United For Libraries – Literary Landmarks



I am part of a committee that meets to place a Literary Landmark once a year somewhere in Minnesota.  Literary Landmarks are a part of ALA (American Library Association).  The purpose of Literary Landmarks is to recognize an author who is from the area.  The author needs to no longer be living for at least 5 years.  In past years Minnesota has recognized:

Jon Hassler

Sinclair Lewis

Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Tacy!)

Scott Fitzgerald  (Gatsby!)


Our committee started meeting last fall to discuss who our next author should be.  As the last couple of years had been in the Brainerd lakes area and in Ely, we felt it was time to come back toward the Twin Cities.  Once we have chosen our author, we need to find a place to put the plaque.  It is a beautiful large plaque and it can go indoors or outdoors; on the side of a building, in a library, in a park, a museum, wherever.  We then plan a ceremony around the dedication.

After narrowing down our list, we were excited to choose Gordon Parks as our Literary Landmark for 2016.

Gordon Parks was not only an author.  He was also a photographer and became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. In 1971, his book Shaft became a  hugely successful motion picture.  He had a deep commitment to social justice and died in 2006.

Yesterday, I drove to St. Paul Minnesota to meet not only with our committee, but we were also lucky enough to have two of Gordon’s relatives present as well.  Russell Balenger is Gordon’s nephew and Robin Hickman his grand niece.  It was so exciting to meet them and see that they both are involved in social justice themselves, carrying on in Gordon’s footsteps.

gordon parks, book journey, ALA< Literary landmark
L: Russel, Robin, Joe (from our committee)


gordon parks, literary landmark, book journey minnesota
L: Barbi and Isabel from our committee


I am enjoying being a part of this group. It is wonderful to be able to recognize authors who have made a difference.  I am submitting this post to Saturday Snapshots.

8 thoughts on “United For Libraries – Literary Landmarks

  1. What a great honor to be on this important committee as well as a wonderful service you are performing. Now I’m curious to find out more about Gordon Parks. I hope you’ll share a picture of the final plaque when it is done.

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