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Gateway to Knowledge Guest Post #13

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This is the 13th in a series of guest posts by Abigail Van Gelder (from a stop Nov. 5–6 in Mason City, Iowa), who with her husband, Josh, is journeying across the country on the Library’s “Gateway to Knowledge” traveling exhibition:

Our location in Mason City was new territory for this tour:  We set up in a mall parking lot.

You can imagine we were a little apprehensive about it and weren’t sure how it would be received.  Our fears were unfounded, though.  The Southbridge Mall gave us a spot that drew in passersby from all over the area.  Why not do a little holiday shopping and self-enlightenment at the same time?

On Saturday [Nov. 6] a few of Mason City’s 8th graders stopped by and were telling us about the annual class trip to Washington.  They fund-raise all year to take part in the trip, a chance to see our nation’s capital with classmates.  The students visit the Smithsonian and most importantly the Library of Congress.  It made me very proud to hear how inspired they were to make sure the entire class gets to go.  What an important trip for students to make before starting high school.

Even though Mason City’s library was just a few blocks away, we couldn’t set up there.  Luckily for this community, they are undergoing renovations to modernize, and expanding their services.  They had just been able to reopen a few weeks ago but are still under renovation.  It’s a pretty exciting project.

The original library was a Carnegie library, which is now occupied by the company doing the renovations.  In 1939 a new building was erected, seated on a bluff above the banks of Willow Creek–a stunning view.  After chatting with a few of Mason City’s librarians, we learned that the construction will give them more room for reference, a friendlier children’s section, a coffee shop and much more.  I know they are all excited about the grand reopening.


  1. A wonderful example that America works!

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