Standout Friends Spotlight: Kathy Sommers, Northfield

Five years ago, a renovated and expanded Northfield Public Library reopened on the city’s downtown thoroughfare. Built around a century-old Carnegie, this enlarged facility incorporates a two-story glass atrium, expanded children's area, and modular community spaces. In the words of one architectural reviewer, this construction restored the Library’s place as the "civic beacon" of Northfield.

Naturally, such a large-scale but tasteful overhaul comes at a cost – in this case, $3.4 million. That daunting target simply would not have been met without spirited fundraising from The Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, who ultimately contributed close to $1 million. The Friends, in turn, credit much of that success to 'Standout Friend' Kathy Sommers.

Kathy served as an integral member of the organization's board for eight years. This includes a significant investment of time and energy as treasurer.

"She leveraged years of experience in accounting to modernize our financial recordkeeping, and worked hard to establish the financial framework that we still use," noted board member Lynne Marie Young.

This back-end work - often uncelebrated - paid huge dividends when the Library needed assistance with capital reinvestments at several points in Kathy's tenure. In addition to the 2015-16 rebuild, examples include the purchase of a second bookmobile (“Booker II”) in 2006, and the subsidization of the Library’s first major foray into loanable e-readers.

In between marquee purchases, she volunteered "on the ground" at the Friends' many social and fundraising events. These include the Friends' popular annual Trivia Bee, where she handled all ticketing and money-handling.

Although she is no longer on the leadership team, Kathy remains an active member of the Friends. Nevertheless, she is sorely missed by the board. “Kathy brought a kindness, a sense of humor, and a cool, critical perspective to each meeting,” said Lynne Young. “Decisions were better, and discussions more productive, through her ever-vigilant commitment."

Do you have a Standout Friend in your midst that you’d like to acknowledge on a statewide stage? MALF is now welcoming nominees for the 2021 "class" of Standout Friends.
 Visit our website to learn how to put a peer forward - but be sure to do so before Friday, August 6.