Powderhorn Park and Kingfield banded together, and contributed more than $157,000 in Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds to ensure that their treasured library would stay open and get the necessary upgrades. They were successful: circulation rates were triple what they were before the remodeling, and Hosmer had ten times as many daily visitors.[22]

Tailored programs[edit]

In keeping with the long-standing tradition of providing relevant services to its community, Hosmer has a Tech Center on the lower level, which provides computers and classes for patrons. Funding for the Tech Center was provided by several neighborhoods served by Hosmer.[23] K-12 Homework Help is a popular program for students in the neighborhood. Annually, the birthday of James Hosmer is celebrated at the branch with festivities and an exhibit about his important contributions to the city of Minneapolis libraries. Today, Hosmer remains a vital hub, serving the information needs of its patrons and the community with innovative, thoughtful and valued programs.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ "Hosmer Branch Library". Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission. February 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  3. ^ Millett, Larry (2007). AIA Guide to the Twin Cities: The Essential Source on the Architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul. p. 194. 
  4. ^ Hennepin County Library, “Hosmer Library,” http://www.hclib.org/about/locations/hosmer
  5. ^ National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, April 24, 2000, http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/00000541.pdf
  6. ^ Minnesota Historical Society, “Thirty-Sixth Street Branch Library (Hosmer), 347 36th Street East, Minneapolis, Minnesota,” http://placeography.org/index.php/Thirty-Sixth_Street_Branch_Library_%28Hosmer%29%2C_347_36th_Street_East%2C_Minneapolis%2C_Minnesota
  7. ^ Benidt, Bruce W., “The Library Book: Centennial History of the Minneapolis Public Library,” Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center, 1984, pp. 104-105
  8. ^ National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, April 24, 2000, http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/00000541.pdf p. 6
  9. ^ “Map of the City of Minneapolis, Minn.,” Minneapolis Directory Co., http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/mpls/id/296/rec/51 (streetcar lines are in green)
  10. ^ “Hosmer Branch Library,” City of Minneapolis, Historic Preservation Commission, Landmarks and Historic Districts, http://www.minneapolis-mn.gov/hpc/landmarks/hpc_landmarks_36th_st_e_347_hosmer_library
  11. ^ Benidt, Bruce W., “The Library Book: Centennial History of the Minneapolis Public Library,” Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center, 1984, p. 208.
  12. ^ MPLS PLAN, “Appendix G: Heritage Preservation,” 10/06/2009, http://www.minneapolis-mn.gov/www/groups/public/@cped/documents/webcontent/convert_274715.pdf, p. 11.
  13. ^ Hamilton, Colin, “Comparing St. Paul and Minneapolis Libraries,” http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls/messages/topic/4pmuiYNOJZZ6nzHiXMcrGf October 23, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Sanders, Donna, “BNA Gives Hosmer Library $7,000 to Stay Open for One More Day a Week,” The Bancroft Banner, Marc 2004, p. 1. http://www.augmentj.com/websites/bancroftneighborhood/content/pdf/banner_2004_march.pdf
  15. ^ Kingfield NRP Meeting Minutes, October 18, 2004, http://kingfield.org/2004/10/
  16. ^ Mintz, Katie, “Library Heats up for Hosmer World Music Concert Series,” January 2012, Lyndale Neighborhood News, http://www.lyndale.org/sites/default/files/LNN_January_2012_forweb_0.pdf
  17. ^ Hobbes, Dwight, “Fancy Ray and the Hosmer Library Talent Show, Southside Pride, August 10, 2014, http://southsidepride.com/fancy-ray-and-the-hosmer-library-talent-show/
  18. ^ “Hosmer Library Forming Friends Group,” November 2011, https://lyndale.org/sites/default/files/LNNNovember2011forweb.pdf p. 5.
  19. ^ Hinds, Mark, “Join Us to Say Thank You to Community Librarian Roy Woodstrom with Music in the Park,” Lyndale Neighborhood News, September 2014, http://www.lyndale.org/sites/default/files/Files/LNNSeptember2014-web.pdf p. 12.
  20. ^ 347 East 36th Street Inspector of Buildings record, Hennepin County Library Archives and Special Collections.
  21. ^ Benidt, Bruce W., “The Library Book: Centennial History of the Minneapolis Public Library,” Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center, 1984, p. 105.
  22. ^ “Moving Forward,” Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program, 07/19/2001, http://www.nrp.org/r2/resources/Reports/ProgRep/NRPProgRep1996-98.pdf, pp. 14-15.
  23. ^ City of Minneapolis, “A Summary of NRP Neighborhood Investments,” http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@ncr/documents/webcontent/convert_272845.pdf p. 19.