Per capita, few communities boast as much homegrown literary talent as Austin, Minnesota. Local standouts include National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien and bestselling YA novelist Amanda Hocking. Austin also lays claim to Minnesota’s newest Literary Landmark honoree, world-renowned poet Richard G. Eberhart.
What is a Literary Landmark?
If you are new to MALF, you may be unfamiliar with the term. In short, a Literary Landmark is a site with some strong historical connection to a prominent and influential American author. They are identified and dedicated through a joint partnership between United for Libraries and local affiliates like the Minnesota Association of Library Friends.
Examples range widely, from the birthplaces of Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemmingway, to a Mississippi church that inspired the writings of playwright Tennessee Williams, to the final resting place of illustrator Randolph Caldecott (namesake of literature’s Caldecott Medal).
In total, there are currently over 160 such sites across the country. Minnesota claims seven, thanks in large part to MALF. Recent additions include the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, and Vermilion Community College, home of conservationist Sigurd Olson. (You can find a complete list on our website, mnlibraryfriends.org.)
Richard Eberhart: 2017 Honoree
Mower County’s famous native son is a worthy addition to these esteemed ranks. Born in Austin in 1904, Eberhart spent his formative years at the family’s 40-acre estate just outside of town. While he enjoyed a privileged and happy childhood, financial setbacks and the unexpected death of his mother marred his later adolescence.
As fans of Eberhart’s work are quick to point out, much of his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poetry is inspired by both the highlights and travails of this childhood in Austin. Particularly evident are his lifelong fascination with nature, exploration of fate, and fixation with the mysteries of death. Given this focus, contemporary and modern critics alike compare Eberhart – usually quite favorably – to William Wordsworth and the other nineteenth-century English masters of Romanticism.
Eberhart’s journey to worldwide acclaim took him from Minnesota first to Dartmouth College (his future academic home) and later to Cambridge. After completing his coursework, Eberhart visited exotic locales (including most notably Siam, where he spent 1930 as personal tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok). Once back statewide, he quickly made a name for himself as a thoughtful teacher of English and poetry – and an up-and-coming poet in his own right.
After an interlude during which Eberhart served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Dartmouth appointment him poet-in-residence. He would remain with the institution, in some capacity, until his death in 2005 at the ripe old age of 101. At various times, Eberhart also doubled as poet laureate for the state of New Hampshire, official poet consultant for the Library of Congress, and a member of important federal advisory committees dedicated to the arts.
Over this long and fruitful academic career, Eberhart found time to publish a dozen books of poetry. Standouts include Burr Oak (1947), named after his childhood estate in Austin; Selected Poems, 1930-1965, winner of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Collected Poems, 1930-1976, winner of the National Book Award.
Poems held in particularly high regard today include “The Groundhog,” a rumination on mortality and the uniqueness of human consciousness, and "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment," an ode to wartime loss inspired by his own WWII experiences.
In partnership with the Friends of the Austin Library, MALF will christen Eberhart’s hometown as America’s newest Literary Landmark on Monday, April 17. That official dedication will include a special program and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Literary Landmark events are free and open to the public, and we would love to see you there. Please stay tuned for further details!
If your Friends group submits entries to MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award contest, make sure that the Baker & Taylor Awards are also on your radar.
Coordinated each year by United for Libraries, this prize recognizes Friends groups (and library Foundations) who orchestrated a program or initiative sometime over the past year that impacted your library in a major way.
Two entrants will receive $1,000 each. Judging is based on the following criteria:
1. Planning: Friends/Foundation, library, and community involvement; use of resources; appropriateness of the activity; and, measurable goals and objectives.
2. Implementation: Use of resources; public relations; task monitoring; and broad membership involvement.
3. Evaluation: Assessment of activity or program; measurable results.
4. Innovation: New idea or implementation; creative involvement of people; fresh use of public relations.
5. Community Relations: Broad support by the community in planning and implementation.
Applications are due in May. Entrants must have current United for Libraries membership status to quality. Click here to learn more.
Friends of the Library know better than anyone than libraries in the twenty-first century are about much more than books. Among other important services, libraries today offer an array of extracurricular classes, homework help clinics, and adult education opportunities.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the community a library supports is unaware of its value as an institution for learning. If this sounds familiar, a rekeying of the Friends message may be in order.
On February 23, United for Libraries and sponsor Demco invite you to attend “Libraries = Education,” a free webinar on library messaging and branding. Hosted by Howard County (Maryland) Library System director Valerie Gross, this hour-long session will leave you able to:
• Rebrand your library in a new, innovative way using strategic vocabulary.
• Increase respect for libraries as institutions of learning.
• Heighten your library's visibility and stature with community members and potential education partners like schools.
• Introduce this approach to key constituents and develop strategies you can integrate immediately into your work.
Click here to learn more, and to reserve your spot. Webinar is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. CT.
Minnesota Library Legislative Day is just around the corner. Friends of the Library – and library supporters of all types and stripes – are invited to converge at the Capitol in Saint Paul for the Big Event on February 21-22.
Although Wednesday is the highlight, activities begin on Tuesday. MLA invites you to the Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St., that afternoon. After light refreshments and an informal meet-and-greet, representatives of Capitol Hill Associates, MLA’s lobbying team, will get us up to speed on legislative developments affecting public libraries in 2017-2020.
If you are unable to attend the briefing, don’t worry. Capitol Hill Associates will host a repeat session the next morning at the Judicial Center (on the capitol grounds). You will then have a chance to meet with your congressional representatives and voice your support for libraries and their continued funding.
Click here to learn more, and to register for this free and truly invaluable advocacy opportunity. We look forward to seeing you there!
Marketing is every bit as important for public libraries as it is for-profit organizations. After all, our services are only valuable if patrons know about them. In recognition of this fact, Library Journal created its Marketer of the Year Award.
Sponsored by Library Ideas, a popular e-resource vendor, this annual honor comes with a cash prize of $2,000. Library Journal will also feature the 2017 honoree in its October 1 issue.
Criteria include a demonstrated ability to promote library services and happenings - successfully and in an innovative manner; marked improvements in library visibility in your community; and strong coalition building skills.
Nominators must include examples of their candidate’s print and digital work, an approximately 1,000-word narrative, and statistics to prove impact. Nominations from Friends of the Library are encouraged.
Click here to learn more. Submit questions, and completed submissions, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is August 8, 2017.
ALA's Public Programs Office invites public libraries and collaborating organizations to apply for the 2017 cycle of its NEH-funded Great Stories Club (GSC). Next year’s theme is “Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence.”
Unfamiliar with the program? Great Stories Club’s raison d'être is to give underserved youth facing significant challenges the opportunity to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them. The popular program has reached more than 700 libraries – and more than 30,000 young adults – to date
Grantees host reading and discussion events for curated book titles (usually for a core group of 6-12 young people) that fit with the GSC’s ongoing theme. Books, support materials, and support services will be provided free of charge
Competitive library applicants are located within or working in partnership with organizations that serve at-risk youth, such as alternative high schools, juvenile justice organizations, homeless shelters, foster care agencies, teen parenting programs, residential treatment facilities and other nonprofit and community agencies.
Click here to learn more, and to apply. Deadline to put your library forward for consideration is December 30, 2016.
In many libraries across the country, prominent Friends of the Library double as part-time support staff for that same facility. If one of your number fits that description, consider nominating that multitalented colleague for Paralibrarian of the Year.
Each year, Library Journal honors one support staffer with this special honor. Sponsored by DEMCO, it comes with a $1,500 cash prize, reception at the annual ALA conference, and a feature in the March 2017 issue of Library Journal.
Criteria for consideration include: a track record of encouraging reading in your community, a clear commitment to free access to information, and a demonstrated ability to break down barriers between librarians and other staff.
Nominations must include a short (500-word) write up on why your Friend is a contender. Click here to learn more. Postmark or email your entry materials by January 10, 2017.
Next year’s American Library Association conference (the biggest annual convention of its kind) will be held close to home. ALA 2017 is slated for June 22-27 in Chicago.
If you have been curious to gain exposure to the broader library world, there’s no better opportunity. United for Libraries, MALF’s counterpart on the national stage, is offering a scholarship to a first-time attendee. Courtesy of UFL partner Thrift Books, the recipient will receive full conference admission plus $850 towards travel and other expenses.
Interested? Applicants must secure a letter of recommendation from either the library’s director or a Board member of their Friends group. You must also write a one-page summary describing your Friends involvement to date. Click here to learn more. Direct questions to email@example.com or (800) 545-2433, ext. 2161.