Invest in Your Community
Invest in Your Library

We support libraries through fundraising, advocacy, and cultural programming.

More Than Books

Libraries are the best way to strengthen communities because they connect individuals of every age, ethnicity, and background with resources that enrich and improve lives.

Maker Spaces

The library provides technology and space for innovation. Saint Paul resident, Rachel created a package prototype at the George Latimer Central Library.

Small Business Resources

The library helps the local economy. Darren and Oie were able to start their own company using small business resources at Central Library.

Homework Help

The library provides educational support. Ramla's daughter improved her grades thanks to homework help at the Arlington Hills Community Center.

Digital Literacy Training

The library provides opportunity to grow your skills. One of our patrons, Nancy got promoted after taking a digital literacy class at the Rondo Library.

Zhen Tu's Story

There is no better way to understand the impact of the Library than through the personal stories of those who rely on it for learning and inspiration. Zhen Tu first came to the Library as a young girl after moving to the US from China. Watch the story of how the Library helped her become the person she is today.

Has the Public Library Made an Impact in Your Life or Community?

Here's How The Friends Invests

Even in a city that loves its libraries, public funding isn’t enough for libraries to provide all the important resources that residents seek.

The Library, part of the City of Saint Paul, depends on The Friends to support those resources. As an independent nonprofit, The Friends invests in libraries so that they, and the communities they serve, thrive.

We Raise Money

We Advocate

We Produce Programming

We Consult

Stronger Libraries for Stronger Communities

“I don’t know how to help my child with their homework, so this helps them. We love it here, and the kids want to come.”

– Safiya, mother

“This storytime means so much to me because my kids get to learn their native language.”

– Po, parent

“The library brings people together. It’s a place to come together around community and information.”

– Darren, small-business owner

“The best thing about this program is that it has all the resources a low-income student may need to do well in school… along with a safe learning environment for students to work.”

– Mai Xee, student

The need for a strong library is greater than ever.

Upcoming Events

Feb
20
Tue
Behind the Curtain with Park Square Theatre: “The Pirates of Penzance” @ Merriam Park Library
Feb 20 @ 7:00 pm

Pirates of Penzance

Join The Friends and Park Square Theatre for an evening with cast members from the upcoming production of The Pirates of Penzance.

In this fresh twist on the classic comic opera, Gilbert and Sullivan are on a steamer bound for the New York opening of their new hit – a roaring farce of sentimental pirates, bumbling policemen, and hopeful young lovers. Unfortunately, they’ve left the score in London! They scramble to recreate the show with only the clothes in their trunks and ship mates for a cast.

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at this hilarious steampunk operetta-at-sea with cast members Bradley Greenwald*, Max Wojtanowicz*, and director Doug Scholz-Carlson.

*Member of Actor’s Equity Association

SPECIAL HALF-PRICE TICKET OFFER:
Attendees of the library program are invited to purchase up to four (4) half-priced, standard tickets to see a performance of the show at Park Square Theatre (February 21 – March 25). All tickets must be purchase in advance of the February 20 discussion program at Merriam Park Library and can be picked up that evening. Register below to get the code and access the discount.

Feb
21
Wed
Fireside Reading Series: Jon Lurie @ Hamline Midway Library
Feb 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Jon Lurie

Jon Lurie
Canoeing with José

The first time journalist Jon Lurie met José Perez, the smart, angry, 15-year-old Lakota-Puerto Rican drew a knife and questioned Lurie’s authority. Five years later, both men are floundering. Lurie is newly divorced and depressed. Perez is embedded in a haze of women and street feuds. Then Lurie hits upon a plan to save them: embark together on a mythic 2,000-mile paddle from Breckenridge, MN, to the Hudson Bay. Written in gritty, honest prose, Canoeing with José describes their remarkable journey. Lurie has worked as a journalist, wilderness guide, and as a teen adviser at a Native American journalism program. He is also the coauthor, with Clyde Bellecourt, of The Thunder Before the Storm.

About the Series

With cookies in one hand and coffee in the other, enjoy six weeks of free readings at Hamline Midway Library. Now in its 24th season, the Fireside Reading Series is one of The Friends’ oldest and most popular events. The series annually highlights the work of some of Minnesota’s finest writers who have published a new work in the previous year. Programs are accompanied by coffee, cider, cookies, and book signings. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Full Fireside Series

Wednesday, January 24
Miriam Karmel, Subtle Variations and Other Stories
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 31
Bao Phi, Thousand Star Hotel
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 7
Marcie Rendon, Murder on the Red River
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 14
Carolyn Porter, Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 21
Jon Lurie, Canoeing with José
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 28
Kaethe Schwehn, The Rending and the Nest
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Feb
23
Fri
Loud at the Library: J.S. Ondara, with Lydia Liza @ George Latimer Central Library
Feb 23 @ 7:30 pm

J.S. Ondara, with Lydia Liza | Tickets $10
Doors Open – 7:00 | Music Starts – 7:30

You can do amazing things at the library – like enjoy live music and craft beer in the middle of the stacks. Come get LOUD at the Library this winter in downtown Saint Paul with local bands and local brews. Tickets help support all the amazing things you can do at the library.

All attendees over 21 who bring a current library card from any system will receive one free beer, courtesy of sponsor Summit Brewing.

Get tickets below!

HEADLINER:
J.S. Ondara

J.S. Ondara is a singer-songwriter based in Minneapolis. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, he moved to Minneapolis to pursue a career in music, choosing Minnesota largely due to his adoration of native Bob Dylan. Other songwriters who have had great influence on him are Neil Young, Ray Lamontagne, Noah Gundersen, and Damien Rice. Ondara is currently finishing up his first project and playing a few select shows around the country.

OPENER:
Lydia Liza

Lydia Liza Hoglund first garnered attention in the Twin Cities music scene as the spirited and confessional vocalist of folk/rock outfit Bomba de Luz. She has since gone on to establish herself as a solo performer and has collaborated with a wide array of local artists including Toki Wright & Big Cats, Eric Mayson, Caroline Smith, P.O.S, Dem AtlaS, Jeremy Messersmith, and many more.

In 2016, Lydia and her boyfriend, Josiah Lemanski, went globally viral for a re-write of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The two were featured on 89.3 The Current, CNN, Time MagazinePeople Magazine, Billboard, and FOX News, to name a few. They donated all proceeds to The Sexual Violence Center of Minnesota and RAINN.

“When Lydia Hoglund sings, her words convey the ache of an old soul. She unspools her melodies in big, booming somersaults that sound both effortless and ageless, her elastic delivery recalling emotive singers like Jeff Buckley and Sharon Van Etten.” – Andrea Swensson for NPR feature

Feb
28
Wed
Fireside Reading Series: Kaethe Schwehn @ Hamline Midway Library
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Kaethe Schwehn

Kaethe Schwehn
The Rending and the Nest

In Kaethe Schwehn’s mesmerizing postapocalyptic debut, 95 percent of the world’s population has disappeared without a trace. The 5 percent who remain must struggle to survive in the ruined world with no understanding of what has happened or why. Through the eyes of her young narrator, Schwehn creates a vision of the future which Kirkus Reviews called “intensely familiar, yet strange”—a place in which inhabitants must reimagine their existence again and again and remake the world from what they have left. Schwehn is also the author of Tailings: A Memoir which won a Minnesota Book Award in 2015.

About the Series

With cookies in one hand and coffee in the other, enjoy six weeks of free readings at Hamline Midway Library. Now in its 24th season, the Fireside Reading Series is one of The Friends’ oldest and most popular events. The series annually highlights the work of some of Minnesota’s finest writers who have published a new work in the previous year. Programs are accompanied by coffee, cider, cookies, and book signings. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Full Fireside Series

Wednesday, January 24
Miriam Karmel, Subtle Variations and Other Stories
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 31
Bao Phi, Thousand Star Hotel
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 7
Marcie Rendon, Murder on the Red River
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 14
Carolyn Porter, Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 21
Jon Lurie, Canoeing with José
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 28
Kaethe Schwehn, The Rending and the Nest
Hamline Midway Library │ 7:00 p.m.

Mar
6
Tue
Books & Bars: “The Underground Railroad” @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall
Mar 6 @ 5:00 pm

With The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, moderator Jeff Kamin brings his unique take on a public book club show to Saint Paul every first Tuesday of the month (with some exceptions). Even if you don’t like the featured book, he “guarantees a good time at our entertaining discussions.” All are welcome to try this moderated reinvention of the book club. No registration required.

5:00 Happy Hour Social | 6:15 Discussion


The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora—an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse, Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this magnificent tour de force from Colson Whitehead chronicles a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library Blog

Featured Post

Zhen Tu’s Library Story

October 10, 2017

Watch Zhen Tu’s story   Dear Friends Supporter, A very big THANK YOU to everyone who attended and made the 14th annual Opus & Olives fundraising gala a huge success. Together, we supported the incredible work of the Saint Paul Public Library and raised a LOT of money to continue our efforts in the year…

Read More

More From the Blog

Poetry in the Neighborhood Workshops Will Enlist Local Poets and Residents to Create Poems About Saint Paul

February 15, 2018

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will host workshops in five Saint Paul libraries, led by local poets and designed to engage residents in exploring community through poetry. The series, Poetry in the Neighborhood, will take place at various locations during March, culminating in a final presentation of neighborhood poems in April. All…

Read More

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library Confirms Eight New Board Members for 2018

January 9, 2018

The elected individuals complete a nearly 50-member board that will play a key role in the organization’s major 2018 endeavors, including strategic planning and resource development. SAINT PAUL, MN, January 9, 2017 —The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has elected eight new trustees to its board of directors, effective January 1,2018. The new…

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The Saint Paul Public Library is Preparing Residents to Work

January 2, 2018

The Friends invests in the Saint Paul Public Library so that it can connect individuals with resources that enrich and improve lives and make Saint Paul communities stronger. One of the ways the Library strengthens communities is by fostering a healthy, sustainable workforce. Read our recent case statement below about why investing in the Library…

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The need for a strong library is greater than ever.