Duluth Public Library Is Your Passport to the World
I have no shame in my game. I’m proud to admit that I am a true-blue, bona fide bookworm. And, despite all the amazing digital offerings available today, I personally kick it old-school, preferring to curl up with an actual book.
Whether you’re a fellow book lover like me or prefer more modern selections like audio books and eBooks, the Duluth Public Library (DPL) has your back. In fact, today’s library has enough options to keep you educated, informed, and entertained in perpetuity.
Best of all? This amazing resource is open and welcoming to everyone. The library remains one of the few places where money isn’t a barrier to entry. Today we’ll explore how the DPL can serve as your free passport to the world.
The DPL offers an abundance of materials for patrons of all ages, including CDs, DVDs, digital services such as audio and eBooks, and streaming services. The library also lends out toys, puzzles, Wi-Fi hotspots, and hosts a wealth of programs and activities. Patrons can even check out an electric meter device, called a Kill-O-Watt, to measure their electricity consumption.
The library also serves as a “partnership center,” where various community partners schedule time to meet with the public. This includes MNSure advocates/navigators, tax professionals, and more.
And the library does much to support local youth. For instance, the DPL coordinates a community-wide school readiness initiative called Every Child Ready Duluth. Head Start screenings are available for young children. Another major DPL project is a program that provides a virtual library card to every student in the Duluth School District, called a Port Card.
These services are free of charge to all patrons. Tourists and visitors can even get in on the action!
In our modern times, some may question the relevance of public libraries. Library Manager, Carla Powers, shared her thoughts on the subject.
“There are many reasons why libraries in general, and our library in particular, are relevant today,” Powers shared. “I will touch on three of them: access, connection, and sustainability.
“First, access. In the digital world, libraries are a lifeline for people who do not have a computer or internet in their homes. Despite all the work that's been done to close the digital divide, it still exists.
“People come to the public library to access free Wi-Fi or check out a Wi-Fi hotspot if they have their own device. If they don't have their own device, they can use a desktop computer or laptop in the library.
“Importantly, libraries also offer help and instruction. Having access to the digital world is important, but it doesn't do much good if people don't know how to accomplish what they need to do online.
“Second, connection. Libraries are among the few places where everyone in the community is welcome. You don't need to have a membership, and you don't need to pay money or buy something to get in.
“A lot of people who come to the library are here to borrow a book, use a computer, or do research. But we also have teenagers who come in to meet up with their friends, a couple who makes a library visit part of their date night each week, and folks who just need a warm place to hang out.
“Third, sustainability. The entire community shares what's in the library collection, which means the items get reused over and over again. Even though digital offerings are a bigger part of what libraries check out these days, books and other physical items are still in high demand. I don't foresee this changing anytime soon. A report released last fall by the American Library Association found that Gen Z and Millennials have a preference for print books.
“Along with books, DPL offers DVDs, music and audiobooks on CD, puzzles, toys, Wi-Fi hotspots, and electric meters for checkout,” she added. “And, every time someone borrows and returns one of these items, it saves them from having to buy (and later discard) it.”
As Powers noted, the DPL remains a highly utilized community resource. For instance, in 2023, more than 762,000 books and other materials were checked out from the Duluth Public Library.
That same year, there were over 300,000 library visits across the three library locations (Downtown, West Duluth, and Mount Royal). Additionally, nearly 130,000 digital items were downloaded, 30,000 uses of the DPL’s public computers, and over 37,000 people were attending DPL programs. The DPL’s total number of cardholders hovers around 51,000.
If you’re just in Duluth for a visit, you’re in luck: the DPL welcomes you, too.
“If area visitors have a library card from within the state of Minnesota, we can get it registered at DPL,” Powers explained. “This would give visitors access to many items that may be of interest while on vacation: guidebooks, toys and learning kits for kids, games, puzzles, and of course, books, magazines, DVDs, and audiobooks.
“For visitors who do not hold a Minnesota library card, there are still many resources to utilize for all ages and interests,” she added. “They can consult with a reference librarian on local attractions or get the inside scoop on favorite spots, from restaurants to local trails. They can browse current and historical local newspapers, research significant buildings and sites, use the library's free Wi-Fi, or take a guest pass to use the library's computer and printing services.
“And, for groups with children, visitors are welcome to drop in for a story time at any of our library locations. Families can attend outdoor story time during the summer and discover one of our local parks!”
Educate, Inspire, Entertain
Well, there you have it. Whether you’re looking to learn, be entertained, or find inspiration, the DPL is simply the place to be.
The library is a place where everyone is welcome. Consider checking out this amazing resource today.
For more information, please visit duluthlibrary.org.
Andrea Busche is a Duluth + regional freelance writer and small business owner. She is credited with over 1,000 bylines in local print and digital publications, and has been a frequent contributor to Destination Duluth since 2017.