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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

MALF Announces 2018 MLA Programming Track

Posted by jim on August 02, 2018

MALF is proud to reprise our role as a premier sponsor of the annual Minnesota Library Association conference! 

Why? MLA is the library field’s best chance all year to brush up on best practices, learn about emerging trends in their dynamic field, and network with peers from across Minnesota. Day 1 of the Conference doubles as an invaluable opportunity for Friends of the Library to do the same! Join us in Saint Cloud on Thursday, October 11 for a half day of Friends-specific programming.  

9:10 – 10:00 a.m. | What Does ‘Library Advocacy’ Actually Look Like?* 

We’ve all heard, time and again, that healthy and sustained public funding requires active library advocacy. Our panel of experts will unpackage this catch-all term – what it means in practical terms, and where you fit in. Questions to be addressed include: Who are all the players, and what is the role of Friends of the Library? Can citizen advocates overstep? How do you develop effective advocacy plans? How do you approach members of the State Legislature? 

*Panel co-sponsored with the Minnesota Library Trustees Association (MLTA). Panelists will include, as a special guest, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Stay tuned for the announcement!  

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. | Evy Nordley Award & Stand Up Friends Recognition 

MALF’s flagship yearly prize recognizes innovative and replicable Friends of the Library programs. Come listen to our 2018 finalists – Friends of the Brainerd Public Library (“CLUE Event”), Friends of the Buffalo Library (“Reading Space Project”), Pipestone Area Friends of the Library (“Full STEAM Ahead”) – share a little about their Evy Nordley candidates. Winner receives $1,000! We will also name and honor more than a dozen recipients of this year’s Stand Up for Standout Friends honor. 

1:00 – 1:50 p.m. | MALF Annual Meeting & Idea Popcorn 

Meet the Minnesota Association of Library Friends board of directors, and learn about the organization’s 2017-2018 highlights. After this brief meeting (open to non-members as well as members), we will have our always popular “popcorn- style” Friends idea sharing session. Typical topics include membership recruitment and retention, fundraising, and effective advocacy. Attendees are encouraged to bring samples and resources to share at this informal session. 

Registration is now open. Make sure to do so by September 5 to secure the early bird rate of $71. Friends pay $93 for a Thursday ticket after that date.  

Coming from out of town? Details on nearby hotels – and the conference’s discount lodging rate – are available here.  

Evy Nordley Candidate Spotlight: Rochester, Minn.

Posted by jim on July 31, 2018

Thank you to all the members who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award. Our judging committee has a tough call ahead of them! They will convene later this summer, and a slate of three finalists will be announced in the run-up to the Minnesota Library Association conference. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, it’s our privilege to profile the 2018 contenders, one at a time. First up: 

Friends of the Rochester Public Library ("Magic Game Day")

Hobgoblins, trolls, werewolves and dragons have a villainous reputation in fantasy fiction, and deservedly so. However, on March 17, the Friends of the Rochester Public Library used this gallery of rogues as a force for good. On that day, the Friends hosted a gaming fundraiser around the perennially popular card game Magic: The Gathering.

The Friends organized this “magical” event to benefit Rochester Reading Champions (RRC). RRC is a literacy intervention program coordinated through Rochester Public Library. It provides trained, volunteer tutors to underachieving youth and low-literacy adults throughout Olmsted County. The Friends have supported RRC since its inception in 2014.

Recently, the Rochester Public Library received a matching grant opportunity to support Reading Champions. Staff turned to The Friends to meet the match threshold. They delivered – with their most outside-the-box program to date.

Pat Stephenson, a long-time volunteer, approached the local nonprofit Weirdcards about a potential fundraising collaboration. Weirdcards is a unique nonprofit social organization, originally formed at Mayo Clinic. It leverages the philanthropic spirit of the gaming community in southeast Minnesota to support area nonprofits and their causes. They jumped at the opportunity.  

While the board and card game market is flooded with hundreds of titles to choose from,Magic: The Gathering boasts an active fan base of over 20 million players, making the deck-building card game a logical focus for this inaugural fundraiser.

The Friends and Weirdcards co-hosted Magic Game Day at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Rochester. Players paid a $25 entrance fee. Concessions, provided by The Friends, raised additional funds.

Dozens of families, college students, and Mayo Clinic staffers turned out to test their Magic: The Gatheringskills. Magic Game Day raised $844 outright for Rochester Reading Champions. A match from The Valley of Rochester Scottish Rite Children’s Foundation doubled that contribution, to $1,688.

“These funds will directly impact undeserved people in our community, by paying for volunteer training, tutoring supplies, and student assessments,” Stephenson explained.

Event revenue, which exceeded organizers’ expectations, is the proverbial cherry on top for the high-performing Friends of the Rochester Public Library!

Evy Nordley Candidate Spotlight: Virginia, Minn.

Posted by jim on July 23, 2018

Thank you to all the members who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award. Our judging committee has a tough call ahead of them! They will convene later this summer, and a slate of three finalists will be announced in the run-up to the Minnesota Library Association conference.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, it’s our privilege to profile the 2018 contenders, one at a time. First up: 


The Friends of the Virginia Public Library ("The Book Lovers Tea")

Virginia, Minnesota is home to fewer than 8,800 residents. Looking at the high level of activity at the Friends of the Virginia Public Library, you sure wouldn’t know it.

For nearly twenty years, the Library and its Friends have hosted a Hot Reads for Cold Nights series. Perfect for long, frigid and dreary winters on the Iron Range, this series is geared toward adult audiences and aims to combat adult alliteracy.

The Library and Friends have embraced more unconventional, less passive programming ideas, as well. One, with the tongue-in-cheek title Cook the Book, is a twist on the traditional potluck. Residents are encouraged to visit the Library and select a recipe out of a cookbook set aside by staff for that month’s Cook the Book. Participants try the recipe out at home and bring the dish to the Library for a sometimes cohesive and always fun communal meal.

​Last but not least, The Friends of Virginia Public Library host an annual event called The Book Lover’s Tea. At its heart, this bash is an opportunity for area bibliophiles to gather together around their shared love of literature (and savory snacks).

Volunteers first conceived of The Book Lover’s Tea – their Evy Nordley Award nominated program – nine years ago. While it started as a modest enough affair, “this has since transformed into an annual highlight headlined by an established Minnesota author,” explained board member Carol Gunderson. It is held each February, usually the week of Valentine’s Day.

Previous guests have included comedienne and New York Times bestselling author Lorna Landvik, popular children’s illustrator Chris Monroe, novelist Sarah Stonich, and Scandinavian chef Bea Ojakangas. This year, they doubled down on the culinary theme by hosting food and lifestyle writer, memoirist, and gourmet chef Beth Dooley.

While The Book Lover’s Tea is free and open to the public, space constraints limit attendance to fifty guests. Given the high demand in recent years, “regulars” know to make their reservations well in advance.

“Our members take great pride and joy in decorating our auditorium and preparing the delightful food,” Gunderson said. Staples include finger sandwiches, pastries, desserts – and, of course, an array of English teas!

Registration For 2018 MALF Workshop Now Open!

Posted by jim on July 11, 2018

Registration is now open for MALF’s summer workshop series, “Strengthening Your Organization: Fuel Relevancy and Impact.” Long-time nonprofits coach and consultant Sandy Anderson will join us in Duluth, Saint Michael, and Northfield for a keynote and working session on relevancy geared specifically for Friends of the Library.

Session 1: 
Tuesday, August 28
Duluth Public Library520 W. Superior St., Duluth, MN, 55802

Session 2: 
Wednesday, August 29
Saint Michael Public Library11800 Town Center Dr., St. Michael, MN, 55376

Session 3: 
Thursday, August 30
Northfield Public Library210 Washington St., Northfield, MN, 55057

Attendance is FREE, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to participate. Moreover, a complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and info packets. Do so by Friday, August 17.

Last, if you’re so inclined, we’d love for you to help spread the word amongst your networks (press release | flier | teaser video).

2018 Library Legislative Forum: You're Invited!

Posted by jim on July 03, 2018

brookdale.jpgIn today’s unsure funding climate, public advocacy for library funding is more important than ever. We occasionally hear that Friends are uncomfortable championing their library in this way, are inclined to write off advocacy as the responsibility of other stakeholders, or simply don’t know where to begin.

Fortunately, this summer is the perfect time to dip your toe in, learn the ropes – choose your metaphor! The Minnesota Library Association is co-hosting the annual Library Legislative Forum on Wednesday, August 8. Friends of the Library are cordially invited to join library staff and trustees for this traditional start to the library community’s legislative year.

Forum starts at 9:00 and will conclude by 3:30. The day will center around in-depth discussions about MLA's proposed Legislative Platform for the important 2019-2020 budget cycle. (Priorities are likely to include bonding for library buildings, expanded broadband access, and net neutrality – but the particulars must be worked through by those present!)

confab.jpgMLA leadership will also discuss advocacy tactics and priorities. Please consider attending, particularly if you are an advocacy novice. Learning by doing really is the best way!

The Library Legislative Forum will be held this year at the Hennepin County Library - Brookdale Public Library. Lunch is provided free of cost to advance registrants. Make sure to register by Friday, August 3.

'Stand Up Friends': One Month Mark!

Posted by jim on June 26, 2018

While only one winner comes away with the Evy Nordley Award, every Friend of the Library group in Minnesota can claim a 2018 ‘Standout Friend’ simply by submitting a candidate they feel strongly about.

Stand Up for Standout Friends is, in essence, MALF’s equivalent of an Unsung Hero Award (a popular award of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and like-minded charities across the country). In thanks for ‘standout’ contributions to their work, each MALF member organization is invited to put forward the name of one individual for this special yearly honor.

Among other perks, every honoree will receive a certificate of achievement from MALF, plus recognition at this year’s Minnesota Library Association conference. MALF will also send notification letters to the mayor’s and/or county commissioner’s offices of all winners, and add their names and stories to a growing 
“Gallery of Friends” on our website.  

Applying is easy. Fill out and submit
 this form to our office, together with a cover letter addressing why your candidate is a Standout Friend. (Explanation of reasoning and qualifications should run a minimum of 100 words, and 200-300 words is advised.) Submit no later than Friday, July 27.

According to the Library and Book Trade Almanac, a staggering 21,878 children's book titles were published or rereleased last year. Unfortunately, if not unsurprisingly, these books are more accessible to some children than to others.

Public and school libraries play an important role in equalizing access, of course – but in poor and underserved areas, a library’s collection budgetwill only stretch so far. If your library serves a high proportion of underprivileged youth, Lisa Libraries wants to help!

The Lisa Libraries is a 501c3 private foundation, started by The Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin in 1992 to honor the memory of a friend. It provides a selection of new fiction and nonfiction books (K-6) to small libraries and “other small grassroots organizations” – daycare centers, prison visiting areas, homeless shelters, and third party after-school programs.

If your library can make a case for such a gift,
 please apply. Be prepared to supply statistics on the number of children you serve and the socio-economics status of your service area (e.g., eligibility data for Title 1 and Federal School Lunch programs).

MALF Workshop Teaser Video: Focus On Relevancy

Posted by jim on June 11, 2018

Friends of the Library groups large and small often suffer from a handful of common problems: dwindling and aging membership, mediocre fundraising success, and perhaps most pernicious of all, mission creep

You should take some amount of solace in the knowledge that these issues are not unique to you. Indeed, they are not unique to Friends. In today’s nonprofit landscape, 501c3’s of all types and stripes experience these same stressors.

Long-time nonprofits coach and consultant Sandy Anderson knows this better than most. “We’re living in a time when charities are expected to do more with less.” Some degree of burnout is inevitable – especially if the core group of people doing your organization’s ‘heavy lifting’ is relatively small.

But assuming that a fresh infusion of donors and volunteers is not forthcoming, where does that leave us? Explains Anderson: “In short, we need to shift the conversion from doing more with less, to doing what’s relevant.”

Naturally, this pivot is easier said than done, but it is most certainly attainable.

With this in mind, MALF cordially invites you and your Friends colleagues to join Sandy Anderson this summer for a hands-on workshop: “Strengthening Your Organization: Create 'Tables' That Fuel Relevancy and Impact.” We’re bringing this free, engaging session to Duluth (August 28), Saint Michael (August 29), and Northfield (August 30). Registration opens Monday, July 9.


In the meantime, we encourage you to view this 3-minute overview video of the upcoming MALF workshop, specially tailored by Anderson for Friends of the Library audiences. It may make you ask: Where do tables and coffee filters enter the equation? Well, you will just have to join us August 28-30 to find out!

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