Jeremy Iggers is many things: a veteran journalist, a banjo player, an occasional instructor, and notably, a Friend of the Libraries.
Iggers came to Minnesota for college, studying philosophy at Carleton College and the University of Minnesota. He fell into journalism by accident, originally writing restaurant reviews on the side, but it gradually took up more and more of his time.
“I’ve always been kind of an inquisitive person, maybe even a nosy person, and being a reporter gave me standing to go up to people I didn’t know and ask them questions,” he said.
He wrote for the Twin Cities Reader, Minneapolis Star, the Detroit Free Press, and finally the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he remained for 22 years, primarily as the paper’s restaurant critic and food journalist.
Iggers first became interested in food journalism while traveling around the world at 19. Without knowing the local languages, food became the basis for building a relationship with other people and cultures.
“I discovered when I came back to the states that on a much, much smaller scale, reviewing restaurants, especially ethnic restaurants from around the world, was a way of recreating that experience,” he said.
After leaving the Star Tribune in 2007, Iggers founded a non-profit called Twin Cities Media Alliance which published a local news website, the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Like with journalism, Iggers enjoyed constantly learning new things, whether it was marketing, advertising, or website maintenance.
The role of libraries
Iggers has been a long-time library devotee, ever since his time in graduate school. He joined the Friends of the Libraries in 2018 after some members invited him to lunch. The next thing he knew, he had signed on.
“I appreciate what the University of Minnesota Libraries do, and I thought it would be both a worthy cause and a way of meeting interesting people. And it’s been both,” Iggers said.
He now serves on the board and the events committee, helping promote events for the University Libraries and the Friends of the Libraries.
Iggers has previously been an adjunct instructor for the University of Minnesota, teaching courses about journalism in the Masters of Liberal Studies program. He’s particularly worried about the future of news in the internet era. With more local newspapers closing, or surviving on skeleton crews, information deserts are slowly stretching across the country.
“One reason why Minnesota has remained relatively progressive as a state is that it still has viable journalistic institutions,” he said. “Vast areas of the country have lost that, and that poisons the climate for politics.”
But as the fourth estate continues to erode, libraries can help mitigate some of that damage, especially in preserving the knowledge and culture of underserved communities, he said.
“If we’re entering into another dark age, the libraries can become an important repository where lost knowledge is saved,” Iggers said. “There’s a lot of knowledge that gets lost once it disappears from the headlines, and the libraries are the place that preserve it.”
Playing the banjo and finding community
When he’s not working on the events committee or serving as the executive director of the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective, you can find Iggers playing banjo with his jug band at farmer’s markets or at the Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands.
In the meantime, Iggers will continue to do what he can to support the University Libraries in their outreach to the broader community.
“I’ve been very impressed with the dedication that the libraries, and the Friends of the Libraries, have to serving the public, and to serving the cause of greater equity and justice,” Iggers said. “The Libraries at the University of Minnesota is an important institution, and the Friends of the Libraries is a valuable adjunct to that.”