Roger Sween Interview
Roger Sween began his professional library career in Wisconsin at UW-Platteville
before moving back to Minnesota in the mid-1970s. He worked at Red Wing Public Library and St. Cloud
State University Library before he joined State Library Services, Minnesota Department of Education
as library cooperation specialist from 1984-2000.
In the interview Roger Sween talks about his first library job as a student working in Rolvaag
Memorial Library at St. Olaf; events in Minnesota that led to the development of Minitex; evolution
of the multicounty, multitype library systems in Minnesota; his work with the Minnesota Educational
Media Organization (MEMO) and creation of the first school library media standards (2000) in the
state; and involvement in a 1984 report on economic
vitality that resulted in the theme of the American Library Association Annual Conference and
the Minnesota Library Annual Conference.
Interviewed by Sara Ring, Minitex, on June 30, 2011.
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Quotes From the Interview
On the development of Minitex:
I think there was a pent up demand for more resources than people could get locally. And so there was
a welcoming general public atmosphere as far as things that could be done to improve the situation. (9:07)
On a meeting with MJ Dustin and Anita Branin (former Minitex staff):
They understood the human aspects of cooperation. That its not just formal organization structures,
but they're supported by the relationships that people have or can develop when they're working
On words of wisdom to library staff:
I wish that librarians realized that they exist to help people learn. My experience in trying to get this
to take place met with abysmal failures because so many people equate learning with education... education
in most cases is some formal way of passing on knowledge. But the real problem is to get people to be
learners. To be judicious, aggressive, customary learners. Librarians have a big role in helping that happen,
but they don't see it... To my mind the biggest issues that we have today in society are basically
intellectual issues. In a democracy we're asked to make all kinds of decisions about our future, which
hopefully would be informed decisions. And in order to be at that level, you have to know quite a bit...
you have to have a lot of appreciation for what it means to be human and what it means to be part of a
This Oral History Project interview by Minitex is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.