MALF Bids Farewell to Three Long-Serving Board Members

January is a time of new beginnings – and not just a new calendar year. For MALF, it marks the start of a new events cycle and the welcoming in of four new members to the Board of Directors. Some changes are more bittersweet, however. MALF must also bid a fond farewell to three long-serving and highly productive Board members: Margie Schuster, Jan Siffing, and Janet Urbanowicz.

Margie Schuster is as well equipped as anyone in the field today to speak to the current state of Minnesota’s many and diverse Friends of the Library organizations. For over 15 years, she has served as Volunteer Services Manager in the Hennepin County Library system. In that capacity, Schuster is liaison to over 25 suburban Friends groups, working with branch administration and library enthusiasts to align Friends goals with library priorities and to foster synergistic environments.

Prior to her work with Hennepin County, her professional experiences include five years as Director of Professional and Patient Education at the American Diabetes Association. She is also a past member of the United for Libraries/FOLUSA Board of Directors.

“Margie is a real force on the national library advocacy stage,” said MALF President Carol Walsh. “During her term on the MALF board, she kept us apprised on industry developments and recommended MALF adapt and adopt many successful business and program models from other likeminded organizations.”

Jan Siffing joined the MALF Board of Directors in 2007. Her executive credentials include, most recently, terms as Vice President and Chair of the Nominating Committee.

“I am particularly pleased with my service as Chair of the Nominating Committee. Because of very specific criteria our committee developed, each year we have been able to welcome some amazing people to serve with MALF. Their special talents make us a much more well-rounded group, and I know I leave the organization in good hands,” Siffing said.

Siffing’s past positions include six years as a children’s librarian at Crucifixion Catholic School in La Crescent, Minn., and time as President of The Douglas County Friends of the Library.

Janet Urbanowicz has served MALF and its member base in a number of capacities since first joining the Board in 1997. Her inestimable contributions include a term as co-President, time as Secretary, and many years as editor of the MALF quarterly newsletter.

“Over the years, I have really come to value the ability of my colleagues to plan conference programs and area workshops for our members – and to have been a part of these preparations,” Urbanowicz said. In 2002, the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) awarded her a prestigious “Above and Beyond” Award for her work on that year’s MLA Conference.

Urbanowicz’s professional credentials include 24 years with The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library, where she served as volunteer coordinator and assistant director. Her legacies there include “Read to Me,” a phenomenally successful literacy program that won the MALF Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by a Friends Group in 2003.