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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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MLA Invites Award Noms From 'Friends'

Posted by jim on June 20, 2017

freadom_thelostogle_com.jpgFriends of the Library boast a better understanding than most of what goes into the day-to-day operation of a public library, and are therefore in a good position to spot exemplary librarianship. In light of this fact, the Minnesota Library Association invites you to put forward a staff colleague for one of several upcoming awards.

Nominations are currently being accepted for:

‘Above & Beyond’ Award: MLA’s highest prize honors “significant contributions to the Minnesota library community.” Friends, library staffers, trustees, and legislators are all eligible, as are a range of institutions (public or special libraries, schools, foundations, etc.). Up to three Above & Beyond Awards may be given each year.

William G. Asp Distinguished Career Award: Able leadership is key to any library’s success. The Distinguished Career Award is for a veteran with a track record of “positive development in libraries and the improvement of library services.”

Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award: Named after a Minnesota elementary school media specialist and vocal member of the state’s Coalition for Intellectual Freedom, the Steltzer Prize recognizes an educator who has opposed censorship activities in schools – or actively contributed in some other way to the preservation of students’ intellectual freedom rights.

MLA membership is required to put forward a nomination. Other requirements vary by award. Click here for more information, and to submit a nomination online. Deadline is Monday, August 14!

Did you know that Walmart operates more than 5,000 stores in the United States – about 70 of them right here in Minnesota? Even if you did, you may be surprised to learn that Walmart and its Foundation donate about $1.4 billion to charitable causes each year.
 
The Walmart Foundation allots most of this charitable giving to four focus areas: hunger relief, career development opportunities, disaster preparedness, and community engagement. That last should pique your interest, as community engagement is core to the value proposition of most public libraries.
 
If you have an education program or other community enrichment idea in mind, and can gainfully spend between $250 and $2,500, consider applying for one of their aptly named 
Community Grants. Proposals built around educational programming, or library services to underprivileged populations, are particularly welcomed. Click here for full guidelines.
 
You can
 apply online any time between now and the end of the calendar year.
 
Both libraries themselves and 501c3 incorporated Friends groups may apply, and multiple entries can be sent for consideration within the same nomination window. Note that sponsorships, endowment and capital campaign activities, and in-kind donation requests (including gift cards) are ineligible for consideration.

vote_button_rgb.pngAn eight-member delegation from Minnesota joined 500 other library advocates from across the country earlier this month for the 43rd National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). Coordinated by the ALA’s Washington Office, the annual D.C. advocacy event drew its highest attendance in over a decade – a fact tied to the precarious federal funding climate. Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association, put it best: “Libraries are facing the challenge of a lifetime, if this [IMLS] funding can be done away with at the stroke of a pen. This is the time when the rubber hits the road.”

MALF president Judy Schotzko, secretary Nancy Guerino, and former president Carol Walsh formed the Friends of the Library contingent of this year’s Minnesota delegation. In addition to Fiels, they heard the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project give an inspiring keynote, plus a number of panels, including:

Democracy Dies in Darkness: A look into how news bureaus' editorial staff determine what stories and opinions to run, followed by insights in how libraries can forge good relations with local press outlets.

The Political Dance: How to leverage social channels and traditional media to 'navigate the new abnormal in Washington.'

Speaking Truth to Power: How to leap beyond mere 'facts and figures' to make a compelling advocacy case.

Libraries Ready to Code: A panel discussion on coding and other STEM topics in libraries.

As useful as these panel offerings were, the true “meat” of NLLD occurred on Day 2. Attendees visited the offices of Minnesota’s congressmen and women. Judy, Nancy and Carol shared issues of greatest import to Minnesota library users: funding (including IMLS and LSTA funding), broadband access, and more.

MALF, through active organizational membership, represents nearly 20,000 Friends of the Library in all eight congressional districts. Legislators and their aides are always quick to jot down that number, which is indicative of our State’s abiding love for public libraries.

You can read more recaps – and even start planning for NLLD 2018! – by visiting ala.org/advocacy.

Dollar General opened more than 40 new stores in Minnesota in 2015-2016. Odds are, if it wasn’t before, your Library is now located within 20 miles of one. This makes you eligible for a youth literacy grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation!

As the name suggests, so-called “Youth Literacy Grants” provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations (including 501c3 incorporated Friends) to help students who are reading below grade level - or experiencing other difficulties reading. Specific, recommended uses include:

   •  “Implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs”
   •  “Purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives”
   •  “Purchasing books, materials or software for literacy programs”

Up to $4,000 is available to eligible organizations. Application deadline is coming up – Thursday, May 18! – so don’t delay. Click here to access the application form and related materials. Winners will be announced on or by Thursday, September 7.

Across all age brackets, well over 170 students entered the twelfth annual “Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest,” hosted in Mower County by Austin Public Schools. That high turnout is proof positive that the contest’s namesake, Austin’s literary native son, is as beloved there today as ever.

On April 17, in conjunction with that popular annual event, MALF and the Friends of the Austin Public Library dedicated Austin High School (AHS) as Minnesota’s seventh Literary Landmark. AHS ensconced the special dedicatory plaque in a place of honor, alongside a Distinguished Alumni Award granted to the renowned poet in 2004.

Richard Eberhart is both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award-winning author. Furthermore, much of his lauded poetry is inspired by the highlights and travails of his Austin childhood. (Indeed, he even named one of his dozen books Burr Oaks, after his family’s childhood estate just outside of town!) In short, then, Eberhart was an obvious candidate for receiving the American Library Association co-sponsored “Literary Landmark” honor.

Locating the commemoratory plaque, however, took some thought, given that so many sites in town – such as the Library and Burr Oaks estate – boast a legitimate claim.

Austin High School ultimately won the laurel, notes Sue Grove (president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library and a member of MALF’s programming subcommittee for Literary Landmarks), because the alumnus stood out as an emerging superstar even during his school years. Here, faculty nurtured Eberhart’s young talent, and primed him for his future successes.

Things came full circle on April 17 when, after the dedication ceremony at AHS, attendees walked across the street to the Hormel Historic Home to see the final round of the 2017 Richard Eberhart Poetry contest. Twenty-four finalists – three from each of the district’s eight schools – read original works aloud.

"Seeing kindergarten kids read a poem they wrote, and in front of a large audience, showed the influence that this special local poet has had on many generations of children," noted MALF president Judy Schotzko. (Photo Credit: Austin Daily Herald)