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THPL director resigns, new chapter to begin

Photo by Tammy Francois.

During her tenure as Two Harbors Public Library’s director, Michele Monson has ushered in numerous changes to make the community gathering place more comfortable, inviting and user friendly. There are new carpets, furniture, more computers and electrical outlets to accommodate today’s gadgets. Murals by regional artists now greet visitors, both in the Waterfront Drive entry and over the fireplace in the Carnegie section of the building.

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The next change on the horizon for the library, will also involve Monson. Last week she announced her resignation, effective in September. Beaming from behind her desk, Monson said that she didn’t plan to leave her post so soon.

“But that’s the way love is sometimes,” she said. Soon after the city appoints her replacement at the library, she will be moving back to St. Cloud, her hometown, to marry fiancé Joe Schluender. Monson said that the couple had been dating for just a few months when she accepted the directorship of the THPL. Neither held much hope for the survival of the long-distance relationship.

“I guess it worked out all right,” she said with a smile, her unique agate engagement ring is a testament to her shy understatement. Monson wears the ring on the middle finger of her left hand because it’s a little too big for her ring finger, but leaving it with a jeweler to be resized is out of the question. “I don’t want to take it off,” she said.

For the improvements the library has undergone since she arrived just two and a half years ago, Monson credits others— the City of Two Harbors, Lake County, contractors, volunteers and library staff—for making them possible. Others, however, see her as the catalyst. Her vision of a facility with modern, comfortable amenities with respect for the building and community’s proud history has resulted in a powerful momentum.

“Michele’s contribution to our community in a fairly short period of time was huge. She brought a freshness, enthusiasm, professionalism, and can- do attitude to our library administration,” said Jan O’Donnell of Friends of the Two Harbors Public Library, a group of volunteers who have worked with Monson to raise money for the renovations and support the library’s mission. “She has been a pleasure to work with and will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Monson said that she deliberately chose a date several months down the road for her last day as director of the Two Harbors Public Library. She wants to give the City plenty of time to choose her replacement. Her boots will be hard to fill, but saying goodbye will be tempered by knowing she moves on to a bright new chapter in life.

“Yeah, it was bad news for us,” said O’Donnell warmly, “really good news for her.  She is very happy.”