Expanding access at the Duluth Public Library

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The Duluth Public Library is trying something new: they’ve recently introduced the appropriately titled, Easy Access Card. “The library being a welcoming place to everybody in the community that has a lot of resources that we want to share. This new card is an opportunity for people who maybe just moved or transitioned here to this area and don’t have a proof of address yet,” Byron Johnson of the Duluth Public Library.

All you will need is your ID and requires no proof of address. This decision also serves the people who don’t have a permanent address. “It’s not just those folks who are new to the area. It’s maybe someone who is transitioning out of treatment, or they’re unhoused and don’t have a permanent address. This is opportunity for them to take advantage of the resources that we have available.”

The library has been a longtime advocate for expanding access. In 2019- the library became fine free. “We realized that overdue fines we were charging were a barrier for people who used the library. They maybe would rack up some fines because of a life situation- they had to a work a double shift or something. It was affecting those with the lowest income in the area.” Byron tell us he’s seen those same people come back and use the library again. “Items are coming back at the same rate.”

Byron also took the time to highlight some of their programing. “Right now we’re in the middle of the Winter reading program- this is for all ages from birth to adult.” You can log reading hours, do some challenges, and win prizes. There’s also storytime offered across the branches of their library.

“Right now we have the Minnesota artist penny press.” You can crank out the work of 4 Minnesota artists right onto a penny.