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Cindy Wray Lowe leads a group of children in song and dance during the morning story hour session Saturday during the grand opening celebration of the new Fargo Public Library. (David Samson/The Forum)

New Fargo library a page turner

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Detroit Lakes Online
New Fargo library a page turner
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

FARGO - Minutes after scissors sliced the purple ribbon in front of Fargo's new main library Saturday morning, patrons checked out armfuls of books.

Some returned volumes to the $8.6 million building that opened for business Saturday.

More than 100 people gathered for the 10 a.m. dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The crowd doubled by the time the doors officially opened at 10:15 a.m.

"On behalf of the staff of the Fargo Public Library, welcome to your new main library," Library Director Tim Dirks announced to applause. "Our sincerest wish is that everyone will take full advantage of what the library has to offer, because it belongs to you, the citizens of Fargo."

Inside, residents wasted no time pulling books from the shelves, surfing the Internet, flipping through CDs and making use of the armchairs spread throughout the building.

David Torkelson of Fargo had his feet up on an ottoman, resting in a center aisle of the second floor.

"This is impressive," he said. "The openness ... compared to what we had before, where everything was squished together."

Carmen Nordback of Fargo admired the furniture and the gleaming white shelves holding the books.

"I love the library. It offers so much," she said, leafing through a book about crystals. "It's so exciting."

At least 1,500 people visited the library Saturday, said Beth Postema, deputy director.

Dirks said the crowd illustrates the hunger the public has for the new main library. In the days leading up to the official opening, people would wander in to look around or request a library card.

Jerry Sheldon of Fargo, former principal at Agassiz Middle School, was one of those who sneaked in for a preview. He said he couldn't believe the new "fabulous" facility.

"The way it's laid out so you have all the different areas for quiet study, browsing, newspapers," he said. "It gives you a very comfortable feeling."

Mayor Dennis Walaker said during the dedication that he waited until Friday for a tour.

"My office is over here, and I've watched the old building go down, and I watched the new building come up, but I saved it," he said. "And it is absolutely very impressive."

Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Gov. John Hoeven sent letters marking the occasion. Musical performances, guided tours and storytelling rounded out the celebration.

Fargo voters approved an 18-month, half-cent sales tax in 2004 to fund the new main library as well as north and south branches. The old downtown library was demolished in 2007, and its collection had been housed at a temporary site on Roberts Street.

If you go

What: Fargo Public Library

Where: 102 N. 3rd St.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Events: Concert by Tabb Prissel, 2 p.m. today; performance by the South High School Pizzazz show choir, 7 p.m. Monday; author visit with Ling Enger, 7 p.m. Tuesday; author visit with Dean Hulse, 7 p.m. Wednesday; teen "Twilight"-themed party and showing of the movie, 5 p.m. Thursday

Contact: (701) 241-1472

By the numbers

The new main library includes:

54,000 square feet

More than 100,000 books

5,200 CDs

4,500 DVDs

More than 300 magazine and newspaper subscriptions

49 Internet-accessible computers

Seating for 130 people in community room.

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