Reading into the Past of Two Harbors

Northland Uncovered: Two Harbors Public Library

A library is home to countless resources in a community. So, for this week’s Northland Uncovered we’re showing you how the Two Harbors Public Library came to be a center point in the North Shore city. 

Pages in a log from 1906 hold the names of some of Two Harbors Library’s first patrons, but the books weren’t always in the Carnegie Library.

“We started as just one shelf in some gentleman’s office,” said Katie Sundstrom, Director of the Two Harbors Public Library.

This library started up to bring a family-friendly option to the town.

“Two Harbors was a town of 22 saloons and a bunch of people got together and said ‘we gotta have something a little more wholesome in the way of entertainment,'” explained Sundstrom.

It quickly became one of the most popular spots in Two Harbors.

“It was a combination reading room, small library, recreation room and a YMCA,” Sundstrom said.

It wasn’t long before community leaders decided it was time for an expansion.

“In about 1905 we started applying for funds from Andrew Carnegie,” said Sundstrom.

With $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie to start the library, $5,000 was raised from the community and the library became a reality opening July 20, 1909.

Since then, library officials have tried to keep the interior true to its original form, but take a drive by and you can see there’s more to the library than there once was.

With funds from the IRRRB, an addition was added in 1983.

“That was the first time we had a street level entrance, we put in the elevator so it was the first time being handicap accessible, plus it was a 4,000 square foot addition,” Sundstrom explained.

When you step inside, the new age of the library is evident with computers and internet available, “We do have free Wi–Fi which has been a big hit with people with their laptops nowadays.”

Despite all this new technology, books have remained the staple of this landmark.

The history of Two Harbors is prominent in a new piece of art hung with pride.

“The light house and the ore docks on there, we have the train which is supposed to be the same as the one down by the depot, some Ojibwe bead work, the Edna G Tugboat is in the locket on her neck,” Sundstrom pointed out.

The art is proof that the library often ends up being the center for community in many towns.

The library has a meeting room open to the public with a smart TV anyone is welcome to use.

They’re also hoping to upgrade their windows this year with a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society.  

The library is located at 320 Co Hwy 20, Two Harbors, MN 55616.

You can reach them at (218) 834-3148, or visit them on their website

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