“If democracy were a religion, libraries would be its churches.” Will Weaver was the first of the contributing authors of Libraries of Minnesota to relate his library love. He spoke of the way libraries fit into our history and culture while others spoke of family and stories. Marsha Wilson Chall spoke of “library eyes and library ears.” David LaRochelle remembered his childhood library’s Summer Reading Club with fondness. Pete Hautman recalled that “librarians scared the bejesus out of me.” But my favorite story was from John Coy. He spoke of growing up in a library family. They were such a library family that when he eventually published his first children’s book, his mother was so proud of him that she told everyone to get her son’s book from the library.
Photographer Doug Ohman, who has photographed several books for the Minnesota Byways series, said that he has the best job: “I get paid to drive around Minnesota taking pictures.” He spoke a bit of the interesting stories he gleaned from the librarians and community members as he photographed the libraries. The most interesting of which was from the cover of the book. The mural on the outside of the library in Houston, Minnesota was sketched out by a local artist then colored in by the community paint-by-numbers style. What a great way to create a feeling of local pride in the library!
I am obviously a library person. I imagine everyone in the audience tonight had a library story. Maybe we could trace our love of reading back to a library or our career choice. Maybe it was our home away from home. Libraries can be anything, really. Here are a few of the comments that Hennepin County Library received during National Library Week. Just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to library love in Minneapolis, I’m sure.