As a longtime employee of the University of Minnesota Libraries, Mark Desrosiers touched just about everyone who crossed his path. Cheerful, quick with a smile, and always helpful, he loved to engage in conversation with colleagues, students, faculty, and visitors. Discussion topics varied, but often were focused on social justice, unions, music, history, and more. When a longtime library patron died in March 2019, Mark shared his obituary with library colleagues and said: "I always looked forward to our next chat and/or fierce argument about literature when I ran into him at Wilson. The last time I heard from him, in February, he called my office at Magrath [Library] to tell me that Teju Cole was the 'Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing' at Harvard. He was mostly amused that an academic chair was named after someone who mocked academia throughout his life. I'm really going to miss John."
The University of Minnesota is going to miss Mark, who died unexpectedly in March. Mark worked for the University Libraries for nearly 22 years and had served since 2012 as operations manager for libraries on the St. Paul campus. He was "very kind, compassionate, and he cared deeply for equality for all," said one U of M Libraries co-worker. Others described him as a "great advocate for students," and someone who "knew how to use his voice for things that mattered." Said another: "I will miss his sense of humor and the care and concern he had for everyone. He was a huge advocate and not afraid to fight the good fight, even if it caused a bit of conflict."
His caring for others extended to strangers. According to one of his co-workers, Mark lent an umbrella to a man who was unhoused. The man took it that day, used it, and, apparently, passed the gift forward. Some time later, the umbrella came back to Mark, signed by the many people who had used it since he gave it away. His warmth and love extended to people he had never met and, appropriately, it came back to him. He treasured that umbrella.
As a colleague, beloved by everyone at the Libraries, we all knew that Mark was deeply committed to helping students, colleagues, and library patrons. He had an incredible range of library knowledge and mastered every library skill needed by patrons and his colleagues. We all benefited from his kindness and sensitivity. We will miss him, dearly. Memorial services will be held at a future date.
Published on April 10, 2022
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