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.

Riverview: 100 Years Later

Riverview Library on Saint Paul’s West Side has been considered a neighborhood anchor since it opened in 1917 and was strongly defended against possible closing in the 1980s. The building, remodeled in 1989, is a comfortable space which attracts a cross section of the neighborhood.

Riverview: 100 Years Later

Riverview Library on Saint Paul’s West Side has been considered a neighborhood anchor since it opened in 1917 and was strongly defended against possible closing in the 1980s. The building, remodeled in 1989, is a comfortable space which attracts a cross section of the neighborhood.

Riverview Library is bordered by the Mississippi River on the north, east, and west and the city’s boundary along Annapolis Street to the south. Construction of the building was funded by Andrew Carnegie and designed by city architect Charles Hausler. The building is noted for its tall Palladium-arch windows that line all four sides of the building.

Don’t miss Riverview’s 100 Birthday Block Party on August 5!

Join us on community block party and birthday bash to celebrate Riverview’s 100th anniversary on August 5.

 

Memories of Florine Frischkorn, a legendary librarian at Riverview

John Justen reminisces about Florine Frischkorn, a librarian at Riverview Library who allowed him to check out books above reading level when he was 4.

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Memories of Florine Frischkorn, a legendary librarian at Riverview

Author: Library Staff

John Justen reminisces about Florine Frischkorn, a librarian at Riverview Library who allowed him to check out books above reading level when he was 4.

SPPL: What do you remember about the first time you were introduced to a library?

John: Well the first time I remember being introduced to a library was actually this library when I was a tiny kid, and I remember it being huge. It just seemed like the biggest building, all full of books – I remember being awestruck by the number of books and just the size. The ceilings in here are so high, especially if you’re tiny.

SPPL: Was that before you started school?

John: Yeah, it would have been before I started school. I started coming to the library with my mom probably when I was about four I would guess. I was an early reader.

SPPL: Did you grow up around here?

John: I actually grew up in Mendota Heights, but for whatever reason, we latched onto this library because it was a Carnegie and the building was so neat. The old West Saint Paul library was sort of a little shoebox back by an ice arena back then, which was also probably much bigger than this in reality, but Riverview seemed more magnificent.

SPPL: If you could tell us one story about a visit to the Riverview Library, or a person who worked here, what would it be?

John: It would be Mrs. Frischkorn, who I’ve now found out is Florine Frischkorn (we did a bit of research), who worked here. I’m don’t know how old she would have been when I was here – this would have been the late’70s. But she actually advocated for me. Like I said, I was an early reader and went over started grabbing a lot of books because I was reading a lot of books. And I think somebody else who was working there who was maybe more old school was like “No, you’re playing around. You’re not going to read all those books.” I remember Mrs. Frischkorn stepping in and saying look, “If he wants to take all those books, he can.” I came back, had read the books, and got more. The layout was different back then, but there was sort of a division between the picture kids books and the stuff that was meatier and more intermediate, and I had kind of jumped that gap. The library was probably more conservative about things like, so you couldn’t check out books from that section if you were four or five, but Mrs. Frischkorn said “No, no, you can check out books from wherever you want.” That always stuck with me. I still remember her name. I remember her name more than I do elementary school teachers I had. It made a big impact on me.

SPPL: Is there anything else you want to add?

John: I suppose the most interesting library story at this point is that, as it ended up through multiple happenstances, my wife is now the librarian at Riverview, which was my childhood library. We now live not very far away, so it’s kind of like we’ve come full circle and now we have two kids, one of whom shows signs of being an early reader like me and just loves books and coming to the library. It’s pretty neat to do that a generation later!

Pictured: John Justen and his wife, Kali Freeman, Riverview’s manager and their two children.

A Deeper Look: Why was Riverview nearly closed?

In 1981, Mayor George Latimer ordered all city departments, including the Saint Paul Public Library, to cut 10 percent from their yearly operating costs. The city’s library department responded by suggesting it save $190,000 by closing three of its branches: Riverview, Arlington Hills, and Hamline.

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A Deeper Look: Why was Riverview nearly closed?

Author: Riverview Library Staff

In 1981, Mayor George Latimer ordered all city departments, including the Saint Paul Public Library, to cut 10 percent from their yearly operating costs. The city’s library department responded by suggesting it save $190,000 by closing three of its branches: Riverview, Arlington Hills, and Hamline.

Citing low circulation and high operating costs, the Riverview Library’s may have closed permanently had it not been for the citizens of the West Side and the efforts of the West Side Community Organization (WSCO) led by President Ralph Brown.

WSCO sent out fliers identifying ways in which the West Side’s 14,000 residents could support their library. They started a petition and gathered 3,300 signatures opposing Riverview closing. They wrote letters to newspapers. They wrote letters to George Latimer. And they showed up. On July 28, 1981, 600 residents packed into the Emanuel Lutheran Church urging the mayor to keep the library open. As reported by the Pioneer Press on Wednesday, July 29th, 1981:

Before the night was over, Latimer would say, “I’m overwhelmed . . . Dolly Latimer (the mayor’s mother) never raised dumb children. Whatever you’re for, I’m for — I think.”

It was as close to as the mayor would come to casting aside the library system proposal to close the building. “I promise you that your turnout will affect what I recommend to the City Council, the mayor told the group.

It was reported that the decision to keep the libraries open was made the morning after the meeting on the West Side. From the Saint Paul Dispatch on Thursday, July 30, 1981:

A groundswell of community support has saved Riverview, Hamline and Arlington Hills libraries from closing

City Library Director Gerald Steenberg said today that a turnout of about 600 persons at a meeting on the West Side Tuesday helped convince him, Mayor George Latimer and the community Services Director Thomas Kelley to look for other ways of saving $190,000 in a reduced budget next year.

“It was a conclusion we all were coming to as the result of interest and support these communities are showing to their libraries, “ Steenberg said. “But we have to be sure they continue their support by using the libraries.”

Spring is here and the magnolia trees are in full bloom at Riverview Library! #SpringIsSprung

Legendary librarian Florine Frischkorn retires

An open letter to Mayor George Latimer on the closure of Riverview Library

An article in the Pioneer Press on the decision to keep Riverview open (1981)

West Side Citizens Organization Newsletter (June/July 1981)

Letters to the editor in The Voice, July, 1981

600 turnout to support the library: "We need the library!"

West Side Community Organization Flyer

West Side Community Organization Flyer

An interview with Gilbert de la O, lifelong West Side resident and Riverview patron

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