The latest craze for the Blue Earth community library is much older than TikTok, mom jeans, or mocking millennials.
Dinosaurs have captured the imagination of the Library Board, and the board hopes to make them a trending topic in Blue Earth.
Prehistoric beasts became relevant again at a Blue Earth city council meeting on Monday, November 15.
Blue Earth Library Board Chair Chuck Hunt presented a proposal and business plan approved by the Blue Earth Community Library and developed by local paleontology enthusiast Jim Pollard.
The proposal featured an initiative to rename the Blue Earth Community Library as the Blue Earth Community Library and Fossil Discovery Center.
“We (the library board) worked with Mr. Pollard, and we’re really excited about it,” said Hunt. “He’s ready to donate, he has display cases, fossils, and right now we’re looking at about $ 19,000 in donation to the library.”
Pollard specifically pledged to donate an Acrocanthosaurus skull cast, valued at $ 8,250, five display cases valued at $ 8,500, and an exhibit from the Giant Visitor Center for tourists, valued at $ 2,000.
Pollard also plans to continue to develop the collection through networking. He has several influential contacts in the field of paleontology, including Steve Nicklas of the University of North Georgia, Pete Larson of the Black Hills Institute of Gelogic Research, and Kent Sundell of Caper College in Wyoming.
Pollard’s plans don’t end there. As a final act of generosity, he intends to sponsor a parent and child from Blue Earth each year to attend a fossil dig; an effort valued at $ 3,500.
Although fossils are not traditionally associated with public libraries, Hunt explained why the two entities should be linked in Blue Earth.
“You learn things at the library” Hunting observed. “You can read about the fossils, but to have them right there is a whole other thing.”
Pollard further explained the specific need for STEM immersion opportunities for today’s youth.
“If you go to most postgraduate schools, almost 80% of the students are foreign-born nationals,”Pollard noted. “We have so few American students who can qualify for these courses. Something is wrong with the way we teach science.
Pollard hopes to engage local youth in STEM-related activities through an interactive fossil display at the library.
“My idea was to make paleontology a gateway to STEM”,Pollard explained. “It leads to chemistry, it leads to geology, it leads to mechanical engineering; you need to know all of these things to be a good paleontologist.
Hunt drew attention to an additional benefit the exhibit could create for the community.
“We think this could be a huge draw for the library”,Hunt explained.
Pollard developed, “If we get a few big things, it will pull people off the Interstate. We would be the only place on the Interstate between Chicago and the Black Hills that would have this kind of collection.
“It’s worth stopping”Pollard concludes.
With most of the funding for the project already announced, Pollard and the library council have enlisted the city’s help in securing insurance for the exhibits. It would be the library’s only expense.
Council member Glenn Gaylord suggested that City Manager Mary Kennedy look at the cost of insuring the exhibit.
Meanwhile, board member John Huisman saw a problem with Pollard’s business plan and suggested he work with Mankato’s Small Business Development Center to polish it.
“You need a business plan to make it all work”Huisman insisted. “We see that it takes more work.”
Huisman also asked Pollard to consider creating a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit fund to which outside donors could contribute.
“There has been some interest from the community foundation board (Blue Earth)”,Huisman noted. “You have to create this fund so that people can make these donations if they want to. “
He argued, “We have to slow down a bit to move forward. We need the right information, the cost of insurance and the business plan.
Hunt disagreed, asking for permission to continue the action immediately.
“We want to get the ball rolling, because we want to know what to do”said Hunt.
He added, “The library board sees this as a wonderful opportunity and a huge gift.
The discussion ended with plans for Kennedy to research insurance costs and Pollard to continue refining the business plan.
The library’s future plans don’t stop with dinosaurs.
In written correspondence to city council, Lill Robinson, president of the Friends of the Blue Earth Community Library, presented an idea to improve the west exterior wall of the library.
“The group would like to install four large vinyl pieces composed of portraits and author quotes”,Robinson explained.
Robinson worked with Design Pro at Mankato to develop a prototype for the display.
She hopes the display could be another way to draw passersby into Blue Earth.
“I think it will be something that people can consciously make an effort to see”,Robinson reasoned.
She also hopes to get community feedback for the final display design.
“I want to involve the users of the local library and ask them which authors they would like to see”Robinson said. “We will be soliciting suggestions for authors and citations on Facebook and on the library’s website. “
While Robinson hopes to include the views of library patrons, she shares that the foundation intends to feature at least one Minnesota author and one children’s author, and will have the final say in the selection.
The cost of the project is estimated between $ 12,000 and $ 14,000.
“The Friends (of the library) will cover 50% of the costs, with the remaining half coming from grants and local fundraising. “Robinson explained in his correspondence.
The Friends of the Library, a sub-fund of the Blue Earth Community Foundation, intends to approach organizations such as the local Arts Council and the Blue Earth Community Foundation for donations as well as popular fundraisers. such as the used book sale and the annual Valentine’s Day. tea.
Robinson thinks it will be worth it.
“We believe this will help improve the aesthetic appeal of the building itself and attract people inside,”Robinson concluded.