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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Strong and productive Friends of the Library usually credit at least a portion of their success to a healthy working relationship with library staff. If this describes you, the American Library Association wants to acknowledge your overachieving library liaison – with its prestigious and aptly named “I Love My Librarian Award.”

Each year, ten librarians total are honored with this special distinction. It brings with it a $5,000 cash award, special plaque, and a travel stipend to attend the annual I Love My Librarian awards ceremony and reception in New York City.

Submitting an application online is easy. In addition to basic information about your nominee, be prepared to answer a few open-ended questions, including:

  • ilml2015-hires-final.jpgWhat sets this candidate apart? Why are they a strong contender for the I Love My Librarian Award?
  • How has this nominee helped you and made your experience of the library a positive one?
  • How has this librarian made a difference in the community? 

Eligible nominees must hold a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited university and be currently working in a public, academic, or school library setting.

Entries will be accepted through Monday, September 28.

Between now and the big Evy Nordley announcement on October 8, we will take a moment to highlight each of the 2015 finalists and their exemplary Friends project or initiative. We welcome you to join us at MLA to learn more and to ask questions.

When people design or discuss public awareness campaigns, they usually have an adult audience in mind. While the same usually holds true for public libraries, the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library recently designed a unique public awareness campaign aimed instead at their library’s youngest patrons. After some discussion, the Friends landed on the perfect vehicle to share the library’s value proposition with Brainerd area kids. They decided to coordinate a special children’s book sale bash, drawing on their experience hosting used book sales for general audiences.

They entered the planning stage with two goals in mind: to get a wide assortment of age-appropriate materials in front of children, and to price everything at 25 cents. “All books were sold at a quarter a piece so that all children could leave happy, with books in hand,” explained Friends president Gail Brecht.

Securing children’s materials in the necessary quantities required broad-based community support. The Friends board of directors sent letters to local teachers requesting book donations, and they in turn sent the call out to parents throughout Crow Wing County.

In order to create a festive atmosphere and stoke strong attendance, the Friends invested in snacks and face paints. A local costume shop also loaned the Friends princess and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes at a steep discount.

Friends report that the sale remained incredibly busy throughout its run, with children and parents alike expressed great appreciation for a children’s sale separate from Brainerd’s customary spring and fall sales. As one impressive indicator of traffic, during the sale, over 500 kids signed up for the library’s summer reading program.

Moreover, all told, the Friends raised about $1,000. As Gail Brecht points out, “that’s a lot of quarters!” 

Registration is now open for the 2015 Minnesota Library Association conference – including one-day tickets for the annual Thursday ‘mini-conference’ devoted to Friends of the Library.


Join MALF in Saint Paul on Thursday, October 8 for a full day of programming targeted specifically at Friends. You will learn about successful Friends of the Library grants, fundraising tactics, community partnerships, member campaigns, and much more. We will also take the opportunity to hold our annual conference and to announce the winner of MALF’s flagship prize, the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

Watch for our next eBlast, which will include the full day’s programming itinerary.

Registration is $60 for Friends if you reserve your spot at the early bird rate, before Sunday, September 6. Cost rises to $75 for Friends after September 6. 

The Sun is over 2,700,000 miles in circumference, but it takes a mere 200 square feet of free space to host a touring solar system exhibit in your library.


The American Library Association, in partnership with the Space Science Institute and National Science Foundation, is bringing three traveling science exhibits to public libraries in 2016-2018 through their joint STAR Net Explore program.

“Explore Space” will offer a fun and instructive look at both the Milky Way and the universe beyond. The second option, “Explore Earth,” will focus on our planet’s many and varied ecosystems. The third, called simply “Explore Science,” offers a crash course on engineering, with a specific emphasis on how engineers have shaped the modern world.

Each chosen library co-partner will host their exhibit over an eight-week loan period. Shipping costs will be covered by aSTAR Net Explore grant. Hosts will receive a publicity kit and other ready-made media resources to help drum up local interest in the exhibit.

Public libraries and affiliated Friends groups everywhere are invited to put in a bid for one of these traveling STEM exhibits. Institutions in rural areas and/or serving traditionally underserved groups are especially encouraged to apply. School and special libraries are ineligible for consideration, as are their Friends.

In total, 13-14 libraries will be selected to host each exhibit, with terms ongoing through 2018. Please note that applying libraries may only put their name forward for one of the three traveling exhibits.

Applying requires the creation of a free ALA account (a wise time investment in any case, as it opens you and your library up to future program and grant opportunities from ALA’s Public Programs Office.) Click here for more information. The entry deadline is September 18.

In many communities, the public library plays an active, vital role promoting childhood literacy – particularly when school is out for the summer, and for preschool aged children. If your Friends group is attached to such a library, you may be eligible to seek special grant assistance from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


The Kellogg Foundation exists to support childhood education and community engagement, among several other core objectives.  In 2014 alone, the organization committed $350 million to qualified grant seekers.

A wide variety of education programs and community initiatives are eligible for Foundation support. Note, however, that  funds are not generally awarded to assist with endowments, development campaigns, research studies, or conferences. Grants will also not be given to support the operational costs of ongoing programs.

Applying is a multistep process, but taking the initial step to verify eligibility and determine Foundation interest is not hard. Click here to fill out the form. Be prepared to provide, in brief, the specific purpose for which you are seeing funding, what community needs you aim to solve, the demographic(s) you will most benefit, and how you will benchmark both progress and success.

Interested in the opportunity, but short on time this summer? Not to worry. There is no deadline. Applications for this one are accepted on an ongoing basis. Once you have submitted your materials, expect to hear back from the Kellogg Foundation within two months.