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.




Newsletter Sign-up

What's going on...

We know from speaking with MALF members that many Friends groups in Minnesota are deeply and passionately involved in their library’s children’s and young adult programming. In some of these cases, Friends involvement is limited only by lack of available funds. If this describes you, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation wants to help.

Ezra Jack Keats FoundationEstablished in the 1960s by the Caldecott Medal winning writer and children’s book illustrator, the Foundation continues strong today. Its primary focus remains to foster the ideals Keats valued most: creative expression, teamwork, and diversity/multiculturalism.

Minigrants, one of its flagship and most popular programs, offers awards of $500 to public school and library teams looking to create special, enriching activities for school-aged children outside of the standard curriculum. Popular examples include bookmaking workshops, community or multicultural ‘portrait projects,’ pen pal initiatives, and the creation and performance of plays or puppet shows. 

The Foundation will distribute approximately 60 grants to worthy applicants this year. Next year marks the Ezra Jack Keats centennial celebration and, according to the Foundation, your odds are particularly strong if your proposal incorporates elements from the work of Ezra Jack Keats.

Applications are due March 31, 2016. All winners will be notified by May 1. Visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s website for more details.

151030_thinking-money-ad_smart-investing-at-your-library-site2.pngFinancial literacy, and money management in particular, are important educational priorities in public libraries across the country. In recognition of this fact, the ALA Public Programs Office is gearing up to bring “Thinking Money,” a custom and museum-quality traveling exhibition, to fifty American libraries over the next three years.

“Our intent here is to teach tweens and teens, as well as their parents, caregivers and educators, about basic financial literacy topics. Those include saving, spending and avoiding fraud,” said an ALA spokesperson. “‘Thinking Money’ will do so in a way that is not only understandable, but fun.”

ALA partnered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation on the exhibit design and underlying curriculum. Highlights include an adventure-themed storyline, hands-on activities, and an interactive iPad component.

Libraries interested in the opportunity and able to accommodate this 1,000-square-foot showcase for a six-week loan period are encouraged to put their name forward for consideration. Do so by Friday, January 29 at the very latest. (Click here for application details.)

Selected institutions will receive “Thinking Money” for six weeks sometime between 2016 and 2018. Recipients will also receive a $1,000 programming allowance, and an expenses paid trip to Orlando for a preparatory workshop held in conjunction with the 2016 ALA Annual Conference.

On the fence, but interested in learning more about this one-of-a-kind programming opportunity? ALA’s Public Programs Office is hosting two informational conference calls on the subject: on Thursday, November 19 and Wednesday, December 9. Get your questions answered and concerns addressed in real time!

Hon. Isabel Gomez Joins MALF Board of Directors

Posted by jim on November 01, 2015

MALF strives to maintain a board of directors who hail from varied professional backgrounds and bring diverse skills sets to the table. This month, we are thrilled to announce the addition of the Honorable Isabel Gomez to our ranks.

welcome.jpgJudge Gomez’s distinguished legal career culminated in over two decades on the bench of Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District (Hennepin County). She stepped down from that post in 2005, and served another three equally productive years at the helm the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission before retiring in 2008.

She is a life-long supporter of public libraries, stemming from positive experiences dating all the way back to elementary school in her native Vermont.

“Montpelier is surrounded by granite hills and, until the mid-1950s, radio and television signals barely penetrated there,” she noted. Compensating somewhat, Gomez had ready access to print media as a child, courtesy of “the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, then as now the finest building on Main Street.” A special relationship with the local youth librarian instilled an abiding love of books, and primed her pursuits in higher education.

“I believe that the human stories and expression held first in memory, then in print, now in a host of evolving media, are essential nourishment for people,” Gomez explained. “As a high school English teacher, I saw utterly unlikely students light with excitement upon encountering Odysseus and Romeo and King Lear. As a juvenile court judge, I learned that no one was better than artists at raising hope and self-esteem in youngsters starved of everything we need in order to become reasonably functional.”

Going forward, Judge Gomez is sure to be an asset to MALF’s advocacy efforts and to Friends of the Library across the state. Welcome!

The Minnesota Association of Library Friends is closing in on its fortieth anniversary – a major milestone, and one that many nonprofits never get the opportunity to celebrate. We owe our longevity and success to the active involvement of Friends generally, and the long-term support of several individuals in particular. Barbara Byers undoubtedly ranks near the top of this list.
“Barbi Byers has been active in MALF from its earliest days, serving first as liaison to the group for the Washington County Library system,” notes MALF President Mary Ann Bernat. Barbi worked as a librarian in Washington County for most of her career (from 1971-1995). Fortunately for all of us, her affiliation with MALF has lasted even longer.
Mary Ann Bernat & Barbi ByersBarbi’s involvement culminated in 1998, when she became president of the MALF Board of Directors. She would lead in that post until 2010, and then serve another three equally productive years as Secretary.

Among other highlights, Barbi spearheaded the push for what would become MALF’s flagship honor, the annual Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

MALF has not been the only beneficiary of Barbi’s largesse over the years. She is incredibly active with the Minnesota Library Association and its Library Trustees and Advocates (MLTA) division. MLA has even named Barbi a recipient of its President’s Award.
Barbi has also served time as a citizen representative on the State Library Advisory Council, and collaborated with the state Department of Education on the production of a first-of-its-kind publication about managing small and one-person libraries.
Barbi’s generosity does not stop with libraries. From 1998 to 2012, she sat on the board of the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. For about a decade, she also coordinated a drive to send surplus hospital supplies to medical clinics in Malawi.
Library Friend of the Year PlaqueOn October 8, in recognition of her many and varied contributions – both to MALF and the Minnesota library community more generally – MALF named Barbi Byers the ‘Library Friend of the Year’ at the 2015 Minnesota Library Association Conference.
“I arrived at the conference early, ostensibly for a MALF nominating committee update during breakfast,” Barbi said. “I was completely surprised when Mary Ann Bernat stepped up to the podium and presented me with this meaningful award, complete with a beautifully engraved walnut bookend.”
Congratulations, Barbi!

The Evy Nordley Award Goes To....

Posted by jim on October 19, 2015

Christmas came early this year for the Friends of the Austin Public Library, deserving winners of the 2015 Evy Nordley Award of Best Project by Friends of the Library.

Austin took home that prize – MALF’s most distinguished – on October 8, during the annual Minnesota Library Association conference. Click here to read more about their award-winning project: a new and replicable holiday book sale model, and one that you yourself might want to consider adopting. 
“Winning the Evy Nordley Award is an affirmation that what our Friends group is doing is providing real services and benefits to our community,” said president Sue Grove. “The $1,000 grant attached to the Evy Nordley will serve as ‘seed money’ as we explore other innovative projects.”