On a recent warm summer day, Kayla Gordon was busy replenishing Little Free Libraries with books throughout White Earth.
“Most of the Little Free Libraries always have books in them, but some little libraries are used so much, they’re almost always empty,” she said.
The Little Free Libraries are located in Ogema, White Earth, Pine Point and Rice Lake.
The one at White Earth began when White Earth received a federal Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant for the little libraries and for one main community library, the Maamagin Achigaazo, which is in the center of White Earth.
As part of her duties managing Maamagin Achigaazo, Gordon also visits the Little Free Libraries to make sure there are books in them. That’s a lot of books to look after.
With a perpetual need for books, Pam Werre, Curriculum Materials Center Librarian at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) and chair of the Wanda Gag Read Aloud Book Award for children’s literature, donated some of the books received from the award to White Earth.
Werre collects children’s books throughout the academic year, and after reading them aloud in their classrooms, children in schools in the region decide on the best read-aloud picture book of the year.
Werre decided some of the extra books could be put to good use at White Earth and contacted Kathy Enger, executive director of Northern Lights Library Network (NLLN), asking to her funnel them to White Earth. Enger contacted Gordon, and together they spent a day distributing the books to Little Free Libraries throughout White Earth.
“There are many excellent public libraries in the region supported by city, county, and state dollars, but the region is vast, mostly rural, and there are simply not enough books to go around,” says Enger, adding donations are always welcome.
NLLN covers a geographic region of 26,950 square miles that includes the following 23 counties: Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Stevens, Traverse, Wadena and Wilkin. NLLN is funded by the Minnesota Legislature through the Department of Education.