When I retired from metropolitan daily journalism after 35 years-30 of them on the St. Paul Pioneer Press I had my priorities firmly in place.  My oldest son and I were seeking a restaurant and checked out quite a few before arriving in Crosby and the then Sundown Café.

At first glimpse I commented that any city with a lake in the middle of it had to be a good place to live. The second day I laid eyes in daylight on the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library and the medical complex.  This place had everything I had come to consider important!

At the time I had no medical problems I knew of, but was aware that situation wouldn’t last forever.  Serpent Lake and the woods and countryside surrounding the city were something I couldn’t afford to buy.  Nobody could… But it was the library that made up my mind.  It was operated by people who shared my passion for the written word, whether created on a very old Royal typewriter or on a state-of-the-art computer.

The restaurant didn’t work out.  But nearly 15 years later, I still have a house in walking distance of the library, the lake and the medical complex.  And they are all still at the top of my lifestyle priority list.

Beverly Mindrum Johnson

Ever since I first came into the library, I was excited to be old enough to use the Curbside (teen area) laptops. It was even more exciting since we didn’t have internet at our own house.  Now that I’m old enough, it’s nice to be able to use the internet on the Curbside laptops, the computers in back, or with the wifi on my own computer.

John J. Swanson, age 12

Your normal library is simply a small building, the classic rows of books, desks and people reminding others to be quiet. But Hallett is no ordinary library. The variety of media, teen accommodations, and very kind staff are just some of the things I love about my library.

Hannah Swanson, age 14

I am a homeschool mom. My kids and I use the library a lot.  It is our resource center, classroom, place to meet with friends, and home away from home. When it’s cold outside, the library is a warm place, when it’s hot out, it’s a cool escape. What can I say? We LOVE the library.

Darla Swanson, Mom 

The Swanson Family

I met almost all of my current, local friends through the weekly Story Hour.  Our children are friends with each other and many of the Moms have been in a book club together for two years. Without the Library, we would be book-less and friend-less!

Lorrene Maroney

The Jessie Hallett Library has been a great resource for me this past year. I have utilized it in many positive ways as a newcomer to the community. I had help with my 2011 taxes by reliable and experienced providers who work in the library before and after tax season.

Having access to the Internet using my laptop and/or the library’s computers, I have been able to respond to job announcements and apply on-line.  I have revised and updated my resume, attended a free WINWAY resume writing class, and  made copies with the library copier as needed. I read whenever I come here the larger daily Minnesota newspapers, and the smaller community weekly editions that provide helpful, ongoing information regarding church services, activities and entertainment, not just in the local area but throughout Minnesota.

I have checked out numerous magazines, books and paperbacks throughout the year keeping me entertained and well read.

The Jessie Hallett Library staff is always willing and able to assist in helping search for a resource or specific request.  The staff does not hesitate to assist in a search.

The JFHML is one of the most positive and useful resources this small community has to offer, and I observe that there are many more people like myself who are utilizing the resources.  People of all ages are seen throughout the library; pre-school, grade and high school, college, the middle age and senior citizen population. All are obviously seeking some type of increased knowledge and/or services that will be helpful to them in some way.

The library has added a small but unique and impressive used book niche that also has crafts on sale. If sometime in the near future, a small coffee shop were to be added, it would provide what a larger metro library does, but to a smaller degree.  How awesome.

Janice Sears

We moved here from the cities in 1991.  We were strangers to the area and had only passed through the town of Crosby on our  way further north.

After settling in our new home on the lake we needed to get acquainted with the area.  We decided the best way to learn  about the area was to attend a local church.  Of course we felt the library would be a great source to gather information.  We discovered  the beautiful jewel of the local library in Crosby.  We were given a warm welcome by the lovely Mrs. Jeanette Smith and her sidekick, Mrs. Peggi Beseres.

Mrs. Smith made it her mission to help us get involved in the area and introduced us to what was then known as the Cuyuna Heritage Preservation Committee.  With the help of the Heritage Committee and the library staff, we learned much about the Cuyuna Range.  We learned about the mining industry and the eventual closing of the mines and the recovery of the area after the mines closed.  In some cases we found we were learning more than some folks who were born and raised here.

We made many lifelong friends through our association with library and staff.  The committee we served on in the beginning evolved into the Cuyuna Country Heritage Preservation Society, Inc.  As of late it is known as The Heritage Network and the Soo Line Depot Museum was added.

None of this would have been possible without the initial support of the library and the very helpful staff.  Crosby has a special treasure in their beautiful well run library.  They definitely deserve the support of the community.

Kaye Gillman

I have always enjoyed going to the Library because they have all the resources I need to learn new things.  Whether it’s for school or just something I am interested in, I know that the library will have what I need.

The best part is they will even order new books for me sometimes! The staff is always friendly and willing to help if I need anything.  I know that I will always enjoy going to the Library.

Ben Westin, Age 15, Ironton

The Library has changed my life by helping me and giving me the chance to read more. I love going to the Library because it is so quiet and has one of my favorite things, books. I love to read! I read all the time. When I want a book to read, I know where to go. The library always has the book or books I want.

Paige Westin, Age 10, Ironton

Ben & Paige Westin

I got my first Library card in second grade.  We lived in a large city and the Library was the  route my sister and I walked home from school.  In that era one could only whisper, no talking aloud. The only materials one could check out were books. Everything was hand-stamped.

No computers at all!

The library was a special place to me. It was my peaceful, quiet haven. But, what excitement and adventures were waiting in the hundreds of books!

As an adult I feltv the familiar warmth, safety and welcome in the JFHML when I first visited as I had in my childhood Library. I’ll be ever grateful for the respite from life’s cares & for the enjoyment I receive from borrowing the various Library materials.

But, I am even more grateful for the friendliness, knowledge and acceptance of the entire JFHML staff.

Debbie MacKay

My Library Poem

Walking between the loaded shelves of ageless books,
is like wading through a bubblin’ brook.
A safe place of wonder, of quiet and peace,
a place to let dreams never cease.
There’s the wisdom of ages somewhere hidden in books,
where the answer to any question is there if you look.
Oh! The discoveries in this extraordinary sanctuary:
That place in our town is the HALLETT LIBRARY!

Barb Neprud

Imagine a high school student in the 1950’s skipping school and then going to the Library! That was me, and I’ve been going to the “Library” ever since.  It’s like a vacation getaway, my cabin in every town, a magical fantasy between the pages…


I have been a JFHML patron since its doors opened in 1978.  Mrs. Smith and her staff warmly shared this haven as I dashed in after school to find not only the latest bestsellers, but also curriculum guides to supplement my second grade classroom activities.  In 1991, I became a  library board member and was able to participate in the library’s expansion. After experiencing a brain aneurysm in 2003, I found it no longer possible to return to the classroom.  HOWEVER, Mrs. Smith and Peggi found numerous projects to ease me into “productivity.”  I have also continued to volunteer at the Summer Reading Program and occasionally work at Backstreet Books to sort donations.  I am an outreach reader at the Hallett Cottages and find myself on the library board once again.

The JFHML is a community cornerstone that not only serves all ages & interests, but also recognizes the needs and talents of its individual patrons. Thank you, JFHML, for being a constant companion!

Barbara Ukura

Several days ago we had a delightful experience of a “Shopping Spree” at the Backstreet Bookstore in the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library.  They have a variety of gifts and so reasonably priced! The library workers are all helpful and in every way, we were happy with our experience there. On our way home we commented that we thought Mr. & Mrs. Hallett would be so pleased if they could see the expansion and outreach of the library named in their honor.

Jim & Olive Slye

The Hallett Library is my favorite Library in this area! I live in Emily and have available two other libraries plus the traveling Kitchigami bus library, all closer than Crosby. However, my main library is the Hallett Memorial Library.  The staff is super friendly and helpful. If I ask about a book, the librarian checks the computer.  If it is not in, I’m asked if I want to be on the waiting list. If it is in and on the shelf, the librarian asks if I would like to check it out and offers to go and get it for me. Another plus at the Hallett Library is that if a book is not part of the library collection, the title is recorded and often purchased. I then get a call that informs me that the book is waiting for me at the Library.

Other interesting features at Hallett are the annual “Hot Reads for Cold Nights” program, the story time for children and many special evening programs scattered throughout the years.  The Backstreet Bookstore is a nice addition. The creativity being applied to recycling books, and the new look of the women’s restroom are added features. My congratulations and thanks to all who make the Hallett Library so special for the community.

Shirley Anderson

Moved to Minnesota in December of 1993 (We had lived in Utah 35 years).  I got my library card in January 1994.  Jeanette Smith and staff immediately treated me as family. From 1995 until 2001, I became my Aunt’s library “gofer.” I would check out as many as many as 10-14 books  bi-weekly for the two of us.

In January 1997, I started to take my grandson to Wednesday Story Hours.  I met Linda there, who became my grandson’s day care provider 2-3 days a week. Now the staff finds books for me to help with color schemes for my hand-embroidered dishtowels – fish, wildlife, vehicles, etc. Usually I meet “someone” or “someones” when I come here—it is truly a COMMUNITY CENTER.   And the Bookstore, coffee, computers, gifts and now the teen corner has really made it what it is! The staff is the best!!

Carla Barker

This past Thursday evening I had a chance to sit down and talk about Waiting For Unicorns at my hometown library. I know it’s going to sound odd, but this was an event of a lifetime for me. Here’s why: I grew up in this library. I came two, even three times a week and the librarian knew me by name. She never even asked for my library card—she knew my number by heart. I came because I was welcome.

And I came to peruse the books and make sure I hadn’t missed any new ones. I knew where all of my favorites lived in the stacks. Peter Pan, Where the Red Fern Grows, Pride and Prejudice, Caddie Woodlawn, My Side of The Mountain, The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, The Story Girl . . . and so, so many more. These were my dear friends growing up, and the library was their home.

I used to stand and gaze around me wondering what it would be like to have a story of my own living among the books I loved so much. And last Thursday that childhood imagining became reality. Waiting For Unicorns now resides on a shelf at the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library in Crosby, Minnesota.

To the staff at the Library, especially Peggi, thank you for this precious gift. For keeping me in stories and for allowing me to find my way, one book at a time, into adulthood. I’ve been richly blessed by those who poured time and energy into that place and into me. Thank you for letting me share my own story and call the library home in a whole new way.

Beth Hautala

I attended the 1st grade field trip with my son Isaiah & Mrs. Jensen’s class. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the effort, patience and love that you put into the programs at the Library. It is obvious to me how much you enjoy your jobs. It is also very visible the admiration and respect that you have for the Hallett’s and Mrs. Smith (Oh my goodness I enjoyed when she was there!)

One thing I realized, when thinking of my adult children’s time at the Library, my daycare kids @ the Library, all the way back to Franklin elementary…is that my love for reading began waaaay back then! We are a whole generation (2nd generations) of book nerds, and PROUD of it! I love reading out loud and listening to others too. It has been fun seeing it all develop throughout my history and now hearing it “full circle” of where it all began— at the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library. Wow! I did not see that coming!

Tammy Freeburg
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