Are you a Minnesota resident with a passion for libraries, and in particular for the work of Friends of the Library? Serving on the board of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends may be just the enriching experience you've been looking for. Email us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn details.
Melissa Brechon is a career librarian and retired library administrator. Her resume includes time at the helm of the Austin (Minn.) Public Library and seven-branch Carver County Library in suburban Minneapolis. In recent years, Brechon also filled in as interim director for the Stillwater Public Library and for MELSA, the federated library consortium servicing the Twin Cities.
She is currently a library consultant, with an emphasis on community and facility needs assessments. Her list of past clients includes dozens of public libraries in Minnesota, plus dozens more in places as far afield as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Texas; and Bighorn, Wyoming.
Sheila DeChantal is a long-time resident of Brainerd, and has served as president of the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library for nearly a decade. Her day job – event and promotions director for a large catering company – has instilled in Sheila a skills set that serves her extraordinarily well in her role at The Friends. Among other initiatives, she is a key driver behind the group's Wine & Words author gala, as well as the Friends’ Books, Burgers & Brews book club partnership with Brainerd area restaurants. Sheila previously volunteered her time and expertise on the MALF board in 2015-16.
Janet Eaton is a native of Columbia Heights. After a long career as a commercial insurance underwriter and insurance agent, principally in the Pacific Northwest, she moved back to Anoka County in 2005. Fond memories of her childhood library steered Eaton to membership and leadership roles within the Friends of the Anoka County Library – a regional Friends group that supports the libraries in Circle Pines, Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Ham Lake, Anoka and St. Francis. Over the past five years, Eaton has served as secretary and, most recently, treasurer of that dynamic group.
Loretta Ellsworth is the author of five books, including four young adult novels. Her adult debut, Stars Over Clear Lake, is an historical fiction romance set during World War II. It won Ellsworth a host of honors, including ALA’s Notable Book designation, the Midwest Bookseller’s Choice Honor Award, and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award (NEMBA).
Ellsworth is a former teacher, and holds a master’s degree in writing for children from Hamline University. She is a regular judge of the Minnesota Book Awards, and also volunteers with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Ellsworth has been involved with her local Friends of the (Lakeville) Heritage Library for fourteen years. Eleven years ago, she pioneered OneBook, OneLakeville, a hugely successfully community reads program which she continues to chair for the Friends today.
Ed Fagerlund is a retired economist from Stillwater. He appreciates how libraries help citizens, how Friends groups help libraries, and how MALF helps Friends groups. Ed is intimately familiar with MALF’s mission and work, having already spent one term on our board (about a decade ago). Moreover, he served as organization treasurer in 2012-2013 – a key leadership post he returned to in 2021. Before retirement, Ed’s diverse career in his field included time as a Peace Corps volunteer at an Ecuador credit union, and teaching economics in Kansas and Minnesota. His financial acumen will be a huge boon to MALF operations.
Sue Grove recently retired from a long-time language instructor position at Riverland Community College. She served on the faculty at that Austin, Minn., institution for nearly 40 years, teaching both French and English as a Second Language (ESL). She is currently serving a term as president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library. In addition to the library, she volunteers her time and services to a number of community organizations, including the Austin Artworks Festival, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and the Mower County Historical Society. Sue is also a former branch president and former state vice president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Karen Jacowitz first became involved with the Friends of the Moorhead Library as a book sales volunteer nearly 15 years ago. As so often happens, this initially modest commitment to the cause grew and grew. Karen joined the Friends board in 2011, and is now co-director of the organization’s perennially popular book sales. As she herself can attest, given her personal entry point with The Friends, book sales cannot function without a dedicated volunteer workforce. Unsurprisingly, then, her role has organically grown to encompass volunteer recruitment and training. Beginning in 2021, Karen assumed the mantle of group president - and the still further duties that come with it.
Susi McCune joined the Friends of the Isanti Area Library in 2006, and stepped into the president role the very next year. While this community is too small to claim a dedicated East Central Regional Library branch, Susi and her colleagues played a formative role in the establishment of an outreach library in a conference room of Isanti City Hall in 2009. It continues strong today, and Friends' support is instrumental to that success. Among other fundraising efforts, Susi is a driver behind FIAL’s annual book sales. In a first for Friends anywhere, this group moved their growing event from a volunteer’s home to the town bowling alley in 2019.
Marjorie McPeak enjoyed a long and fruitful tenure with Hennepin County Library, one of the largest suburban library systems in the country. Over the course of nearly three decades, she rotated between the Southdale, Penn Lake, Edina, and Eden Prairie locations during pivotal points in those libraries’ history. (For example, McPeak saw the grand opening of the 60,000-square-foot Southdale branch and the evolution of Eden Prairie from a double-wide trailer to a 10,000-square-foot building.) After retiring in 1996, McPeak moved to the Lake Vermilion area. In her new home, she has deployed her hard-won expertise on the board of the Arrowhead Regional Library system (ALS).
Kathy Sacchetti lives on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. While it is as idyllic a locale as any retiree could ask for, Kathy has been far from idle since retiring from a three-decade career in teaching in 2015. She has become a familiar presence at the Cook Public Library, where volunteers routinely man the desk – and take on myriad other duties, as well. In Kathy’s case, the latter includes leading Cook’s upper elementary age summer reading group. By happenstance, her retirement also coincided with the creation phase of a new Friends group. She joined up as secretary, and took on the presidency the following year.
Carol Steele is a long-time member of the Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library – where she spent seven years as either president or co-chair. The local Friends marked several singular achievements over her tenure. For example, attendance at annual meetings increased six-fold, due in large part to efforts enacted by Carol. Over the National Friends of Libraries Week in 2013 alone, the Friends’ promotional efforts netted a +25% increase in membership. Carol's group gained a national commendation that same year from the American Library Association for their robust Friends Week efforts. Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library honored Carol as a Standout Friend during the MALF recognition program’s debut year (2016).
Jim Weygand is deeply invested in public libraries and other public causes in the southwest Twin Cities metro. Although a (retired) semiconductor process engineer by trade, residents of Carver County will know Weygand best as a past City Council member and Mayor of Carver. He recently finished serving nearly a full decade on the Library Board of Carver County Library. Weygand is currently President of the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Trustee and Advocates division, and a dedicated member of the Minnesota Library Association board.