By Carol Van Why, Library Committee Chair
Originally published in the December 2016 issue of 1666 Coffman Newsletter
With a message in the January 1994 1666 Coffman Newsletter, Thor Kommedahl invited residents who were interested in starting a Coffman book club to gather in the social room on January 19, 1994. A February article called Thor’s “trial balloon an unqualified success.” Thus, Book Night was launched with Thor serving as convener for fifteen and a half years.
In August 2009, Thor decided it was time to pass the Book Night gavel on to someone else. For the next seven years, Gretchen Kreuter graciously filled the role of convener, lining up reviewers with seeming ease. October 2016, was Gretchen’s last Book Night event as convener.
So, what’s next for Book Night? One thing is certain: there will be no Book Night this December. No reviewer had been scheduled, and a new convener(s) is not in place. And seriously, aren’t you happy to free up one night on your calendar during that very busy holiday week?
Book Night returns on January 18, 2017. The theme of the evening will be “Start the New Year Reading!,” hosted by bibliophiles Joanne Kendall, Victoria Tirrel, and Katie Weiblen. A feature of the event will be several residents presenting snappy four-minute reviews to help you jumpstart your own 2017 reading.
You can be a part of the evening’s planning. Soon you’ll receive a brief survey from Victoria Tirrel. Whether you’re a regular Book Night attendee or not, I hope you’ll complete the survey and return it by the deadline.
Plan to join your neighbors as we celebrate the importance of books and reading in our lives along with Book Night’s twenty-three year run. Mark Book Night on your calendar for Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm. Then watch for “Start the New Year Reading!” updates and posters once the new year begins.
LIBRARY COMMITTEE, Carol Van Why-Chair
Members as of November 2016: Mary Abbe Hintz, Joanne Kendall, Mary Lynn Kittelson, Gretchen Kreuter, Jenny Rajput, Victoria Tirrel, Helga Visscher, Huber Warner, Katie Weiblen, Catherine Wengler, and Barbara Woshinsky.
Committee members regret 2016 resignations of Agnes Tan, Robert Tapp and Co-Chair BJ Zander and thank them all for their service.
The Library Committee also recognizes Gretchen Kreuter’s seven years of service as Book Night’s convener upon her resignation from that position in October.
The purpose of the committee is:
The Library Committee meets monthly. Members contribute 1666 Coffman News articles on a rotating basis. Bulletin board displays are refreshed to remind residents to stop in and browse the collection.
Books are added each year, either as gifts from residents or as purchases paid for from one of the library’s budgets. To keep the collection fresh, less popular books are regularly weeded from the collection. These are offered for sale via our Book Cart sales. This year just over $130 in proceeds were returned to the treasury to be used to purchase books and supplies. Unsold books are offered to the AAUW and the St. Paul Public Library for their book sales. Others are used to support the Little Free Library in neighboring Grove Park.
Once again financial gifts from a number of residents boosted the total Library budget by $500, helping the Committee purchase more new books than in any previous year. For the third year Catherine Wengler coordinated an exhibit of new books in conjunction with August’s Book Night. Residents were able to borrow books at the event and take home a copy of the 2016 companion booklist. The Library is on track to circulate nearly 700 books by year’s end – easily 65% more than were borrowed in 2013.
Read Aloud made its second annual appearance in 2016. Coordinated by BJ Zander, Read Aloud is an adult story hour for residents held in the library. Over the course of three January Mondays, eight readers read portions of Barbara Kingsolver’s High Tide in Tucson to assembled residents.
Gretchen Kreuter and Carol Van Why welcomed over 100 guests to the Library during 1666’s May 8, 2016 Open House. Visitors were surprised and impressed with the space, proving once again that the Library is 1666’s Jewel in the Crown.
After being on the back burner for some time, the problem of glare from the windows was solved. Under BJ Zander’s leadership, with advice from the committee and special assistance from Jenny Rajput and Katie Weiblen, attractive shades were purchased and installed in early fall. Members noticed an immediate improvement in the comfort of the room. The Committee wishes to thank members of other Coffman committees for approving funds for this improvement.
With assistance from Mike O’Connor new committee member, Victoria Tirrel has begun updating the Library’s section of the 1666 Coffman website. The website will re-emerge in early 2017, and residents will be able to subscribe to a blog to keep up with Library news.
By Katie Weiblen
Original published in the November 2016 issue of 1666 Coffman Newsletter
New books for children and teen readers have recently been added to the shelves in the Coffman library. Ranging from picture books to teen novels, they have been selected to appeal to very young readers, children learning to read, 3rd and 4th grade chapter book readers, and teen readers. Coffman residents will enjoy browsing the children and teen section to look for books to share with family and friends.
New books with brief descriptions
Cody Harmon, King of Pets by Claudia Mills
This is a chapter book about a third-grade boy who does not enjoy school, but he loves the pets on his family’s farm. His opportunity to shine comes when the school holds a pet show fundraiser. The author has written many stories for 2nd to 4th graders.
When Andy Met Sally by Tomie dePaola
Andy is small. Sandy is tall. Andy is shy. Sandy is brave. This book for young readers illustrates the power of friendship.
Duck for President by Betsy Lewin and Doreen Cronin
Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike will enjoy this colorful barnyard tale of a duck’s attempt at a better job. For young children.
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
This beautiful picture book tells the story of the invention of the Ferris wheel. George Ferris, a young civil engineer, entered a national contest for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was his goal to build a structure that would outshine the Eiffel Tower. No one believed his delicate looking structure would hold up until the Fair opened. This nonfiction book will appeal to 8-to 10-year olds.
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Minnesota’s most famous author for young people has published her latest novel, recently nominated for the National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category. This is the second time Kate DiCamillo has been nominated for this honor. The book is about three fatherless girls who form a unique friendship while competing in a Little Miss Florida contest. Raymie hopes to win so her father, who ran away with a dental hygienist, will see her picture in the paper and come home. Grades 4 to 7.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This is a story about four very different sisters who go on a family vacation with their doting father. Their favorite cottage on Cape Cod is no longer available, so their father arranges to rent Arundel, a beautiful estate in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. The best part of the summer is the discovery of Jeffrey Tifton, the estate owner’s son. He becomes the perfect companion for their summer adventures. Grades 4 to 6.
Keeping the Castle by Patricia Kindl
This humorous and sometimes dramatic novel will be enjoyed by future readers of Jane Austen. Althea, age 17, has the task of supporting her widowed mother, young brother, and two stepsisters. The situation is complicated by the fact that she must maintain the tumbledown castle which their uncle left them. The novel takes place in the small town of Lesser Hoo in Yorkshire, England. Althea must marry well, but suitors are few and wealthy are even fewer. Teen readers.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
This novel won the John Newbery Medal for excellence in children’s literature. It will be especially enjoyed by teenage boys. Jeffrey Lionel Magee became an orphan at age three when his parents were killed in a trolley crash. He was shipped off to live with Uncle Dan and Aunt Dot in western Pennsylvania. Their home was not a happy one, so as soon as Jeffrey became old enough, he left them and started running. He became known as Maniac McGee. His character becomes half-hero and half-legend; however, his greatest talent is bringing two neighborhoods of diverse teenagers together. For teen readers.
By Barbara Woshinsky
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of 1666 Coffman, the archive sub-group of the Library Committee has gathered a rich collection of early records. The following short account is based on these materials.
How did 1666 Coffman come to be? Our home did not spring full-blown from the Jovian heads of the Minnesota Board of Regents; rather, it emerged from the wise, graying pates of the University of Minnesota Retiree Housing Board. These visionary profs had to travel a “long and tortuous pathway” of bureaucratic procedures and neighborhood hurdles before arriving at their destination.
How to build a $6,000,000 building with no money and no land? Slowly and persistently. The idea of housing for senior U of M employees dates back to before the formation of the Retiree Housing Board in 1979, which became the U of M Retirees Housing Corporation in 1982. After diligent searching, the Housing Corporation identified a neglected parcel of university land in Falcon Heights, containing a small student residence, a bee house and “a row of scruffy shade trees” facing Larpenteur Avenue. In July, 1983, the Housing Corporation petitioned the Board of Regents to lease this 7 1/2-acre property. This proposal sparked a Star-Tribune article entitled “U Employees seek free land.” Actually, the 99-year lease agreed upon in 1984 called for a payment to the University of $3,250.91/month. This amount, and other initial costs, were met by tax increment bonds issued by the town of Falcon Heights, which was eager to receive extra revenue from the 100 planned apartments.
NIMBY. Before construction could begin, however, the Housing Corporation had to deal with objections from Faculty Grove residents, who were concerned about increased traffic from an “institutional” building located in their “back yard”—no doubt associating retired professors with nursing homes rather than with their own future selves. At a public meeting, Grovites were assured that traffic would be restricted to Larpenteur and that residents would park underground. Aesthetic concerns were allayed by architect Milo Thompson, who described his vision of an elegant “academic country house” inspired by Renaissance architecture. The Corporation also ceded an acre of the original parcel as a “buffer zone” between the neighborhood and the encroaching oldsters. This acre of land, added to a pre-existing hockey field, became the well-used Grove Park south of our property.
A vision realized. In January, 1985, the Park Bugle announced a condominium would be built in Falcon Heights to “celebrate aging;” Sales chair Leon Reisman preferred the phrase “to flower geriatrically.” Through shrewd and energetic marketing, over 60% of the units were already sold by the time of ground-breaking on May 2. The dedication of the building was celebrated on December 7, 1986, to the sound of a trumpet.
The continuing history of 1666 has brought triumphs and challenges. In Gertrude Esteros’s words, “A building which simply houses people is sterile. This building, planned to foster human growth and fulfillment, will become a living organism.” In honor of another fabled voyage—the 50th anniversary of Star Trek—let’s raise our (metaphorical) glasses in a toast: live long and prosper, 1666!
Submitted by Barbara Woshinsky, member, Library Committee and archive subgroup.
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