Roseville turns to the sky

Some 200 people showed up to the Roseville Library Aug. 21 to see what’s been called the Great American Eclipse. Despite clouds and then rain, folks saw the early stages of what was locally a partial solar eclipse. Mike Munzenrider photo/Review

Nicole Brinkman, the children’s librarian at the Roseville Library, calmed an anxious crowd Aug. 21 when she announced there would be plenty of eclipse glasses for all to share, while stressing that it’s unsafe to look directly at an eclipse. Mike Munzenrider photo/Review

Hasini Julai, a 10-year-old Arden Hills resident, photographed the partial solar eclipse before it was blocked by clouds. She said she’d like to work for NASA when she grows up. Mike Munzenrider photo/Review

The Roseville Library had 180 pairs of eclipse glasses, a part of 1,000 received by the Ramsey County Library system through a STAR_Net grant. People were eager to get their hands on them. Mike Munzenrider photo/Review

The clouds wouldn’t be upstaged by the moon.

Minutes after the Earth’s satellite began passing in front of the sun, casting the slightest of shadows over the Roseville Library during what’s been called the Great American Eclipse, storm clouds rolled in and blocked the celestial show.

Right around 1 p.m., just as the eclipse was to hit its local maximum with 83 percent of the sun covered by the moon, it started to rain.

Despite the forecast of wet and cloudy weather, some 200 people still gathered at the library Aug. 21 to view the partial solar eclipse.

Other Ramsey County Libraries, including those in Shoreview and White Bear Lake, held similar eclipse viewing parties, where special glasses would be made available to the public for free. Remember, you can never look directly at the sun.

Nicole Brinkman, the children’s librarian at the Roseville Library and eclipse party point person, said she and other staffers were expecting a solid turnout for the event.

“We were bracing ourselves,” she said. “The number of phone calls we got [about the eclipse] in the last week and Saturday and Sunday — there’s just no way to count it.”

Brinkman said Ramsey County Libraries received 1,000 pairs of eclipse glasses through a Science-Technology Activities & Resources For Libraries grant administered by the National Library Association.

The Roseville Library had 180 pairs of the ultra-tinted glasses. 

“We could have passed them out and been done,” Brinkman said, but instead the library chose to hold the viewing party and encourage people to share the glasses, creating more of a community event. 

Despite some early, anxious grumbling from those assembled, the plan worked.


All in time

Before things were cooled off by a combination of the dimming sun and cloud cover, it was hot out in the library’s children’s reading garden where the eclipse viewers had gathered. One woman was overheard saying, “I’m starting to think this was all a waste of time.”

The mood changed when Brinkman hopped up on a wall and addressed the crowd. She stressed eye safety — you can’t look at the sun — and explained that everybody would be expected to share the glasses. 

Excited eclipse viewers swarmed librarians as they handed out the eyewear and soon nearly everyone’s gaze was turned skyward.

“I figured I’d better come and stand and take a quick look at it,” said Todd Jay, who’s from Minneapolis but came to the library with some Roseville friends. Jay and his companions passed around a single pair of glasses and their excitement grew as each took their turn.

Colleen Dishneau, a Roseville resident, said she watched her first solar eclipse from south Minneapolis in 1945.

“I was little but I remember it,” she said. “I was 6.”

Looking back, Dishneau said the eclipse 72 years ago wasn’t as big a deal as this time around, in part because not everybody knew it was going to happen. She figures she heard about it on the radio, and said she and her brother were able to view the eclipse by looking through film negatives.

Dishneau, who skipped her weekly bridge game to see the show in the sky, was perhaps most moved by the childhood memory unearthed by the gathering.

“It’s very exciting,” she said, “but back then we were just standing there in the street with our negatives.”


‘It’s called nature’

As clouds filled the sky, the eclipse safety lesson had really taken hold.

“You can look at the clouds, it’s fine,” Brinkman said to those wondering. “You just won’t see anything.”

Soon-to-be fourth-grader Hasini Julai managed to document the partial eclipse before the rain. She explained that she’d put a pair of eclipse glasses in front of the lens of her digital camera, capturing the radiant, crescent-shaped sun.

“It was very beautiful,” she said.

Julai, an Arden Hills resident who goes to Island Lake Elementary, said she’d have liked to have been in Oregon where a total eclipse was visible, but she was still very excited to be at the library with her parents and little sisters.

She said she’d like to work for NASA someday, and is already eying 2024 when the next total eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States. Does she have any concrete travel plans?

“Not yet,” Julai said.

Once the rain fell it didn’t take long for the eclipse crowd to disperse. Some lingered in the library’s community room, watching a live feed of NASA’s solar event coverage, showing revelers from across the country.

Shouts came from the parking lot when the sun momentarily popped out of the clouds.

Brinkman said she didn’t obsess over weather reports in the run up to the eclipse.

“I was trying not to,” she said. “What happens, happens.”

“It’s called nature.”


The Roseville Library is hosting weekly STEAM programming — that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — every Wednesday beginning Sept. 13 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The programming is for kids 7 years and older. The library is located at 2180 Hamline Ave. N.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813


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