By Adria Carpenter
Growing up in Plymouth, Minnesota, Molly Hagen-Robare would spend hours in the library with her mom and sisters, wandering between the aisles, reading book after book, and going to story times.
“I love libraries,” Hagen-Robare said. “I like that it’s an open place for people to gather. I like that everything is free, and anyone can get access to books and open up their imagination and creativity.”
Today Hagen-Robare still spends her days at libraries, but now she’s paid to be there. She studied political science at Wheaton College in Illinois and worked in law firms after graduation, but soon realized that she wanted to be a librarian.
“Librarians are super interesting and smart people, and they really want to help you find information and get ideas,” she said. “They are unsung heroes, and of course, I just think it’s exciting to have all this knowledge and information available to you.”
She got her master’s in library and information science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and with her previous legal experience, she pursued corporate librarianship at a law firm. To start, she reached out to Jennifer Doyle, the library manager for Robins Kaplan.
“We kind of just hit it off,” said Doyle, a University of Minnesota alumni and former student worker at Magrath and Wilson Libraries. “She was a very curious person, always interested in learning more. She’s the type of person who always has a book that she’s reading, maybe a couple of them, always something from the library.”
When a position opened at Robins Kaplan, she applied and easily impressed the firm. In the following years, she led the Research Services team, supporting the firm’s legal research and business intelligence requests.
“You’ve got some very assertive personalities when you’re working with litigators, as they should be. And she was always the type to handle that really well. She had an unflappable personality,” Doyle said. “She’s one of those people you really enjoy working with every day, enjoy seeing them. You come to work and you’re happy to see them.”
Hagen-Robare and her previous employers have long been members of the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries, which has granted them access to the collections, interlibrary loan requests, and other resources. When she decided to give back to her community, becoming a Friends of the Libraries board member was an easy choice.
“Even when you’re not a student, the Libraries are a really useful partner for businesses and other libraries in the state and outside of the state,” she said. “And especially because I’m a librarian, I just thought that I could bring some insights to the board.”
Hagen-Robare is on the Awards committee. It sponsors staff development grants and outstanding library student employee awards. She joined the board in 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic, so she’s looking forward to more in-person meetings, building relationships with her fellow board members, and continuing to be a great friend to the community.
“She’s been an incredibly supportive and kind friend. Fun too, I think because she’s got that strong sense of innate curiosity,” Doyle said. “Everybody should have a friend as supportive and nice as Molly. I’m very lucky to have a friend like her.”