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Centennial events set for Nov. 13-14

On Nov. 14, 1913, the cornerstone of the Carnegie library was set in place, marking one of the high points in Detroit Lakes history – the introduction of a library to the city of what was then Detroit.

Since then the community has grown, as the library has as well.

Though its size increased with a 1988 addition to support the increasing use of the library, the historic Carnegie portion of the library stands proud at the corner of Washington Avenue and Frazee Street.

On Nov. 13-14, the library will be hosting multiple activities in honor of the 100-year-old building.

How the library began

In September of 1907, the women of Detroit Lakes knew the city needed a library and took matters into their own hands to ensure one was built – and would serve the community for years to come.

 According to minutes from the group, the Bay View Reading Circle changed its course of study and formed the Library Club.

In 1913, the club received a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build a library building. The prairie school style building was built from a stock plan ordered through the mail.

“They wanted culture for their kids,” Library Club member Sally Oja said.

The 4,142-square-foot building included the library upstairs and the meeting and classrooms downstairs.

The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the grant built the building, it was the women’s responsibility to run the library and stock the shelves with books. They also asked the city to take over responsibility of the building because of its necessity to the community. The city agreed.

Over time, Friends of the Library has evolved from Library Club to do fund-raising and other sponsored events at the library. The Library Club remains the social aspect of the library.

Also over time, the library usage continues to increase. About 25 years ago, the library expanded to the size it is now, which still struggles to keep up with the need for more space.

Librarian Mary Haney said the library sees an average of 450 people a day, six days a week come through the doors. That’s about 190,000 people a year.

“This library has seen many generations of readers and information seekers and will continue to do so into the future,” she said.

Centennial committee chair Terry Kalil said it would be interesting to know “what the women were thinking about in 1907 when they got the idea that this town (needed a library). If they were here today, what would they think?”

Libraries have evolved so far past simply shelves filled with books and on to computers, ebooks, movies, books on CD and so much more.

 Haney said she doesn’t think the women would be too appalled at the changes over the years because they were women looking to the future when they built the original library.

And the community will continue to use every resource the library has to offer, Kalil said.

“In other words, support your local library,” she added.

Schedule of events

Events for the two-day celebration include a famous author, a ribbon cutting and a cake no one is going to want to miss.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, a program begins at 7 p.m. that will include author William Kent Krueger.

There will also be recognition of those who still serve on the Library Club, government officials and others who contribute to the upkeep of the building and those associated with Lake Agassiz Regional Library, the governing entity of the library staff.

Krueger will also have books for sale and will be signing copies that evening.

There will be a photo display of how the library looked when it was built 100 years ago, and refreshments for visitors.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, there will be a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. in the Carnegie potion of the library, followed by a few words from community members.

Children’s storytime is at 10:30, and cookies will be served throughout the day. Mini tours of the library will also be provided that day.

That evening from 5 to 7 p.m., the library will be a part of the Luminate the Lakes event.

There will be carolers that evening on Washington Avenue, sleigh rides, refreshments and luminaries to light up the area.

Local children’s book author Jackie Jensen will also be holding a reading of her book "Jon and the Soggy Leaf” in the library.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.