A Quick Start Guide to the Rochester Public Library

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rochester public library

The Rochester Public Library (RPL) has so much to offer the city and surrounding area. Here at Rochester Mom, we have compiled a list of programs and information that are offered at RPL, to help you and your family make the most of this incredible, free resource. Read on to learn more (see what we did there?). There’s always something great happening at the library. We hope that you are able to find something that fits your family’s needs. Happy Reading!

A Quick Start Guide to the Library

rochester public library
rochester public library
rochester public library
rochester public library
rochester public library
rochester public library

The Basics

Website: Rochester Public Library

Location: 101 2nd Street SE, Rochester MN, 55904

Hours: Monday – Thursday 10 am – 8 pm, Friday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm

Phone: 507-328-2300

Text: 507-722-1581

Email: reference@rplmn.org

Virtual Chat: On the Rochester Public Library website.

Masks are recommended but not required at the Rochester Public Library.

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Start Here

Library Card

Let’s start here. To utilize some of the amazing services that the Rochester Public Library offers, you’ll need your library card. If you’re a Minnesota resident, you can apply for one online at no cost! After you apply, you’ll be given a temporary card number to use for online resources and to place holds. Stop in to pick up your permanent card and you’re ready to start borrowing! To start the process, check out the library’s website.

Checking Out

Once you’ve browsed the library, have made your selections, and are ready to check out, there are self-service check out machines at the front of the library right near the main lobby.  Simply scan your library card, then scan the book’s bar code.  There are clear instructions and a librarian is always available to help at the service desk.

Book Returns

Both automated and walk-up book returns are available to return your items. The book return is located next to the Civic Center ramp entrance on 1st Ave SE. You can also return your books inside the library.

rochester public library
Walk-up and drive-thru book return // located on 1st Ave SE next to the parking ramp entrance

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rochester public library

Getting There

Getting to the Library & Parking

The Rochester Public Library is located at 101 2nd Street SE across from the Mayo Civic Center. It will be easiest to park in a nearby parking ramp.

For the closest parking, use Civic Center Ramp or the 1st Street SE Ramp. Parking is free for under one hour of parking and is free after 5 PM and also free on weekends.  

From the ramps, the library can be reached from street level (although you will need to walk outside), or through covered skyways. Library access via the skyways is Level 2.  Use the stairs in the parking ramps or the elevator.

There is also on-street, metered parking spots around the library block and other places downtown.  Parking is free after 5 PM and is also free on evenings and weekends. Parking can be paid by coins or using the Parkmobile App.

rochester public library
Civic Center Parking Ramp and Skyway to the Library

Skyway

The library will be clearly marked and there is ample signage.  You will know you are in the right spot when you see the brightly colored skyway.  It is down a long corridor, around a corner, and down another long highway.  To get to the library entrance, either take the elevator or stairs down to the main entrance.

skyway entrance to the Rochester Public Library

Public Transportation

You can also use Rochester Public Transit to get to the library. There is a bus stop right outside the main entrance. Check the website for route information. 

Handicap Accessible

Handicap parking spaces are located on the third level of the Civic Center parking ramp and directly in front of the library’s 2nd Street entrance.

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rochester public library

Books & More

Online Magazines

The library offers magazines online. They have over 3,000 titles available for you and your family to borrow. Just use your Libby app or check them out on the library’s website.

Bookmobile

This service has been available since 2012 and it currently visits over seventy-seven different neighborhoods in Rochester and Olmsted County. The Bookmobile houses books and other items you’ve placed on hold and brings them closer to where you live. You must select “Bookmobile” when placing an item on hold. Head to the Bookmobile page to see a list of stops.

Custom Collections

Are your kids looking for items from a specific genre or theme? Give the librarians a week’s notice and they’ll get a Custom Collection put together just for you and your family. Fill out the form here.

Libby App

Check out the Libby App to borrow and read eBooks and audiobooks for free. You must have a valid library card to use the app’s features. Simply download the app from your app store and get to reading!

rochester public library
Entry to the Children’s wing in the library

Tumble Books

Check out the collection of animated, talking picture books that the library has to offer! This is a great option for younger kids. Use your library card to sign in to see all the information about Tumble Books.

Mini Libraries

Did you know there are over two hundred mini-libraries in Olmsted County? To find the one closest to you or to find information on creating your own, check the RPL’s website.

Interlibrary Loans

If the RPL doesn’t have what you’re looking for, don’t worry! They can get it for you from another library that does. Your items might take 2-3 weeks to arrive, but once it has arrived, you can check the item out for 4 weeks! For more information, click here. 

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rochester public library

Services

Homework Help

The library provides free online tutoring. Volunteers from the Olmsted County Youth Commission are available through Living Room Tutors. On their website, they also have online and test preparation resources. For more information, click here.

Ask A Librarian

Have a question you can’t seem to find the answer to? Ask a Librarian! On the library’s website, you can fill out a form to get help from one of the librarians.

rochester public library
The Fiction wing on the lower level of the library

Homebound Program

If you or someone you know is restricted to their home either temporarily or permanently, the library offers a service to deliver materials to people on the third Thursday of the month. Check out the RPL’s website for more information.

Book Clubs

Do you love discussing the books you’re reading? Join a book club! The RPL has several options for you to check out. A different book is selected each month. Click here for the lists and to register.

Open Books Reading Challenge

If you love a good challenge, check out Open Books. The challenge is to read a book from at least twelve of the fifteen categories provided. If you complete the challenge, you get a prize! Download the checklist and get to reading! They also have a Facebook group for some social motivation. For more information, click here.

RPL Recommends 

Are you struggling to decide what to read next? The librarians at RPL are ready to help!  Fill out the form here and answer a few questions about your preferences. In a few days, they’ll have some suggestions for you!

Recommend a Purchase

Another fantastic way to get the items you want into the Rochester Public Library is to recommend that they purchase them. Library cardholders can make up to ten recommendations per year. Find out more here. 

Borrow A Bike

Opening for 2022 in mid-April, Borrow a Bike allows you to check out a bike with your library card! Choose from two options: Weekly or Quick Pick (24-hour return required). For more on how this service works or to borrow a bike, click here.

Wellness Corner

The Rochester Public Library and other organizations collaborate to provide information and assistance to community members in the area. In partnership with Family Service Rochester, a social worker is available regularly. There are also various wellness events happening at the library. Click here for more information to find out what’s going on.

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Resources

Kids & Teens Booklists 

Not sure what books would be best for your kids? No problem! The library has put together lists for specific age ranges, topics, delivery formats, and more! 

Summer Playlist

Launched in 2017, the Summer Playlist is a reading and activity program for all ages and abilities. Participation is split up into age groups and prizes are earned as you complete the playlist. Keep an eye on the website for information on Summer Playlist 2022

Library Events

In-person events are happening at the library! The calendars are separated into four categories: Adult, Senior, Kid, and Teen. Look here to find out what’s going on.

Friends of the Library Bookstore

Monday-Thursday 11 am-6 pm and Saturday 11 am-2 pm

Did you know there is a bookstore on the main floor of the library? They’ve got a variety of used books to choose from, as well as other gift items like movies and puzzles. A gift certificate to the Friend’s Bookstore is a great gift idea for the reader in your life! They host large book sales several times throughout the year, and the funds raised from donated book sales go directly back into the library. Find more about the bookstore here and check out their eBay store too!

rochester public library
The Friends of the Rochester Public Library used bookstore

Anti-Racism Booklists and Beyond

The library has made a commitment to do the work of anti-racism, by actively working to embody inclusivity and anti-racism as an organization and in our community. Find out more about their commitment to anti-racism work and the in-library materials and resources available on their website.

LGBTQIA+ Resources

RPL has a wide-range of books and other materials available for check-out on topics and issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. They also have a list of resources available on their website, including crisis line phone numbers and shelter information. Check out the library’s website for contact information and links. 

Seed Library

From the start of March through the end of August, the Seed Library offers free, open-pollinated seeds and resources for planting, growing, harvesting, and seed saving. Grow your own food and return your saved seeds to share with the community if you are able. Using your library card, choose from fifty-six seed varieties and choose up to ten packets at a time. Click here for more information.

Volunteer at the Rochester Public Library

There are numerous opportunities for those who wish to volunteer at the library. This is a great idea for your high school students! Complete an application or find out more information here. 

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Rochester Mom is written by and for moms who live in the Rochester MN area. We strive to connect local moms by sharing personal experiences, fun ideas and useful information as well as promoting local businesses and seeking to connect moms both on and offline.

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