Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, envy of librarians everywhere, kicks off 75-year celebration

It was September 1945. The war was over. Trains began bringing “our boys” home to St. Paul.

Peace! It was finally here.

Perrie Jones — St. Paul’s library director at the time  — decided it was the perfect time to mobilize a different kind of troop for this pending postwar boom.

“What we need,” the Pioneer Press quotes her as saying, “is some community library spirit, some people to carry the message … to provide nuts and bolts, to generate enthusiasm for libraries as the best free thing in town, to maybe fund some froth and pleasures the budget couldn’t.

“We need,” she declared, “Friends of the library to trumpet our cause, our needs and our programs.”

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, one that will mark its 75th anniversary in 2020: The celebration of this relationship will kick off on Dec. 10 with Catalyst, a new annual event of the Friends: The public is invited to join a conversation with Eric Klinenberg, author of “Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization and the Decline of Civic Life.”