What are the most-checked-out books at Minnesota libraries? See the list

The Minnesota driver's manual and a guide on training dogs were among the top

Historic books line the shelves of the James J. Hill Center in St. Paul.
Minnesota has over 300 libraries but what materials are being checked out the most? We contacted libraries across the state to find out.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

There are more than 300 library locations in Minnesota for its roughly 5.7 million residents. MPR News asked libraries across the state what their most popular adult and children’s books were, and the answers may surprise you.

What we read says a lot about who we are. While many Minnesotans are focused on the practical, checking out driver’s manuals or dog training guides, Duluthians are reading about themselves. Similarly, the author William Kent Krueger was popular across the state, likely because his books are often set in Minnesota.

Each library contacted provided different data. Some could go back 15 years and some could only check the last year. We have included that information, as well as an interactive map below to explore what is most popular in your region.

Most points in the map are individual libraries, but a few library systems are included in the list: Arrowhead, Viking, Lake Agassiz, Northwest Regional and Great River Regional. These represent a dozen or more small libraries in rural Minnesota.

Did we miss you? Email sstroozas@mpr.org with your data and we will add you to the list.

Ely Public Library

Adult: "Iron Lake," by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: A tie between the "Complete Adventures of Curious George," by H. A. Rey, and "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," by Laura Numeroff.

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Information provided goes back to 2003.

Duluth Public Library

Adult: "Duluth, an Illustrated History of the Zenith City," by Glenn N. Sandvik. 
Children's: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," by J.K. Rowling.

Information provided is for all books that are currently in the library catalog.

Lake Agassiz Regional Libraries

This system includes: ADA, Bagley, Barnesville, Breckenridge, Climax, Cormorant, Crookston, Detroit Lakes, Fertile, Fosston, Frazee, Gonvick, Halstad, Hawley, Hendrum, Lake Park, Mahnomen, McIntosh, Moorhead, Rothsay, Twin Valley and Ulen.

Top 5 adult books systemwide:
"The Four Winds," by Kristin Hannah.
"The Return," by Rachel Harrison. 
"The Last Thing He Told Me," by Laura Dave.
"Ocean Prey," by John Sandford. 
"Where the Crawdads Sing," by Delia Owens.

Information provided goes back to 2021.

International Falls Public Library

Adult: "Mercy Falls” and “Thunder Bay," both by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: "Curious George in the Snow,” by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey.

The library did not say the time period for this information.

Albert Lea Public Library

Adult: "Shadow Reel," by C.J. Box. 
Children's: "The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!" by Mo Willems. 

Information provided is for the past six months.

Silver Bay Public Library

Adult: "Iron Lake," by William Kent Krueger. 
Children's: "The Complete Adventures of Curious George,” by H. A. Rey.

Information provided is since 2002.

Rochester Public Library

Adult fiction: "The Four Winds," by Kristin Hannah.
Adult non-fiction: The Minnesota's driver’s manual.
Children's chapter books: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," by Jeff Kinney.
Picture books: All Mo Willems titles.

The library did not say the time period for this information.

Saint Paul Public Libraries

Adult: "This Tender Land," by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: "Dog Man: Fetch-22," by Dav Pilkey.

Information provided is since 2019.

Hibbing Public Library

Adult Fiction: "Four to Score," by Janet Evanovich. 
Adult Non-Fiction: "The Koehler Method of Dog Training," by William R. Koehler.

Information provided is for the lifetime of the library’s books.

Anoka County Library

Adult: "Where the Crawdads Sing," by Delia Owens. 
Children's: "There Is a Bird On Your Head!" by Mo Willems.

Information provided is for all books currently in the catalog.

Northwest Regional Library System

This system includes: Godel Memorial-Warren, Greenbush, Grygla, Hallock, Karlstad, Red Lake Falls, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Warroad. 

Across the system, the top ten most checked out books are children's books. The "Fancy Nancy" series by Jane O'Connor was the most popular. "Iron Lake" by William Kent Krueger was the most-checked-out book at Red Lake Falls Public Library.

The library did not say the time period for this information.

Grand Marais Public Library

Adult: "Trial at Grand Marais," by Gene Andereck. 
Children's: "Dogteam," by Gary Paulsen.

The library did not say the time period for this information.

Great River Regional Library System

This system includes: Albany, Annandale, Becker, Belgrade, Big Lake, Buffalo, Clearwater, Cokato, Cold Spring, Delano, Eagle Bend, Elk River, Foley, Grey Eagle, Howard Lake, Kimball, Little Falls, Long Prairie, Melrose, Monticello, Paynesville, Pierz, Richmond, Rockford, Royalton, Sartell, Sauk Centre, St. Cloud, St. Michael, Staples, Swanville, Upsala, Waite Park.

Adult: "The Last Thing He Told Me," by Laura Dave.

Information provided is just for 2022.

Arrowhead Library System

This system includes: Aurora, Babbitt, Baudette, Bovey, Buhl, Calumet, Carlton, Chisholm, Cloquet, Coleraine, Cook, Duluth, Ely, Eveleth, Gilbert, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Hoyt Lakes, International Falls, Keewatin, Marble, Moose Lake, Mountain Iron, Silver Bay, Two Harbors and Virginia.

Adult: “Where the Crawdads Sing," by Delia Owens.
Children’s: "Dog Man: Unleashed," by Dav Pileky.

Information provided is for all time.

Marshall-Lyon County Library

Adult: "The Nightingale," by Kristin Hannah.
Children's: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle.

Information provided is since 2000.

Viking Library System

This system includes: Browns Valley, Douglas County, Elbow Lake, Fergus Falls, Glenwood, Hancock, Morris, New York Mills, Pelican Rapids, Perham Area and Wheaton.

Adult: "Ordinary Grace" by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: A tie between "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss and "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.

Information provided is since 2004.

Brainerd Public Library

Adult: "Fox Creek," by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: Books from Mo Williems and Dav Pilkey.

Information provided is for the previous three months.

Traverse des Sioux Library System

This system includes 40 plus libraries in the counties of Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, Watonwan (and towns such as Mankato, St. James, Fairmont, Gaylord, St. Peter, Waseca, Le Sueur, New Ulm, Blue Earth).

Adult: "Where the Crawdads Sing," by Delia Owens.

Information provided is since 2019.

Hennepin County Library

Adult: "Lightning Strike," by William Kent Krueger.
Children's: "Cat Kid Comic: On Purpose," by Dav Pilkey.

Information provided is for the year of 2022.