WCLS honors 75 Library Champions

As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) selected 75 Library Champions who have made significant contributions to the library system. These organizations and individuals were honored at a Nov. 9 event at the Pioneer Pavilion Community Center in Ferndale. Meet the Champions and read their profiles in the commemorative program found online at wcls.org/75.

At the event, WCLS Executive Director Christine Perkins recognized the Champions for “their passion, their dedication to libraries, their hard work, and their perseverance.” She added, “Together, they have helped Whatcom County Library System connect information, ideas and community. Thank you, one and all, to our Library Champions.”



  • Initial WCLS Board of Trustees: Grace Allen Hunt of Nooksack, Mina Morsman of Ferndale, and Clarence A. Axelson, Gordon McConnell and Mabel Smith of Bellingham
  • Miss Linda Hellyer, WCLS’s first director
  • Founding Board of the Whatcom County Library Foundation (WCLF): Candice Ambrosio, Bill Backer, Neal Bittner, Sigrid Brorson, Bruce Burpee, Florie Cox, Randy Erickson, Jan Hunter and Dori O’Brien


  • Joan Airoldi, former WCLS director
  • John Halliday, former WCLS director
  • Georgia Donovan, former WCLF chair
  • Frances Barbagallo, former manager, Deming Library
  • Nina Cox, former WCLS trustee and president of the Friends of the Ferndale Library
  • Marvin Waschke, WCLS Board of Trustees chair
  • Polly Hanson, former WCLS director
  • Fran Protzeller, former WCLS trustee and president of the Friends of the Lynden Library
  • Georgina Furlong-Head, former manager, North Fork Community Library
  • Henry Matter, former trustee
  • Amory Peck, former trustee and member of WCLF board


  • Deming Library: Robroy Graham, Paul Moceri and Jim Mushak
  • Ferndale Library: Norine Amend
  • Island Library: Joan Keiper and Diane Harper
  • North Fork Community Library: Cindy Pfeiffer-Hoyt, Scott Swanson, Vern Yadon, Nori Zukerman and Georgina Furlong-Head
  • Point Roberts Library: Mark Robbins, Stephen Falk, Bennett Blaustein, Judy Ross and Ed Park
  • South Whatcom Library: Bob Cooper, David Hamilton and Bob Bryant


  • Defenders of Intellectual Freedom: WCLS staff member Georgina Furlong-Head, attorney Deborra Garrett, former WCLS Director Joan Airoldi, WCLS Board of Trustees Chair Amory Peck, and Trustees Janet Boyhan, Nina Cox, Donna Lee Elke and Janneth Hunter


  • Richard and Melanie May, Blaine Library and WCLS advocates
  • Sher Ross, Mount Baker School District
  • Melissa Menti, Mount Baker School District
  • Clint McBeath, former Everson mayor
  • Dick Powell, Everson Library expansion
  • Ken Warfel, Ferndale Library’s Ferndale Poetry Festival
  • Arthur J. Henken, former Lynden city councilman and Lynden Library advocate
  • Jack Louws, former Lynden city councilman, Lynden mayor and Whatcom County executive
  • Margaret Bikman, journalist and librarian
  • Suzanne Harris, teacher, Whatcom County Juvenile Detention Center Book Club
  • Linda Lambert, former director, Whatcom Community College library
  • Chuck and Dee Robinson, Village Books founders
  • Keith Willnauer, Whatcom County assessor
  • Bellingham Public Library
  • Washington State Library Commission
  • Whatcom Community Foundation


  • Louise Granger, Friends of the Deming Library board member and Deming Library advocate
  • Ellen and Karl Thompson, former WCLS staff member and Deming Library volunteers
  • Gretchen Hoyt, Friends of Everson Library board member
  • Judy Kelsey, Friends of the Ferndale Library treasurer
  • Buff Lapof, Friends of the Island Library secretary
  • Arlene Carlson, Friends of the Lynden Library volunteer
  • Florie Cox, Whatcom County Library Foundation and Friends of the Lynden Library
  • Serena and Bob Haugen, Friends of the Lynden Library
  • Meg Krieg, Friends of the Sumas Library president


  • Book Endowment Founders (in honor of Audrey Liller), Andrea Bevan, Bernice Vossbeck, Serena Haugen, Thelma Groh, Nima Isner, Polly Hanson, Carmela Wilkins, Kathleen Copenhaven, Doris Elliott and Dorothy Shirley
  • Fred D. and Evelyn Nowicke, Everson Library
  • $1 million anonymous donor, Ferndale Library
  • Judy Ross and Ed Park, Point Roberts Library
  • Ramona Villani, former WCLS trustee and board chair
  • Norcliffe Foundation
  • Ziad Youssef, attorney
  • Robert Bates and Kathy Veterane, WCLF donors


  • Robin Barker, former collection services manager
  • Jeanette Beck, former technical services manager
  • Sigrid Brorson, former assistant director
  • Aubri Keleman, WCLS’s first teen services librarian
  • Catherine Sarette, former children’s department lead
  • Brea Sherron, first Youth Services intern
  • Barbara Skinner, former manager, Everson Library
  • Dianne Marrs-Smith, Lynden Library manager, president of the Friends of the Birch Bay Library, and president of AFSCME Local #1581 (staff labor union)
  • Sue Tommervik, former manager, Lynden Library
  • Tina Bixby, creator of WCLS’s El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros program
  • Penny Leenders, former manager, Sumas Library

Read the 75 Library Champions’ profiles in the commemorative program found online at wcls.org/75.

The Library Champion recognition was among the closing events of WCLS’s year-long 75th-anniversary celebration. Earlier this year, staff compiled Books that Suit You, 52 weeks of book recommendations revealed each week on social media and WCLS’s website. They also created Read & Share, a countywide book group featuring “My Old Man and the Mountain” by Leif Whittaker. The author – son of Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest – shared the inspiring story of his family at numerous public events, which continue through Nov. 16. A new bookmobile hit the road in June – just in time to be showcased in six community summer parades. On Nov. 7, each of WCLS’s branches and the bookmobile welcomed patrons with 1940s-themed events and historical displays. To ensure WCLS’s rich history lives on, staff recorded library patron stories and scanned memorabilia for the Washington Rural Heritage website’s digital collection. Read more at wcls.org/75.