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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Congratulations to the devoted Friends of the Library at Marine Library Association, winners of the 2017 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. MALF made the announcement Friday, October 6 at the Minnesota Library Association conference, after a 10-minute presentation by Mary Burke on the conception and implementation of “Once Upon A River.”

DSC_0245.JPGAlong with Burke, Friends leaders Loralee DiLorenzo and Sue Logan made the 100-mile trek from Rochester to accept the custom award plaque and $1,000 cash prize.

In order to truly appreciate this inaugural program, a little background on the Marine Community Library is necessary. Back in 2011, the Washington County Library system made the difficult decision to withdraw funding from its small branch in Marine on St. Croix (population 680). Rather than letting this valued public service lapse, this tight-knit, book-loving community banded together to keep their Library running as an all-volunteer organization. Marine Community Library – as it is now known – remains a vital and vibrant resource for the residents of Marine and nearby Scandia.

“Once Upon a River”

The historic Marine Village Hall in Marine on St. Croix is Minnesota's oldest public facility of its kind still used for governmental purposes. However, on October 15, 2016, the 130-year-old building hosted something entirely new.

The Friends of the Marine Library (aka Marine Library Association) hosted "Once Upon A River" at the historic venue. Marine Library Association marketed this unique performance as a blend of photography exhibits, live music, and more celebrating the beautiful St. Croix River and environ.

More than 150 ticket holders turned out for this fundraiser. Headliners included artist Marty Harding and nature photographer Gary Noren, who shared the distinction of being selected as ‘Pine Needles Artists in Residence’ for the St. Croix Watershed Research Station – a big honor, for those in the know.

Other highlights included the 30-member River Chorale, jazz and ragtime clarinetist Butch Thompson, and renowned pianist and accordionist Dan Chouinard.

e18d71c247b99a2ae09a17e5b75b4265.jpgGiven the environmental theming, the Friends were able to convince the St. Croix River Association, St. Croix Watershed Research Station (Science Museum of Minnesota), and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (National Park Service) to partner on the funding, design, and promotion of this first-of-its kind endeavor.

Moreover, the Marine Library Association’s dedicated promotions team went all out, designing a well-circulated poster and securing plugs in area newspapers and other media.

"Once Upon A River" packed the house and then some. Some hopefuls who had not purchased their ticket in advance could not get into the Village Hall, noted organizer Loralee DiLorenzo. (This is, as they say, a good problem to have.) Fortunately, some of the exhibits on display at OUAR are slated to enjoy a long second life in other Washington County venues. This includes the popular artwork of Harding and Noren.

At the end of the night, the Marine Library Association had netted $7,735. Success is attributable not just to ticket sales and sponsorship support, but to the Friends’ stellar job securing in-kind donations for the program. This included over $3,500 in comped audio visual support from a local vendor, among other services.

2017 MLA Conference Programming Recap

Posted by jim on October 06, 2017

Nearly fifty Friends of the Library joined MALF leaders at Rochester’s beautiful Mayo Civic Center on Friday, October 6 for “Library Friends Day 2017,” an integral part of the annual Minnesota Library Association conference.

MALF, a proud premier sponsor of the Conference, hosted three panels. In the morning, Sue Grove (president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library), Rollin Hall (mayor of Wabasha), Ann Hutton (retired director of SELCO), Joe Owens (past president of the Friends of the Ely Public Library), and Jim Weygand (president of MLA’s Trustee and Advocates division) led a packed session on “Collaborations That Engage Communities In Transforming Libraries.”

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Hutton offered a helpful primer on the patchwork of library governance structures co-existing in Minnesota, as well as the varied funding steams that support the hundreds of libraries throughout our state. Hall and Weygand discussed what supportive government leaders – and “average joe” citizens – can do to foster an atmosphere conducive to public financial support for the local library. Owens talked about how the Friends of the Ely Public Library marshalled community support to help build the new, large and beautiful Ely Public Library (one of the most noteworthy Friends victories in the past few years).

After a stirring lunchtime keynote by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, the Friends attendees reconvened for MALF’s Annual Meeting and semi-formal Idea Exchange.

Capping off the afternoon, MALF president Judy Schotzko recognized Minnesota’s twenty Standout Friends. Two of these, Joyce Harlow (Red Wing) and Corinne Lenort (Blooming Prairie) were in attendance! We also heard from Sue Grove (Austin), Sheila DeChantal (Brainerd), and Mary Burke (Marine), finalists for this year’s Evy Nordley Award.

'Empowering Friends' Workshop Recap

Posted by jim on October 03, 2017

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Last month, Dr. Julie Todaro – immediate past president of the American Library Association – zigzagged 715 miles across Minnesota to keynote MALF workshops in Rochester, Stillwater and Cook. Todaro focused on her passion, the art and science of storytelling.

Her thesis is this: Storytelling is a highly effective way to convince public officials (at all levels of government) of the impact and continued relevance of libraries.

Dr. Todaro offered attendees a mix of adaptable frameworks to consider, along with helpful real-life examples. Attendees particularly appreciated Todaro’s hierarchy of credible sources.

Ranked from most credible and best to use, to least credible and best used sparingly, these include:

  • Irrefutable Data: Statistically significant, unquestionable data from a highly credible source.
  • Substantial Data: “Point-in-time” information or directionally accurate data (includes most surveys).
  • Expert Commentary: Quotes from industry experts (leading community members, peers in appropriate fields) can be considered a summary or synthesis of information.
  • Anecdotal Data: Although many consider anecdotal data only “example” or “endorsement” data, it can be data driven! What separates it from Substantial Data is that it includes only one or two data points or examples that support your case.
  • Quotes: Comments from business people, parents, students, etc. can illustrate need and use, and be sprinkled in as powerful evidence.
  • Your Opinion: From the perspective of the audience, your opinion is typically too biased to be considered supporting evidence.

Details on this information hierarchy, and other storytelling best practices covered by Dr. Todaro at MALF’s fall workshops, is available in a 23-page handout available through the MALF office. Email info@mnlibraryfriends if interested.

MALF extends a sincere thank you to the hosts of the three workshops: Reagen Thalacker and the SELCO staff in Rochester; Mary Ann Sandeen and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library; and Crystal Phillips and the Friends of the Cook Library. Dr. Todaro reports enjoying her travels in Minnesota and the expressions of friendship offered at each session.

Evy Nordley Nominee Profile: Dinosaurs, Donuts & Dads

Posted by jim on September 13, 2017

Dinosaurs have not roamed Minnesota for millennia – with one recent, notable exception, courtesy of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library. 

On March 19, the Friends hosted an exceedingly imaginative event dubbed “Dinosaurs, Donuts and Dads.” Geared towards Isanti County children aged 4-7 and their dads (or grandfather or uncle), the special event easily garnered attention and media coverage in the Cambridge community, population 8,300.

While it may seem oddball at first pass, the unique theme is very much in keeping with the Friends’ philosophy. Bolstering children’s programming is a key tenet in their long-standing mission statement.

Themed activities ran the gamut, from storytime and finger puppet plays, to dinosaur songs and dance, to crafts galore. Afterward, to burn off energy, the youngest participants were given dinosaur masks to wear, and told to follow dinosaur footprints around the Library in search of special surprises.

The Friends enjoyed able assistance from library staff in orchestrating these dinosaur-themed festivities.

Unlike previous Friends programs, including their 2013 Evy Nordley Award winning
 “Saving the Library Budget”campaign, “Dinosaurs, Donuts and Dads” was not targeted at augmenting the Library’s budget per se. The explicit goal was to drive families to the downtown library who do not otherwise make stops part of their regular routine. It is for this reason that organizers added donuts to the mix; an extra, sugary incentive never hurts!

They were certainly successful, driving more than the usual amount of traffic that Saturday. In light of this success, Friends of the Cambridge Library already have additional program ideas up their collective sleeves. These include an equally imaginative children’s program: “Moms and Muffins.”

Friends organizations come in all sizes, but are united by two things: a shared love of libraries, and reliance on volunteers to coordinate their fundraisers and programming. The Friends of Wentworth Library in W. St. Paul are certainly no exception.

As a case in point, The Friends’ most recent book sale, held over the course of three days, required 15 shifts and 90 volunteer time slots to carry out. In total, 30 volunteers turned out to fill those 90 slots, and the fundraiser went off without a hitch. Approximately 500 happy shoppers left with at least one new used book in hand.

This high-level overview belies one of the most significant challenges associated with putting on such a large endeavor: filling all those shifts! Until recently, notes member Karen Griffin, the event coordinator or coordinators did this with pen and paper. Griffin and her colleagues found that process cumbersome and time-consuming.

In preparation for the group’s October 2016 and April 2017 book sales, leaders explored online alternatives. Ultimately, the growing volunteer tool “SignUp.com” struck them as the best option, in terms of user intuitiveness and expense. They determined to pilot it and share their findings with other Friends facing these same challenges.

Happily, the move paid almost immediate dividends – and exceeded their original expectations. “Using ‘SignUp,’ we quickly found we could better track volunteer hours, send messages like reminders and thank yous, and generate reports after the fact,” Griffin said.

The Friends highly recommend that other groups take advantage of their upfront research and “sign up” (pun intended!) for this free and easy tool.

logo.jpg“Radical Librarianship” is the energizing theme of this year’s Minnesota Library Association Conference. It’s an apt focus. Libraries are going through rapid and radical transformations: in the community profiles they serve, the services they offer, and the way they embrace new technologies.

Friends of the Library, too, are rapidly evolving. MALF, as a proud premier sponsor of the MLA Conference, invites you to join us in Rochester on Friday, October 6 for our annual “Library Friends Day.”

We hope to see you at the Mayo Civic Center (30 Civic Center Dr. SE). MALF members can register at a special Friends-only rate for Friday. “Early birds” pay only $68. If you register after September 5, the cost jumps to $89. You can also purchase a full-conference pass for $261. We are bringing three panels to Rochester:

Collaborations That Engage Communities In Transforming Libraries
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. [Room 110]

Our mission as Friends is to advance the mission of our library. One perennial roadblock to success is that few of us understand the financing and internal structuring of a public library. However, a little ‘insider’ knowledge can go a long way on the advocacy front. Our panelists will speak on governance and revenue sources in general, and then explore specificexamples of library improvements which came to fruition thanks to strong public-private partnerships and Friends advocacy. Panelists include Sue Grove, president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library; Rollin Hall, mayor of Wabasha; Joe Owens, past president of the Friends of the Ely Public Library; and Jim Weygand, president of MLA’s Trustee and Advocates division.

MALF Annual Meeting | Friends of the Library Idea Exchange
1:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. [Room 103]

Back by popular demand, MALF is bringing its “popcorn style” Idea Exchange to Rochester. Share ideas, and learn about: successful membership drives, creative fundraising, advocacy and more. (Remember, no idea is too small or too oddball. If it worked for you, it may work for other Friends!) MALF will devote the second half of the hour to the organization’s annual meeting. Stay and learn what MALF has been up to in 2017! Highlights include a fall workshop series on library advocacy featuring the outgoing president of the American Library Association; a host of grant and award news; and some exciting internal restructuring intended to help us better serve you!

Evy Nordley Best Projects by Friends | Stand Up for Standout Friends
2:15 p.m. – 3:05 p.m. [Room 110]

In tough economic times, libraries are perpetually short on discretionary funds, and both collection development and programming staff find themselves stretched thin. For this reason, MALF makes it a priority to recognize Friends who go above and beyond in their efforts to supplement what the library can do for its community. We will announce the winner of the 2017 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project after each of three finalists shares their project: Sue Grove, Friends of the Austin Public Library, “Blind Date with a Book”; Sheila DeChantal, Friends of the Brainerd Public Library, “Books, Burgers and Brews”; and Mary Burke, Marine Library Association, “Once Upon A River.” We will also acknowledge each of this year’s Standout Friends – hailing from Ely to Rochester, Moorhead to Cook, and all points in between!

Storytellers can change perspectives, and in so doing change the world.” This is a popular marketing maxim, and one that assuredly holds true for library advocacy. Legislators – and your community at large – are rarely moved by dry, impersonal statistics on library performance and community needs. Stories, by contrast, personalize the library’s mission and impact.

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Friends of the Library are well positioned to champion the continued relevance and the diverse offerings of the local public library. Many, however, are unsure how or when to make this case. MALF’s fall workshop series is targeted at just this sort of advocacy.

Please join us this September for “Empowering Friends to Tell the Library’s Stories.” Award-winning and nationally recognized library leader Julie Todaro, PhD, will lead us through half-day workshops in Rochester, Stillwater, and Cook (Saint Louis County).

Dr. Todaro is Dean of Library Services at Austin Community College in Texas, and her field credentials are as numerous as they are impressive. Advocacy is her passion. In recent years, she co-chaired ALA’s popular “Frontline Advocacy” initiative, and authored the ALA project “The Power of Persuasion.”

“Our libraries are full of people’s stories – but stories need someone to tell them,” she said. “[Friends] should be able to share transformative stories and translate those stories into support for libraries."

2017_workshops.jpgSELCO (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating)
Thursday, September 14 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) 
2600 19th St. NW, Rochester, MN, 55901

Stillwater Public Library
Friday, September 15 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
224 3rd St N, Stillwater, MN, 55082

Cook Community Center
Saturday, September 16 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)  
510 Gopher Drive, Cook, MN, 55723

“In addition to the keynote, attendees will participate in small group roundtables, plus have a chance to share their thoughts and experiences during an hour-long idea exchange session – a MALF workshop staple, and one of participants’ best opportunities all year round to network and share with Friends from across Minnesota.

"Empowering Friends to Tell the Library’s Stories" is FREE to attend, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to do so. A complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Pre-registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and informational packets. Registration for all three sessions opens Tuesday, August 1 and will close Monday, August 31. 

Join MLA’s New Legislative Working Committee!

Posted by jim on July 21, 2017

logo.jpgAre you a Friend interested in expanding your view and doing something to aid all Minnesota libraries? Do you want to learn more about legislative processes that affect public library funding? Can you squeeze another volunteer assignment into your fall and winter schedule?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, the Minnesota Library Association invites you to join its brand new Legislative Working Committee. MLA members from all walks of life are invited to contribute their skills set to this endeavor. Committee responsibilities will include, but are not limited to: drafting legislative committee documents (such as the annual MLA advocacy platform), organizing Minnesota Library Legislative Day, and planning the yearly Library Legislative Forum.

No prior legislative, lobbying, or event planning experience is required. Click here to learn more, and click here to fill out a short form expressing your interest. You may direct any specific questions to incoming MLA legislative chair Ann Walker Smalley (ann@metronet.lib.mn.us / 651-646-0475).