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.
Here’s a quandary we wager Friends of the Library everywhere can relate to. Every couple of months, your organization puts time and effort into collecting, sorting, pricing, and selling used books to benefit the local library. You sell most, but invariably are left with a few dozen titles that didn’t find a home. What to do?
The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library can help. Donate your used and unsold books, audiobooks, DVDs, and music CDs by Monday, October 21, and you will receive a receipt for a tax deduction. Materials will be sold at the “Combined Charities Used Book Sale” on November 5-6 in Room 500N of the State Office Building.
There are three drop-off locations in St. Paul: the Legislative Reference Library (Room 645, State Office Building), the Chief Clerk’s Office (Room 211, Capitol Building), and the House Supply Room (Room G35, State Office Building). Note that VHS tapes and gently used puzzles will also be accepted.
Between MALF’s seasonal workshops and the annual Minnesota Library Association conference, fall is a busy time for Friends of the Library in Minnesota. Even so, it’s important to remember what is happening on the national stage. October 19-25 is National Friends of Libraries Week!
National Friends of Libraries Week is sponsored and coordinated by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association and MALF’s national counterpart. Its two-fold purpose is to:
To these ends, United for Libraries has posted on its website a number of stories and downloadable resources to help you get started. Click here for posters, sample letters to the editor, template public proclamations, and much much more.
As those who have participated in previous years already know, this week-long celebration is an extremely customizable one. Apart from the overall mission sketched out above, appropriate ways to celebrate Friends of Libraries Week are nearly as many and varied as America’s countless Friends groups! In years past, these have ranged from the simple and straightforward, like week-long membership campaigns and fundraising drives, to the unexpected and sometimes wacky – like an in-library demonstration from a world champion chocolate strawberry dipper.
Author readings, wine tastings, and silent auctions are all common enough on their own, but it takes a hefty dose of creativity and planning to roll all three activities into one fundraiser. In August 2013, The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library did just this, with their inaugural “Wine and Words” program.
Held at the beautiful Arrowwood Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Alexandria, Wine and Words featured not one, not two, but five accomplished writers: Sandra Brannan, Lorna Landvik, Sarah Pekkanen, William Kent Kreuger, and Wendy Webb.
Authors and guests alike enjoyed an impressive spread, with sumptuous dishes like champagne chicken and wild rice pilaf scoring high marks. Delicious as the meal was, the real highlight for the palate was the wine tasting. Beverages were donated by a local liquor store.
Indeed, The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library’s ability to find a number of generous partners (particularly ‘in-kind’ sponsors) proved crucial to their success. Arrowwood took care of author accommodations, and an area printer provided brochure and ticket printing free of charge. Local bookseller Book World facilitated on-site book sales for author signings. A number of businesses donated valuable items to the silent auction.
Moreover, Wine and Words enjoyed a veritable blitz of promotions – at least when compared with what’s typical for Friends programs in a community the size of Brainerd. In addition to a strong social media presence, a new website, and favorable coverage in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch, that included comped radio spots.
All this paid off. President Sheila DeChantal set what she thought was an ambitious goal of 100 attendees. “The results were well beyond our expectations,” she said. “We had 180 people purchase tickets!” Wine and Words cleared over $8,500 for the library’s use, and also served as an effective recruitment drive. “By having Friends applications at each place setting, we also increased our membership that evening by 24 members,” DeChantal reported.
Needless to say, Wine and Words will be a staple on Brainerd’s community calendar from here on out!
The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has one more – and a decidedly unique one, at that! – thanks to the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library (JFHML) Friends Foundation.
The Foundation services the small town of Crosby, Minn., and surrounding Cuyuna Lakes communities in Crow Wing County. Among other ongoing initiatives, Foundation members are particularly proud of the financial support they are able to provide the Hallett Memorial Library for children’s activities. In 2013 alone, the library hosted over 40 “Preschool Story Hours,” with total attendance topping 1,800. Without $1,000 from the Friends each year, this successful program could not continue.
Recently, the Foundation seized on an opportunity to take this one step further. Inspired by various indoor play place prototypes they saw on display at the 2013 Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference in St. Cloud, and at the behest of staff, they decided to overhaul the library’s kids area.
Crosby’s new-and-improved kids area is replete with the most modern of amenities, including two LeapPads and two iPads, but what children enjoy most is the overall atmosphere. As the Cuyuna Lakes area is defined by its many picturesque lakes, Friends thought it fitting to give the redesigned space an aquatic theme. Prominent is a replica boat for children to play in, together with a “pond” rug and both wall manipulatives and room decorations in keeping with that outdoors feel. Other props include model fishing poles and life vests.
The Friends didn’t make all the decisions on their own, though. When it came to naming the rechristened space, they invited the public to put forward suggestions and vote on their favorite. Contenders included “Hickory Dickory Dockside,” “Kids Kabin,” “Little Lakeside Lounge,” and “Read-A-Book Beach.” Most popular of all was “Cattale Corner” (a literary pun on ‘cattail,’ a wetland plant found in abundance around the Cuyuna Lakes).
Voters hailed from all age brackets – a fact that proved prophetic. Cattle Corner is unexpectedly popular with adults, who appreciate the new outlet for their children’s energies (while they utilize the space’s fast and free Wi-Fi).
There’s no denying that digital device usage is on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, as of last September, 55 percent of Americans own a smartphone, over 40 percent a tablet computer, and nearly 35 percent an e-reader. Unsurprisingly, though, not all these device owners are equally adept when it comes to actually using them.
Young adults, in particular, usually have a leg up. With this in mind, a national nonprofit called VolunTEEN Nation recently launched a new grant program called “Teens Teaching Tech.” As that name suggests, the idea is to equip civically minded teens with the tools to give older senior citizens one-on-one technical support. Sessions are ordinarily held in libraries or community centers. In addition to helping bridge the digital divide, Teens Teach Tech goes a long way in fostering intergenerational understanding in participating community.
Program details are largely up to you, and will likely vary according to participants’ technology interests and needs. VolunTEEN Nation will supply basic training materials, funding for promotions, and volunteer T-shirts.
Friends of the Library attached to a school media center may apply, as may “any school-based club or homeschool community organization.” Friends of the Library associated with public libraries are welcome to apply, so long as they partner with one of the above.
Grant applications must be received by Monday, September 15. Click here to learn more, and to apply. Direct specific questions to email@example.com.