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Notable writers, music come to Alexandria

Winners of the Minnesota Book Award who will visit Alexandria on Thursday, Oct. 12 include, from left: Melanie Hoffert, Margi Preus and Matt Rasmussen. (Contributed)1 / 3
The band Ipsifendus Collective will play songs inspired by the award-winning books on Thursday, Oct. 12. (Contributed)2 / 3
Book lovers with join authors and an architect for an evening discussion on Monday, Oct. 16 at the Carnegie Library building. Not used as a library since 1995, the building is now privately owned. (File photo)3 / 3

If the spines on your bookshelf are starting to tingle, it's because of this: Authors are coming to town.

They'll speak at two big book events set for the next two weeks in Alexandria, one at the high school auditorium, the other at the historic Carnegie Library.

"They're very talented people that we would like to help support and connect readers with their work," said library director Jake Odland. "They'll be entertained and challenged."

While not as well known locally as William Kent Krueger or John Sandford, the authors are Minnesotans who have won literary awards, and at least one who has garnered nationwide public acclaim as well.

The first event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, when a tour of Minnesota Book Award winners and finalists arrives. Three writers will join the musicians of Ipsifendus Collective at the Alexandria Area High School Performing Arts Center, 4300 Pioneer Road SE. Alexandria is one of just three cities in greater Minnesota to host this tour.

Authors include:

• Melanie Hoffert, 2014 winner for memoir and creative nonfiction for her book "Prairie Silence." The tale of an urban professional's return to North Dakota, the book is full of gentle humor and observations.

• Margi Preus, whose book "West of the Moon" won for Young People's Literature in 2015, has written several books for young readers. West of the Moon weaves together fiction and folk tale to tell the story of a Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America. Preus will also speak the day before, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at the library, an event co-hosted with Sons of Norway.

• Matt Rasmussen's debut collection "Black Aperture" won for poetry in 2014. His poems focus on his brother's suicide.

Ipsifendus Collective will play original songs inspired by each book, and their music will be paired with readings from each author.

This event is free and open to the public, and funded partly by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education, grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funding from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Carnegie event

The following week, book talk will move into a more intimate location, Alexandria's Carnegie Library, which housed the city's lending library until 1995.

"Most people have not seen the inside of the Carnegie library since 1995, so that's a fun opportunity there," Odland said.

From 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16, two authors and an architect will speak at the pale brick, stately building funded more than a century ago by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. A fundraiser hosted by Friends of the Library, the event focuses on libraries and books.

Best-selling author Allen Eskens of Mankato, author of "The Life We Bury," and photographer Doug Ohman, author of "Libraries of Minnesota," will be joined by Alexandria architect Reed Becker.

The writers have no set agenda but will likely speak about themselves and their work, while Becker will relate the architectural history of the building and discuss the remodel he oversaw when it was sold to the new owner, said Del Mari Runck, president of the Friends of the Library group.

"We are very excited that the owners of the Carnegie are allowing us to hold the event at the Carnegie and hope to fill the 60 seats available for this event," Runck said.

Tickets cost $40, and a limited number will be sold through Friday, Oct. 13 at the Douglas County Library and Neighborhood National Bank, 803 N Nokomis NE. The event includes appetizers and a cash bar.

Carnegie unleashed a revolution in reading when he began funding libraries across the country which permitted borrowing books for free. To get funding, communities had to provide the land and commit to paying for books and for library operations. The building is now privately owned. It's at the corner of 7th Avenue West and Fillmore Street, about a block away from the new library. It housed Alexandria's library for 91 years.

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