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For the love of libraries

Since she joined the Northern Lights Library Network last August as its executive director, Kathy Enger has been busy providing administrative, educational and technical support to the over 300 libraries that make up the network.

"I love libraries, and I love librarians," says Enger, who succeeded Ruth Solie after her retirement last fall.

"Librarians are very service oriented -- their main goal is to serve the people -- and they are also very intellectually curious," she explains.

"Curiosity and a love of learning are the keys to being a librarian -- it motivates them -- and service to others is tied into that curiosity."

A native of Alexandria, Enger says that her personal values reflect her Minnesota upbringing.

"In Minnesota, we believe in free and open access to information, we believe in discussing new ideas, and we believe in working hard and collaborating to achieve common success. These principles are very much the principles that guide the operation of the Northern Lights Library Network."

Enger describes the NLLN as a "knowledge network" that relies on building partnerships, both with other libraries and with outside agencies, to coordinate services and share resources.

"Partnerships are critical," she says.

There is one partnership in particular, however, that is of special significance to Enger: Her marriage.

She met husband Lin Enger while they were both working on their master's degrees in Iowa City, Iowa. (She has a master's in library and information science from the University of Iowa, while he received his in creative writing from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She later went on to receive a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of North Dakota.)

Also a Minnesota native, Lin Enger is a published author whose work has received numerous awards, including a James Michener Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a Jerome travel grant and a Lake Region Arts Fellowship.

"He has published a novel, 'Undiscovered Country,' which is based on (William Shakespeare's) 'Hamlet,' but is set in northern Minnesota," Kathy says proudly.

Lin currently teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where the couple continues to reside.

They have two children who are both in the process of completing their college education:

Daughter Hope (Mrs. Jesse) Larson, 22, is in her last semester at MSUM, where she is seeking a degree in elementary education. She is completing her student teaching requirement at Barnesville this semester.

Son Nick, 20, is in the process of finishing up his bachelor's degree in economics, also at MSUM.

Kathy's previous experience in the library field includes stints as both a professor and librarian, at MSUM, North Dakota State University, Northcentral University and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine.

She also served as a reference coordinator for the East Central Regional Library System in Cambridge, Minn.

Her new job at NLLN involves not only working with the network's various member libraries, stretching across 23 counties in northwest Minnesota, but also coordinating the Minnesota Literacy Project.

As part of that project, NLLN brought children's book author John Coy to Detroit Lakes' own Holy Rosary School, for a visit to the school library.

"There had never been an author at their school before," she said. "By bringing authors into the schools and libraries in our region, children and young adults may become more interested in reading, and possibly writing books themselves."

Enger is also working on organizing the 24th annual Spotlight on Books Conference, a two-day event to be held at Ruttger's Sugar Lake Lodge Resort in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Set for March 30-31, the NLLN-sponsored event will include presentations by Minnesota authors Will Weaver, Gary Schmidt, Margi Preus and Brian Lies. Kicking off the event on Friday, March 30 will be a workshop presented by University of Minnesota instructor Rebecca Rapport called "Books, Books and More Books!"

For more information, please call 218-847-2825 or visit the website,

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454