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Congratulations to Joan Larson, ‘Library Friend of the Year’!

Few people can claim as long or as deep an affiliation with Friends of the Library as Minnesota’s own Joan B. Larson.

Her involvement with Friends began in 1957, when she landed her first public library role at a small branch in Browning, Montana. Having not yet been to college, and with no on-the-job training under her belt, Larson relied heavily on the guidance and support of those around her. The local Friends of the Library ranked at the top of that short list. Today, Larson believes that all her later successes in librarianship would not have been possible “without their sage counsel.”

download_4.jpgAfter three years in Browning, Larson did go on to get her library degree. Her subsequent career took her all across the country – to Maine, where she worked as an academic librarian and teacher at the University of Maine-Presque Isle, and to South Dakota, where served similar roles at South Dakota State University. In 1983, Larson accepted a position as director of the Northern Lights Library Network (NLLN), one of the largest cooperative library systems in Minnesota.

It is fortunate for us that she did. Over the years, Larson contributed substantially to the important work of a number of our state’s library- and literacy-centered organizations, including the Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO) and Minnesota Library Association (MLA). She has received awards from both for her varied contributions – and served a distinguished term as president of the latter.

Since moving to Minnesota, Joan Larson has been an active member and trustee of the Douglas County Library Friends and Foundation. She has also proved herself to be one of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends’ (MALF’s) most steadfast leaders and vocal members. At various times over the last two decades, she has sat on our Board of Directors and chaired major committees.

Recent achievements include co-planning many of MALF’s highly successful workshops and programs, and spearheading MALF’s partnership with United for Libraries on the Literary Landmark series.  In 2013, MALF proudly dedicated its very first Literary Landmark, the Sinclair Lewis boyhood homestead in Sauk Centre, Minn. – a milestone that could not have been achieved without Larson.

On Thursday, October 9, in recognition of her many and varied accomplishments, MALF awarded Joan Larson its second annual Library Friend of the Year Award. The short ceremony took place during the Minnesota Library Association conference in Mankato.

Thanks once again, Joan, for all you’ve done – and continue to do!