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. 

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