The Floating Library first bobbed out onto a Minneapolis lake in the summer of 2013. Volunteer librarians handed out chapbooks, art books and other unique reading material to surprised folks passing by in boats.
(The boaters had to hand them back later — it was a library, after all.)
Created by Minneapolis artist Sarah Peters, the library was meant to have “an element of delight and surprise,” Peters told me in a 2014 interview. “First of all, canoeing along and coming across a library. And then having it stocked with books that are totally unique. It’s like this double whammy of inventiveness.”
Over the past three years, the library has gotten around; it has floated on lakes in Minneapolis, St. Anthony, Winona, and — on vacation, maybe? — Los Angeles.
Last year it hosted a floating poet, Steve Healey, through Coffee House Press’ Writers in the Stacks program.
OK, St. Paul. It is finally your turn!
Beginning this weekend, the library — really a custom-built raft with shelves — moves to Lake Phalen, where it will be anchored just off Phalen beach between 1 and 7 p.m. each weekend day through Aug. 7. Boaters, kayakers, canoeists and rubber-raft-floaters are welcome to glide up and browse.
(Sorry, swimmers, not you; there is no room on the raft for you. Even the floating poet had to have a boat.)
And the books? No Jodi Picoult, no Stephen King; these are handmade art books (hopefully wrapped in plastic or something else waterproof), some specifically about water and Lake Phalen.
Paddle on over and take a look. Don’t forget your life jacket and your sunscreen. And know that there is a “return” box on Phalen beach, for when you are done. It is a library, after all.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks