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...

Few people can claim as long or as deep an affiliation with Friends of the Library as Minnesota’s own Joan B. Larson.

Her involvement with Friends began in 1957, when she landed her first public library role at a small branch in Browning, Montana. Having not yet been to college, and with no on-the-job training under her belt, Larson relied heavily on the guidance and support of those around her. The local Friends of the Library ranked at the top of that short list. Today, Larson believes that all her later successes in librarianship would not have been possible “without their sage counsel.”

download_4.jpgAfter three years in Browning, Larson did go on to get her library degree. Her subsequent career took her all across the country – to Maine, where she worked as an academic librarian and teacher at the University of Maine-Presque Isle, and to South Dakota, where served similar roles at South Dakota State University. In 1983, Larson accepted a position as director of the Northern Lights Library Network (NLLN), one of the largest cooperative library systems in Minnesota.

It is fortunate for us that she did. Over the years, Larson contributed substantially to the important work of a number of our state’s library- and literacy-centered organizations, including the Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO) and Minnesota Library Association (MLA). She has received awards from both for her varied contributions – and served a distinguished term as president of the latter.

Since moving to Minnesota, Joan Larson has been an active member and trustee of the Douglas County Library Friends and Foundation. She has also proved herself to be one of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends’ (MALF’s) most steadfast leaders and vocal members. At various times over the last two decades, she has sat on our Board of Directors and chaired major committees.

Recent achievements include co-planning many of MALF’s highly successful workshops and programs, and spearheading MALF’s partnership with United for Libraries on the Literary Landmark series.  In 2013, MALF proudly dedicated its very first Literary Landmark, the Sinclair Lewis boyhood homestead in Sauk Centre, Minn. – a milestone that could not have been achieved without Larson.

On Thursday, October 9, in recognition of her many and varied accomplishments, MALF awarded Joan Larson its second annual Library Friend of the Year Award. The short ceremony took place during the Minnesota Library Association conference in Mankato.

Thanks once again, Joan, for all you’ve done – and continue to do!

New Membership Perk: MALF's 'Once Upon a Reader' Match

Posted by jim on October 15, 2014

If you’ve been a Friend of the Library for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “one book” or “community reads” program. The one-book initiative has quickly taken root in cities, counties, and schools across the country, and it’s easy to understand why. The premise is simple – promote literacy and community connectedness through a large-scale book club – yet endlessly customizable. 
This fall, Minnesota is surging to the forefront of this growing movement, and we want YOU to be a part of it. The Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPLSA), using start-up funds from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, is rolling out the first ever statewide one-book program geared towards children.The program, dubbed “Once Upon a Reader,” is geared towards preschoolers in particular. The book chosen for Once Upon a Reader’s inaugural year is Moo!, written by Minnesota author David LaRochelle and illustrated by Minnesota artist Mike Wohnoutka.

Once Upon a Reader, 2014-2015While the initiative is in fact a statewide one, there is room for customization on the local level. CRPLSA is making available four activity packages for purchase by local libraries and Friends groups. There’s something for every budget; a steering committee made up by librarians from across Minnesota have ensured there are enriching and entertaining items available at a variety of price points. (See below.)
In our continuing efforts to promote the work of Friends, MALF is pleased to offer members a dollar-for-dollar match to offset Once Upon a Reader costs. Purchase two Take-Home Play Kits at a total cost of $200, and MALF will reimburse you $100. Order a Vacation Scrapbook and a Milk and Cookie Storytime Kit at a total cost of $145, and MALF will reimburse you $72.50 - and so on. The combinations are endless!
Matches will be capped at three (3) items and/or $300 per Friends group. Please remember that eligibility is contingent on current MALF membership. Participating in Once Upon a Reader through this special offer is simple. Place an order online through the program’s website, onceuponareader.org. Print a copy of your receipt or order confirmation form and mail it to us with this completed form. We will remit reimbursement within 30 business days. MALF’s total match fund is $3,000, so order today!

Once Upon a Reader – 2014/2015
Moo!, by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka

Cow Scavenger Hunt / $20 – This passive program allows even the smallest library to take part in Once Upon a Reader. Simply hide the animals around the library and make the scavenger hunt lists available to families to complete while in the library. 
Cow's Vacation Scrapbook / $40 – This self-contained passive program allows families to borrow a plush cowFamilies take Cow home in her special backpack that contains a scrapbook with places for drawing, writing stories, and adding photographs of the adventures that kids and Cow have together. This program encourages families to Talk, Play, Read, Write and even Singtogether as encouraged by ECRR2, and will include early literacy information for parents. 

Take Home Play Kit / $100 – This kit is for libraries to circulate to families and care providers. It will include a copy of Moo! and five toys, puppets or manipulatives that support the five practices and six skills outlined in ECRR and ECRR2, along with information for parents and caregivers on early literacy. 
Milk and Cookie Storytime Kit / $105 – These “Storytime in a box” kits include books, a manipulative, and storytime outlines that are suited to a variety of ages. Outlines will be customizable, and include best practices for storytime using ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read early literacy platform. 

Spotlight on Evy Nordley Finalist #3:

Posted by jim on October 05, 2014

The Friends of the Ramsey Co. Library: Great Gatsby Gala

On February 1, after months of intense planning, the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries pulled off a great fundraiser. A Gatsby-great fundraiser, to be more precise. Organizers tore a page straight from the Great American Novel and hosted a “Great Gatsby Gala” at the Roseville Library.


(As many Minnesota bibliophiles know, author F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul – less than ten miles from the Roseville Library venue.)

The evening, emceed by Minnesota Public Radio personality Kerri Miller, contained several elements common to Friends fundraisers. Silent and live auctions boasted over seventy donated items ranging from one-of-a-kind specialty items, to gift baskets, to fun dining, theater and sightseeing experiences.

The rest of the night was, as the name promised, a real blast from the past. Highlights included Roaring Twenties style dance lessons, a costume contest recognizing most authentic period dress, and a photo booth with Gastby-era props.

Having never done anything of this sort, the Friends paid special attention to advance publicity. A press release and event updates were sent to local media outlets, and the Friends, in partnership with the Ramsey Co. Library, sent out a large mailing of their own. Social media and tried-and-true word of mouth also played a role.

Commensurate with the party’s Roaring Twenties theme, planners set an ambitious fundraising goal of $20,000. By the end of the night, Ramsey County had met and surpassed that mark, with the live auction alone bringing in upwards of $8,000. After all was said and done, the Gala grossed $47,000 and netted nearly $35,000. This allowed the Friends to purchase more than 1,000 new items for circulation at library branches in Maplewood, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, and White Bear Lake.

Attendance figures were equally impressive, with 250 “flappers” and “fellas” turning out at the Gala. Revelers included the Mayor of Roseville, all four Ramsey County Commissioners, and numerous business and community leaders. (Missed the big event? Don’t worry! The Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries is already hard at work planning a second annual gala for spring 2015.)

calendar2.jpgHere’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.

Direct questions to refesk@lrl.leg.mn or 651-296-8338.

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:

  • Foster an environment conducive to promoting your Friends group and its projects, while also...
  • Offering an opportunity for your library, Board of Trustees and community officials to recognize your group for its ongoing support.

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.