Librarians tend to get third paragraph thanks in the intro of historic works, or to merit a condescending note in a dissertation, Librarians just don’t get streets named in their honor. And then there’s Marvin Roger Anderson whose name and contributions will gain immortality this weekend. Concordia Avenue between Lexington Parkway and Dale Street in St. Paul, Minnesota, will henceforth be named Marvin Roger Anderson Avenue.
In Marvin Anderson fashion, he will share the honor. St. Anthony Avenue between Victoria Street and Western will henceforth by co-named Floyd G. Smaller Jr. Avenue, named in honor of Marvin’s lifetime friend and co-activist.
Marvin Anderson is a man of many talents and influence. In his professional world of librarianship he is known as the Minnesota State Law Librarian who opened the doors and expanded the research capabilities of that renowned institution. To young readers he is known as the idea person who built the “Everybody Wins!” reading promotion in the St. Paul Schools. The program got a good start when Marvin inveigled Supreme Court justices to enjoy lunch and a read with early learners at Benjamin Mays School. Though those kids are grown-ups now and the “Supremes” may be retired, the program continues to match caring adults with young readers.
The most important consideration of city fathers in naming of the street in his honor is the role of Marvin Roger Anderson as a power in preserving and promoting his home neighborhood, Rondo. Marvin has turned a civic travesty into a celebration of the vitality of his home community. Rondo Days, one of Marvin’s brainchildren, has claimed its place as a major community celebration, complete with a parade, jazz everywhere, and this summer a reunion of the Red Caps who served generations of travelers to and from St. Paul’s Union Depot.
Friends and fans of Marvin and his colleague Floyd G. Smaller may want to pull off Interstate 94 to check out the re-christened streets – and pause a moment to recognize the work of Marvin Roger Anderson and Floyd G. Smaller, two men who have collaborated for decades to shine a light on their community and the contributions of the people of Rondo.
Marvin Roger Anderson and Floyd G. Smaller will be recognized on the main stage of the Selby Avenue Jazz Fest, Saturday, September 14.