Donor Stories

Great River Regional Library is very appreciative of its generous donors.
We would like to acknowledge our Scholar-level donors by sharing their stories about their love for their library. 

Kim and Dan Christianson Celebrate Pat Christianson's 75th Birthday

Dan and Kim Christianson honor and celebrate Pat Christianson, Dan’s late wife, and Kim’s late mother, on what would have been her milestone 75th birthday in December 2021.

Pat Christianson was employed by Great River Regional Library for 35 years, serving as a Librarian until 1984, at which time she became Deputy Director until her retirement in 2002. She also served as Acting Director on two occasions. Her daughter Kim has many fond memories in the library. Kim shared it felt like she grew up there. The staff felt like family. Kim recalled one of her fondest memories was in the old library and checking on the book drop with her mom. “In the old library, the book drop was undersized where books flew down into a black box and would fill up over the weekends. It was an errand to empty the book drop together!” The book drop, located in the basement of the St. Cloud Library at 405 West St. Germain, would get quite full. So they went together to make sure that books weren’t damaged and there was enough room for more books to be dropped into the large bin in the basement. Pat demonstrated her care for the library and was always there for the staff and the books.

One of Pat’s most memorable contributions during her service was what GRRL staff refer to as, “The Crash.” On June 25th, 1998, the library system had a computer hard drive crash resulting in the loss of data. The Great River Regional Library Report, an internal library newsletter at the time, that dates July 1998, says, “Deputy Director Pat Christianson devised procedures so that while we waited for the data we could continue to do business.” She led the effort to record transactions and rebuild the library patron system. Many staff and records note how tragic the crash was and how extensive it was to restore. Kudos to Pat for her vigor and leadership during that time!

Staff also recall not only Pat's dedication to the library but her husband Dan's commitment as well. As Pat worked with the St. Cloud Friends of the Library for their annual book sale, she included Dan and Kim to help behind the scenes.  They helped with the 3-day book sale to make it the grand event it is today. In many events and occasions at the library, it was common to see Pat's family along with her and the staff.

After Pat’s retirement, she continued showing her support for libraries. She was active in a number of organizations, including the St. Cloud Reading Room Society (President), St. Cloud Friends of Library (Board Member), and St. Cloud Public Library (Board Member). Her passion and leadership brought the library system into the new century and her contributions will not be forgotten.

Today, Pat Christianson is forever remembered in the St. Cloud Public Library. Among the children’s area and alongside the big, bright windows on the main level of the building, Pat’s Place is a designated area for children to learn and play. When the library was built in 2008, the space was created to honor Pat’s love for public service and early literacy.

Dan and Kim donate to the library in honor of Pat, as Kim expresses, “Our desire is to honor her and her interests. The library was her passion and part of who she was.” Kim’s employer also gave as a part of their matching company program, so she left an even larger impact for her legacy.


St. Cloud Reading Room Society

Great River Regional Library wishes to express appreciation to the St. Cloud Reading Room Society, a dedicated and loyal Scholar-level donor. The Reading Room continues the original goals of its founders to acknowledge the importance of reading and the library in a community.
What is the story behind the St. Cloud Reading Room Society? Marilyn Obermiller, the society’s Historian, shared in an interview how they started. “In 1865, eight women met with one goal in mind, to promote reading and literacy in a growing town on the Mississippi River called St. Cloud. It was their hope to one day have a free Reading Room and Library. It became the driving force of the Reading Room Society.” Today, their mission statement remains the same, "The Reading Room Society promotes reading, literacy, culture, and education in our community.” Marilyn explained that their dues of 10 cents per meeting were used to buy books. When they reached 181 books, they began to lend them to people to take home and read. They continued to work to achieve their real goal of a free public Reading Room. The women of the society heard that Andrew Carnegie was building libraries. They wrote to him requesting a library for St. Cloud but saw no success. It was rumored that he did not respond to letters from women. Not willing to accept defeat, they had their president, Alice Eastman, ask her husband, Alvah, to resubmit their letter, and he graciously did. They received a positive response and were able to start the Carnegie Library in St. Cloud.
With this foundation, the St. Cloud Reading Room Society continues to promote the library. Current President Linda Radin shared that the Reading Room commits a portion of each member’s annual dues to the St. Cloud Public Library. Upon building the new library in 2008, a donation was made for the Reading Room on the second floor. Additionally, this past year the society supported the Makerspace and Lego Table. In regards to giving to GRRL, Linda shared, “We enthusiastically encourage donations to this worthwhile and important community asset.” Thank you, St. Cloud Reading Room Society, for all you have done for the library and all that you continue to do advocating for literacy and learning in our community.

Anonymous Donor

“The libraries deserve our respect and support, and if we can help in any way, we ought to,” anonymous donor states. With a lifetime giving of over $4,000, this anonymous donor and Board of Trustees member finds real value in the Great River Regional Library (GRRL). “I can’t think of anything more important than being able to read,” the donor expressed in our interview. By donating to the library, GRRL is able to enhance new collections and provide innovative library services. Each gift helps the library meet its service priority of literacy, so all users will have the resources they need to develop and improve their literacy skills.


Mark Thelen

Ann and Mark Thelen have always done a lot reading; especially Ann. In 1966, Mark learned there was something more to libraries after he had a significant experience with a librarian. When he was frustrated, trying to complete his first grad school assignment, a librarian at the University of Minnesota’s Walter Library included as a key suggestion, “How about a recent issue of the Czechoslovakian Economic Review.” “Hey now, a breakthrough!” admiring not just the aptness of the librarian’s idea; but also her apparent delight to be of help. 
Soon after, to his delight, he received the grade he wanted! Just one example of how the couple became determined to "pay it forward" to our local librarians whose careers are also so strongly-focused on helping the public. Mark and Ann, donors for about a dozen years, admire all the work of Great River Regional Library. Stopping by the St. Cloud Library almost weekly, Mark and Ann regularly check out both old and new books and every time they enter, they notice the number and diversity of the patrons and especially the children coming to the library. The children skip as they approach. Happy kids; happy future. Mark adds, “Yup, our relationship with St. Cloud Library is definitely a two-way street; we get as much or more as we give.”



Contact Us

Breanne Johnson

Communications and Development Coordinator

Direct: (320) 650-2532