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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Volunteen_Nation.org.pngThere’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 simone@volunteennation.org.


A library’s Friends organization is one of its most valuable resources – a wellspring for innovative event and fundraising ideas. But while creativity and initiative may not be in short supply, funds to kick-start such programs usually are. In our continuing efforts to bridge that gap, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) is pleased to announce its new “Event and Programming Grant.”

This is the perfect opportunity to finally bring your pet project to life! And we’re making applying easy. Simply fill out this form and mail or email it to MALF as instructed in the header. Be prepared to provide a draft plan of action, tentative timeline (including goals and objectives), intended audience, anticipated publicity efforts, a list of expected expenses, and anticipated impact on the library and/or its patrons.

Friends of the Library groups of all sizes are encouraged to apply, provided they serve a Minnesota library and are current in their MALF membership. (If necessary, annual membership dues may be submitted along with application materials.)

Each entry will be carefully considered and responded to by MALF’s full Board of Directors. Please note that the Board meets only once a quarter, and plan accordingly. Note also that applicants who can prove a second source of funding, particularly another grant, will receive first priority in consideration.

Direct questions to info@mnlibraryfriends.org or 651-366-6492. We look forward to receiving your application!


St. Paul’s historic Arlington Hills Library closed its doors this March, after just under a century of operation as a public library. Thanks to the devoted efforts of a small group of community volunteers, however, the building now has a new lease on life – and a new lease from the City.

Over the past year, residents Peter Rachleff and Beth Cleary have spearheaded a community initiative to repurpose the beautiful 7,900-square-feet Carnegie building as a nonprofit library with a very specific purpose. In its new incarnation as the ‘East Side Freedom Library,’ its mission is to "organize and present programs that provide participants with a larger historical context through which to understand their own and their neighbors' experiences” – to quote the 15-year lease agreement inked with the City.

Specifically, its private collection will focus on labor, immigration, and African America, Asian American, and Asian history.

It’s a tall order, to be sure. At present, organizers are putting a wrap on a 'Raise the Roof! Open the Doors!' campaign to replace the building's 30-year-old roof. Thanks to a matching grant from the Neighborhood STAR program, they’re off to a good start!

But there’s work yet to be done. While the East Side Freedom Library (so far) has no official Friends group, it can only reach its full potential through the continued efforts of library advocates like you. To learn more and see how you can get involved, visit the East Side Freedom Library’s websitefollow them on Facebook, and sign up for their e-newsletter updates.

lj.pngLiteracy, digital access, and job training are top priorities in communities across America – so it’s no surprise that these same goals are paramount concerns in our public libraries. Even so, some libraries go above and beyond in their mission not only to serve, but to collaborate with and improve, their local community. If this describes your library, it may be a strong contender forLibrary Journal’s prestigious LibraryAware Community Award.

The annual award, sponsored by the EBSCO Publishing division of the same name, exists to “recognize a library (or library system) that has demonstrated its ability to make its community ‘aware’ of what the library can do for it – and delivers on that promise.” Qualitative benchmarks are numerous and detailed on the Library Journal website.

Libraries and communities of all size are eligible for consideration. Anyone may submit a nomination, including Friends, library staffers, and government employees or officials. Organizers will announce and award the winner during National Library Week. Top prize includes $10,000, a special ceremony, and a featurette in an upcoming edition of Library Journal. A runner-up with receive $7,500, and third place receives $5,000.

Nominations must be postmarked or emailed by January 19, 2015. Click here for more information, and to begin the application process!

"Strengthening Libraries Together"
Click here to jump straight to registration.

During the month of September, MALF will partner with libraries and local Friends groups across the state to bring a new and free workshop, “Strengthening Libraries Together,” to five Minnesota communities. Attendees will learn ways to increase Friends of the Library membership and raise significant funds for their libraries. They will also have an opportunity to share ideas and network with others facing similar challenges.

Melissa-Brechon-Portrait-Web.jpgSession leader Melissa Brechon has been active in Minnesota’s library community for over 25 years, most recently in leadership roles at the Austin (MN) Public Library and the Carver County Library. She is currently a lead consultant with Library Strategies, where she works closely with public libraries across the country. Her areas of specialty include strategic planning, community needs assessment, facility and staffing studies, Board and leadership development, feasibility studies, and capital campaigns. Brechon is a member of five Friends of the Library groups in Minnesota, active in both ALA and MLA, and is presently serving as an adjunct faculty member at St. Catherine’s.

Sessions will be held in:

Duluth Public Library
2432 E. 5th St., Duluth, MN
Saturday, September 6, 9:30am-3:00pm
Register by August 30

Rasmey County Library - Roseville
2180 N. Hamline Ave., Roseville, MN
Monday, September 15, 4:30pm-8:30pm
Register by September 8 

Rochester Public Library
101 Second St. SE, Rochester, MN
Thursday, September 18, 1:00p-7:00pm
Register by September 11 

Lake Agassiz Regional Library - Moorhead
118 5th St. S., Moorhead, MN
Saturday, September 20, 9:30am-3:00pm
Register by September 13

Great River Regional Librayr - St. Cloud
1300 W. Germain St., St. Cloud, MN
Saturday, September 27, 9:30am-3:00pm
Register by September 20

Session highlights include a keynote titled "Ten Things I Know to be True (About Friends of the Library Fundraising)," in which Brechon will explore current trends and best practices for Friends' fundraising and membership solicitation. Workshops will also include a panel disccusion featuring local Friends. Attendees will come away energized by new ideas for organizational growth and successful community initiatives.

Everyone is invited to sign up for a free workshop. It is not necessary to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to attend. Please be sure to register!