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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

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.

vote_button_rgb.pngAn eight-member delegation from Minnesota joined 500 other library advocates from across the country earlier this month for the 43rd National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). Coordinated by the ALA’s Washington Office, the annual D.C. advocacy event drew its highest attendance in over a decade – a fact tied to the precarious federal funding climate. Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association, put it best: “Libraries are facing the challenge of a lifetime, if this [IMLS] funding can be done away with at the stroke of a pen. This is the time when the rubber hits the road.”

MALF president Judy Schotzko, secretary Nancy Guerino, and former president Carol Walsh formed the Friends of the Library contingent of this year’s Minnesota delegation. In addition to Fiels, they heard the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project give an inspiring keynote, plus a number of panels, including:

Democracy Dies in Darkness: A look into how news bureaus' editorial staff determine what stories and opinions to run, followed by insights in how libraries can forge good relations with local press outlets.

The Political Dance: How to leverage social channels and traditional media to 'navigate the new abnormal in Washington.'

Speaking Truth to Power: How to leap beyond mere 'facts and figures' to make a compelling advocacy case.

Libraries Ready to Code: A panel discussion on coding and other STEM topics in libraries.

As useful as these panel offerings were, the true “meat” of NLLD occurred on Day 2. Attendees visited the offices of Minnesota’s congressmen and women. Judy, Nancy and Carol shared issues of greatest import to Minnesota library users: funding (including IMLS and LSTA funding), broadband access, and more.

MALF, through active organizational membership, represents nearly 20,000 Friends of the Library in all eight congressional districts. Legislators and their aides are always quick to jot down that number, which is indicative of our State’s abiding love for public libraries.

You can read more recaps – and even start planning for NLLD 2018! – by visiting ala.org/advocacy.

Dollar General opened more than 40 new stores in Minnesota in 2015-2016. Odds are, if it wasn’t before, your Library is now located within 20 miles of one. This makes you eligible for a youth literacy grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation!

As the name suggests, so-called “Youth Literacy Grants” provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations (including 501c3 incorporated Friends) to help students who are reading below grade level - or experiencing other difficulties reading. Specific, recommended uses include:

   •  “Implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs”
   •  “Purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives”
   •  “Purchasing books, materials or software for literacy programs”

Up to $4,000 is available to eligible organizations. Application deadline is coming up – Thursday, May 18! – so don’t delay. Click here to access the application form and related materials. Winners will be announced on or by Thursday, September 7.

Across all age brackets, well over 170 students entered the twelfth annual “Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest,” hosted in Mower County by Austin Public Schools. That high turnout is proof positive that the contest’s namesake, Austin’s literary native son, is as beloved there today as ever.

On April 17, in conjunction with that popular annual event, MALF and the Friends of the Austin Public Library dedicated Austin High School (AHS) as Minnesota’s seventh Literary Landmark. AHS ensconced the special dedicatory plaque in a place of honor, alongside a Distinguished Alumni Award granted to the renowned poet in 2004.

Richard Eberhart is both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award-winning author. Furthermore, much of his lauded poetry is inspired by the highlights and travails of his Austin childhood. (Indeed, he even named one of his dozen books Burr Oaks, after his family’s childhood estate just outside of town!) In short, then, Eberhart was an obvious candidate for receiving the American Library Association co-sponsored “Literary Landmark” honor.

Locating the commemoratory plaque, however, took some thought, given that so many sites in town – such as the Library and Burr Oaks estate – boast a legitimate claim.

Austin High School ultimately won the laurel, notes Sue Grove (president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library and a member of MALF’s programming subcommittee for Literary Landmarks), because the alumnus stood out as an emerging superstar even during his school years. Here, faculty nurtured Eberhart’s young talent, and primed him for his future successes.

Things came full circle on April 17 when, after the dedication ceremony at AHS, attendees walked across the street to the Hormel Historic Home to see the final round of the 2017 Richard Eberhart Poetry contest. Twenty-four finalists – three from each of the district’s eight schools – read original works aloud.

"Seeing kindergarten kids read a poem they wrote, and in front of a large audience, showed the influence that this special local poet has had on many generations of children," noted MALF president Judy Schotzko. (Photo Credit: Austin Daily Herald)


Richard Eberhart Literary Landmark Ceremony Details

Posted by jim on April 14, 2017

Pulitzer Prize recipient and National Book Award winner Richard Eberhart is the worthy recipient of MALF's next Literary Landmark. For those who don't know, Eberhart spent his formative years in Austin, Minnesota, and his experiences in and perceptions of home greatly influenced his award-winning poetry. 

MALF, in partnership with the Friends of the Austin Public Library and United for Libraries (part of the American Library Association), will officially christen the Literary Landmark in two week!

If you are in southeastern Minnesota, we welcome you to join us in Austin on Monday, April 17 for an evening of Eberhart activities anchored by the plaque unveiling ceremony at Austin High School. Program begins promptly at 4 p.m., and will be followed by a brief reception.

Attendees are then invited to the Hormel Historic Home – an easy walk from the high school – for the final round of the annual Eberhart Poetry Contest. Each year, in honor of Austin's native son, area schoolchildren from kindergarten on up through the high school level compose and read original poetry. It’s a Mower County tradition that Richard Eberhart would undoubtedly be proud of!

MALF Pilots Minnesota Red Cross Partnership

Posted by jim on April 05, 2017

Minnesota is far from the nearest earthquake danger zone, and farther still from any coastal hurricane strike radius. That does not mean we aren’t prone to our fair share of disasters. On average, the State sees 4,900 residential fires a year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. We also see anywhere between 30 and 40 tornadoes touch down during a given year. Unfortunate and unforeseeable incidences like these keep the Minnesota Red Cross very busy indeed.

dc8oyr7zi.pngDivided into five geographic districts, the Red Cross provides an impressive array of assistive services to residents in need. Foodstuffs and blood donations (where needed) are just the tip of the iceberg. American Red Cross supplies everything from medical assessments and psychological evaluations, to relocation assistance, to incidentals like toiletries.

MALF is partnering to add another offering to the mix: reading materials, both for adults and especially for children.

Books may not be top of mind when you think about materials to benefit families who have just lost their home. However, they afford an invaluable distraction for the considerable downtime that almost always follows loss of a home to fire or natural disaster.

MALF and Red Cross are piloting their new donation program in the metro, with able assistance from the Friends of Ramsey County Libraries. Friends recently put out a call for materials to fill two large bins dropped off by the region’s Red Cross chapter for this purpose. One is earmarked for new or lightly used children’s and young adult materials – including but not limited to picture books and early reader primers. The second bin is for new or lightly used adult-oriented materials (with a special emphasis on more portable paperback editions). DVD donations are also welcomed.

When the bins are near-full, the Friends will call the regional Red Cross shelter coordinator to swap them out for empty ones. Tapping into its preexisting distribution network, Red Cross will ensure that the books are strategically located and available where and when needed.

map.pngThis pilot project owes much to the vision and experience of MALF president Judy Schotzko, a registered nurse and long-time volunteer with the Red Cross. “About a year ago at National Library Legislative Day, someone from New York told me about reading books to children outside of a Red Cross distribution center after Hurricane Sandy,” she recalled. The shelter had no stock of books readily at hand. With proper planning, volunteers thought this easy to rectify – and easy to replicate!

If your Friends of the Library would like to learn more about MALF’s new American Red Cross partnership – and how you can be part of the statewide roll-out of this exciting initiative – reach out to us at info@mnlibraryfriends.org. 

Urgent: Help Us Save Federal IMLS!

Posted by jim on March 24, 2017

As you may already have heard, the new White House budget proposal calls for the defunding of the Institute of Museum & Library Services. IMLS is the only agency charged with providing federal assistance to our nation’s public libraries.

This is not the first time that vital library funding has been in jeopardy - and Friends have successfully mobilized local grassroots support in defense of their favorite public institution in the past. Here’s hoping that this is another one of those times.

Here is a list of things you can do to advocate on behalf of IMLS and libraries across the country.

1. First and foremost, contact your congressional representatives. Voice your stalwart support for IMLS and federal LSTA fundingUnsure who represents you in one or both chambers? Take advantage of the State of Minnesota’s convenient “Who Represents Me?” website. Details for the offices of senators Franken and Klobuchar, as well as all eight members of the Minnesota delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, are available here.

2. Odds are, your library has directly benefited from IMLS in the past. Check it out in the agency’s 
searchable database, and share these stories far and wide – through social media, and any other avenues open to you. If you use Twitter or Facebook, be sure to use the #SaveIMLS hashtag.

3. Sign up to receive the American Library Association’s helpful Action Alerts, in order to stay abreast of developments.

4. It’s not too late to sign up for National Library Legislative Day 2017, scheduled for May 1-2 in Washington, D.C. 
Click here for details, including advocacy itinerary, RSVP details, hotel accommodation options, and more. It’s no small commitment, but boots on the ground this year make more difference than ever.