Northeast Minneapolis Honors a Great Librarian

One of the things I learned in library school is that when people have an information need they’ll always ask people they know before they ask a librarian.  The trick is making sure that librarians are some of the people they know.  Jessamyn West

If any community ever got to know its librarian, it’s the Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood .   The community gave witness to that fact last week in a moving and heartfelt tribute to librarian Lois Profiri who is moving on from her position as senior librarian at the Northeast Library.  Hennepin County Library has reassigned her to a parallel position at a suburban outpost.    Everyone knows Lois – and Lois knows everyone, it seems.

The tribute to our community librarian was sponsored by the neighborhood association ,  testimony to  the role of this librarian in this community.  The scene was Sen Yai Sen Yak, a popular neighborhood eatery which an attendee dubbed the Cheers of Northeast.  Tears were shed, most by the library patrons  grieving the loss of a beloved librarian and friend.  Stories were told – everyone had one.  Elected official showed up – and stayed the evening.  Management from the local co-op were there – and stayed the evening.  Avid library users and Friends of the Library showed up – and stayed the evening.  There were kids everywhere – though the teen crowd was reduced  because there was a Viking appearance a block away at Edison High School where they were celebrating their 90th anniversary.  No matter, the teens would be back at the library the next day – they’re always there. There was a presentation of a beautiful ceramic plaque created by a Northeast neighborhood artist.  There was abundant Thai food,  animated conversation about the neighborhood, politics, the changing demographics of Northeast – and the role of the librarian woven throughout.

Just the way it ought to be.  Sometime midst the muck of technology, the expansion of bureaucracy and the lust for what one guest called “WalMart think” we’ve lost sight of the basic fact that it is librarians, not bricks and mortar that make things happen.

Paula Poundstone put a human face on libraries when she wrote “libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy, and community.  Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers, and reached out to illiterate adults.”   This gathering demonstrated as words alone cannot that our librarian, Lois Profiri, is a leader in this community – as she will continue to be for the community served by the Maple Grove library.

Thank you,  Lois, and thank you to the neighbors of Northeast who know, love and honor a really fine librarian who has had a lasting impact on an evolving community.

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