by Dennis Dalman
After a lifetime love of books and reading, Sandra Cordie of Sartell finally has her own library, right in her front yard.
More precisely, though, it’s not just her library. It belongs to anyone and everyone in the neighborhood who wants to stop by and donate or borrow a book.
Cordie’s library is just one of thousands of “Little Free Libraries,” – as they’re dubbed – that have been set up throughout the world.
Anyone familiar with Cordie knows how she loves to celebrate life. If there is nothing special to celebrate on any given day, leave it to Cordie to find a reason to celebrate. She’ll come through every time, as her neighbors, friends and family well know.
Cordie’s library was a perfect time to celebrate. On a breezy, warm Sunday, June 16, 40 people gathered in the yard of Tom and Sandra Cordie for the unveiling and ribbon-cutting for the “Little Free Library.” Each person brought a book (new or used) for the library. Then the ceremony began with one of Cordie’s granddaughters, Layla, 6, reading a poem by Dr. Seuss. Layla’s sister, Adalyn, 4, helped serve cupcakes.
The library had been draped with a sheet. When the sheet was pulled off, the crowd of people burst into applause, cheers and many oohs-and-ahs. The whimsical charm of the library impressed one and all.
The two-shelf library is constructed of recycled wood left over from a shed project at the Cordies. A neighbor, Dave Kohl, built the box and roof. A friend of Sandra’s, Priscilla Gray, a retired teacher, painted the little library with Norwegian-style decorations and five bookworm gnomes on the roof. Tom Cordie had sanded and primed the wood, then later applied a coat of sealer to the finished project.
The library is dedicated to one of Cordie’s beloved aunts, Lila, who was a one-room schoolteacher in North Dakota for 30 years. Lila, who died some years ago, taught two generations of people how to read.
“I wanted a Little Free Library for two reasons,” Cordie said, “to promote a love for reading and to promote a sense of neighborly community. People will be able to stop over, choose a book or bring a book and maybe visit with others by the library.”
Cordie is very fond of small, doable neighborhood projects.
“I can’t fix the world,” she said, “but I can help fix my neighborhood to make it a better place. The best thing about the Little Free Library is it requires no building permit, no taxes and there are no overdue fees on the books. Isn’t that something?”
Cordie is hoping others adopt the idea. It would be nice, she said, if organizations would sponsor them here and there throughout Sartell, perhaps one at Lions Community Park or another near the Sartell City Hall.
It took six months for the completion of Cordie’s library. She got the idea from a friend, Gwen Briesemeister, who had made one and did a video about it. Cordie took the video home and showed it to Tom.
“I suppose we’ll soon have one of those,” he said to Sandra, who smiled knowingly.
After 40 years of marriage, Tom has become exceedingly adept at anticipating his wife’s plans.
The “Little Free Library” concept started when a man in Hudson, Wis. decided to put a mini-library on a post in his yard in memory of his deceased mother, a teacher who naturally loved to read. The man’s creation caught on like wildfire with others, and an international “Little Free Library” program started, with its own website.
To learn more, visit the website at www.littlefreelibrary.com.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.