Weather Forecast


Backstreet Books created to fill decrease in funding

“The House that Jack Built” was remade into a decorative bird house at Backstree1 / 3
Peggi Beseres, head librarian at the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library in Crosb2 / 3
Deb Weide, Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library children’s librarian, held a decor3 / 3

At a time of stretched budgets, the Jessie F. Hallet Memorial Library in Crosby answered a funding challenge with a bit of creativity. 

The library recently opened Backstreet Books, a used book store where the proceeds from sales will go to help the library. A small room used for tutoring in the library was converted into the book store. Along with used books in good condition for sale on the shelves, the library volunteers began creating what they call repurposed book art. Books that weren’t suitable for the shelves and resale, were given a new purpose and new life as art. The store has books as purses, decorative book bird houses. Hardcover Readers Digest volumes are now inventive bookshelves. Other books are now part of lamps or clever book collections to add interest to a home library shelf. 

Peggi Beseres, head librarian, said the response has been positive and a lot of the repurposed book art is a popular seller. And that’s all good news for the people behind the project. Last fall, the library benefactors at the Hallett Trust told the library it was going to decrease funding for the library by 30 percent during the next five years. The library was tasked with coming up with a strategic plan for alternative funding sources. After attending a conference, library staff members were inspired by the Douglas County Library in Alexandria and its use of a used book store inside the library. Beseres said they receive multitudes of book donations so they knew they had plenty of inventory in order to create the small store. 

The library formed a Friends Foundation. They were awarded a $12,000 grant from the Initiative Foundation and set to work on the store. It opened in July. 

Beseres said using to coordinate volunteers for the store as people can check the schedule and put in the hours they can work. 

Beyond the used books, the Backstreet Books gift items are designed to be affordable with $3 and $1 items. Gift options include  a Flying Dumbo book turned into a lined purse, coupon keepers, planters, jewelry. There are decorated wine bottles and flowers created from the repurposed books. The effort has also inspired volunteers and staff to tap their own creativity as part of the Repurposed Friends Craft Group — all with a desire to help the library. 

“We are always adding new things,” Beseres said. “Anything to keep the library.”

Local artists donated images for cards. Since the Friends Foundation started in February it gained 110 members and has been raising more than $3,000 in membership fees. The Friends Foundation has become the fundraising arm of the Hallett Library, which operates the used bookstore to fund programs and bring in needed income for the library itself. 

With the holiday season no longer far away, Backstreet Books gifts may find their way to a few book lover’s homes and that will help organizers fulfill their vision for the library’s continued future. 

Olive Garden has continued to express an interest in Baxter with reports it was recently checking out alternate sites following the end of the planned redevelopment at Gander Mountain. 

Costco has also reportedly been looking at potentially starting construction earlier than its initial report to the city of Baxter, which could mean the store, which is expected to bring in 175-200 jobs in Baxter, may open before the target date of October/November 2012.

Bohunk’s Sandwich Emporium was opened by Mike Pekarek at 205 N.E. 16th St. in Little Falls behind Perkin’s. Pekarek was the former owner of Charlie’s Pizza. The sandwich emporium has subs, hot dogs, wraps, sausages and combos. 

Fan Fashion & Fabrics was opened by Monique Pekula at 122 E. Broadway. The business has grown from a home-based business in 2009. For the store a quilting fabric line was added and a long-arm quilting machine is available for rent. Services include digital to garment printing, embroidery, vinyl printing and sport clothing.

Hole Products opened a location at 205 N.E. 16th St. in Little Falls. The business was founded by Brad Oothoudt in 2007 with a single office and warehouse in Wisconsin. Now the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce reported there are locations in Earth City, Mo., Norcross, Ga. and Orlando, Fla. Hole Products is a supplier of drilling consumables to rotary, geotechnical/environmental, exploration and construction. Business owners are Brad Oothoudt, William Babrock, and Mark Bauman. 

The Hallett Community Center, Crosby, project to offer 24-hour access to its fitness center is now completed and the keyless entry available. Deerwood Technologies and Moore Electric and Stewart Enterprises who did the security cameras worked on the project. 

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to host a Regional Economic Development Summit in Brainerd at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 at Central Lakes College to gather ideas on job creation. 

This event is being co-hosted by the Initiative Foundation, the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. and the Brainerd Lakes Chamber. The chamber reported the three organizations participated in helping to facilitate this event.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at or 855-5852. Follow on Twitter @Dispatchbizbuzz.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889