100 Years / 100 Stories

100 Years/100 Stories is an expanding collection of stories from our community, as told through written word, photography, audio, and video. They are all unique, and yet they share a similar thread of living and learning in Saint Paul. We are proud to have been a gathering place for Saint Paul residents for 100 years and look forward to serving the city for 100 more.

About this page

The library has touched many lives in both small and large ways. This page features some of those stories and shows how the library continues to be a place of inspiration and opportunity.

About this page

The library has touched many lives in both small and large ways. This page features some of those stories and shows how the library continues to be a place of inspiration and opportunity.

From learning about new technologies to being inspired by a librarian at a young age to better understand and explore their dreams, patrons of all ages have compelling stories about their library. We are excited to share these stories and first memories and reflect on the evolving role of the library in the lives of our patrons.

Pursuing their dreams, with a little help from the library

Darren and his wife Oie both had successful careers in corporate America, but in the back of their minds, they each longed for something different.

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Pursuing their dreams, with a little help from the library

Author: The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

Darren and his wife Oie both had successful careers in corporate America, but in the back of their minds, they each longed for something different.

They wanted a challenge that satisfied their need to work with both passion and purpose.

After a lot of discussion and self-examination, they realized that their shared passion had always been the outdoors. They wanted to pursue a career path that would not only let them get outside, but one that would encourage others to do so as well. They also wanted to teach people to be good stewards of the environment while having fun.

The couple decided to open a retail shop that would sell outdoor gear and clothing. While preparing their business plan, they began attending the SCORE program at the Workforce and Innovation Center at George Latimer Central Library. The Dobiers took classes every weekend for 2 months from retired executives with years of experience running businesses. During the process, the couple was also matched with a mentor who had the right expertise to advise them on their journey.

The Dobiers found the classes extremely helpful, but the help didn’t stop there. “The library staff was invaluable in helping us find resources,” Darren explained. “We would tell Amanda, a librarian in the Workforce Center, the kind of research we were looking for, and she would send us exactly what we needed.” It was the kind of personal attention they weren’t expecting from a free service.

A Dream Becomes Reality
Months later, the Dobiers completed their business plan and went in search of financing. They were able to secure a loan, but the location they had chosen ended up falling through. After their second location didn’t work out, the Dobiers reevaluated their plan. They thought about their original goal of getting people outdoors and came up with a different way to achieve it. This time the husband and wife team decided that they didn’t need a location at all – they would bring the gear to people exactly where they planned to use it – outside.

The concept they landed on, DIRO Outdoors, organizes outdoor excursions throughout the state and rents gear for participants. Options include fat bikes, mountain bikes, snow shoes, kayaks, tents, and more. DIRO also rents equipment to people planning their own adventures and will even bring it right to their door if they’re within 25 miles.

“We knew that a lot of people didn’t want to buy their own gear. It’s expensive and sometimes people just don’t have enough storage to keep it,” said Darren. “They also want the option of trying new activities without having to purchase new equipment every time.” We encourage people to try lots of activities and to find the way to enjoy the outdoors that appeals most to them. DIRO’s tagline “find your outer space” speaks directly to this charge.

Because of the Library
Even though their business model is different than when they started taking classes, Darren says the library was incredibly important in their process. “We learned a lot,” he says, “and it reminded us to be flexible and nimble.” Because of that mindset he says they actually ended up with a better fit. He was able to quit his job in October to focus on the new company full-time. “I’m definitely happier now,” says Dobier.

The Dobiers say without the library, they would have had to pay too much trying to track down information that might not have even helped them. They would’ve wasted money that could’ve gone towards building their business. The library had the resources they needed and the personal attention to guide them in the right direction.

An added bonus was the connections they made during their classes with other small business hopefuls. The couple still keeps in touch with this network. “We meet for coffee sometimes and check in with each other and support each other as we grow,” Darren says.

Even though he’s now busy running his business, Darren still uses the library frequently with his children. He’s even thinking about ways to partner with staff and volunteers for outdoor storytelling events with his company. Ever a library fan, Darren says “the library brings people together. It’s a place to come together around community and information.”

Dreaming of my first library card (and Salvador Dalí)

I remember my first library card, issued to me by the Saint Paul Public Library, Rice Street Branch when I was 9 years old. I remember Mrs. Jeffries. I thought of her as “my librarian,” because she always gave me personal assistance and advice when I asked for it.

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Dreaming of my first library card (and Salvador Dalí)

Author: Noreen Gaisbauer

I remember my first library card, issued to me by the Saint Paul Public Library, Rice Street Branch when I was 9 years old. I remember Mrs. Jeffries. I thought of her as “my librarian,” because she always gave me personal assistance and advice when I asked for it.

I had vivid dreams as a little girl. When I asked Mrs. Jeffries for a book about dreams, she thought for awhile, then told me that many of those books were beyond my reading level, but she knew an artist who painted dreams.

She unlocked the door to the Reference Room, and after explaining the rules one needed to follow while using the Reference Room, showed me to a table and chair with a big book of Salvador Dalí paintings. She explained that this artist had colorful and interesting dreams, too. He remembered them and made beautiful paintings about them. I’m thinking of Mrs. Laura Jeffries today, and how much better my life is because of her. Her intelligence and gentleness encouraged the seeker in me. Thank you, to her, and the Saint Paul Public Library, Rice Street Branch.

What would it look like if all kids could get on the Internet from home for free? This is a huge equity issue

Mayor Coleman attends a Createch open house at Rondo Library in 2016, and learns about some of the cool tools teens are using to learn about robotics.

Mayor Coleman at Rondo's Homework Center open house in 2016

Mayor Coleman at Rondo's Homework Center open house in 2016

Mayor Coleman at Rondo's Homework Center open house in 2016

Mayor Coleman at Rondo's Homework Center open house in 2016

Dorothy Beaulieu remembers her first trip to the library 71 years ago

Share Your Own Story!

SPPL has developed a set of fun, easy-to-use tools that allow you to share YOUR story. Explore our tools below.

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