Board of Directors
The Board of Directors are a hard working group of community volunteers who oversee Friends' projects, programs, and budgets. You don't have to be a board member to contribute to enriching the library - volunteers of all ages are welcome.
Get to know our board members below.
I became involved in the Friends of the Library because I believe that libraries are essential to providing access to information, learning opportunities and a sense of community. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are visiting libraries with my grandmother, who was an elementary school teacher. While people of all ages benefit from the resources and opportunities provided by libraries, the enrichment provided to children through libraries has an especially profound impact on their curiosity, literacy and overall well-being.
One of my favorite books (available through KDL) is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It is a non-fiction page-turner about psychology, behavioral economics and, at its core, our selves. This booked changed the way I viewed the world, made me more empathetic and helped me identify ways to think more critically.
I got involved with Friends of the Library for several reasons. Even before living in East, my kids and I constantly used the library, and loved hanging out and reading by the fireplace. We also have enjoyed the various programs offered for kids. I got involved to support the community outreach we do, as well as private initiatives that benefit the library patrons directly. The library is the soul of our community.
I love to read all things Clive Cussler, and the library has a wonderful collection of his works.
"Libraries level the playing field for everyone. Every patron has equal access to everything the library has to offer: the physical space, all the materials within the space and to the highly qualified staff. I volunteer because I believe that our library is a huge part of what makes our community great. Working with people who feel the same way is very rewarding and fun! "
I grew up on Michigan's east side and have resided here for the past fifteen years. An invitation from my childhood best friend brought me to the Friends of the East Grand Rapids Library board over eight years ago. I am extremely grateful for this introduction and cherish the opportunity to help support what I believe is one of the most important spaces and the anchor of our city. Our library is more than a place to check out a book; it is a space of creativity, curiosity, and most importantly community.
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” - Andrew Carnegie
Library Branch Manager
I have been a part of the Kent District Library team for over 20 years – nearly all of that time at the East Grand Rapids branch. My first career was teaching middle school students. That experience prepared me well to be flexible and adaptable to changes, necessary to best serve our community. I look forward to many more years as branch manager at East Grand Rapids library.
Programs Chair. Archivist. A member of the Friends of the EGR Library since 1993, I have been working in libraries since age 14. I have worked in public, academic and elementary school libraries. Currently I am a Branch librarian at the EGR Library, where I have been on the desk since 2010, returning after a long stint at libraries at Davenport University and Grand Valley State University. I have also been curator of the East Grand Rapids History Room since 1993. I served on the EGR Citizens’ Task Force which campaigned and helped expand and renovate the Library in 2006. Along with my passion for history goes my taste in reading . . . non-fiction, focusing on history and biographies.
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” - Andrew Carnegie
My mother was a librarian and my father was an American literature professor, so it is not surprising that both my career and my volunteer work involve books. After working in clerical positions in academic libraries while getting my Master’s degree in Library Science, I worked as the Manager of the KDL Comstock Park Branch. Later, as a stay-at-home mom, I was asked if I would like to be on the Friends of the EGR Library Board---that was back in 1986! I have been on the Friends’ Board for many of the years since then, and also volunteered at the EGR school libraries. I began working at the KDL EGR Branch in 2012. I have loved working and volunteering in public libraries the most. I enjoy being with people of all ages, with their diverse interests, and their variety of reasons to be at the library. As Lady Bird Johnson said:
Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.
As a Board Member, I am currently the Committee Chair of the Corner Book Shop and have the fun of sorting many of the book and AV donations that are brought to the library. I am inspired by the EGR community’s generosity and support of the library.
I am all aboard the board to help make an awesome resource even better. I have fond memories of the Round Elementary School library and Cromaine Library, both in Hartland, Michigan. Now my family happily uses our remarkable East Grand Rapids community space for dance programs, kayak launching, identifying wildflowers and those relaxing lake views. I prefer a good Shel Silverstein or Richard Scarry book over many and enjoy illustrating characters that might make their way into a fantastical line of children's books - someday.
As a member of the Friends I enjoy conjuring up cool program ideas and also designing this website, so if you happen across an egregious edit in need please send me a note.
My lifelong love of reading, books, and libraries has inspired me to share these interests in a variety of ways over the years. Particular tasks have included cataloguing in a special collection at my graduate university, listening to first-graders read aloud, teaching literature to college students, and currently, working with adult English Language Learners, usually meeting in local libraries. The activities at our library for toddlers through middle school and adulthood have been a joy for us, too.
I also love reading a wide variety of books. As a member of three different reading groups, I’m currently reading George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, Randal Jelks’s African Americans in the Furniture City, and Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf.
As a professional librarian for 40 years, I worked on the front lines and also in administration at four public libraries and two university libraries. I taught library research courses to undergraduates and was an adjunct professor for Wayne State’s School of Information Sciences. I was involved in planning and implementing a building renovation and addition project for Central Michigan University Libraries. Now in retirement, it’s a privilege to be a member of the EGR Friends of the Library where I can support KDL’s superb library services and programs from a volunteer’s standpoint.
I grew up in East Grand Rapids and have fond memories of visiting “the little library by the lake,” bringing home as many books as my little arms could carry. After 20 years away, my husband and I relocated our young family back to East in 2011. I was delighted to discover that this place I remembered so fondly wasn’t so little anymore and had grown to be so much more than just a place to pick up books. Weekly trips with my children included story time, reading on the beanbag chairs, discovering new activities in the children’s area, visiting the turtles inside and outside the building. As my children have grown older, I’ve graduated to the top floor where I enjoy browsing the Friends Corner Book Shop and borrowing books for my job as an Environmental Educator at Blandford Nature Center. Whenever I enter the library I am reminded of how much this place means to this community, and I am excited to serve on the Board in order to support its operations and and staff. My favorite reads include children's picture books (I'll never outgrow them!), novels with quirky lead characters, and World War II-themed books.
East Grand Rapids is a vibrant, active community with wonderful schools and a lovely Gaslight Village shopping area. A very essential and stabilizing part of this community is the library. It provides books, programs, and activities for all ages. I love books and I love the library. I am on my third three year term as a friend of the library board member. It is a fun experience working with the board and helping to support the library. It is one small way that I can give back to the community.
Judy and I have lived in East Grand Rapids for 47 years. We and our three children have almost continuously taken advantage of the Library's resources. Now we have three grandchildren who have become Library patrons.
I am the rather eccentric retiree who regularly walks in the eastern neighborhoods of EGR while reading--not listening to--books. (No accidents yet.) Dawn Lewis, the splendid Manager of the EGR Library, thinks that I am probably of the Library's most frequent users of the Michigan Electronic Library Catalog, MeLCat, which is one of the greatest inventions since moveable type.
The EGR Library is the busiest branch, for its size, in the KDL system and KDL is one of the finest library systems in the U.S. The Friends of the Library help this to continue to be true.
My love affair with the library began as an adult after moving to East Grand Rapids over 20 years ago and it has drawn me in for a weekly visit ever since. I love how as both mine and my family’s interests have changed throughout the years and the library has always had so much to offer at every stage of our lives. Although I have been a Human Resources Professional for over 30 years and I do find joy in my career, my true passion comes from cooking. I have the library to thank for my culinary skills as I have spent the last 18 years checking out every cookbook I was drawn to and cooking my way through them while teaching myself how to cook. Almost four years ago I created a blog titled lovethiscookbook which would not have been possible without access so many incredible books from the library. Now, I am able to share my love of cookbooks and my favorite recipes in them with all my hundreds of followers which brings me immense joy. I am so truly happy to serve on the board of the Friends of the Library to give back to a place that has given me so much happiness.
I am honored to be part of the FOL board. Our library is the heart of this community, the place where knowledge is shared, not just through books and other media sources, but also through innovative programming and outreach efforts. I believe that these things make our city a vibrant community. As an educator and parent, I consider our library a treasure.
One of the books that I’ve been highly recommending since reading it last year is The Overstory by Richard Powers. This book spoke to my love of nature, the urgency of our current time, and how we grapple morally with the contradiction between our needs and the needs of the planet.
For younger readers, I absolutely love the book The Marvels by Brian Selznick. It contains two different narratives and the reader gets to put them together like a puzzle! This book speaks to the need to belong, as well as examining how we tell our stories.
I grew up in East Grand Rapids, and returned about 8 years ago to be close to family and raise our own. My husband Josh and I have two young boys and run a commercial production studio together called Sidecar Studios. My Mom, Mary, also served on the FOTL board and I have fond memories as a little girl of sorting books at night and helping count out change at the book sales. I believe in access for all to the programs, resources and education that local libraries provide and am happy to be part of those efforts directly.
Cheryl Van Til
I have always loved how books can both captivate us on our own and serve to connect us with others. Some of my favorites are from Louise Erdrich, Margaret Atwood, Iris Murdoch, and AS Byatt. My career experience at Kent District Library and the Grand Rapids Humanities Council showed me how connecting people and ideas, often through books, strengthens community and individuals, and I love how our East Grand Rapids library is a center for people and ideas and amazing events. One highlight of my involvement with the Friends of the Library has been helping to stock the Little Free Library in Collins Park, often with my children.
Growing up in Holland (MI), my mom worked for Herrick District Library. Thursdays were her night to work late at the checkout desk, so my dad would drop me off after dinner and I would stay until the library closed. I spent hours reading books about mummies and Ancient Egypt in the carousel on the children’s side of the library, eventually moving to the adult side to finish homework while listening to Alanis Morissette on my Discman (that gives you an idea of how old I am!). Those Thursday nights cemented my love of reading, and formed my view of libraries as a vital community resource - not just a borrowing service.
Currently, my books of choice are mysteries from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction - Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, etc.
Born in Grand Rapids, graduated from Catholic Central then received my BS and PT certificate from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. Worked as a Physical Therapist for 46 years in 5 different states and the country of Norway. Moved to EGR from Ottawa Hills Neighborhood in 2014 then retired from PT in 2015. During my youth, the Ottawa Hills Library was built and frequented by us kids. In high school, the Ryerson Library downtown was where I found microfilm about my dad when he played football for Catholic Central in 1931-1932. When I started doing Homecare Physical Therapy; audiobooks from the "740 Library" in EGR became a favorite haunt - as it is today.
I grew up loving my trips to the Carnegie library in my hometown. I can still picture the dangly earrings the children’s librarian wore during story times. Regular access to new books to replace the stacks next to my bed turned me into an avid, lifelong reader.
When I moved to East as a young mom, I immediately fell in love with our library. Going to the “Lake Library” became a regular part of our routine. Whether it was story time, a park party, or just a quick stop to check in on the turtles and fish, my kids and I could regularly be found at the library.
Joining Friends of the Library is a way to give back to the library that gives so much to our community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve on the board and support the good work that our library does.