Libraries have provided a backdrop for the many chapters of Rosa's life. Now, they've become her destination.
The "Tour De Library” is a passion project for Rosa Marroquin. Since June, she and her husband have kicked off each weekend by mapping a route to a handful of libraries and then hopping on their bikes – eager to enjoy a day of library visits filled with surprise and delight. “I’ve been on vacation on Fridays. That’s how it feels!” So far, she’s traveled to 27 of Hennepin County Library's 41 locations, at times with the helpful push of her e-bike. And with some rides happening on days with 90+ degree heat, the library has brought new meaning to the word refuge!
Longtime library patron, physician, and president of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library Board, Rosa has a special affinity for learning. “The library has always supplied whatever I've needed: a book, more information, a quiet space to study.” As a student first stepping into the Arvonne Fraser Library, a mother encouraging her son to chase his curiosities at the Golden Valley Library, a budding doctor studying for the board exams at Ridgedale Library, libraries have provided a backdrop for the many chapters of Rosa's life. Now, they have become her destination.
Rosa plans her route each week alongside her husband. In exchange for his navigation skills, Rosa treats him to lunch or ice cream to end the hot day's work.
The idea for the biking adventure was inspired by a former colleague at Park Nicollet, who made his way visiting the many clinics via bike alongside other staff. “I thought it was such a creative way of getting to know different places,” says Rosa. “The more I learn about the libraries, the more I realize I don’t know anything about the libraries!” So began her deep-dive exploration.
Through the visits, Rosa has learned about each library community’s diverse needs, strengths, and values. She loves hearing from the knowledgeable library staff. They search for the best ways to support their communities, she explains, whether that's helping students with school research projects or offering a warm welcome to patrons experiencing homelessness. “Staff are so invested. When I hear these things, I’m amazed ... ‘What!? Tell me more!’ It’s a testament to how wonderful libraries are.”
“There must be meaning in where I put my time. There must be something there that resonates with what’s important to me.”
Rosa’s dedication to the library system is a no-brainer. “Literacy has been so important to me…to my upbringing…to my culture…to how we can bring ourselves out of poverty.” For Rosa, education has been a doorway to financial security and opportunities, with the library’s free resources a big part of that. These values fuel her work as a Friends board member; “there must be meaning in where I put my time. There must be something there that resonates with what’s important to me.”
When asked where her spirit of giving comes from, Rosa blushes. “I think I’ve always thought of myself as someone who wants to share the goodness of life. Sharing resonates with me in my DNA.” In that generous spirit, her life is peppered with stories of community. From opening her door for a friend meditation group each week to hosting many of her decades-long neighborhood book club gatherings over a shared meal, times of togetherness have enriched her life; “Feeding your friends and talking about a good book, there’s nothing like it.”
There’s so much that we need to do. And we have so much more power together.
Rosa hopes her story encourages you to get involved and share your enthusiasm for their library. “As a library patron, you can give your time, you can be a donor, and you can envision how to support this wonderful library system that continues to give to others. There’s so much that we need to do. And we have so much more power together.” Here’s to the many ways we show and receive love from our library, whether on wheels, by foot, or through a mountain of checkouts.