Coming down on U.S. 41, about to enter Copper Harbor, when you reach the blinker light you have a choice: You can drive to the right, where at first glance it would appear that that's where all the action is. But then to the left you notice some new structures filling spaces along both sides of that road - gift shops, miniature golf course, photo gallery, and, beyond, a wide two mile family friendly foot path leading to Hunter's Point. Venturing in that direction is a rewarding experience.
Among the new structures, directly behind the North One photo gallery, is what appears to be a new log cabin with its moniker hanging out front in proud letters: The Library.
A library among the pines in the little village of Copper Harbor? Well, in the first place, the Harbor isn't really very little anymore; ask anyone who has settled there recently, not just to escape the rat race below, but with personal expertise, to add to the community, to make the village just a little bit better.
In this case, The Library came about almost by serendipity when Elsebet Jegstrup, along with good friend Margaret Kirby, would annually flee Durham, North Carolina to vacation summers in the Copper Harbor area.
According to Elsebet, "The new library came about because our private residence, originally intended as just a vacation house, instead became an all year residence for Margaret and me, in which there was no room for all our books, about 5,000 of them. When we decided to retire in Copper Harbor, a piece of property on Gratiot Street on which there were two poorly looking log cabin buildings, we purchased them - one to house North One Gallery and the other behind it to house a community useful library.
Elsebet continues, "The two buildings were redesigned in terms of space and completely refurbished, including being winterized for year-around use. On May 18th of last year, the photo gallery was opened, and on June 14th of this year, with an eventful reception, The Library was opened.
"Over 60 people came to see our log cabin library. All expressed their delight in having a good library in town for both residents and visitors, and by now we have already lent out books by the hundreds. It's become a great success as a library, but we also intend to use it for other events. First, we will host a series of films on art every third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., to be accompanied by a discussion afterwards.
"Then," she continues, "The Library also hopes to take up other endeavors, such as having our school children come each semester to learn what a library is all about and how to use it to best advantage. ("More on that later," she adds.)
"Of the approximately 6000 books now on the shelves, about 10 percent were donated by people in the Harbor and people visiting the Harbor, as well as generous people throughout the Keweenaw neighborhood. The shelves are rapidly filling to capacity."
For curious visitors, as soon as they enter the library, it becomes apparent that this is more than just an officious room lined with shelves of books. With a chess table set up on one side, ready for anyone to volunteer a move, a long glass-topped table in the center of the room and modern comfortable chairs surrounding for serious browsers, and a variety of art work filling nooks and crannies, there is the feeling of a friendly, homey ambiance.
Any public place of pleasurable and informative reading materials should be graced with at least one spectacular object on which to focus, and The Library follows suit. At the far end is the room's piece de resistance: a huge replica of Raphael's "School of Athens," constructed from an 8000 piece jigsaw puzzle, which after three years to complete was glued permanently to grace a large section of the room. (The colorfully detailed painting portrays ancient Greek and Roman philosophers up until Raphael's time - the subject particularly appealing to Elsebet who before retirement was a professor of philosophy in Durham.)
With enough local volunteers, the library will be open all year around. Mondays and Tuesdays, at present, it will be closed. Open on Wednesdays 10 a.m. -7 p.m. Thursdays, 10am-6pm. Fridays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. And Saturdays & Sundays, noon - 4 p.m. With additional volunteers, the hours may be extended in the future.
The first proposed film on art program will begin on Tuesday, October 27 - based on the cave drawings in Lascaux, France (the earliest human art known to us).
With the fall colors drawing visitors to the tip of the Copper Country, there is further inducement to spend extra time in the Copper Harbor area - including Fort Wilkins, the town's major area to the East of the blinker light, and now, to the West, a whole new array of enticements including the newest object of interest: The Library.
Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Prisoners," B+; "Despicable Me 2," B; "Fast & Furious 6," C+