MALF connects Friends of Library organizations, provides valuable resources to support their work, and is a strong voice for Friends of Library groups and libraries throughout Minnesota.
Sally Gardner Reed, executive director of United for Libraries, will lead and keynote half-day workshops in four locations across Minnesota in September. We will hold sessions of "Refresh and Revitalize Your Friends Group" in:
Austin Public Library
323 4th Ave NE, Austin, MN, 55912
Wednesday, September 14 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
(ACL) Rum River Library
4201 6th Ave, Anoka, MN, 55303
Thursday, September 15 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
(DCL) Wentworth Library
199 Wentworth Ave. E., W. St. Paul, MN, 55118
Friday, September 16 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Douglas County Library
720 Fillmore St., Alexandria, MN, 56308
Saturday, September 17 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
In addition to the keynote, attendees will participate in small group roundtables, plus have a chance to share their thoughts and experiences during an hour-long idea exchange session – a MALF workshop staple, and one of participants’ best opportunities all year round to network and share with Friends from across Minnesota.
"Refresh and Revitalize Your Friends Group" is FREE to attend, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to do so. A complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Pre-registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and informational packets.
Hundreds of library advocates from all walks of life converged on the U.S. Capitol in May for National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). Organized each year by the Washington office of the American Library Association, NLLD is one of the nation’s premier library advocacy opportunities. MALF president Judy Schotzko made the trek this year as a member of Minnesota’s “delegation.” She came away impressed with the advocacy event – and even more impressed with NLLD as an advocacy education opportunity.
“Meeting with congressional representatives and their aides is the highlight, but the organizers prepare you well on the Sunday before – and that training included replicable advice that anyone can use at home,” Schotzko explained. Among other speakers, ALA’s briefing and training session featured a keynote by former Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).
Here is a list of NLLD “best practices” you should keep in mind, when meeting with public officials and advocating for libraries at the local, county and state levels.
1. Champion specific bills, actions, and priorities. Voicing general support for libraries is not typically effective. Most governmental officials support the continued existence of public libraries, and very few have a negative view of the institution. Championing specific priorities (e.g. allocation of funds to purchase and maintain more computer consoles) is far more likely to be heard and heeded.
2. Research the person you are speaking with. Do not go blind into any meeting with elected officials. Your time with them is almost definitely going to be limited. In order to maximize that time and leave the best possible impression, research that person beforehand. Find out how he or she has voted in the past, and what their funding priorities appear to be. As best you can, tailor your pitch accordingly.
3. Leave something behind. (No, don’t go forgetting your hat or coat.) If you can spare the time, draw up a one-page summary of your key talking points. Going this extra mile affirms your seriousness, serves as insurance if you forget something, and saves your audience from having to take many notes. Print and bring several copies; one or more aides may be in attendance. At a minimum, be prepared to leave a business card.
4. Don’t underestimate aides and other assistants. If you set up a meeting with the office of a state or federal official, do not be surprised if you do not get to meet the congressman or woman in person. Their time and attention are at a premium, and this sort of work is often delegated to trusted aides. Do not feel cheated, or give your meeting anything less than your best effort. Aides are influential, and their bosses respect their opinions. Having an aide paraphrase your key points can be a powerful thing indeed.
5. Don’t feel self-conscious about what you don’t know. As a Friend, you likely do not know the ins and outs of the library world as well as library staff. Think of this as an advantage. When librarians approach elected officials about library priorities, many assume they are speaking primarily out of self-interest. When a Friend makes the same pitch, however, their motives will not be questioned.
If anything, this last point is most important, according to Schotzko. “In my experience over the years, whenever staff lobbies for something, it is presumed they are lobbying for their job. Volunteers ask only because they care. These are the people that can have a huge impact.”
As we gear up for a busy fall, MALF is thrilled and fortunate to welcome two new members to our expanding Board of Directors. Skip Levesque and Virginia (Ginny) Copeman recently joined our ranks.
Ginny Copeman comes to MALF with a broad-based communications and graphic design background. She serves currently as interactive marketing director for Saint Mary's University in Winona. In that capacity, she manages the university's top-tier social media platforms, maintains a dynamic university newsblog, and provides faculty and staff trainings on best practices for these and other e-tools (among other key duties). Prior to assuming that post in 2013, Ginny contributed her skills set as a graphic designer in the Communications Service Division of the Rochester Public Library.
Skip Levesque, formerly of Maple Grove, moved to St. Michael after retiring three years ago. He became an active member of the local Friends of the Library (St. Michael, Albertville and Hanover) shortly thereafter, and has since stepped into a leadership role during a pivotal growth phase for that organization. Since assuming the presidency in May 2015, Skip has led the local Friends through an inaugural Founders Recognition celebration and their highest grossing book sale to date. As part of our Board, he looks forward to contributing to MALF’s expanding statewide and national advocacy efforts.
We will also take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Board member Sheila DeChantal. DeChantal is an active force in the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library. Among other accomplishments, she led that organization through its first successful “Wine & Words” annual fundraisers. The inaugural event, held in 2013, won Brainerd the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project in 2014. In her time with MALF, DeChantal contributed that same passion for programming to MALF’s programming committee.
As a poet once said, “The only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes.”
If your Friends group supports a small and rural library looking to augment its children’s book collection, consider exploring a grant from The Pilcrow Foundation. A two-to-one match is available for libraries able to secure a local sponsor willing to chip in seed money.
Specifically, the Foundation will provide $600-800 to eligible libraries able to secure $200-400 in other funding – towards the acquisition of up to $1200 worth of books (calculated at retail value). Financial support from the Friends is one such secondary funding source.
Branch libraries serving rural communities within larger library systems are welcome to apply. Libraries with annual operating budgets under $50,000 will receive funding priority. School media centers are eligible if that library doubles as a collection open to the public.
Collection development staff at libraries receiving Pilcrow Foundation funds will be asked to make selections from a curated list of over 500 hardcover, star-reviewed titles. Click here for more details, and to apply.
Direct specific questions to email@example.com.
As any library Friend or staffer will tell you – quite contrary to the stereotype that persists in some quarters – libraries are much more than simply repositories for print books. In many communities, among other purposes, the public library serves as the central access point for technology and tech education. In recognition of this fact, the Best Buy Foundation is extending its popular Best Buy Community Grants program to eligible libraries and 501(c)3 Friends groups.
The cardinal aim of this program is to empower organizations that “provide teens with places and opportunities to develop twenty-first century technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices.” As their website explains, “too many teens have little or no access to technology and, as a result, they fall behind their peers.”
Activities eligible for support include classes and initiatives focused on computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and mobile app development. Grants average $5,000, but up to $10,000 is available to strongly qualified candidates.
For a list of eligibility requirements, click here. (The Best Buy Foundation offers a pre-application quiz to help make it easy.) Note that only Friends and libraries located within 50 miles of a Best Buy store location will be considered. Submit your application by Friday, July 1. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their proposal by September 15.