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Carnegie vital part of vibrant downtown

I write today to ask the community’s help to save Bemidji’s historic Carnegie Library building.

Bemidji is a special place, with its beautiful location, pristine environment and welcoming atmosphere. After living and working elsewhere, it was important to me to come back to my roots here. We are all proud of our hometown and want it to be the best it can be. Bemidji isn’t like all those generic small towns at the exits of the interstates, with nothing to offer but fast food chains and big box stores. It’s a real, true-blue community, where people work, study, raise families and retire. And it’s more than Paul and Babe that makes it a great place to live.

One thing that makes us different is our vibrant downtown – our community character shows in the eclectic mix of businesses, galleries and museums, the Sculpture Walk, the government buildings. I love walking down the streets and looking at the buildings, with their interesting brickwork and old names and dates. And one of my earliest memories of Bemidji is the waterfront with the Carnegie Library gracing the hill over the lake. That beautiful building is a symbol of our parents’ and grandparents’ desire for culture and opportunity, an enduring gift to all of us. This is why I care about the Carnegie, and why it should matter to us all.

We’ve lost too many of our valuable old landmarks and neighborhoods, and each one was a loss to our history and our town’s personality. If we lose the Carnegie Library, we’ll lose another important piece of what makes us unique. Please don’t let this happen. We mustn’t take our hometown for granted.

A group of volunteers is working to raise money to restore and preserve the Carnegie. Please join us in this important cause, and preserve this part of our heritage for our children and grandchildren. Speak out to your city council representative, volunteer some of your time, and please consider a donation in support of the project. For more information, visit the website at You can make your tax-deductible contribution by donating online or by sending a check, payable to the City of Bemidji, to “Save the Bemidji Carnegie Library,” 317 4th St. NW, Bemidji, MN, 56601.

Every donation is a gift back to our town, and a gift to future generations who will live and work here and be proud to call it home.

Catherine Marchand