The Sumner Library | Serving Immigrants

Photo credit to Scott Gilbertson, AIA, PSA, principal of  Gilbertson Photography

One of the forty-one libraries in the Hennepin Library System, the Sumner Library is a Carnegie Library that dates back to 1915. Built in a Tudor Revival Style of architecture, the famed brick L-shaped library features coved ceilings and a central tower.  The Library is named for Charles Sumner, who was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and a passionate abolitionist. This Minneapolis library has had a long history of serving immigrants. In the early Twentieth Century, the library was a hub for Jewish immigrants. At one point, 95% of the library’s patrons were Jewish. Consequently, the Minneapolis public library moved its entire collection of Yiddish and Hebrew books to this branch.

Serving immigrant communities has become part of the Sumner Library’s cultural legacy.  Today, more than a half-million immigrants live in Minnesota. The largest groups of immigrants are from Mexico, Somalia, India, Laos, Ethiopia, Vietnam (including Hmong), Thailand, China, Korea, Liberia, and Canada. The Sumner Library recognizes how vital immigrants are to the cultural and economic enrichment of life in Minnesota. The immigrant community includes students, workers, and refugees, both citizens and non-citizens. 

The prerequisites of becoming an American citizen require literacy and knowledge of basic civics and American history. Every American citizen is expected to participate in our democratic government by voting. In order to vote, newcomers have to know the fundamentals of American history. Immigrants seeking American citizenship are required to know the answers to 100 questions about American history.  The Library hosts English tutorial classes as well as citizenship courses. Other courses and resources offered include primers in computer basics, homework help for adults to learn how to improve their English, and to prepare for tests such as the GED, driver's exams, and U.S. citizenship.

Originally part of the Minneapolis Public Library system, the Sumner Library became part of the Hennepin County system in 2008. The library building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On October 10, 2015, the library celebrated its centennial. Newcomers are welcome! Every month, the library hosts an early-bird (7am) newcomers meeting. For more information about classes, programs, and special events, please see the branch website


The Sumner Library 

611 Van White Memorial Blvd, 

Minneapolis, MN 55411

Hours of Operation:
















Contact: (612) 543-6875



Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino is an accomplished writer who has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, essays, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and eight books.

Comments Join The Discussion