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.
Libraries are an important and vibrant part of any community. As a retired Speech Pathologist, language and literacy have always been a passion of mine. So, volunteering my time seemed the next step as I was already a member of FOL. I serve on the FOL board as Vice President and Communication Committee chair as well as working on displays at the Corner Book Sale area. This past year I have been reading many books about Europe and World War II, the last being The Nightingale.
"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! "
Libraries provide opportunities for all – equally. Support for libraries is a support for all of the community.
A book I particularly enjoy is Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.
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.
I grew up on Michigan's east side and have resided here for the past fourteen 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
I am honored to be a member of the Friends of the EGR Library. I strongly believe that reading widely creates compassionate people, and the EGR Library makes this possible.
My choice of books depends on my mood and the season. I like all genres. My favorite thing to do is to re-create the foods featured in the books that I read, especially in the books that I read with my kids. Most recently we have been enjoying the barley cake and spiced tea from the Septimus Heap series.
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.
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 Rapid 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.
Fundraising Chair. Corner Bookshop Chair.
With a mother who was a librarian and a father who was an American literature professor, it is not too surprising that my career and my volunteer work involve books. My sisters chose to be teachers. I chose to be a librarian. While I was 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! Since then I have been on the Friends’ Board for eighteen of those years and I began working at the KDL EGR branch eight years ago. I am currently the Committee Chair of the Corner Book Shop, the ongoing book sale in the library. I have the fun of sorting many of the book and AV donations that are brought to the library.
The books that have been with me throughout my life are the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. This children’s series goes back to my childhood when my parents read the books aloud to me until I could read them to myself and then I could read them to my children. In a few years my grandchildren will be old enough for them! I love the hilarious writing and the unusual cures for kids’ bad habits such as not picking up their rooms or not sharing their toys.
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.
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.
Library Book Sale Committee Member
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.
Bio on it's way!