A Case of Identity

On April 30, 2018, author Brian Freeman stood at a wooden podium at Glensheen mansion. To his left and right, a man and a woman—victims? villains?—were perched on stools. A crowd of 100 people sat facing the trio. In his hand, the author held a copy of his about-to-be-released new book, Alter Ego.

The audience waited in suspense.

Seven months earlier, the author had been a featured speaker at a different Duluth landmark, the Duluth Public Library, where he was part of the fundraising event, “Learning & Libations at the Library.” That evening, he allowed the Foundation to auction off the name of a character in his next book. The auctioneer had stepped forward with Brian at his side. The bidding was fast and furious. Soon, only two bidders were left, Lori Fulkerson and Dean Casperson. They fought it out, raising the stakes, until the moment that Lori made a bid, and Dean let it go.

The character was hers.

Then Dean approached Brian. If he donated his highest bid to the Foundation, would the author include his name as the male character in the book? The author agreed.

Now two characters in the book Alter Ego, set in Duluth, would be named after two real Duluthians.

Seven months later, at Glensheen, Brian recounted this story to the audience. Then he paused.

After months of waiting, the moment of truth had arrived. Had Brian made Lori and Dean victims, or villains? Good, or evil? Major characters, or bit parts?

Brian opened the book and began to read. The expectant crowd hung on every word. The characters Lori Fulkerson and Dean Casperson came to life, and people gasped in astonishment, then looked at Lori and Dean. They now knew who they were.

Brian closed the book and took questions from the audience. Then he, Lori, and Dean were seated at a long table nearby, pens in hand. Each guest received a copy of Alter Ego and stood in line to have their book inscribed by author Brian Freeman—and by the real Lori Fulkerson and Dean Casperson.

Lori Fulkerson, author Brian Freeman, and Dean Casperson

Summer Reading, Books & Baseball!

This annual event at Wade Stadium hits it out of the park!

Every July, an hour before game time, kids and their families stream into Wade Stadium. Clifford the Big Red Dog welcomes them, urges them to sign up for the library’s summer reading program, and invites each child to select a free book to take home and keep.

That’s when the magic happens: Duluth Huskies ballplayers take the field, sitting down on the turf to read to the kids, up close and personal. They demonstrate the importance of reading. The positive connection between children, their hero-athletes, and reading has an impact that lasts well beyond that day.

Summer reading helps prevent the decline in academic skills known as “summer slide.” Books & Baseball Day at Wade Stadium, supported by Foundation donors, encourages children to read all summer long.

Duluth Huskies player reading to children at Books & Baseball Day at Wade Stadium.

Teens Are Welcome

A teen came to the West Duluth library branch “Spooktacular HalloTeen” event. She was candid about how she often feels unaccepted by others. The librarians told her that she is always welcome at teen events and described some of the activities teens do there.

At the end of the night, after having made fake blood, taken the Fear Factor Challenge, created a Frankentoy, eaten lots of candy, and met some new friends, she smiled and said, “I guess l now know that libraries are the place for me!”

Foundation support makes it possible for librarians to have the resources to open up a world of welcome to teens. Finding that a library is a place where everyone can feel at home, where a teen can feel accepted and valued, can be a turning point that helps a teen succeed.

Teens enjoying games at the library