Music Brings Us Together

Increasingly, libraries are community gathering places. People from all walks of life encounter one another at the library, where they share the joy of learning, and sometimes, the uplifting sounds of live performances.

A summertime favorite at the library, when balmy weather affords outdoor gatherings, is the weekly “City Sounds: Live Music on the Plaza.” Talented local performers fill the outdoor library stage with exhilarating live jazz and the compelling sounds of big band, pulling the community together through a shared experience.

Foundation supporters make it possible for people to gather to enjoy a free concert at the end of a warm summer day.

Blue Water Big Band performs on the outdoor library stage.

STEAM Learning for Students

In addition to books and digital tools, the library puts resources that promote creative thinking into the hands of children by providing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) learning materials.

The library introduced a STEAM cart that offers a changing selection of hands-on, self-directed projects for kids—from simple science-oriented challenges, to basic architectural projects, to creating art. Children and families are welcome to select materials from the cart, sit down, and have fun trying out something new.

“The library has always been a gateway to learning. STEAM in the library is just one more fun way that we can provide hands-on access for kids to explore the world and learn at the same time,” said Heidi Harrison, Youth Services librarian. “We are excited to see what the kids do with the materials and where their imaginations will take them.”

In addition, self-contained STEM kits—on topics from astronomy to robot coding to human anatomy—can be checked out and taken home, encouraging children to try hands-on science.

These opportunities are complemented by library STEM programming, where school-age students can try their hands at coding tiny robots or building “brush bots” that they can take home. Foundation supporters help make these opportunities possible.

The Family that Reads Together, Stays Together

Carl and June Casperson moved to Duluth in 1948. Since 1998, their family has maintained a family book club. Even as some family members moved away from Duluth, the book conversation continued online. The book club not only kept the family connected by reading and discussing a book each quarter; family members also competed with each other to see who could read the most book pages each year. The winner’s name was inscribed on a cup made of silver.

For the first seven years, only one name, June Casperson—who cultivated her children’s love of reading—appeared on the cup. That cup was retired in 2005, when June became too ill to read. Since then, a new cup has consistently featured son Chris Casperson’s name.

In 2015, the family book club’s cumulative donations to the Foundation reached $10,000. The club was honored by a plaque mounted on the Andrew Carnegie section of the Foundation donor wall in the downtown library. This recognition coincided with father Carl Casperson’s 90th birthday, when his family gathered in Duluth from around the country to celebrate. “There are all kinds of book clubs,” observed Carl. “But few are centered on a family.”

June died in 2009; Carl died in 2020. The gracious gift given by the Carl and June Casperson Family Book Club will help make it possible for the library to keep purchasing books for people who, like the Caspersons, love to read.

Dean Casperson, Mary Casperson Kay, Carl Casperson, Kay Casperson Fore, and Chris Casperson. Two members of the book club, Leigh Casperson Hagge and Kelly Casperson, were unable to attend. Photo © Bob King/Duluth News Tribune.