Lanesboro librarian Tara Johnson shows the beginnings of the library’s Norwegian-American Heritage Library, which will contain books for all ages interested in Norwegian-American culture. ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
Lanesboro librarian Tara Johnson shows the beginnings of the library’s Norwegian-American Heritage Library, which will contain books for all ages interested in Norwegian-American culture. ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
In conjunction with the Sons of Norway Heimbygda Lodge, the Lanesboro Public Library now has a special section of its building called the Norwegian-American Heritage Library. Still growing in resources, there are hopes that the collection will be met with an increased interest in Norwegian-American culture.

The idea for the library was brought up almost a year ago in February when librarian Tara Johnson presented a program on Norwegian literature at one of the Sons of Norway meetings. Chapter president David Susag and his wife, Lynn were no strangers to Norwegian literature.

"David has been collecting books for years," shared Lynn. "Norway is his number one passion."

Noticing that the members of the lodge were very interested in the program Johnson presented, the Susags thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if these books were available for more people?"

Lynn just happened to be familiar with the Sons of Norway Foundation, which gives grants for approved projects. The idea of starting a heritage library seemed perfect. She talked with Tara and David about applying for a General Heritage and Cultural Fund Grant and they agreed with the idea. Lynn sent in the application in April. During the following summer, they were notified that they had received a $250 grant.

The three then got together and drafted a list of books that could go into the library. Johnson double-checked to ensure that the library didn't already have the titles they were looking at. David referred to his personal library for ideas and soon they had a list of 21 books, which they purchased through an online bookseller.

Their selections went through the cataloguing process during this past December and are now available for loan. The collection is open to all ages since there are books written for children, young adults and adults.

Some books tell stories of Norwegian mythology and immigrant history. Others tell Norwegian folk tales in comic form. Lynn explained that the wide range of stories would be an effective way of passing on the Norwegian culture to those alive today.

"Many of our patrons have that heritage," Tara said as on one of the main reasons why the library went forward in starting its collection. "It will be nice for local interest and historical research."

Tara also explained that the goal is to grow the collection.

The location of the collection is in a small back room directly across from the Rose Bell Memorial Room. Though not sure how yet, Tara said the vision for the room is for it to become a study area. The collection, as it grows, will continue to be housed there.

So far, the collection has received a good deal of attention by library patrons, with half of the books in circulation.

Not only Lanesboro patrons, but anyone connected to the SELCO interlibrary loan system, can request to a book from the collection to be delivered to their local library. Johnson said there are about 10 titles in the collection unique to the SELCO system.

The Susags and Johnson plan on applying for another grant from the Sons of Norway Foundation to expand the library collection and spread the stories and culture of Norway throughout southeastern Minnesota.