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2017 Gallery of Honorees

In summer 2017, for the second year in a row, MALF invited each and every member organization to put forward the name of one individual for this special annual honor - in thanks for standout efforts in furtherance of Friends of the Library work. Read more about the 2017 class below!

 

Zilla Way (Anoka) | Rosy Petersen (Benson)
Corinne Lenort (Blooming Prairie) | Ruth Gogolin (Brainerd)
Karen Lee (Cambridge) | Mo Fontana (Cook) | Dan Smith (Delano)
Louise Price (Edina) | Kieth Severson (Mille Lacs) | Pam Gibb (Moorhead)
Bill North (Northfield) | Sandy Drury (Park Rapids)
LuAnn Svendsen (Plymouth) | Donna Andreas (Ramsey) 
Joyce Harlow (Red Wing) | Nan Frie (Rochester) | Rose Ford (St. Cloud)
Jill Potts (St. Peter) | Dean & Virginia Squires (Virginia) | Jackie Kreye (Wabasha)

 

Friends of the Anoka County Library
Zilla Way

Zilla Way has been a stalwart supporter of Anoka County’s libraries, in a range of capacities. She served on the Anoka City Council during the formative period when the Anoka Public Library transitioned to the multi-branch Anoka County Public Library system. Zilla also spoke highly of the library while a leader within the League of Women Voters (Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids Area). Finally, she furthered the library’s cause for many years inside the Friends of the Anoka County Library – including time as president and in most every other executive leadership post. “Zilla’s fantastic background… lends her valuable expertise, which she is always happy to share it with other Friends. She does so without intimidation; all our Friends hold her in high esteem,” said secretary Janet Eaton.

Zilla recently retired from the Friends board, but her impact is still felt. “Her wisdom and ability to identify ‘core concerns’ has proven helpful during critical decision-making times, and the next [generation of] leaders hopes to continue in that mold,” Janet added.

Friends of the Benson Public Library
Rosy Petersen

Rosy Petersen is a paraprofessional instructor at Benson Public Elementary School. This affiliation makes her an invaluable asset to the Benson Public Library, as both institutions have allied interests. Each summer, Rosy and her Friends colleagues co-host or support programming aimed at encouraging area schoolchildren to read and hone their early literacy skills outside the classroom. (Creative giveaways – including two bikes, six drones, and iTunes gift cards – added pizzazz to 2017’s summer reading activities.) “Libraries today have limited resources. This requires mentors and leaders throughout the community to collaborate on this kind of endeavor, but without dominating the undertaking… Rosy and the Friends are great at this,” praised head librarian Dawn Dailey.

“Benson Public Library truly appreciates the magnitude of [Rosy's] contributions, and is very grateful for her dedication to the Friends of the Library over the past eight years," she continued.

Friends of the Brainerd Public Library 
Sheila DeChantal

While many Friends groups are experiencing stagnant or even dwindling book sale returns, the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library routinely report revenue figures that break their previous records. Group president Sheila DeChantal attributes much of this success to the stalwart efforts of Ruth Gogolin. A contributor for over 20 years – and book sales co-chair for more than a decade – Ruth rarely goes a week without sorting books. As many a Friend can attest, sorting, pricing, and staging inventory for sale represents a near-Herculean task (albeit one which is all too easy for patron-shoppers to take for granted). During the sales themselves, Ruth is ever-present, and ensures that the operation (one of the largest of its kind in north central Minnesota) runs smoothly.

“Ruth is a tireless worker, dependable at every turn,” Sheila praised. “She is committed to making our community a better place – always giving of her time and efforts.

Friends of the Cambridge Public Library
Karen Lee

Few residents of Isanti County have bettered their community in as tangible a way as Karen Lee. In 2012, the Cambridge Public Library (the county’s only) faced a sobering budget reality: looming cuts would require a weekly reduction from 57 to 43 operating hours, and removing six part-time staff positions. Karen spearheaded a grassroots advocacy campaign, and personally attended almost every public hearing. These sustained efforts convinced the county’s commissioners to reconsider and reverse the troubling library cuts. Among other achievements, Karen is also responsible for preparing the Friends’ 501c3 documentation – an important responsibility, and no small feat, as many Friends can attest. As if that weren’t enough, Karen has contributed substantially as a member of both the East Central Regional Library board and Cambridge Library Task Force.

“When she moved back to Cambridge, no one knew what a difference Karen would make to her hometown and its library,” nominator Lori Fetzik said. “She has been involved in almost every one of our Friends’ events in the past few years.”

Friends of the Cook Public Library
Mo Fontana

In small, rural communities, it is not unusual for dedicated volunteers to take on some of the routine library responsibilities which, in a larger town, would typically fall to staff paraprofessionals. Cook, Minnesota – population 574 – is lucky to have such an asset in the form of Mo Fontana. Locals regularly see her behind the circulation desk or helping fellow patrons with their questions. Mo is also the charter leader of the Friends of the Cook Public Library. She entered into this endeavor with two goals: recruit a robust board and shape the Friends into a sustainable organization; and fundraise for a permanent, part-time library assistant position. Mo accomplished both, said her successor Meagan Esterby. Moreover, “the Friends have since expanded to support programming for all ages, advocacy efforts, and fundraisers to make improvements to the physical space of the library.” It all traces back to Mo.

Library director Crystall Phillips agrees wholeheartedly. “She brings level-headed guidance… When I began here, Mo was the Friends. Now, the Friends of the Cook Public Library is a dynamic 501c3 with a growing, active membership.”

Friends of the Delano Public Library
Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a true jack-of-all-trades, and the Delano Public Library is better for it. Several recent contributions are particularly telling. Dan recently took it upon himself to liaise with the City and find a way to have the library retrofitted with energy efficient LED fixtures and bulbs. Dan found a local installer willing to donate the labor, and presented to a convincing report on the possible energy and cost savings to city officials. Dan is also leading a charge to beautify a wall on one end of the library’s property which distinctly lacks curb appeal. Inspired by the famous parking ramp of the Kansas City Public Library (which is decorated with murals of classic books), he is in talks with stakeholders and muralists about how best to scale this idea for Delano. Last but not least, Dan has served as treasurer of the local Friends group for the past three years. In that time, he has reevaluated and streamlined the organization’s reporting processes.

“While the books mural has not yet come to fruition, we know it will, thanks largely to Dan’s ‘can do’ attitude and persistence,” said Friends secretary Mary Ann Bernat.

Friends of the Edina Community Library
Louise Price

When the Edina Community Library reopens its doors this summer after a four-month renovation, patrons will find new collaborative spaces, an enclosed reading room, and a larger children’s area with new interactive elements. One thing that will remain unchanged is the strong behind-the-scene support of the Friends of the Edina Community Library. Few have had as great an impact to date as Louise Price, the group’s choice for 2017 Standout Friend. “Louise has been a hardworking role model for us all for decades. The success of our organization can be directly attributed to her efforts and thoughtfulness,” noted one peer.

“Her love for the library is contagious,” voiced another. “She is a thoughtful listener, a force of positive energy, a natural diplomat – and a curator of local history, too.”

Mille Lacs Lake Community Library 
Kieth Severson

Mille Lacs Lake Community Library in Isle serves a rural and spread out population base, and marshalling enough volunteers to conduct core Friends of the Library activities is a perennial challenge. In recent years, Keith Severson has assumed many leadership responsibilities, helping the Friends not only to continue, but to make contributions to the library well out of proportion to the Friends organization’s relatively small size. Over the past quarter century, Keith has served as president and in nearly every other leadership post. For the past eight years, and up through the present, he has done an able job as treasurer. Keith intends to scale back his involvement in the coming years, but will remain an active member and a regular at meetings.

“Contributions like Keith’s are critically important to keeping this group going… We thank him for serving with honor, dignity – and always with a warm smile,” praised Mille Lacs Lake Friends of the Library president Joe Fleischman.

Friends of the Moorhead Public Library 
Pam Gibb

Pam Gibb is the longest serving member of the board of the Friends of the Moorhead Public Library. She is also one of the most versatile. Pam has held the post of secretary since the group returned to active status after a long period of dormancy. In addition to meeting minutes and other conventional duties, she has grown that role to encompass a host of membership responsibilities – renewal mailings, member card distribution, and even designing the Friends’ members-only t-shirt!  At the same time, Pam is a key mover and shaker behind Moorhead’s book sale, and the driving force behind the event’s advertising campaign. Friends president Delia Landstrom also credits Pam with shepherding the organization through the 501c3 incorporation process. “I firmly believe she is related to the Energizer Bunny… She keeps going and going and never seems to run out of enthusiasm!” she said.

“I do not believe that the Friends of the Moorhead Library would have continued without the devotion that Pam Gibb has shown,” she continued.

Friends and Foundation at Northfield Public Library
Bill North

Standout Friends are all ‘busy as bees,’ but Northfield’s multi-talented Bill North embodies the phrase in a more literal sense. He is best known to many in the community as the bumble bee mascot who co-hosts and cheers on competitors at the Friends’ annual spelling and trivia bees. It is only the most visible facet of his involvement in the competitions; he also played a key behind-the-scenes role organizing these new, important fundraisers. Proceeds recently allowed the Northfield Public Library to purchase a much-needed bookmobile. Since assuming the presidency in 2005, Bill has done much else besides. Highlights include overseeing the legal transition of the Friends to the joint “Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library,” organizing successful Give to the Max Day campaigns, coordinating the Friends’ presence in the city’s yearly ‘Defeat of Jesse James Day’ parade, and spearheading a Friends drive to beautify the library ground with sculpture works. 

“Bill is essentially the face of the Friends, and has contributed in so many varied ways that he is our incomparable choice for ‘Standout Friends,’” lauded board co-chair Lynne Young.

Park Rapids Area Friends of the Library 
Sandy Drury

Sandy Drury received her first library card in Iowa at age three. Although she has since lived and secured library cards in four different states, she treasures that first – and still uses it, whenever she visits her hometown! That anecdote hints at Sandy’s dual passions: libraries, and history. She joined the Park Rapids Area Friends of the Library as a charter member in 1974. For over a quarter century, she served as the group’s historian – and, by extension, something of a Park Rapids historian as well. Moreover, each Monday, staff and patrons can count on seeing Sandy doing ‘odd jobs’ around the facility. One such duty that she particularly enjoys is curating the Park Rapids Library’s impressive sheet music collection, a resource which is used regularly by many area choirs.

When necessary, librarians can also count on Sandy to assist with book recommendations and other such patron requests. “Sandry says that holding a book in her hand, and thinking about the author and how it all came together, is part of reading’s [perennial] appeal,” said co-president Darlene Polo-Kramer.

Friends of the Plymouth Public Library 
LuAnn Svendsen

It is rare that a Friend can boast a leadership role with their local Friends of the Library group predating the existence of any public library in their area. LuAnn Svendsen holds this unusual distinction. She joined the Friends of the Plymouth Public Library in 1995, and played a key role in the push to bring a new branch to the growing suburb. In the years since, LuAnn has served in a host of roles, including terms as president, vice president, treasurer, and nominating committee chair. She also curated the small, permanent book sale shelf inside the Plymouth Library for many years. At present, she chairs the Plymouth Arts Council committee responsible for coordinating “Plymouth READS,” a community read program that makes waves each April – due in large part to the support and sponsorship of The Friends.

On top of it all, “LuAnn works with the library each year to plan a social event recognizing volunteer and staff contributions,” said Board member Cathy Fischer. “Her passion, commitment and leadership truly epitomize a ‘Standout Friend!’”

Friends of Ramsey County Libraries
Donna Andreas

Ramsey County extends 170 square miles, and intrepid Friend of the Library Donna Andreas knows all the highways, byways, and shortcuts. Since joining Friends of Ramsey County Libraries in 2002, Donna has served as both used book sale manager and bookstore treasurer. In the latter role, she has oversight of the three year-round bookstores in the Roseville, Maplewood and Shoreview libraries – as well as the popular book carts at the Mounds View and White Bear Lake branches. She has visited each store weekly for nearly fifteen years. In recent years, she has also worked diligently with an internal audit team to optimize their revenue bookkeeping. As if that alone weren’t enough, Donna is also a tireless contributor to the Friends’ three- and four- day seasonal sales.

“After working her shift, she also takes the extra step of tallying and posting the daily sales results, giving us all that added boost of encouragement,” noted board member Nancy Guerino. “Donna has served so well for so long – and she does everything in a manner that is so congenial. She’s just a joy to work with!”

Friends of the Red Wing Public Library
Joyce Harlow

Libraries strive to serve all subsets within their community – and Friends can too. When the Goodhue County Detention Center approached the Friends of the Red Wing Public Library in 2000 about establishing a prison library collection, long-time member Joyce Harlow rose to the new challenge. Thanks to those initial efforts (and weekly maintenance visits by Joyce and others), the collection remains an active, highly valued resource today. Joyce’s other contributions to the Friends are many and varied, as a record number of ‘Standout’ support letters can attest. She proved particularly adept at adult programming; and for many years, Red Wing remained the only SELCO library where volunteers coordinated all such events. The Friends still organize the popular Hot Reads for Cold Nights reading program. Last but not least, Joyce established a popular Poetry Celebration in 2005 – a community happening that is more popular now than ever.

“No library ever had a more faithful, harder-working Friend than Joyce Harlow,” said member Barbara Betcher. “Her tireless efforts have done much to make our library truly relevant for all of the citizens in our community.”

Friends of the Rochester Public Library
Nan Frie

Nan Frie has been membership coordinator for the Friends of the Rochester Public Library for fifteen years. While that is an achievement in and of itself, Nan does more than keep comprehensive records and send renewal prompts at the appointed time. She also has the uncanny ability to remember names and recognize faces on sight. That’s no small thing, particularly with a membership roster as large as Rochester’s. Understandably, then, a personal greeting from Nan can do much to encourage other Friends. Nan deploys her people skills in other ways, as well. For instance, she trains volunteers on the cash register in the bookstore, and oversees crews sorting donations in advance of book sales. “No matter how busy she is, Nan takes the time to support anyone who needs her help,” said Friends co-president Karen Nath.

“She really is a ‘standout’ Friend, whose unique style and eagerness make every job enjoyable and engaging,” Karen concluded.

Saint Cloud Friends of the Library
Rose Ford

Used book sales, tough a staple in Friends fundraising, have long since lost their novelty. Rose Ford, of the Saint Cloud Friends of the Library, is trying to chance that. Rose has tweaked her Friends’ sales model in a number of successful ways, including the introduction of “feature” sale days highlighting travel, gardening, cooking, and other such special interests. Shoppers are also delighted by a new, specific “coffee table” book section. Rose has also upped the organization’s marketing game. The Friends now create and distribute posters, flyers and bookmarks in the run-upto each sale. Susan Pogatschnik, president of the Friends, attributes Rose’s sales savvy to a long career as a Barnes and Noble customer rep and a former bookstore owner in her own right.

“Her business acumen, people skills, and organizational know-how have helped our bookstore grow and become one of the best sources for bargain-priced books in the Saint Cloud area,” Susan said.

Friends of the Saint Peter Public Library
Jill Potts

Saint Peter Public Library is at the forefront of the growing “books in a bag movement.” The concept is simple: check out a tote with eight to ten paperback copies of a favorite title, perfect for book clubs or classes. But where do the special funds come from, and who selects the titles? In Saint Peter’s case, it falls to a Friends of the Library ‘Books in a Bag Committee’ chaired by Jill Potts. A member of the Friends board since January 2011, Jill created a team charged with funding and creating ten Books in a Bag as part of a pilot phase. The offering proved popular, and the Friends expect to fund 63 different selections by Fall 2017. Titles are chosen in committee, according to a ranking system which Jill herself devised. In addition to this pet project, Jill served the Friends ably as membership chair. Under her direction, the Friends have grown their ranks over the past two years. Not one to rest on her laurels, Jill just began a first term as the group’s vice president.

“She has proven an indispensable member of our organization,” praised treasurer Margie Nelsen. “In addition to her assigned duties, she is constantly available for other Friends events, as well as activities sponsored by the Saint Peter Library.” 

Friends of the Virginia Public Library
Dean and Linda Squires

Dean and Linda Squires make an efficient husband and wife team, and their teamwork and largesse have made a positive, lasting impact on the Friends of the Virginia Public Library. Both play leadership roles in the library’s book sale, and are able to pick up where the other one left off when necessary. “If Linda is out of state as a sale looms – as she often is to babysit grandchildren – Dean follows her kind directives on volunteer scheduling and publicity efforts,” quipped Friends president Carol Gunderson. Dean also happily serves in a handyman role when required. Staff and patrons have him to thank for the recently repainted window boxes, for instance.

“Along with their strong work ethic, what truly marks Linda and Dean as ‘Standout Friends’ are their humble smiles and positive attitudes,” Carol said.

Friends of the Wabasha Public Library
Jackie Kreye

Over the past year, membership in the Wabasha Friends of the Library has doubled. Long-time members attribute much of this renewed interest to the able leadership of Jackie Kreye, who has done much in recent years to extend the organization’s reach and visibility. She joined the organization in 2010, and served as treasurer before assuming her current post. Among other talents, Jackie has a flair for creative fundraising. In May 2017, she organized a Friends ‘garage sale’ as part Wabasha's involvement in the Mississippi Valley's annual "100 Miles of Garage Sales" weekend. In addition to books, the Friends sold lightly used prom dresses (timing is everything!), and ultimately netted $1400 after a generous match donation. Jackie is also currently spearheading a new, ticketed author luncheon fundraiser, featuring Minnesota historian Renee Wendinger.

“Jackie is really our glue… her to-do list for next year includes fundraisers aimed at helping raise the $25,000 required for a needed children’s room expansion,” said member Peg Bauernfeind.


2016 Gallery of Honorees

In summer 2016, MALF invited each and every member organization to put forward the name of one individual for this special annual honor - in thanks for standout efforts in furtherance of Friends of the Library work. Read more about the inaugural class below.

 

Loretta Ellsworth (Lakeville Heritage) | Donna Enderson (Benson) |
Joan Frick (Elk River) | Nancy Guerino (Ramsey County) |
Margaret Kersteter (Edina) | Mary Kvitek (Chaska) | Skip Levesque (St. Michael) |
Marilyn Muchow (Austin) | Dolores Olson (Park Rapids) | Joe Owens (Ely) |
Clint Patterson (Kasson) | Peter Pearson (St. Paul) | Carol Steele (Grand Rapids) |
Greg Thibodeau (Buckham Faribault) | Mary Ann Tourres (St. Cloud) |
Bruce Witts (Rochester)

 

Loretta Ellsworth
Friends of the Lakeville Heritage Library

The Friends of the Heritage Library in Lakeville are one of only a handful of Friends groups in Minnesota who coordinate an annual, community-wide “Big Read” initiative. Called “OneBook, OneLakeville,” this multifaceted program promotes community togetherness and stokes meaningful discussions on important societal issues. Past author guests have included Sonia Nazario, New York Times bestselling author behind the immigration story Enrique’s Journey, and Minnesota’s own Jon Odell. Loretta Ellsworth is the driving force behind this ambitious programming series. As chairperson, she oversees every aspect of OneBook, OneLakeville. Furthermore, as a former teacher, she finds inventive ways of bringing area students into the fold.

“Loretta has also done an exceptional job advancing the Friends’ mission in other ways,” added president Debbie Holzgraefe. She is skilled at grant writing, and cheerfully represents the Friends at the meetings of various community organizations in order to promote synergy and publicize upcoming library events.

Donna Enderson
Friends of the Benson Public Library

Benson, Minnesota – population 3,000 – boasts an active, impressive Friends of the Library group out of proportion to that community’s relatively small size. Donna Enderson, president of the group, is a principal reason this is so. “Donna’s contributions have given life, breadth and depth to the message and vision of the Friends of the Library organization,” noted Head Librarian Dawn Dailey. She has devoted countless hours to fundraising – via book sales, silent auctions, and a number of other successful events. Under her leadership, the Friends also play an active role in the library’s Summer Reading Program, by buying prizes and hosting a fun ice cream social for all participants.

Donna’s devotion to the cause is perhaps best illustrated by a favorite anecdote of Dawn’s. When the Friends purchased new furniture for the library’s sitting and reading area, Donna went the extra mile – adding flare by crafting pillows for the chairs and refurbishing a bench. Above the wall, she added the words: “Libraries Change Lives… For the Better.”

Joan Frick
Elk River Friends of the Library

Joan Frick is fast approaching a major milestone: twenty-five years as a member of the Elk River Friends of the Library. Since 1993, she’s also held the post of treasurer – a position she is eminently qualified for, given that her professional background is in city government finance. Joan does much more than just keep the books in Elk River, however. She is the primary coordinator for the Friends’ semiannual book sales, and she facilitates a popular monthly book club. In addition, she is active in Friends-supported library programs, including summer and winter reading programs and “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” She keeps record of participant “incentive points” attached to these programs (a tall order, given strong participation figures).

“Joan’s deep level of commitment is evident in everything that she does at the library – and clearly, that list is a long one!” said branch librarian Pamela Wagman.

Nancy Guerino
Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries

Nancy Guerino joined the Board of the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries in 2003, and contributed seven years as president beginning in 2007. Choosing just one highlight from her long and highly productive tenure would be an impossible task. During her time as a Friends leader, Nancy spearheaded a $71,000 capital campaign to purchase amenities for the North Saint Paul Library, and chaired a committee tasked with raising another $63,000 for the Maplewood Public Library. Moreover, under Nancy’s able leadership, Friends membership grew from 217 to almost 1,000 households!

“No matter what our libraries and Friends organizations have needed, Nancy has volunteered her hard work, enthusiasm and skills to help make it happen,” said current president Frank Harris. “From donning the Booker Reading Dog costume, to organizing units in local parades, to staffing booths for us at probate and trust attorney conferences [to promote legacy giving to libraries], count on Nancy to step up to the plate.”

Margaret Kersteter
Friends of the Edina Community Library

Occasionally a Friend of the Library comes along with the rare, uncanny ability to quickly yet accurately price used books: a skill that comes in handy when you regularly coordinate large book sales. Friends of the Edina Community Library have such a volunteer in Margaret Kersteder. That’s fortunate, as Edina moves an impressive volume of books – nearly 10,000 books at each semiannual sale. Every Wednesday morning, Margaret can be found diligently descending to the storeroom to sort inventory. In addition, she provided outstanding services as the organization’s secretary, and serves unofficially as a mentor to new Board members.

“Margaret brings great heart, endless energy, and determination,” praised fellow Friend leader Les Kraus. “For decades, she has provided us with leadership by example, and has made the Friends of the Edina Library a force – not just in Edina, but throughout Hennepin County.”

Mary Kvitek
Friends of the Chaska Public Library

Mary Kvitek is a true tour de force within the Friends of the Chaska Public Library. She has been a member of that organization for a dozen years and counting, including the last six as treasurer. In addition, for the past eight years, Mary has doubled as chairperson for the Friends’ semi-annual book sales, held every February and July. Those events, which generate revenue between $6,000 and $7,000 annually, are the major source of revenue for the Friends in Chaska. Mary is fond of adding her own special touches to these sales. Volunteers are easily recognized by book-themed aprons sewn by her, and she is known to bring in a variety of baked goods for her volunteers.

Janet Karius, branch manager for Carver County Library – Chaska Library, praises: “We have consistently benefitted from [Mary’s] detail-oriented and efficient approach to her responsibilities. She is generous with her time and is a thoughtful solution finder. She also applies a wealth of kindheartedness, encouragement, and consideration to that work.”

Skip Levesque
St. Michael – Albertville – Hanover Friends of the Library

It has only been a year and a half since Skip Levesque took on leadership of the Friends organization in St. Michael. In that short time, however, Skip has done much to propel the organization into the twenty-first century. Under his guidance, the group has hosted dynamic TEDx events and drastically increased its presence on social media. At the same time, Skip ensures that the Friends remain ‘brilliant at the basics.’ Recent book sales have been among their most profitable ever. Marla Scherber, a librarian in St. Michael, attributes this to the fun, bookstore-like atmosphere that the assiduous work put in by Skip’s crew makes possible. Moreover, when there are books left over, “Skip himself volunteers to deliver them to other non-profits to use. He really pays it forward,” Marla said.

By all accounts, Skip is also an active, forward-thinking library advocate who does everything in his power to champion library funding. He has represented the state at National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. and represents Great River Regional Library locally whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Marilyn Muchow
Friends of the Austin Public Library

Marilyn served on the Board of the Friends of the Austin Public Library Board from January 2006 through May 2016, including a two-year term as president. During her tenure, Marilyn played an instrumental role in the production and publication of “Austin Remembers,” a Friends-sponsored stories collection about Austin residents. She also played an active role in the launch of her community’s Christmas New Book Fair. (Both those successful initiatives put the Friends in contention for the Evy Nordley Award.) In her spare time, such as it is, Marilyn has represented the Friends at the Austin Artworks Festival, on a city-wide read committee, and on a Friends team that coordinates the annual Eberhart Poetry Contest in conjunction with Austin Public Schools.

“In short,” explained current president Sue Grove, “Marilyn has been a major contributor to the growth and success of the Friends of the Austin Public Library – and richly deserves to be a Standout Library Friend!”

Dolores Olson
Park Rapid Area Friends of the Library

Every successful Friends group needs a volunteer or two who is willing to roll up their sleeves and do the less-than-glamorous, often unappreciated work that makes our sort of nonprofit organization run smoothly. Park Rapid Area Friends of the Library have such a helper in Dolores Olson. A member of the group since 1989, Dolores has served in a wide range of capacities over the years. In addition to terms as both president and secretary, she for many years wrote and published a well-received Friends newsletter. She also played a leading role in the establishment of a Friends scholarship program.

Unafraid of dirty work and heavy lifting, Dolores also coordinates rummage sales, assisted staff in the relocation of library collections from an old to a new facility, and added a much needed file structure to the Friends’ voluminous, disorganized paper records.

Joe Owens
Friends of the Ely Public Library

In 2014, the small Northwoods town of Ely made state news when it unveiled its new, $1.3 million, 6,500-square-foot library facility. Downtown’s new gem could not have come to fruition without Ely’s dedicated Friends of the Library support organization. Foremost among their number, according to president Gail Sheddy, is the inimitable Joe Owens. “We contributed $30,000 – and that simply could not have been accomplished without Joe overseeing our fundraising efforts.” Outside embellishments such as landscaping and benches, and indoor improvements like chairs, tables and computers, all came from the supplemental funds raised under Joe’s direction.

Joe’s time with the Friends predates this project by many years. He’s served on the Board for a dozen years – including six as president. Gail praises his conscientious stewardship of estate gifts and leadership on hugely successful membership drives. (At present, Ely boasts the largest membership of any community its size in Minnesota.)

Clint Patterson
Friends of the Kasson Public Library

Pastor Clint Patterson is a jack-of-all trades within the Friends of the Kasson Public Library. Depending on the season, he can be found coordinating author visits, assisting with Summer Reading Program, and pitching in during book sale preparations. In addition, Clint ably represents library patrons in Kasson and Dodge County on a larger stage. He’s served on the SELCO / SELS Board of Directors, an appointment bestowed by the county board of commissioners. During this period, he served first as a member and later as president of that board’s Finance Committee. Moreover, in 2015, Clint mediated a controversy regarding library assessments, and later chaired SELCO’s Technology Fee Study Committee.

“Clint personifies the attributes of a Standout Library Friend,” said SELCO Executive Director Ann Hutton. “He has dedicated hours of service and has eloquently helped the regional organization overcome challenges.”

Peter Pearson
Friends of the St. Paul Public Library

Few if any Friends of the Library can boast a national reputation on par with that achieved by Peter Pearson. As the first (and thus far only) executive director of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, Peter has grown the organization from a staff of two and budget of $200,000 to a staff of nearly 20 and a budget of $3 million. Under his able leadership, the Friends assumed stewardship of the prestigious Minnesota Book Awards program and inaugurated their nationally known “Opus & Olives” author dinner fundraiser. Among other highlights, the Friends under Peter also launched a profitable consulting arm called Library Strategies – the only such organization in the country based within a library support organization.

“Over this same time, Peter also spearheaded two capital campaigns on behalf of the library and built up a powerhouse Board of committed community leaders,” added Jane Eastwood, director of the Saint Paul Public Library. “He will certainly be missed when he retires in 2016, after 25 years with the Friends.”

Carol Steele
Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library

The Grand Rapids Public Library recently celebrated its “sweet sixteen.” A busy public facility like this one can’t go that long without touch ups and improvements, and the Friends are the major reason the building remains in tip-top shape. The Friends, in turn, attribute their ability to be so generous to the stalwart leadership of Carol Steele.

“’C’ is for Carol,” explained member Juliet Jones. “Carol is challenging, contributing, caring, composed, collaborative, cost conscious, considerate, centered, candid, creative, cooperative –and concerned.” Her special drive is best illustrated by one of Grand Rapids’ more recent and innovative fundraisers. In order to pay for the refurbishment of the library’s community room, Carol and the Friends solicited signatures from twenty Minnesota authors for integration into a one-of-a-kind quilt. A special $5 raffle, dubbed “Minnesota Authors on Our Shelves,” raised the needed funds while simultaneously generating excitement about the library and awareness of the Friends.

Greg Thibodeau
Friends of the Buckham Memorial Library

For the past twenty years, Faribault resident and attorney Greg Thibodeau has been an integral part of the Friends of the Buckham Memorial. Greg currently serves as both treasurer and secretary for the group. In the former capacity, given his legal background, he is perfectly suited to advise the Friends on a host of questions and to ensure that bylaws and 501(c)3 paperwork remain up to date. Friends also count on Greg to draft their agendas and capture meeting minutes. Last but not least, Greg is a driving force behind the group’s January pancake breakfast, a popular annual fundraiser.

“Greg is a modest man,” said president Joyce Buresh. “He never dominates the conversation at the meetings but gives us the advice we need. We as Friends of the Library are so very blessed to have Greg on our board. We see him as our ‘irreplaceable’ Friend.”

Mary Ann Tourres
Friends of the Saint Cloud Library

Bibliophiles in Stearns County will tell you that one of the best places to go in their area for affordable books is the permanent Friends bookstore housed at the Saint Cloud Public Library. Mary Ann Tourres, a five-year veteran of the bookstore committee, is a chief reason the bookstore is open year round and is one of the library’s hidden gems. Any Friend can tell you that organizing incoming inventory can be a little chaotic, but Mary Ann has introduced method to that madness. She developed an efficient system to use Amazon, Abe Books, and other websites to research and accurately price first editions, signed novels, and other rare books. Recently, when the Friends decided to renovate the space, Mary Ann proved instrumental: contacting movers, painters, and interior designers to assist in the bookstore improvements.

“This is really only a general overview of the many activities that Mary Ann is involved in to raise funds for the Great River Regional Library system and to benefit our hundreds of bookstore customers,” explained Dottie Martini, a fellow Friend. 

Bruce Witts
Friends of the Rochester Public Library

Setting up shop for their quarterly used book sales is something that the Friends of the Rochester Public Library find surprisingly easy – thanks to Bruce Witts. Bruce is a driving force behind the extensive organization work that goes on beforehand and behind the scenes. He organizes and boxes the books into fifteen categories, to simplify set up. (An easy enough thing in principle, this is a fall order when the Friends move between 10,000 and 15,000 books every sale!) Bruce also took the extra and innovative step of assembling special book shelves to set on the tables to allow more books to be displayed. As chair of the book sales committee, he also inaugurated a Friends-only “preview sale” the evening before the official start. This move has greatly increased Friends membership in Rochester.

“In 2012, sales totaled $14,100… By 2015, sales totaled $20,000,” explained co-president Phyllis Hambright. “This is real money for the library, and so much of it is owed to Bruce.”  

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