In July and August, more than 100 library friends and staffers congregated in five areas around the state to participate in MALF’s tremendously successful “Drafting the Blueprint” workshop series. You can read an event overview (courtesy of MALF board members Joan Larson, Janet Urbanowicz and Ruth Solie) by clicking here.
Thursday, Oct. 4, the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) recognized MALF’s efforts at its annual conference in St. Paul with its distinguished ‘Above and Beyond’ Award. President Carol Walsh accepted the award in front of all in attendance prior to the day’s keynote by congressional strategist and veteran lobbyist Stephanie Vance.
‘Above and Beyond’ Awards are bestowed annually in recognition of “contribution(s) significant to the Minnesota library community.” Although up to three organizations can be chosen and recognized each year, MALF and “Drafting the Blueprint” were the only 2012 recipients. Click here to learn more about the award’s purpose and nomination criteria.
If you missed the award-winning summer workshops, here is a high-level overview from Drafting the Blueprint host and ‘guide’ Brenda Hough. Much of the conversations hinged on two critical questions. How can these be applied to your organization?
1. Who is on your map of influence?
Participants considered the relationships they already have in the community and how those can be considered part of their “map of influence” as they advocate for the library. Library Friends in Minnesota are a well connected group! Connections mentioned included: Local businesses, a community 5k, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotary, VFW, American Legion, neighbors, book groups, church members, local newspapers, local radio station, the local Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, local government officials, friends, schools, cultural programs, historical society, political campaigns, quilting guilds (or related niche clubs), to online connections (from Facebook to Pinterest, and everything in between).
2. What are your goals (and how will you achieve them)?
The workshop discussed research related to public perceptions of the library. It also included techniques for communicating about the library. But each workshop participant was encouraged to tailor the content to their specific library and community. Each workshop participant was asked to write a goal and to start making a plan for achieving that goal. Big things are going to be happening around the state!
Here are some goals you might draw inspiration from:
Type A. Advocacy: Many participants want to increase advocacy efforts on behalf of the library.
“My goal is to develop a passionate, effective parking lot speech.”
“My goal is to write a short message before the next Friends meeting that the group members can disseminate.”
“My goal is to enlighten the board of trustees and Friends of the Library about their role as advocates and the power of storytelling.”
“To instill the ability and courage in each of our Friends, Library Staff, and Library Commission Members to advocate with legislators and organizations - and on the street. We need to help these special groups communicate their passion for the library to others in the community.”
Type B. The Library Building: As a testament to how important libraries continue to be, many goals included building new libraries or expanding current library facilities.
“Facilitate the expansion of our current library building by being an advocate through fundraising and providing information.”
“My goal is to rally the community around a library expansion project.”
“Goal: determine funding sources for a $1.2 million expansion.”
“Goal: improve the children’s area.”’
“Goal: to raise funds for carpet replacement.”
“Goal: to establish a library foundation to raise funds for a new facility.”
Type C. Services and Programs: It’s not just the building that people want to support. It’s the programs and services, too!
“Goal: present three readings of local, Minnesota authors at our libraries.”
“My goal is to work closely with teachers and the principal in the local elementary school to promote the 2013 Summer Reading program.”
“Goal: to fund and support one or more special programs per month at our library.”
Type D. Outreach: As participants realized their influence in the community, some people developed goals related to outreach on behalf of the library.
“Goal: to increase the perceived value of the library in the community.”
“The next step I am going to take is to work with the literacy action center and library staff to help distribute free books to the children in the community.”
“My goal is to implement outreach to the senior citizen center in my city - with the help of volunteers.”
Type E. Money: Increased financial support for the library is always an advocacy goal.
“My goal is to convince the county commissioners to fully fund the county’s share of the 2013 budget.”
“My goal is to return to previous hours open to the public. This requires return of staff positions/hours.”
“Goal: convince the City Council to approve budget to hire an additional employee by October 2012.”
“My goal is to help organize a capital campaign.”
Type F. Friends: Being together with other Library Friends inspired many people to want to strengthen the Friends presence in their library and community.
“Goal: to expand Friends membership by 25 percent.”
“My goal is to recruit 20 new Friends.”
“My goal is to stimulate more hands-on participation of Friends group members.”
“My goal is to inspire my Friends of the Library to infuse our library with some new energy by changing the décor, painting, moving things around, etc. in order to make our library space more efficient and useable and to bring more patrons in.”
From these goals and from the lively discussions during the workshops, it is clear that Friends groups in Minnesota are making a difference in their libraries and communities. Thank you for your energy and engagement!