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.





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In many communities, the public library plays an active, vital role promoting childhood literacy – particularly when school is out for the summer, and for preschool aged children. If your Friends group is attached to such a library, you may be eligible to seek special grant assistance from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


The Kellogg Foundation exists to support childhood education and community engagement, among several other core objectives.  In 2014 alone, the organization committed $350 million to qualified grant seekers.

A wide variety of education programs and community initiatives are eligible for Foundation support. Note, however, that  funds are not generally awarded to assist with endowments, development campaigns, research studies, or conferences. Grants will also not be given to support the operational costs of ongoing programs.

Applying is a multistep process, but taking the initial step to verify eligibility and determine Foundation interest is not hard. Click here to fill out the form. Be prepared to provide, in brief, the specific purpose for which you are seeing funding, what community needs you aim to solve, the demographic(s) you will most benefit, and how you will benchmark both progress and success.

Interested in the opportunity, but short on time this summer? Not to worry. There is no deadline. Applications for this one are accepted on an ongoing basis. Once you have submitted your materials, expect to hear back from the Kellogg Foundation within two months.

Announcing MALF's FREE September Workshop Series

Posted by jim on July 06, 2015

Due to space constraints at our metro area location, the Edina Community Library, the September 11 session will be capped at 35 attendees. Register to reserve your spot!

In cities and towns across the country, the public library stands as the enduring, seemingly unchanging heart of the community. But a closer looks shows that, in point of fact, libraries are constantly adapting to meet the evolving needs of their patron base. In order to stay relevant in this environment, Friends of the Library organizations must be prepared to realign their priorities and programs to match the library’s – in other words, to expand beyond their traditional comfort zone.

MALF’s fall 2015 workshop series, “Beyond Book Sales: The Future of Friends Fundraising,” shines a light on the all-important fundraising aspect of Friends work. What can we do, in this current landscape, to raise real funds for our library? How do we take those first steps in a new direction? And, circling back to our roots, what does the future hold in store for the tried-and-true used book sale?

Stu_2-Portrait.jpgIn September, library consultant and former Friends executive Stu Wilson will lead three half-day sessions covering these questions and more. Each will include an hour-long keynote, during which Wilson will brief attendees on: fundraising fundamentals; book sale trends; libraries’ increasing need for private support; changing community needs and volunteer demographics; and, effective social media tools. There will be ample opportunities for audience Q&A.

Every session will also include an hour-long idea exchange session – a MALF workshop staple, and one of attendees’ best opportunities all year round to network and share with Friends from across Minnesota.  In addition, our local co-hosts in Aitkin, Edina and Marshall will provide guided library tours at each site.

Everyone is invited to sign up for a free workshop. It is not necessary to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to attend. All participants will receive free lunch or dinner (see session site run time).

About Stu. Workshop moderator and keynote presenter Stu Wilson is a lead consultant and project coordinator with the St. Paul-based Library Strategies Consulting Group. His specialty areas include strategic planning, board development, advocacy, and of course, fundraising. Wilson’s career experience includes productive terms as both Executive Director of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library and Vice-President of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. He is also the founder of Fitzgerald in Saint Paul, a nonprofit celebrating the legacy of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Edina Public Library
5280 Grandview Square, Edina, MN, 55436
Friday, September 11, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Register by September 4
(Questions? Need Directions? 612-543-6328)

Aitkin Public Library 

110 1st Avenue NE, Aitkin, MN, 56431
Saturday, September 12, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Register by September 5
(Questions? Need Directions? 218-927-2339)

Marshall - Lyon County Public Library

201 C Street, Marshall, MN, 56258
Tuesday, September 15, 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Register by September 8
(Questions? Need Directions? 507-537-7003)

movers.jpgMillennials are a hard group for many Friends groups to attract – but invaluable once brought into the fold. Indeed, young people are among the most visible ‘movers and shakers’ in the library world more generally.

Library Journal is looking to identify and recognize librarianship’s standout emerging leaders. Fifty young ‘Movers and Shakers’ will be recognized in the publication’s March 2016 issue. The editors want your help! Full-time staff, paraprofessionals, and Friends are all eligible for consideration, and submitting a nomination takes only a few minutes online. Be prepared to answer these open-ended questions about your candidate:

1. “Why are your nominating this emerging leader?”

2. “Describe one event, project or situation that illustrates their value.”

3. “Describe on attribute or characteristic that illustrates this nominee's unique ability.”

Contact information for two additional references will also be requested. Nominations must be received by Library Journal by November 6, 2015 at the very latest. Click here for details.

Ely Celebrates New Library, New Literary Landmark

Posted by jim on June 15, 2015

07-Landmark-JoeOwens.jpgThe past year has been an eventful one for the small town of Ely, Minnesota. Last year, broad-based community support and financial help from the local Friends chapter allowed the Ely Public Library to build a brand new, 6,500-square-foot facility. The library officially relocated in November.

In addition to boasting one of Minnesota’s newest libraries, Ely can also lay claim to the nation’s newest “Literary Landmark.”

On June 5, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends, in partnership with the Friends of the Ely Public Library and The Listening Point Foundation, honored conservationist Sigurd Olson and Vermilion Community College with this special distinction.

Literary Landmarks are sites with a strong historical connection to prominent American authors, recognized through a joint partnership between United for Libraries’ Literary Landmarks Association and local affiliates (such as MALF). Examples range widely: from the boyhood home of Roots author Alex Haley in Henning, Tennessee; to a New York City church library where Madeleine L'Engle wrote parts of A Wrinkle in Time; to the hotel in Durango, Colorado where Westerns favorite Louis L'Amour drafted much of his best work. To date, there are over 160 Literary Landmark sites across the country, and Minnesota is home to six. Recipient sites are recognized with a dedication plaque and unveiling ceremony.

As anyone in the Minnesota Northwoods can tell you, Sigurd Olson is a strong candidate. He is best remembered today for championing wilderness conservation through nine bestselling books, beginning with The Singing Wilderness in 1956 and his seminal Listening Point in 1958.

His efforts played a direct role in the establishment of national preserves ranging from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Closer to home, Olson’s advocacy also proved instrumental to the legislation that created Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota.

Olson titled Listening Point after his personal retreat, located on scenic Burntside Lake just outside of Ely. Given that site’s remote location, the Literary Landmark co-partners opted instead to install the plaque and hold the ceremony at Olson’s academic home, Vermilion Community College. Nearly 100 attendees – a packed house – turned out to bear witness to the unveiling. Speakers included Chuck Wick, a close personal friend of Olson's and a founding member of the Listening Point Foundation that preserves his legacy, who delivered a short keynote.

Out-of-town attendees who made the trek to this far northeast corner of the state enjoyed several tie-in activities over the weekend, as well. In conjunction with the plaque dedication event, the Ely-Winton Historical Society hosted a small exhibit on the life and work of Sigurd Olson. The Listening Point Foundation offered several guided tours of Olson’s beautifully preserved cabin on Burntside Lake. In addition, the Friends of the Ely Public Library also offered a tour of the new, $1.3 million library building, which is not far from the Vermilion Community College campus.

MALF dedicates one new Literary Landmark in Minnesota each year. We are already hard at work on choosing an honoree and site host for next year’s festivities. Stay tuned for that next announcement!  

vote_button_rgb.pngOn May 4-5, 2015, more than 400 library advocates from all walks of life gathered in Washington D.C. to speak with federal legislators about the continued importance of libraries. Whether they knew it or not, each “National Library Legislative Day” participant’s voice carried immense weight that week. On any given day, 4,000,000 Americans make use of a local library. In effect, then, each and every NLLD attendee stood in for nearly 10,000 library lovers.

Carol Walsh, a communications professional and a former member of the MALF Board of Directors, attended this year’s slate of events. She is pleased to share her recollections of and thoughts on the experience, for anyone interested but on the fence about making the trek in May 2016.


Is it possible to advocate for our state’s libraries, but on the national stage? It is, and you should!

The American Library Association (ALA) maintains a Washington office, which is responsible for advocating federal legislation that preserves and promotes library values and funding. Each year, the office must continually lobby Congress and its partners while simultaneously stoking grassroots support for libraries.

Needless to say, this is a tough task. Your voice, whether in person or “virtually,” is a huge help. ALA’s so-called National Library Legislation Day (NLLD), held every May, is your best opportunity all year to get involved.

This year – my fifth attending NLLD – I joined three other representatives from Minnesota in Washington D.C.: Jim Weikum, executive director of the Arrowhead Library System; Pat Conley, retiring director of the Washington Co. Library; and Melinda Ludwiczak, project manager for MELSA.

Here’s a summary of what went on, for anyone interested in attending in the future.

NLLD takes place over two days. On Day 1, advocates from across the country gather to hear subject matter experts brief them on the important issues of the day – in this case, appropriations, privacy matters, and school libraries. This is in preparation for Day 2, when the Minnesota attendees visited with members of our state’s congressional delegation.

In most cases, we actually met with knowledgeable staff, rather than the representatives and senators themselves. For instance, we met with Landon Zinda, legislative counsel for U.S. Representative Tom Emmer, because Rep. Emmer himself could not attend.

Everyone, I felt, was very receptive to our messages. Because I’m a resident of St. Paul and a member of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, I shared information particular to the St. Paul Public Library. My message was simple: public libraries are essential players in the community’s job search and workforce development network.

Here, and elsewhere, public libraries are integral to ensuring that all adults have jobs and basic workforce skills. As just one example, St. Paul libraries offer 3,000 classes each year in basic computer skills (in six languages!) – and help countless people every day with job searches.

Understandably, delegates are especially interested in fresh or innovative programs and initiatives. I talked at length about recent, close collaborations between the libraries and allied organizations, including the Minnesota WorkForce Center and St. Paul Adult Basic Education. A new initiative currently underway will explore the potential of e-training – and in particular, of a learning platform called Metrix Learning. Metrix Learning seamlessly integrates information on the local job market, job pathways, online learning, and industry-recognized certifications.

Other attendees pursued different angles and shared different stories, but everything confirmed the same basic point: libraries are indispensable community resources.

Fellow Minnesotans and Friends of the Library, I strongly encourage you to consider being a part of next year’s NLLD cycle, already scheduled for May 2-3, 2016.

BACKGROUNDER: "Minnesota At A Glance: Digital Inclusion & Public Libraries"