At 89, volunteer librarian loves doing her part
By BOYD HUPPERT, KARE-TV
LEADER, Minn. (AP) -- Great-grandparents love telling stories about treks to one-room schoolhouses on 20-below mornings.
One Minnesota great-grandmother is still making the trip.
At age 89, Ruth Boldan is still a volunteer librarian at the underheated, overstuffed 1890s schoolhouse that is now home to the Hazel Dell Library, KARE-TV of Minneapolis reported.
From entryway to woodshed, more than 5,000 books pack the shelves and spill onto the floors of the building.
Boldan loves them all, with the exception of the romance novels. "Been there, done that," she said with a laugh. "I don't need that anymore."
Books warm her heart, even if the library's heating system leaves her nose and toes a little cold. On a recent subzero morning a water bottle sat frozen on the librarian's desk, while snow remained on Boldan's shoes a half hour after she entered the building.
Books weren't so easily borrowed around Byron Township until 10 years ago, when a small group of volunteers decided it wasn't right to have to drive 20 miles to Staples to have access to a public library.
"We just told people we want donated books," Boldan said, "and they brought books and books and books."
Check-outs are logged in a spiral notebook. Patrons cross out their names in pen when the books are returned.
Don't look for late fees or due dates. The official policy of the Hazel Dell Library is covered in six words recited by Boldan: "As long as you want 'em."
Paging through the notebook, Boldan discovered a large number of books checked out to one patron. It made perfect sense, she said. "She took all these books in October," Boldan said, "and she's probably going to read them all winter."
Boldan has been at this since 1941, when she started her teaching career -- in a one-room schoolhouse.
"I would still be teaching if my eyes were good," she said. Yet approaching her 90th birthday, she's still drawn to the chilly old school.
"I'm sitting here for my shift of three or four hours, maybe three cars will go by," she said. But even three cars present three opportunities to put a book in someone's hands.
"Anything that will make people expand their minds," Boldan said. "In the last breath I take, I'll be learning."