Book Report: Library Field Trips

October 27, 2022

Public Library, St Peter, Minnesota

My husband and I love to roam. “Roaming,” I think is a bit different than traveling. No tickets are involved or reservations. There is no need to stop the mail, board the dog, if you have one, or hire the neighbor kid to shovel your walk it if snows. Nope, all we do is pick a destination, make sure the car is filled with gas, the plat book is handy, and off we go.

This fall we decided to include in our casual itinerary the libraries in the towns we visit. Because it has been such a busy fall, we have only explored two Minnesota towns so far, St Peter and New Ulm. At some point I intend to write about what we learned about each of these towns, but since it is Book Report Thursday, I will focus just on the libraries.

The St Peter library is a new structure–not particularly inviting from the outside, but the inside was an entirely different experience.

I immediately felt welcomed and uplifted without feeling overwhelmed. Even though the limestone could have felt cold and unapproachable, the light pouring in from above and the entire perimeter of the building added to the hospitality of the space. And it was busy. Not noisy, but buzzing with people of all ages.

I know libraries these days are not just places for books and readers, but are an integral part of the community, responding to community needs and interests, and that was evident in the St Peter library.

Along with bags of books for book groups, we spotted these Memory Kit bags. Clever, creative, helpful, innovative, and accessible. Good job, St Peter.

We visited New Ulm on a Friday and the downtown was active and bustling, but that was not the case in the library, even though it is located not far from the downtown area. In fact, Bruce and I were the only people in the library other than the librarians who quizzed us about why we were there. Did they think we were state library officials on a surprise inspection?

That isn’t quite fair, for I think the library staff have done the best they could do with an extremely unattractive building in the Brutalist style of architecture.

Brutalism dates from the 1950’s and is characterized by minimalist constructions showcasing bare building materials and structural elements over decorative designs. Cold concrete, and I ask you is that the look you want in a library!

As I said, however, they have done the best they could do with what they have, and I loved the sculpture of children’s writer/illustrator Wanda Gag (Millions of Cats) outside. We had hoped to tour the house where she grew up, but it wasn’t open.

The saving grace of this library was the spacious and bright children’s space. This was the old Carnegie Library and is attached to the newer facility. The space was filled with art work and areas for creative activities. I hope on other days and times the space is alive with children and their excitement for books and reading.

We intend to continue our library tours, including ones in our own area. One summer when our grandson who is now fourteen was nine, he and I visited a few St Paul libraries, and, of course, came home with stacks of books. Obviously, we don’t do that when we visit libraries in other parts of the state.

How grateful I am for the public libraries and urge you to use and support them in your community. In fact, I am about to head to my library where a stack of books I have placed on hold is waiting for me. Happy reading!

An Invitation

What do you appreciate about your library? I would love to know.


Next week I will share my October round-up of books read in the past month.

8 thoughts on “Book Report: Library Field Trips

  1. What a great idea Nancy, visiting random small towns and their libraries!!  Almost as good an addition to antique shops!!  We do have the greatest towns to explore!

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  2. What an interesting tour of your libraries! I have checked out libraries in other nearby towns too, out of curiosity. The town where my husband grew up, Evanston (IL) has several libraries. When we visit Evanston for a day trip, we always park by one certain library so one day I said, “Let’s go inside and see what it’s like.” It was huge and amazing. I told Brian I could spend an entire day in there.

    The small town that we live in now (6300 pop) has a tiny library that’s basically one big room. Honestly, I rarely go to that one because a neighboring town has a beautiful library that has a wonderful selection of books – so I get most of mine there.

    Very strange how the librarians at New Ulm asked you and your husband why you were there!


  3. Our Community Library has been great for calling our community together with Groups such a Book, Knitting and coloring. We have programs for children infants through teens. Our community Main Library has just finished a major renovation to better serve our community of all ages and needs. The workshop tech studio is great fun! It includes a “Sound Recording Studio for podcasting or laying down musical tracks, a Memory Studio for digitizing old photos, slides and film; and Graphic Design software to create logos, draft or draw objects to scare and create artistic designs for business or pleasure.” In the Workshop we have access to a Button_Maker, Laminator, Cricut Maker 3 and a Cricut Easypress 2. It’s like exploring anew!


  4. My mother was a libraian as well as a single mom and when I was in 1st grade she had no childcare so I spent my afternoons and evenings in the Upper Marlborough, Maryland library. a small pubkuc library in a small town. After I waded my way through all the children’s books O moved on to the YA section and then even the adult section (I was a very good and very voracious readr) Your story reminded me of my shicdgooj times in the library and of course z I continued ot llove libraries, The only thing was, because mom was a librarian, we could keep the books as long as we wanted and I never got in the habit of taking them back on time. Also, my first job was in a Carnagie library in Moscow, Idaho. I loved your post especially the pictures which brough back these memories..

    Liked by 1 person

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