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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

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.

Libraries are among any community’s best (and in some places and cases, only) resources for new immigrants to gain English language proficiency, workforce assistance, and other services vital to acclimating to life in a new country.

In recognition of this fact, Georgia-based Vernon Library Supplies, a privately owned and operated materials vendor, is donating 100% of its 2017 profits to benefit libraries across the country in their ongoing efforts to serve immigrants.

“Immigrants and their successful integration into the country have been critical to what has made America into the wonderful country it is,” said company president Shai Robkin. “We therefore owe our libraries a great debt of gratitude.”

Up to $5,000 is available to libraries that can prove a diverse demographic/patron base, demonstrate a history of serving New Americans, and lay out a game plan for wisely spending any money awarded. Click here to learn more, and to apply.

Applications must be received by October 31, 2017. Decisions will be made on or before December 1.

MALF Welcomes Two New Leaders

Posted by jim on March 08, 2017

MALF is thrilled to announce the introduction of two new Board of Directors members to our growing ranks: Jim Weygand and Roseanne Byrne.

Roseanne Byrne
brings impressive library field ‘bona fides’ to MALF. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she served for a time as assistant deputy director and youth services librarian for the Des Plaines (IL) Public Library. Byrne has since worked in three MELSA library systems, including time as an assistant branch manager with the Saint Paul Public Library, nearly 25 years in various capacities at Hennepin County Library, and 13 years with Dakota County Library (including time as system deputy director). She is a highly active, and founding, member of the Wentworth – Dakota Friends of the Library.

Jim Weygand is deeply invested in public libraries and other public causes in the southwest Twin Cities metro. Although a (retired) semiconductor process engineer by trade, residents of Carver County will know Weygand best as a past City Council member and Mayor of Carver. He recently finished serving nearly a full decade on the Library Board of Carver County Library. Weygand is currently President of the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Trustee and Advocates division, and a dedicated member of the Minnesota Library Association board.

Interested in learning more about serving on the MALF Board, and other volunteering opportunities with the Friends? Email info@mnlibraryfriends.org, and we will be happy to get you in touch with our Nominating Committee.

Friends of the Library know as well as anyone that school media centers routinely face budget shortfalls and cuts. Unfortunately, this is especially true in poorer communities – in the schools where children could most benefit from a robust library.

If your local school media center serves a high proportion of disadvantaged students, the Snapdragon Book Foundation wants to help. For nearly a decade, this organization (started by a former librarian, who understands the challenges faced by these important facilities), has been providing much needed monetary assistance to school libraries looking to expand their lending collections.

If your media center is looking to purchase materials within the next nine months, visit their website to see if you are eligible. Before proceeding, be sure to check out their thorough FAQ.

Last year, the Snapdragon Book Foundation received more than 500 applications – and awarded a number of grants ranging from $1,500 to $15,000. Apply by Sunday, April 16 to be considered for the 2017 cycle.