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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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Minnesota's Largest Friends Author Gala

Posted by jim on September 26, 2019

Looking for something else to do in October? Opus & Olives, the marquee author gala of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, is slated for Sunday, October 13. Hollywood actress Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek, Orange is the New Black) will emcee a night headlined by New York Times bestsellers Mark Bowden, Jennifer Chiaverini, and Chris Pavone – and breakout newcomer Maaza Mengiste. Click here for information on venue and tickets.

Author luncheons and galas are an increasingly popular Friends fundraising platform. Inspired to research your own? Consider exploring the Center for the Book’s new
 Minnesota Writers Directorywhich lists authors alongside details on appearances and engagements they will consider.

A Grand Day For Grand Rapids!

Posted by jim on September 24, 2019

Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library had a grand day indeed last Thursday, October 19. During the long-awaited MLA Conference in Prior Lake, representative Mary Jo Wimmer came away with the top prize in MALF’s annual Evy Nordley contest. It was no mean feat, either; MALF fielded a higher than average number of project entries from across Minnesota in the 2019 cycle.

Grand Rapids’ show-stopping project, “Pop-Up Book Sales,” stood a cut above the rest due to its innovative nature and great promise as both a sustainable and replicable fundraising model.

The reasoning behind organizers’ departure from the tried-and-true book sale model is simple yet profound. Over the past decade, reading habits have changed for a significant slice of bibliophiles. In this era of e-readers, trekking to the library or book store is no requirement – you can find materials from the comfort of your couch. With grassroots initiatives like Little Free Libraries, physical books and serendipitous discovery are attainable close to home, as well.

Pop up sales, held in a nontraditional (read “non-library”) location, seemed like a logical enough extension on the trends.


Click here to read more about this project, and the runners-up from Austin (“Murder Mystery at Hormel Historic Home”), Brainerd (“Little Free Library Partnership”), and Red Wing (“Telling Our Library’s Story”).

Megan Smolenyak Offers No-Gimmick Genealogy Grants

Posted by jim on September 05, 2019

In many communities, the public library is not just the best, but the only place to turn for research on local history and family genealogy. Unfortunately, maintaining and building upon existing genealogy collections is extremely challenging for many libraries, given the many competing demands on their strained budgets.

If this conundrum describes you, acclaimed genealogist, bestselling author and television personality Megan Smolenyak wants to hear from you! For nearly twenty years, Smolenyak has offered quarterly grants to museums, libraries, and other institutions requiring seed funds to kickstart a genealogy project or initiative.

Named after her mother, the so-called Seton Shields Genealogy Grant is refreshingly broad in its scope! However, proposals that are innovative in nature or offer a project model which other libraries would find replicable are particularly competitive.


Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis, with between one and three grant recipients selected quarterly. Amounts given differ based on demonstrated need. Click here to apply, or here to read up on the 213 grantees selected by Megan Smolenyak to date!

2019 MALF Workshop: Reserve Your Spot!

Posted by jim on September 02, 2019

Registration is now open for our 2019 workshop series, "Storming the Forts: Library Service on the Move." Click here for program details. 

All three sessions are 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. (Registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and informational packets. Please do so by Thursday, September 26.)

Thursday, October 3

Fergus Falls Public Library
205 E. Hampden Ave., Fergus Falls, 56537

Friday, October 4
Ramsey Co. Library - White Bear Lake
2150 2nd St., White Bear Lake, 55110

Saturday, October 5
Marshall-Lyon Co. Library
201 C. St., Marshall, 56258

In 1998, the town of Saint Peter suffered wide-ranging damage in one of the most devasting tornadoes to hit Minnesota in living memory. Among other casualties, the town lost its historic downtown library facility. For years after the so-called Comfrey - Saint Peter tornado, patrons resorted to using a FEMA trailer set up on the property to pick up and return books.

strands.jpgNeedless to say, residents were elated when a new, 16,400-square-foot library finally opened to the public four years later. Moreover, the facility offered a variety of amenities and aesthetic advantages that its predecessor did not. More windows and copious amounts of natural light rank high among these.

Last year, The Friends of the Saint Peter Public Library gifted their library a one-of-a-kind colored glass mosaic to accentuate that natural asset. Titled “Strands of Knowledge,” the 23-piece work of art now graces the library’s expansive entryway.

The Friends landed on this beautification project in consultation with lead librarian Doug Wolfe and a special entryway enhancement committee established for just this discussion.

nicollettco.pngAfter some preliminary due diligence research, the group selected Saint Peter-based glass artist Bob Vogel to design Strands of Knowledge. Vogel’s striking commercial work can be seen across Minnesota – at a college in Mankato, hospital in Slayton, and churches dotted across the state.

For his hometown library, Vogel chose a colorful double helix design that symbolically links knowledge, books and art. Library staff landed on the apropos name.

Design and fundraising work began in earnest in January 2018. “Expenses for this project really involved only three entities: the artist, the installer, and the engraver for the recognition plaque,” explained project lead Margie Nelsen. “For this reason, it was possible to get reasonable and precise installation costs early.”

The Friends, who committed themselves at the onset to cover the entire project fee (minus only a small public stipend from the City), brainstormed on how to reach the $13,000 target required by Strands of Knowledge. Helpfully, the group was able to get nearly halfway there by reallocating $7,000 from its general operating budget.

For the remainder, Friends leadership adopted an internal, versus external approach. Instead of a general, city-wide call to action, the campaign focused on the organization’s general membership. In all, 35 different members raised $4,045 collectively. A generous, $1,500 match grant offered by another Friend allowed the campaign to hit its goal.

Installation occurred before year’s end, in time for a November 28, 2018 dedication ceremony. The Friends spent $60 to prepare and mail special invitations to city councilmen and other public officials.

“The value or effectiveness of this type of project is always difficult to measure,” noted Margie Nelsen. “However, we’ve received nothing but positive feedback about the beauty and appropriateness of this new addition to the Saint Peter Public Library.” Indeed, some visitors stroll in for the express purpose of glimpsing Strands of Knowledge!