While The Hudson Library may not seem like a tourist destination, it certainly can be, and visits often have interesting consequences.
Last summer, Donna Halpin, loyal member of the Friends of the Hudson Library, received a visit from some young bookaholics from Heber City, Utah. She decided that a trip to one of the Friends’ weekly book sales would be just the thing for Aly Lange, 9, and her sister Kayli, 12, along with their grandmother Mary Jo Larsen.
"The library seems like an odd place to take out-of-state visitors," Donna says, but it suited Aly and Kayli just fine. "Their dad is a teacher, and mom is a nurse, so the kids have been reading all their young lives. This is almost as good as a trip to the zoo."
Halpin introduced them to sales lady Lynn Remly, president of the Friends, and turned them loose in the sale room.
"At first the girls couldn’t quite understand that they could keep the books rather than having to return them after two weeks," she says. "But they caught on quickly."
After scanning the collection, Aly and Kayli went off clutching their new acquisitions, courtesy of honorary grandma Donna.
But books were only the start. Larsen and Halpin travel extensively and always bring back dolls from exotic destinations — as well as books — for both girls.
"The girls are in immersion Spanish in school, so they get the connection between language and culture, " Halpin says. "I’m especially interested in styles of dress, and we use the dolls’ outfits as a way of talking about countries and their different cultures."
As it happens, Remly traveled earlier this year to Belarus and had won a traditional Belarussian doll as prize for an informal history contest while on tour.
"At first, I had no idea what to do with it," Remly says. "I have no granddaughters of my own, but the pretty red-haired doll deserved to find a good home."
And so it did, with the young Utah bookworms she’d recently met.
"Neither Kayli nor Aly was sure where Belarus was, exactly, until Lynn sent the doll. Then they started looking into the country and its history, tying it all to the doll," according to Halpin. "It was another way to encourage reading, and now they’re looking for books on the Soviet Union."
In addition to their books, Kayli and Aly have the red-haired doll as a souvenir of their visit to the Hudson Library — not to mention a new interest in a new country and a desire to read further.