Drawing the images together are essays by seven Minnesota authors. Will Weaver tells the history of libraries in the United States, from Benjamin Franklin's lending library (from which one could borrow only with a paid subscription) to Horace Mann's revolutionary idea that schools provide books for students' common good to my personal library hero Andrew Carnegie's funding of free libraries (65 of which were built in Minnesota alone). Pete Hautman tells of how he was not much of a reader yet one summer became enamored with Jim Kjelgaard's dog stories. John Coy takes readers along his own journey of libraries that shaped his reading life, from the bookmobile visits to his Falcon Heights neighborhood to the beautiful and dignified St. Anthony Park library he frequents most often today. Nancy Carlson writes about how well she came to know her Edina Public Library through the "Summer Reading Carnival" of 1963. Marsha Chall brings readers to 1963 also with her memories of the Webber Park Library. David LaRochelle embarked on the path to Pirate's Treasure Hunt during the summer between elementary school and junior high school, adding From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to his reading log first...and was later disappointed that he could only add two of the twelve titles he had read to his quest for the treasure. Kao Kalia Yang provides a glimpse of the immigrant's perspective of library visits.
As I read their words, I could not help but visit the Marathon County Public Library in my own mind. I can describe that place accurately still. I imagine the lighting in the yellow stairwell, the drinking fountain, the coat hooks, the bath tub where lucky kids could read. Magic stirs minds at the library. I feel it still.