The teachers said to keep them reading this summer. Now we can, on a library floating in the middle of an urban lake. The Floating Library will open on July 16 for its fourth season, and its first in St. Paul. It will be anchored just off Phalen Park Beach on weekends, complete with volunteer librarians to offer reading suggestions.
Sarah Peters created The Floating Library in 2013 as a public art project, and serves as its curator. The custom-built raft features bookshelves full of books and magazines, each carefully secured in plastic. Kayakers, canoers, and other paddlers can read on the raft or in their own watercraft, or check books out and return them later in the day.
This year’s move to St. Paul will also bring a collection of books focused on St. Paul’s immigrant history, including new works commissioned specifically for The Floating Library by three Minnesota-based artists and one artist based in Washington, D.C. One of the commissioned books is bilingual in English and Hmong.
Peters hopes kids and adults alike will discover “something meaningful or delightfully challenging” on the library’s bungee cord shelves. “There is such a range of material — most of the books aren’t made for kids but many are still fun for kids,” she says. “I also hope that people who don’t often go boating use this as an opportunity to jump in a canoe and experience the lake as a paddler. This always brings a new perspective to the place where we live.” A perfect way to spend a summer afternoon in our land of lakes.
The Floating Library, Lake Phalen, St. Paul, open 1 – 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, July 16 through August 7, thefloatinglibrary.org