Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

For the love of books, a spotlight on several Little Free Libraries October 22, 2018

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I was delighted to find a Little Free Library near my son’s apartment when I visited him in Somerville, Massachusetts, in May of 2016. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

WHENEVER I SPOT A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY, I feel a deep appreciation for the stewards of these mini libraries.

The ability to read, as I see it, is the foundation of learning. But to read, you need access to books. Not everyone has that, whether by geographical location or lack of money for books.

So those individuals who place a Little Free Library in their yards (or elsewhere) and then stock and restock shelves have my gratitude. They realize the importance of easy 24/7 access to books.

 

The LFL Todd and Susan Bol installed outside the community-owned Vesta Cafe. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

 

I grew up in a rural Minnesota community without a library. I understand what it’s like to be without library books. But thanks to Little Free Library founder Todd Bol, my hometown of Vesta has had a small public library since July 1, 2012. A Little Free Library. Todd gifted that to this small farming town. I am grateful.

 

A LFL in downtown Decorah, Iowa.

 

Recently I spotted two particularly distinct Little Free Libraries, one in the heart of downtown Decorah, one of my favorite northeastern Iowa cities. The library sits in a public plaza next to Oneota Community Food Co-op. That it’s barn-shaped seems especially fitting in a primarily agricultural state. A red barn remains an iconic symbol of rural life.

I grabbed a hardcover copy of James Patterson’s Double Cross with every intention of starting to read the book while in Decorah. That never happened and now the book sits on my to-read pile back here in Minnesota. First I need to finish The Girls of Ames—A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow. The national bestseller published in 2009. The book holds special interest for me given one of the women taught journalism at Faribault High School and served as advisor to the student newspaper when my second daughter was co-editor. It’s an excellent read. And quite revealing.

But I digress.

 

 

A variety of books for all ages fill an eye-catching LFL posted at 805 State Street in Waseca. It’s designed as a TARDIS, the featured mode of transportation on the BBC sci-fi television show “Doctor Who.” I know nothing about the show. To me, the TARDIS resembles a blue phone booth.

 

 

The stewards of the Waseca TARDIS do a great job of visually promoting the LFL with the library now seasonally decorated for autumn and Halloween. Inside, they’ve also stocked Halloween-themed books. They seem to have a lot of fun with their LFL. I expect given its location along one of Waseca’s main arteries that the library is well-used.

 

 

What kid wouldn’t be drawn to a mini TARDIS? Or adult for that matter?

 

 

 

I love when folks run with the LFL idea and get especially creative, all for the purpose of getting books into the hands of others.

 

A cat watched as I photographed the TARDIS LFL.

 

FYI: This post is dedicated to Todd Bol, who founded the Little Free Library movement and who died on October 18 of pancreatic cancer.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The TARDIS travels to Kenyon March 19, 2013

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The TARDIS is labeled as a Police Public Call Box. A note on the front reads: Advice and Assistance obtainable immediately. Officers and cars respond to all calls. Pull to open.

The TARDIS is labeled as a Police Public Call Box. A note on the front reads: Advice and Assistance obtainable immediately. Officers and cars respond to all calls. Pull to open. This shot was taken while driving westbound on Highway 60.

TRAVELING EASTBOUND into Kenyon along Minnesota Highway 60, I spot what appears to be a portable blue toilet seemingly randomly planted in a front yard near an American flag clipped to a pole.

Why would anyone place a porta potty in this visible location and in the snow near a flag?

Turns out I am not viewing an outdoor loo at all, but rather a TARDIS. Exactly. What’s a TARDIS, you ask?

My 19-year-old passenger son explains that a TARDIS is the featured mode of transportation on the BBC sci-fi television show, “Doctor Who.” The TARDIS, according to the series website, will take the doctor anywhere, anytime.

But to Kenyon, Minnesota?

With no time to stop and inquire about the Time and Relative Dimension in Space capsule, I can only wonder who placed this here and why?

LET’S HEAR your thoughts, readers. The more creative, the better. I’ll even accept the truth on the TARDIS placement. I am pretty much clueless as to the TARDIS and “Doctor Who.”

Another view. I don't know which house the TARDIS belongs to, the gray one or the white one.

Another view of the TARDIS.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling