By Emily Schmidt, volunteer librarian
The Abner Haugen Library here at Zumbro has a history that actually predates the congregation’s move to this location at 624 Third Avenue SW over 53 years ago. According to Pastor Lester Horntvedt, there may have been a rudimentary space allocated as a library in the basement of the education building across the street from the former church site on Fourth Street and Third Avenue SW. At the time, this building housed the church’s combined fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms. When the Zumbro congregation moved just a few blocks south in 1969, there was a very intentional decision to create an identifiable space on the main level for a library. Pastor Abner Haugen served as Zumbro’s lead pastor beginning in 1950, and it was under his direction that the church was relocated to its present site. Whether or not there was any kind of official library in the former buildings, Pastor Horntvedt recalled that “the best library we had was in Abner Haugen’s office. If we needed something, we asked him.”
In 1972, shortly after Pastor Haugen’s retirement, the Zumbro Lutheran Church Council chose to honor his years of service by naming the new library the Abner Haugen Library. Pastor Horntvedt added that the council had to be firm and decisive about this as Haugen would have “dismissed such a decision as he was a person who never saw the need to be exalted.” Naming the library in honor of Pastor Haugen was the council’s way of providing a unique tie to our history at the former church location, while honoring Haugen’s 22 years of ministry at Zumbro.
Long-standing member Dorothy Allen also saw the importance of a library in the new church building in those first years. She and others volunteered early on, and she shared that there were a number of individuals who “cared about new and fresh literature” and who made a habit of donating books to the library that they felt would appeal to members of the congregation. She credited Ann Hoven, Pastor Duane Hoven’s wife, for her ongoing commitment and quiet dedication to the church library, which she began in 1980. After the Hovens retired in 1993, Carol Preissner became the librarian at Ann Hoven’s request. Carol had been a frequent patron of the library, and with some training from Ann and the SE Minnesota Church Library Association, she continued in this capacity until 2019 when the church renovation began. During her time as librarian, Carol enjoyed watching the children at Zumbro grow up and use the library until they went off to college.
Upon Carol’s retirement in 2019, Jenny Bruegner agreed to take on the job of moving the library to its new space after the renovation was completed. She and her husband Aaron physically moved the collection and did some downsizing to ensure that it fit the current space.
This past August, I stepped into the role as volunteer librarian and it is a joy to follow in the footsteps of those who have worked tirelessly to make this space welcoming, relevant and meaningful. In addition to the librarians who have been a part of this ministry, I’d like to thank the volunteers who continue to offer their help: Kari MacIver, Sheryl Miller, Jo Meyer, Kathy Vogt, Karen Cohen, Nancy and Al Johnsrud, Sarah Johnsrud, Becca Johnsrud and Melanie Huntington.
Thank you, too, Zumbro friends for your support of the Abner Haugen Library, and our recent book sales!