On September 9, the St. Paul Public Library celebrates the grand opening of its Rondo Community Outreach Library.
The unique facility, which features three floors of mixed-income housing, will serve an ethnically diverse population, including many recent immigrants and low-income families. Rondo’s collection includes
an expanded Black history collection with original Rondo Oral History recordings; a Southeast Asian history and culture area; more adult learner and language learning materials with over 500 titles in Spanish, a large selection of Somali music and in-depth resources for English Language Learners; [and more].
The name Rondo memorializes St. Paul’s Rondo Avenue and its legendary African-American neighborhood, displaced and destroyed by the construction of Interstate 94 in the 1960s.
In the 1930s, Rondo Avenue was at the heart of St. Paul’s largest Black neighborhood. African-Americans whose families had lived in Minnesota for decades and others who were just arriving from the South made up a vibrant, vital community that was in many ways independent of the white society around it.
Three Rondo resources worth noting:
- Voices of Rondo: Oral Histories of Saint Paul’s Historic Black Community, published by Hand in Hand Productions, won a 2006 Minnesota Book Award.
- A Rondo Days Celebration is held every year during the third week of July.
- Macalaster College’s Civic Engagement Center provides a “Rondo & Surroundings Self-Guided Tour” (PDF).