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.


Inaugural Year!



Newsletter Sign-up

Upcoming Events

What's going on...

BFreeman.pngIf your Friends group is actively coordinating author programming events for your library, local mystery favorite Brian Freeman wants to hear from you! Freeman is author of the bestselling Jonathan Stride detective series, set in and around Duluth. 

Later this year, to mark the tenth anniversary of Stride’s debut, Freeman will travel widely across the state and deliver special presentations to library audiences on his series and its many Minnesota influences.

While details are still in the works, approximately twenty events total are likely to be scheduled for September and October 2015. Contact Brian Freeman directly through his website to learn more about the upcoming regional tour and other partnership possibilities in your area. 

Library advocacy is a perennial concern for Friends of the Library. How do we move beyond our traditional “comfort zone” of fundraising to marshal real community support for libraries and their continued funding? Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association (ALA), will deliver a keynote presentation on that topic at this year’s St. Catherine University MLIS Program Summit.

Join co-sponsors ALA, St. Catherine’s University, and MELSA for this special event on Monday, April 27. The MLIS Summit will be held from 5-8 p.m. on campus in St. Paul, in the the Coeur de Catherine building’s Rauenhorst Ballroom. The event is free, but advance registration is appreciated.

Can't make it to that afternoon’s keynote lecture? No problem! Join MELSA the following morning -- 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28 -- for an encore with Courtney Young at the Roseville Public Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. N. If this better suits your schedule, please register online by April 22.

In just two years, the Friends of the Wentworth Library in West St. Paul has matured from a small and unofficial body to a robust, 501(c)3 incorporated nonprofit on par with any Friends group in Minnesota servicing a community of that size. President Karen Griffin attributes this rapid success to planning, a strong partnership with library staff, serendipitous timing, and monetary assistance provided through MALF’s Goss-Nordley Grant.

“By way of background, in 2013, 5-6 people started meeting to talk about ways to support the library – and by early the next year were talking about becoming an ‘official’ Friends group,” Griffin explained. She credits library manager Murray Wilson with really getting the ball rolling from there. “He had worked with other Friends groups, liked the idea, and was instrumental in moving along the process.”

It did indeed prove a process. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved… some of which may not be fun, but needs to be done anyway.” Specifically, filing to become a 501(c)3 incorporated nonprofit required pre-approved articles of incorporation and bylaws – documents which the Wentworth volunteers had not yet created. Griffin and Wilson, together with a second Friend and the Dakota Co. Library senior manager, drafted both and had them approved by the membership body.

Financing proved a second hurdle. “State of Minnesota filing fees for nonprofit status, together with those for federal tax exempt status, amounted to almost $500. That was money we did not have,” Griffin said. Fortunately, the Friends of the Wentworth Library knew of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) “Goss-Nordley Grant,” which provides nascent Friends groups with much-needed funds to defray costs associated with incorporation.  

After receiving financial assistance from MALF last year, the Friends of the Wentworth Library submitted their paperwork. They received confirmation from the State just last December. 

According to Griffin, MALF’s financial assistance was a godsend, as the Friends knew that little further growth could come without this big step. “Becoming a 501(c)3 has many advantages: we now have a Friends bank account (which we could not open until we had our non-profit designation), we can accept donations that  are tax deductible, and we are able to better make decisions regarding disbursement of funds.” The new status is also beneficial when it comes to fundraising efforts, she added.

The timing could not have been better. “Within weeks of receiving our 501(c)3 status we received a generous donation from a woman who was working with her motherʼs estate. She told us she had very fond memories of the Wentworth Library, going there as a child with her mother and sister. We were able to take and deposit her check in our Friends account.”

While incorporation was in the works, the Wentworth Friends were extremely active on other fronts as well. Membership solicitations have been largely successful. “Weʼve added to our Friends list mostly by just asking. People generally like libraries, and I think a lot of time people are just waiting to be asked and are willing to join in and help when they can.” Library staff have been helpful with recruiting efforts, and the local St. Paul Voice helped get the word out with a promotional piece.

Moreover, they recently worked with a local activity center to co-sponsor an author workshop, purchased interactive materials for the children’s area of their library, and assisted on a variety of other library projects as needed. ‘Follow’ the group on Facebook to learn about what they’re up to next!

“We are an enthused and energetic group with lots of ideas,” Griffin said in conclusion. As the Friends of the Wentworth Library leave behind the challenges of their formative period, “weʼre looking forward to focusing on our purpose: to focus public attention on library services, build community relationships, and enhance the Wentworth Library.”

scholastic.jpgBudget cuts are a perennial concern for libraries of all types, but particularly for school media centers. Compounding matters, Friends groups affiliated with these school libraries are often ineligible to apply for grant opportunities aimed at public libraries. 

Fortunately, Scholastic Inc., in partnership with bestselling mystery author James Patterson, recently rolled out a new assistance program. Librarians, teachers, Friends and parents are encouraged to apply for grants ranging from $1,000 - $10,000 to offset K-12 media center expenses. New materials, updated computer equipment, and space redesign expenses are all eligible for consideration. 

That’s not all. Scholastic Inc., through its Scholastic Reading Club, will match monetary awards dollar for dollar with ‘Bonus Points,’ good towards the purchase of a wide assortment of classroom and media center supplies. 

Applying is easy! Nominators should be prepared to explain, in just 300 words or less, how awarded funds would be spent. Pre-approval from school administration is strongly advised, as monies will only be distributed only  a vetting process in which the principal gives permission for consideration. Submit your application by May 31 at the very latest.

better_world_books.jpgCharity bookseller Better World Books operates on what it calls a "social enterprise" business model. Customers who place an order through that company can rest well knowing that their purchase will have an indirect but demonstrable impact on worthy literacy initiatives. Better World Books’ monetary donations to qualifying organizations have totaled $15 million to date. Unsurprisingly, libraries and their Friends are primary beneficiaries of much of this largess.

If your Friends of the Library group is looking to get a new literacy initiative off the ground any time between June 30, 2015 and January 31, 2016, Better World Books wants to help. Next month, the organization will grant up to $40,000 in support of such projects. (Contributions are capped at $15,000 per organization.)

Stipulations are few. As Better World Books notes, “the needs and opportunities of the communities libraries serve vary widely, so there are countless worthy projects to support.”

Best qualified applicants will have broad-based community support, a firm plan and timeline in place, and a track record of seeing multistage projects through to completion. Candidates who can prove that their proposed project is in some way “game changing” will get first consideration. Click here for more information.

Proposals are due no later than April 3. Winners will be notified of the outcome by May 12, and funds will be dispersed this summer. Click here to start your application!