A family affair

Meet the Crandalls, Amy Gmur, and Jean McElvain, who share roots in the St. Paul campus central library.

By Allison Campbell-Jensen

From left: Shana Crandall, Georgia Crandall, Amy Gmur, and Ted Crandall.
From left: Shana Crandall, Georgia Crandall, Amy Gmur, and Ted Crandall.

Sitting in Magrath Library’s media room — which didn’t exist when he worked there in the mid-1990s — Ted Crandall fondly recalls his time as a library student worker.

“I had such a great experience working here, with a lot of my friends,” he says.

“Don’t forget your wife!” adds Shana Crandall, now a librarian at Century College.

Of course, he has not. They met at the central library on the St. Paul campus, now called Magrath after Peter Magrath, a former U president (1974–1984) and supporter of the library.

And Ted hasn’t forgotten daughter Georgia, either, who carries on the family tradition of working in the main library on the St. Paul campus. Nor his former co-worker, Amy Gmur, now Georgia’s supervisor. And his sister, Jean McElvain, who works across the street in McNeal Hall.

Legacy student

“Every day here is a good day.”

—Georgia Crandall.

Georgia, the eldest of four siblings, combines her dad’s passion for graphic design — “it’s a good mix of the creative and the analytical” — with her mother’s love of libraries. Indeed, her grandmother (Ted’s mother) also was a librarian, at the Forest Lake public library.

Working at Magrath suits her.

“It’s pretty special,” Georgia says. “I like feeling like a little bit of a legacy.”

Her parents had urged her to think about working in Magrath, she says, and most of her design classes are on the St. Paul campus. Because of a lack of openings, however, Georgia started as a Libraries student employee in Wilson Library, on the West Bank.

At Wilson, she stood out as a very accurate re-shelver of books — and a speedy one. After moving to Magrath and being trained by her supervisor Gmur, who was and is a strong friend to Ted Crandall, Georgia now checks the work of student employees new to shelving materials.

“Every day here is a good day,” Georgia says.

The community of people who work at Magrath and who hang out there, she adds, are both very kind and very interesting. As her design major is rather small in numbers, she enjoys meeting students working in fields very different from her own, like Veterinary Medicine and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences.

“If you’re looking for an on-campus job — and you should,” says Georgia, addressing her fellow students, “they [libraries staff] understand the balance between being a student and having to work.” She points with pride to some old photos of Ted, Shana, Amy, and her aunt Jean, pinned up on a bulletin board.

Her artworks, design mockups, and a display on typography were among those shown during the recent student employee art show. Says Gmur: “It’s nice to see them [the library’s student employees] progress in their career.”

Years flow by …

A lot has changed since Ted and Shana and Amy and Jean all worked together, occasionally taking a break to go to the Leaning Tower of Pizza. It was Jean who tied the threads between Ted and Shana more tightly — and their families have remained close since Shana and Ted tied the knot.

The library has changed, too.

“Now the cookbook collection presides where once the reference collection was royalty,” Gmur says, and where there were books, now “we have lots of comfy chairs and tables.”

What has not changed? The ties of friendship and family among library staff past and present. Georgia was there, in utero, when Shana finished her final class for her library degree at St. Catherine University. “When I walked out of class,” Shana remembers, “everybody cheered for me.”

Georgia was born the next day.

Amy met Georgia early in her life; she was just a baby when she attended with her parents the wedding of Gmur’s good friend (and Ted’s sister) Jean. Now, says Shana Crandall: “Amy is Georgia’s boss — and they love each other so much!”

Sister Daphne works in the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections — she’s studying to become a nurse. And two more siblings are still in high school and elementary schools: We’ll see where the next Crandalls end up!

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