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Library celebrates 100 years

Luminaries lined the Detroit Lakes library Thursday night as part of the Luminate the Lakes celebration downtown and as part of the library’s centennial celebration as well. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with celebratory festivities surrounding the Detroit Lakes Library’s 100-year anniversary.

The Carnegie portion of the library was built 100 years ago through a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for $10,000.

“I can’t imagine the excitement here 100 years ago,” Detroit Lakes Vice Mayor Ron Zeman said. “And I can only imagine what will happen 100 years in the future.”

Wednesday evening, several dignitaries expressed thanks for the library and its staff, descendants of those who were instrumental in starting the library were recognized, and the evening was capped off by Minnesota author William Kent Krueger speaking.

Zeman said that growing up in Minot, the library was a cozy, comfortable one and he feels the Detroit Lakes Library is the same.

“We have one heck of a library and I can’t imagine not having it,” he said.

He read a proclamation from the city council, declaring Nov. 14 Library Centennial Day in Detroit Lakes.

Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson read a similar proclamation on behalf of the county.

He said that not only is the staff incredible at the library, but the volunteers are the best in the Lake Agassiz Regional Library system.

“They do an incredible job and obviously love it,” he said.

Librarians, he said, “are not doing it to get rich,” but because of their love of literature and helping others.

Library representative Ron Sprafka read a letter of congratulations from Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, and Sharon Sinclair read a letter from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Head Librarian Mary Haney shared the history of the group of women who formed the Library Club and the building they eventually built. She recognized several people in the audience who were descendants of those associated with the start of the library.

She told of the new landscaping going on outside the building, and she as she continued to talk about library, she started to get choked up.

“Well, let’s party,” she said, making herself stop crying.

William Kent Krueger and the top six reasons why he writes

“What an honor to be invited to be a part of this,” Krueger said of the centennial celebration.

 He speaks at lots of events, in lots of buildings, but “libraries are my favorite,” he said.

“I don’t think of libraries as just a place to tell your parents you’re going to study with your girlfriend,” he said to laughter. “It’s the archive of our culture.”

If libraries go away, he said, we lose who we are.

So, why does this well-known author who has written 13 books in the Cork O’Connor mystery series continue to write?

There are six simple reasons.

He started writing a mystery novel at age 40.

“It was a midlife crisis. Life was galloping away and I had nothing to show for it.”

So after giving up trying to be the next Ernest Hemmingway, he decided to write mystery novels. (But not before getting his ear pierced and a tattoo.)

When he sat down to write his first novel, “Iron Lake,” he said he knew the main character would be his age and going through some of the same issues as he was, he knew it would be set in Minnesota, and he knew it would be set in the dead of winter.

Growing up in multiple states, “I never understood winter until I moved to Minnesota,” he said of the move he and his wife made at age 30.

The first reason he writes: “Because I love stories.”

He grew up being read to constantly and he was turned on to literature at a young age.

Second reason he writes: “Because I love language.”

“My father taught me ‘words have power.’”

That doesn’t mean big words, but the perfect words, he said.

Third reason he writes: “Because it centers me.”

Krueger writes from 6 to 7:15 every morning in a coffeehouse near his home in the Twin Cities. He said he established that time long ago and has stuck to it since. It was that feeling of getting up and writing that “fed something in me that needed to be fed.”

Fourth reason he writes: It gives him a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Who wouldn’t like a shelf in their office full of their own published works? And who wouldn’t like to see their name on the New York Times best seller list? Who wouldn’t like traveling around the United States, being asked to speak to groups of people who love your work?

Enough said.

Fifth reason he writes: “I can’t not write.”

He said it may be difficult for some people to understand that, but there is something in him that compels him to continue writing.

Sixth reason he writes: “I have a vivid imagination.”

He said people used to compliment his parents that their little boy sat so still in church. He admits that he wasn’t sitting still to listen to the preacher’s message, but instead he was crushing on a girl named Nancy across the aisle.

He would spend the church service imagining how he would rescue Nancy from the building full of bad guys.

Though Krueger is on tour promoting his latest novel “Tamarack County,” Wednesday night he read an excerpt from the novel he’s working on, “Windigo Island.”

Thursday morning, the celebrations continued with a ribbon cutting in the Carnegie portion and tours of the library.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.