Sun Ray Library

Sun Ray Exterior Entry sm 9 26 13


Support the Capital CampaignImagine a vibrant, bustling library that hosts:

  • Morning classes in language skills, electronic job searching, and computer basics for seniors 
  • A working lunch for local authors who self-publish 
  • A technology-filled afternoon with teens and their digital mentors creating new media, while adults learn how to send videos electronically to their grandchildren 
  • An after-work class on the latest methods of “mashing up” digital images 
  • An evening performance by a local African folk trio 


The Sun Ray Library, located north of I-94 near the Sun Ray Shopping Center, has the potential to be just this kind of place. It is SPPL’s easternmost library building. Built in 1970 and last renovated in 1985, the library is adjacent to Conway Park and Recreation Center. It serves an extremely diverse population that includes African-Americans, Southeast Asians and Latinos, as well as immigrants from Somalia and India. The Sun Ray community’s population is composed of approximately one-third people of color, has a median household income well below the state’s average, and a 10% unemployment rate.

The library functions as a community anchor in a high-need area of Saint Paul. It is open seven days a week and always bustling with activity. Its clientele comes to the library for many reasons, including Internet access, job search resources, children’s materials, and skill-building classes. It is a popular, safe after-school destination. However, the library’s physical layout does not allow for the wide range of activities its diverse users increasingly need, and sight lines are obstructed by tall shelving that, along with high windows, gives the building a dark, closed-in feeling.

Some highlights of the plans for Sun Ray library include: 

  • Enclosing the porte-cochère entryway for additional library space
  • Creating a technology-equipped, adaptable multi-purpose room for meetings and gatherings
  • Replacing large, fixed shelving and furnishings with modular, moveable ones
  • Creating an open floor plan and reorganizing collections to provide more space for people and less for books 
  • Creating a single service point for greeting and assisting users, self-check-in and check-out, copiers, printers, faxing and notary services
  • Creating a flexible, media- and computer-rich Teen Zone
  • Creating a beautiful outdoor reading and learning space
  • Upgrading data, communications, and Internet
  • Enhancing current interactive Children’s Area (developed in partnership with the Minnesota Children’s Museum)
  • Refurbishing staff areas and adding automated material handling systems
  • Providing infrastructure to receive future technology upgrades
  • Enhancing signage, and relocating/improving book drop
  • Building and site security (cameras/alarms/access systems)