“We may never be a full-blown library, but we are tenacious,” said library director Nancy McNab. “I think that’s code for ‘pushy,’” she added.
It took tenacity to spend nearly three years of planning and hard work with no guarantee of success. They had a dream, and a belief in that dream.
They were told that a library is all but an impossible dream. Regional library groups are cutting hours and staff. Starting an independent library from nothing would be a daunting task, and not for the faint of heart.
Rather than accept defeat, the group asked what can be done. Then they set about making it happen, one piece at a time.
Eden Valley joined the Healthy Communities Partnership three years ago. In an early visioning session, a library was identified as a high-priority desire for the community. McNab, an avid reader and lover of books, jumped in with other volunteers to spearhead the efforts to get the town its own library.
They key donation was the building, donated by the State Bank in Eden Valley. The former hardware store is in the midst of being repurposed for a library in front, and an event center in the middle and back of the building. By the time it’s done, it will have a full catering kitchen, and the event center will be able to seat 250 people.
It may not be pretty or fancy yet, but the library is functional, and so is the event center. The library officially opened its doors last summer, and they have been consistently adding programs and services. They are evolving as they grow.
As of this writing, the library is open Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m., Wednesdays noon-3 p.m., Thursdays 3-6 p.m., and Saturdays
9 a.m.-noon. They hold Story Hours for kids. A knitting group meets on the first Wednesday of each month. A book club has begun, and Krueger’s Thunder Bay is its first book. The library has a bank of computers and printers available to the public. The library delivers, too: magazines and books are delivered along with Meals on Wheels (just call the library with your request). They deliver books to local daycares as well.
The dream continues: they hope to be a full-fledged lending library soon, and to add a kiosk system that will be accessible 24/7 (with lockers for books that patrons request). There is talk of starting an art club, computer classes, and even a poetry group.
The grand opening was originally scheduled for Feb. 10. A blizzard interfered with those plans, and it was rescheduled for
March 10. Fortunately, the invited guest of honor, author William Kent Krueger, was available again … and the weather held out.
A good crowd gathered for the ceremony and for the speaker that Sunday afternoon.
It is impossible to list here all who have donated, volunteered, or in some way contributed to the library so far (without missing someone in the process). Suffice it to say that the list is very long. They have received grants, and continue to pursue others.
“It takes a community to raise a library,” McNab paraphrased.
The Eden Valley Area Library is always in need of volunteers. They accept cash donations at any time. They are always looking for men’s hunting and fishing-type magazines. They have requested no book donations temporarily, until they complete construction on the handicap-accessible bathroom in the library, and their shelves are back in order. They have not yet processed the 2,000 non-fiction books donated by the Bob Tintes family.
A fundraiser will be held
May 11 with a book sale, silent auction, lunch, and a craft show featuring local artists. The Aug. 10 Warrant concert at Eden Valley Elementary School also will raise funds for the library.
The driving force behind the new Eden Valley Area Library, from left: Janice Sheets, Mary Haag, Kathy Loch, Pat Schlangen, Diane Thielen, Judy Thielen, author and guest William Kent Krueger, Kathy DeForrest, Nancy McNab, Marilyn Peterson, Sandy Millerbernd, and Mary Lou Newcomb. Without the dedicated, hard work of these and other volunteers, in addition to crucial donations and grants, the library could not have been started. Staff photos by Jean Doran Matua.
“I’m so proud that this library was a priority for you!” said author and guest speaker William Kent Krueger.