New Carnegie library stewards want to “raise the roof”

The people behind the East Side Freedom Library may have a lease on the old Arlington Hills library building, but they’ve got their work cut out for them. They need to find funds to replace the roof by the end of the year. (file photo)

Well, they may have the building, but there’s a lot of work to be done yet.

The folks behind the East Side Freedom Library, the new tenants of the old Arlington Hills Library building, need to replace the roof on the building by the end of the year, or they risk getting kicked out. So they’re hoping neighbors will help out.

They’re launching a fundraising campaign called “Raise the Roof! And Open the Doors!” to drum up support, focusing specifically on nearby neighbors contributing small sums. They’re hoping to raise $50,000 to match city STAR funding they’ve applied for.

The group signed a lease for the building with the city in March after a lengthy request for proposals process.

The plan is to keep the main floor operating as a library, with a collection of labor and immigrant history books, while bringing community space to the lower floor of the building.

Peter Rachleff, one of the founders, said he wants “neighborhood people to claim some ownership in the building, and to really feel connected to what we’re doing.”

He’s also asking that people donating name someone to honor -- those honored will be on a plaque or poster that will be a permanent fixture at the new East Side Freedom Library.

So far, one person has been honored -- an East Sider who participated in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike.

Though the fundraising campaign hasn’t formally begun, the group has raised over $4,000.

In addition to roof fundraising, Rachleff has also been busy drumming up other funding sources to replace other aged aspects of the building -- a boiler, air conditioning, and the HVAC system. He said they’re also hoping to find funding to get a Historic Structure Study of the building for the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, they’re looking to get some improved kitchen facilities for the community room.

Rachleff’s pursuing funds through state Legacy funds as well as local philanthropy organizations. He’ll hear about the city STAR grant in mid-June, and should hear about the rest in July.

Rachleff’s crossing his fingers -- if all goes smoothly and the funds line up, he said it could be possible to open up the entire building to the public next spring.

To visit the donation website, visit For more information about the East Side Freedom Library, visit or email

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.

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