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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storycorps_logo.jpgPublic libraries are a traditional focal point for the preservation of local history. In recognition of this fact, ALA is partnering with StoryCorps – a national nonprofit oral history project – to give select libraries a jump-start on ongoing history initiatives.

The “StoryCorps @ Your Library” program will provide recording equipment, training, and promotional support to ten community documentation projects. Interviewees will be pulled from libraries’ service communities, but project scope can be as wide or narrow as the partnering library chooses.

StoryCorps will pay to give each and every interviewee a copy of their segment, and copies will also be deposited with the Library of Congress. Click here to read up on the guidelines and begin the application process. Click here to read success stories from the first round of “StoryCorps @ Your Library” partnerships. Direct questions to the ALA Public Programs Office at publicprograms@ala.org or 312-280-5045.

Applications must be received by Friday, February 6.

IMLS_Logo2.jpgLibraries work tirelessly to meet the changing needs of their public. Unfortunately, tight budgets across the country leave little room for innovative experimentation. If your library has a promising service improvement in mind but lacks the money to implement it, the Institute of Museum and Library Services wants to help.

The federal agency, through its Sparks! Ignition program, is providing grants to support the deployment, testing and evaluation of promising and groundbreaking new tools, products, services and organizational practices.

Public libraries of all sizes are eligible to apply, as are most institutions of higher education (including public and nonprofit universities). Successful proposals will address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to libraries everywhere. A proposed project should test a specific, innovative response to the identified problem and present a plan to make the findings widely and openly accessible. Projects should have broad potential impact and significant innovation.

Grant amounts vary. Click here to learn more. Entries must be received by February 2

lj.pngFull-time, degree-holding librarians represent only a minority of the people who make public libraries run smoothly. In point of fact, Friends, volunteers, and library paraprofessionals are responsible for much of the day-to-day work.

If your Friends of the Library group contains a paraprofessional who goes above and beyond the call of duty in support of the library, or you work closely with one, Library Journal encourages you to nominate them for "Paralibrarian of the Year."

Evaluation criteria include excellence in job performance, a forward-thinking mentality and record as a trailblazer, and a clear commitment to the concept of “free access to information for all.” Nominators are asked to compose a short letter describing, in 500 words or less, why your favorite paralibrarian is a strong candidate for this high honor. Additional supporting letters are welcome, and accompanying materials will be accepted, but precedence is given to the nominating letter.

Library Journal will feature one winner in its March 2015 issue. Paralibrarian of the Year also comes with a $1,500 cash prize and a special reception at the ALA Conference in June.

Click here for more information, and to read up on past winners. Direct questions to rmiller@mediasourceinc.com

lj.pngLiteracy, digital access, and job training are top priorities in communities across America – so it’s no surprise that these same goals are paramount concerns in our public libraries. Even so, some libraries go above and beyond in their mission not only to serve, but to collaborate with and improve, their local community. If this describes your library, it may be a strong contender forLibrary Journal’s prestigious LibraryAware Community Award.

The annual award, sponsored by the EBSCO Publishing division of the same name, exists to “recognize a library (or library system) that has demonstrated its ability to make its community ‘aware’ of what the library can do for it – and delivers on that promise.” Qualitative benchmarks are numerous and detailed on the Library Journal website.

Libraries and communities of all size are eligible for consideration. Anyone may submit a nomination, including Friends, library staffers, and government employees or officials. Organizers will announce and award the winner during National Library Week. Top prize includes $10,000, a special ceremony, and a featurette in an upcoming edition of Library Journal. A runner-up with receive $7,500, and third place receives $5,000.

Nominations must be postmarked or emailed by January 19, 2015Click here for more information, and to begin the application process!

MALF Remembers and Honors Library Leader Chris Olson

Posted by jim on November 19, 2014

MLA_011.JPGThis fall, MALF mourns the premature loss of one of the Minnesota library community’s most talented and tireless leaders. Chris D. Olson passed away peacefully at his home in St. Paul in late September. He was 52.

Friends of the Library may know Olson best as a vocal supporter of and long-time driver behind the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF). He has been involved with the organization, in some capacity, since 1984 – including several highly productive terms on our Board of Directors.

Library staffers may know Olson best as a skilled administrator. He served most recently as executive director of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), the regional library service agency for the Twin Cities. Prior to that post, he helmed the College Libraries in Consortium (CLIC) cooperative and worked for the Lake Agassiz Regional Library System near his native Detroit Lakes.

In these twin roles as Friend and administrator, Olson left an indelible mark on the library community. In addition to day-to-day leadership responsibilities, he found time to bring a number of new programs and initiative to fruition, and also penned or edited a number of valuable written resources. These include MALF’s own Guidelines for Organization: Friends of the Library, now in its third edition.

His hand can also be seen in a number of MALF’s grant and awards programs. These include: the Goss-Nordley Grant (which defrays costs associated with starting a new Friends group), the Raymond Birr Grant (which defrays the cost of starting a school media center Friends group), and the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

Most recently, just this year, Olson championed the creation of a special “Event & Programming Grant” for members. He saw this as a new and invaluable way for Friends to help their libraries, which often do not have the funds to coordinate special activities or celebrations without such assistance.

In honor of Olson’s many and varied contributions to MALF, the Board of Directors has rechristened this assistance program the "Chris D. Olson Event & Programming Grant." Friends of the Library groups of all sizes are encouraged to read more, and apply today. (Applications are evaluated, and grants awarded, on a quarterly basis.)