By Amalia P. Spagnolo
As a celebration of small town life, Coleraine Public Library (CPL) is hosting its Carnegie library summer luncheon and features successful Minnesota author and humorist Jeanne Cooney.
Cooney will speak about A Second Helping of Murder and Recipes, the just-released sequel to her mystery novel Hot Dish Heaven. Once again set in Northern Minnesota, it is the rollicking tale of young Minneapolis reporter Emerald Malloy and her further explorations of hot dish recipes, cookies and bars - and unexpected murder. Cooney will be signing both books, with copies available for purchase.
She noted, “The series has taken off. From what I understand, sales are strong and reviews have been good.” Her first book had been rated No. 1 nationally on Amazon in the rural humor category. “It’s done real well in the Barnes and Nobles bookstores,” she said. “A lot of customers have been buying it for a gift, sneaking a look, and getting a copy themselves.”
Since “Hot Dish Heaven” was released, Cooney has been touring Minnesota and talking about her mystery series and life in a small town. The Hallett, Minn. native said, “I’ve been visiting primarily little communities and found a lot of treasures. We have to sit up and take notice so we can preserve these fine institutions or they will be gone.”
The city of Coleraine holds one of those treasures with its nationally noted Carnegie library. Cooney said, “I love to promote small town libraries because they’re so important. A Carnegie library like the one in Coleraine isn’t just a public venue— it’s a piece of history too.”
In 1910, Coleraine city founding father and Oliver Iron Mining’s Canisteo District General Supervisor John C. Greenway had reserved two village lots for a public library. He began negotiations with his Yale University mentor and philanthropist/steel magnate Andrew Carnegie for a library to be built in the new community. A poor Scottish immigrant, Carnegie knew the value of books and education and wanted his world-renown library endowments to become a community’s treasure.
Carnegie donated $15,000 to the city of Coleraine. CPL was completed in 1910 for $17,537. It was part of the Oliver Mining’s plan for the “model community” of Coleraine for miners and their families. CPL’s core collection was established with 400 books, purchased for $315 in 1911. Doors opened on June 2, 1911. The U.S. Department of the Interior placed CPL on the National Registry of Public Places in 1980. Prominent British architect and library historian Simon Pepper called CPL as “one of the best preserved Minnesota Carnegie libraries.”
CPL still functions today as an operating library and community center for Coleraine and the surrounding area. Grand with high ceilings, beveled stain glass details, intricate hand-carved woodwork, and stately Ionic columns, Coleraine’s Carnegie Library is regarded a distinctive example of the neo-classical style of architecture popular in the early 20th century for public buildings.
“Coleraine’s Carnegie library is incredible,” said Cooney, “and I’m really happy to be a part of (celebrating) it.”
The lunchtime fundraising event for Coleraine’s treasured library begins at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 29 on the CPL grounds. Space is limited to 100 attendees. Call 218.245.2315 for reservations. Coleraine Public Library is located at 203 Cole Street in Coleraine.