Floating Music at this weekend’s Floating Library, July 30 & 31

floating kantele

This weekend while the sun is high in the sky and the water is cool you’ll find an additional element to your bookish experience on Lake Phalen: harp music. Of course!

This weekend only, Sarah Stengle joins us in a kayak with her kantele, a small handmade harp based on those of Finnish origin.  She has been making inventive kanteles from materials such as found furniture, wooden tools and metal. She’s played them in uncommon concert venues, such as a frozen lake during the Art Shanty Projects.

Sarah is a St. Paul-based artist (West Side!) whose laminated books have been read at the Floating Library by boaters and swimmers since our beginnings in 2013.

Paddle out between 1 and 3 pm this Saturday and Sunday to catch the music. The Floating Library is open from 1-7 pm.

Stentle_Kantele_Jorgensen15_2016Lo Res Stengle_Blue Kantele 2016LOREs


the floating library opens today! saturday, july 16, 1-7 pm


Yesterday we assembled the Library’s raft shoreside at Lake Phalen and the set-up crew paddled it like champions from the boat launch down to it’s overnight resting spot at the dock.

By 1 pm today we’ll be open for business! Paddle out and read!

A few notes:

  • don’t forget sunscreen!
  • boat rental takes place at the Phalen Beach House, 1400 Phalen Blvd, St Paul, MN 55106 for your GPS.
  • the weather today looks good, but should it turn sour at any point, check the FL’s social media for real-time updates: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

See you on the water!


warm up for the floating library. free zine-making workshop, sunday, july 10, 1-4 pm

Zines donated to the Floating Library created by youth at Kulture Klub Collaborative.

Zines created by youth at Kulture Klub Collaborative donated to the Floating Library in 2013 .

Zines are simple books with images and text, typically produced via photocopying or other quick printing techniques, and are often used by activists and community artists to convey ideas and stories through this inexpensive medium.

The Floating Library’s collection is full of them, from the all-time favorite Prince Food by Martine Workman to Dogs and Puppys by Astrid, age 9.

At this free workshop, use simple tools like a photocopier, paper, scissors, thread, linoleum blocks and ink to design and print your own zine.  We’re inviting people to bring family photographs, photos of places you have visited, cultural imagery that you relate to, or any other relevant imagery to photocopy and add to your story.

Our host for this endeavor is the East Side Freedom Library, a historic Carnegie library building in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood that now houses a non-circulating collection of books about labor and working class history, Asian, Asian American, African, African American and disaporic histories and much more. Their mission is to inspire solidarity, advocate for justice and work toward equity for all.

A selection of books from ESFL will be on hand for inspiration, images and information about immigrant history in St. Paul’s East Side. Use the photocopier to borrow images from these books, then cut and paste them to tell your own story.

If you wish, your zine can join the collection of the Floating Library and be read by people on Lake Phalen!

Big thanks to Peter Rachleff and Beth Cleary of ESFL and to FL 2016 Commissioned Artist Aaron Johnson-Ortiz for teaching!

Family History Zine Making Workshop
Sunday, July 10, 1-4 pm
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street St. Paul, MN 55106
FREE, all ages welcome

RSVP and invite others on the Facebook event page.

Zines by Astrid, age 9.

Zines by Astrid, age 9.

Sizing up the situation at the lake

We took a holiday trip over to Phalen this weekend to finalize some logistics for the big launch in a few weeks. How long does it take to paddle from the boat launch to the dock? Where are the canoe racks? How long does it take to paddle from the dock to the beach? Where are the bathrooms?

We enjoyed a wide blue sky while making these assessments, introduced ourselves to the boat rental staff and lifeguards and learned a critical piece of information: there is no snack stand at Lake Phalen!

Bring sustenance, dear boaters.


Also, there are still shifts left if you’d like to volunteer as a Floating Librarian. Sign up here, and come to Volunteer Orientation on July 12th.