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New library facility gets positive reactions

Two-year-old Joshua Yahna is hunting for penguins. Or, more precisely, books about penguins. "I like penguin books," he says. Turns out he's in the right place -- Fargo's first branch library, located at 3051 25th St.

Two-year-old Joshua Yahna is hunting for penguins. Or, more precisely, books about penguins.

"I like penguin books," he says.

Turns out he's in the right place -- Fargo's first branch library, located at 3051 25th St. S., in the Sunmart strip mall.

The branch opened Tuesday and "we've been waiting," says Joshua's mother, Piper Yahna.

The family lives nearby, on Park Boulevard, and until Tuesday had to drive all the way into downtown Fargo to check out books, penguin or otherwise.

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"We don't go as often as we'd like, because it's so far away," Piper Yahna says. Often as not, Jason's sister, Berit, 1, wouldn't even stay awake for the entire drive.

But that will change now, mom says.

Fargo Library Deputy Director Beth Postema says families like the Yahnas are the main reason the new branch was opened.

"We view it as a family services branch," she says. Sixty percent of the 10,000-book collection, which eventually will expand to about 15,000, is youth material aimed at kids 14 and younger.

The branch is seeing good traffic. In its first 90 minutes Tuesday, 150 people came in; an estimated 700 people were there through the first day, and 375 on each of the following two days. (That compares to 1,100 to 1,500 people a day at the downtown library, which has more than seven times the space, Postema says.)

The branch cost $300,000 to launch, half of that going for books and materials and the rest to renovate the space. Locating it in a strip mall, with a five-year lease, gives the facility the option of expanding if needed, Postema says.

A south-side branch has been a topic of discussion for library officials since 1963, and surveys and studies done in 1988, 1996 and 2000 all saw a need for it, she says.

"You could say it's close to 40 years in the making."

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The branch is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays. A grand-opening celebration will be from 1-5 p.m. Aug. 24.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541

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