I have always been an avid reader of books — and the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine helped boost my interest when time allowed me to expand upon my hobbies. So when I received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, going to the library for the first time since the pandemic hit seemed like the best idea.
I decided to go to the Roosevelt Library, which is located in the Standish neighborhood. According to the City of Minneapolis page, the Roosevelt Branch Library (named for Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth U.S. president) was built in 1927 in a Tudor revival style, designed by architect Jerome Paul Jackson, originally for the purpose of the high school across the street. In 2013, the library underwent a complete renovation, but it still retains its old-fashioned charm and a few panes of the original windows. It was one of the thirteen libraries developed under Gratia Countryman, who led the Minneapolis Public Library from 1904 to 1936. This library is very important to the community because it’s a great place for students and residents of the surrounding neighborhood to check out books.
I didn’t just go to the Roosevelt Library for the books, however. This place holds some family anecdotes. My great-great grandfather Leendert Klaassen, a Dutch immigrant who lived in Minneapolis until he died, told my grandmother that he read every book in Roosevelt during the nineteen-thirties to forties. (I’ve always wondered whether or not it’s true!) He also loved books very much; it’s quite clear that I got my love of reading from him.
Early on in the pandemic, when I couldn’t go to the library, I tackled our bookshelf at home. I started with the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, which is possibly what sparked my appetency to read classics.
I have read celebrated authors such as the Regency-era Jane Austen and the Elizabethan William Shakespeare. So imagine how happy I was to receive the gift of a poster with one-hundred classic books to read! Since then, I have been trying to read through all of them (I have about eighteen so far, including Hamlet and Pride and Prejudice). I was very excited to find a plethora of the books I was looking for at the Roosevelt Library, such as Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, a three-in-one collection of H.G. Wells novels, and a set of Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
While I understand the appeal and convenience of reading eBooks and digital copies in the present day, I’ve always treasured the feeling of holding a hardcover or a paperback edition of my favorite books. Libraries help bring communities together and connect book-lovers everywhere. They are vital to educate people like my grandfather, who use the library for research and the resources they can’t find at home.
Join me in supporting our local libraries. Others in the neighborhood include: East Lake Library (on Lake Street), the Nokomis Library, and the Franklin Library.
What are you reading?