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MALF Remembers and Honors Library Leader Chris Olson

MLA_011.JPGThis fall, MALF mourns the premature loss of one of the Minnesota library community’s most talented and tireless leaders. Chris D. Olson passed away peacefully at his home in St. Paul in late September. He was 52.

Friends of the Library may know Olson best as a vocal supporter of and long-time driver behind the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF). He has been involved with the organization, in some capacity, since 1984 – including several highly productive terms on our Board of Directors.

Library staffers may know Olson best as a skilled administrator. He served most recently as executive director of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), the regional library service agency for the Twin Cities. Prior to that post, he helmed the College Libraries in Consortium (CLIC) cooperative and worked for the Lake Agassiz Regional Library System near his native Detroit Lakes.

In these twin roles as Friend and administrator, Olson left an indelible mark on the library community. In addition to day-to-day leadership responsibilities, he found time to bring a number of new programs and initiative to fruition, and also penned or edited a number of valuable written resources. These include MALF’s own Guidelines for Organization: Friends of the Library, now in its third edition.

His hand can also be seen in a number of MALF’s grant and awards programs. These include: the Goss-Nordley Grant (which defrays costs associated with starting a new Friends group), the Raymond Birr Grant (which defrays the cost of starting a school media center Friends group), and the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

Most recently, just this year, Olson championed the creation of a special “Event & Programming Grant” for members. He saw this as a new and invaluable way for Friends to help their libraries, which often do not have the funds to coordinate special activities or celebrations without such assistance.

In honor of Olson’s many and varied contributions to MALF, the Board of Directors has rechristened this assistance program the "Chris D. Olson Event & Programming Grant." Friends of the Library groups of all sizes are encouraged to read more, and apply today. (Applications are evaluated, and grants awarded, on a quarterly basis.)