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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

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).

ALA Announces Newest Programming Opportunity

Posted by jim on July 16, 2017

partner-ala.pngALA’s Programs Office strives to make popular and meaningful traveling exhibits available to member libraries throughout the country. Their latest such endeavor, sure to be a hit, is a novel partnership with Ken Burns. The award-winning documentarian’s most recent film, “The Vietnam War,” is intended to spark a national conversation about America’s most divisive and misunderstood foreign war.

In advance of the documentary’s September 17 debut on PBS, ALA invites applications from public libraries interested in coordinating adult programming around the War in Vietnam. Fifty entrants, chosen by a panel of judges, will receive the entire 18-hour series, full performance rights, and a host of “program in a box” print and e- resources. Winners will also receive pre-made promotional materials and an opportunity to partner with their local PBS station on tie-ins.

Interested parties must agree to schedule at least one tie-in event at the library between August 30 and January 1, and to submit a brief impact report by February 1. Note that no financial stipend is provided. Click here to read the FAQs, and to apply. Do so by end of day August 1.

Evy Nordley Nominee Spotlight: Brainerd

Posted by jim on July 13, 2017

On March 20, 2017, literati in Brainerd dined on the “Mae Holland-aise Burger”: a truly unique entrée composed of bacon, cheddar, hollandaise drizzle, and a heaping side of literary inside jokes. Mae Holland is the plucky protagonist in The Circle by Dave Eggers.

It is only one of many one-of-kind dishes prepared in recent months for the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and their guests as part of “Books, Burgers and Brews.” The Friends inaugurated this innovative program in October 2016, in hopes of spreading the group’s fundraising and messaging to an inviting locale outside the library.

Untitled.jpgBooks, Burgers and Brews is held at Prairie Bay, a popular farm-to-table eatery not far from downtown. Each month, the restaurant's book-loving head chefs crafts a menu themed to that month's Friends book club selection.

"Working together with the Library, we chose titles that we felt would be appealing to both men and women," explained organizer Sheila DeChantal. The first selection was sci fi favorite The Martian, by Andy Weir. That dinner drew about 35 attendees – and an encouraging high proportion of men.

“We were looking to have that elusive mix of men and women,” DeChantal said. “We were also targeting non-readers and 'dormant' readers.”

Attendance now tops 40 during any given month. Recent installments have included the non-fiction hit Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly), which centers around African American women at NASA in the 1960s and inspired the spicy pepper “Blast Off Burger,” and The Nest (Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney), namesake of the fried onion Nest Egg Burger.

Each month's dinner is accompanied by a short program, including a slideshow presentation and live author Skype discussions when possible.

The Friends had initially planned to take a hiatus during the summer months, and pick back up in the fall. However, due to program growth and pending promotional opportunities, Books, Burgers and Brews is now held year-round. Moreover, the owners of Prairie Bay are actively exploring the possibility of bringing this novel book club idea to two other venues they own in the Brainerd area.

In addition to greater awareness about the Brainerd Public Library and its Friends, the series has yielded other dividends, as well. The Friends purchase 20 copies of each highlighted title for the Library’s collection, and have leveraged “BBB” as a way to stoke interest in Brainerd's book-club-in-a-bag offerings.

Thank you to the Friends of the Library groups throughout Minnesota who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. Our judges have difficult decisions ahead of them!

As we inch closer to this year’s Minnesota Library Association conference, when the winner and runners-up will be announced, it is our privilege to showcase each nominee (starting alphabetically). Like what you’re reading? Stay subscribed for more success stories and replicable ideas.   


“Blind Date With A Book”

In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, the Friends of the Austin Public Library set up fifty blind dates! But, this feat of matchmaking took a different form from what you probably have in mind.

February fundraiser “Blind Date With A Book” generated several hundred dollars for the Friends, and invaluable exposure with new audiences in Austin. The idea stemmed from a board of directors brainstorming sessions last fall. The Friends wanted a fresh idea with modest costs attached – a tall order, as any fundraising volunteer can attest!

Capitalizing on an inventory of like-new books they had on hand from a recent book sale, they decided to put a Valentine’s twist on the traditional Friends book sale model. They wrapped hundreds of books, representing a wide range of genres, in plain paper, which they then tapped into their artistic talents to ornament. They priced these anonymous “book dates” at $5.00 for a hardcover, or $5.00 for two paperbacks.

As an added incentive for picky and curious readers alike, the organizers decided to include keywords and other clues written on each.

In addition to the library, the Friends partnered with a local coffeehouse to set up a table in a highly trafficked corner of downtown. “We decided we needed to move outside of the library to draw more attention to our group,” explained member Sue Grove. On sale days, Friends volunteered to “staff” the table at the coffee shop and handle transactions.

Friends of the Austin Public Library received significant local publicity, including a front-page story in the newspaper and a feature on a popular radio talk show.

All told, the Friends sold 50 wrapped books; with additional donations, they netted $393.00 over the course of the event (more than 50 percent above their target)!

“’Blind Date’ is such a fun project to put on, and it can be easily replicated by any Friends group!” explained Grove. Given their initial success and the relative ease of scaling up the program, organizers are already committed to holding a sequel “Blind Date With A Book” in 2018. Next time around, they are going to expand their offerings to include children’s and young adult titles, and thereby make it an all-ages event.

MLA Invites Award Noms From 'Friends'

Posted by jim on June 20, 2017

freadom_thelostogle_com.jpgFriends of the Library boast a better understanding than most of what goes into the day-to-day operation of a public library, and are therefore in a good position to spot exemplary librarianship. In light of this fact, the Minnesota Library Association invites you to put forward a staff colleague for one of several upcoming awards.

Nominations are currently being accepted for:

‘Above & Beyond’ Award: MLA’s highest prize honors “significant contributions to the Minnesota library community.” Friends, library staffers, trustees, and legislators are all eligible, as are a range of institutions (public or special libraries, schools, foundations, etc.). Up to three Above & Beyond Awards may be given each year.

William G. Asp Distinguished Career Award: Able leadership is key to any library’s success. The Distinguished Career Award is for a veteran with a track record of “positive development in libraries and the improvement of library services.”

Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award: Named after a Minnesota elementary school media specialist and vocal member of the state’s Coalition for Intellectual Freedom, the Steltzer Prize recognizes an educator who has opposed censorship activities in schools – or actively contributed in some other way to the preservation of students’ intellectual freedom rights.

MLA membership is required to put forward a nomination. Other requirements vary by award. Click here for more information, and to submit a nomination online. Deadline is Monday, August 14!

Did you know that Walmart operates more than 5,000 stores in the United States – about 70 of them right here in Minnesota? Even if you did, you may be surprised to learn that Walmart and its Foundation donate about $1.4 billion to charitable causes each year.
 
The Walmart Foundation allots most of this charitable giving to four focus areas: hunger relief, career development opportunities, disaster preparedness, and community engagement. That last should pique your interest, as community engagement is core to the value proposition of most public libraries.
 
If you have an education program or other community enrichment idea in mind, and can gainfully spend between $250 and $2,500, consider applying for one of their aptly named 
Community Grants. Proposals built around educational programming, or library services to underprivileged populations, are particularly welcomed. Click here for full guidelines.
 
You can
 apply online any time between now and the end of the calendar year.
 
Both libraries themselves and 501c3 incorporated Friends groups may apply, and multiple entries can be sent for consideration within the same nomination window. Note that sponsorships, endowment and capital campaign activities, and in-kind donation requests (including gift cards) are ineligible for consideration.