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Let's Recognize Excellent Small And Rural Libraries

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Posted by jim under Awards

If you are a Friend in a rural area and proud of the stellar work that your library does in and for the community, the Public Library Association wants you to apply for the aptly named EBSCO Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Library Service Award.

Any public library serving a population under 10,000 is eligible for consideration. Strong candidate libraries will stand out through a combination of excellent day-to-day work and one or more recent and significant accomplishments or service expansions. “Accomplishments” will be assessed based on their uniqueness and community impact.

Yes, criteria are as broad as that! However, you must be a current member of PLA to put your library’s name forward for consideration. Click here to learn more about PLA and to open a PLA Awards account. Applications for the Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Library Service Award must be received online by December 2, 2015.

Winner will be both chosen and announced at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Conference. Selected library will receive a plaque and a $1,000 cash award from EBSCO Information Services.

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Friends of the Austin Public Library

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Posted by jim under Awards

Between now and the big Evy Nordley announcement on Oct. 8, we will take a moment to highlight each of the 2015 finalists and their exemplary Friends project or initiative. We welcome you to join us at MLA to learn more.

Austin, Minnesota – like hundreds of communities its size across the country – lost its last independent bookstore several years ago. Area booklovers feel that loss acutely, particularly during the holiday season. In 2014, the Friends of the Austin Public Library stepped in to fill this void in a new and innovative way.

austin.jpgThe Friends began by tapping an invaluable relationship. “Earlier in 2014, we had struck up a partnership with staff at the Barnes & Noble store in nearby Rochester,” explained president Sue Grove. “This allows us to provide new books for sale at author presentations in our library, as well as at the annual Austin Artworks Festival.”

After these initial forays into new book sales proved successful, the Friends sat down with the Barnes & Noble community outreach liaison to plan something much more ambitious. “While brainstorming new ways to leverage this connection, board members came up with the idea of hosting a special holiday book sale at the library.”

They reasoned that such a program would allow residents to, once again, buy new books in Austin – while simultaneously drawing people into the library and boosting the public profile of the Friends. “Our board has sponsored two successful used book sales every year for many years, so this really seemed like a natural extension,” Grove said.

Barnes & Noble welcomed the opportunity to expand their reach in this market, knowing that not all readers in Austin are willing to make the 40-minute trek out to their Rochester store.

“We hoped to appeal to all ages, and so enlisted the help of people from various backgrounds and with varied interests to select book titles,” Grove explained. For instance, a retired kindergarten teacher picked out an assortment of in-demand children’s books. In total, the Friends spent a full five hours in Barnes & Noble pulling together merchandise retailing at about $7,000 for resale. “We bought so much that the 20 percent discount promised was increased to a 25 percent discount!”

A strong promotions blitz augured well for the three-day event. In addition to distributing flyers and posters, the Friends made appearances on local television and radio stations. The Austin Daily Herald gave the book sale front-page billing on two separate occasions, and Barnes & Noble coordinated web publicity.

“The event succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” Grove explained. “Everyone was so excited about the first ever event of this kind… The room was packed throughout the sale. On the first day, people were even lining up 45 minutes before we opened!” Inventory sold so quickly that Barnes & Noble reps trucked additional books in from Rochester on the second and third days.

At the end of the event, the Friends let Austin’s collection development librarians select books they wanted for circulation. Barnes & Noble accepted back whatever remained, meaning that the Friends lost no money on unsold items.

While fundraising was a secondary objective, the Friends of the Austin Public Library raised over $1,250 through the holiday book sale. They intend to make it an annual tradition – albeit next year, in a much larger room!

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Friends of the Ramsey Co. Library

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Posted by jim under Awards

Between now and the big Evy Nordley announcement on Oct. 8, we will take a moment to highlight each of the 2015 finalists and their exemplary Friends project or initiative. We welcome you to join us at MLA to learn more.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died 75 years ago, but the literary luminary and St. Paul native would have felt right at home last February at the Friends of the Ramsey Co. Libraries’ signature fundraising event: the Great Gatsby Gala. For the second time in as many years, over 200 flappers and fellas converged on the Roseville Public Library for this memorable night.


The Friends set an ambitious goal of $30,000 (up an even $10,000 from 2014). They came in almost exactly on target, thanks to diverse revenue streams built into their gala model. Moderately priced tickets and generous sponsorships from local organizations accounted for much of it, but other fundraiser activities were unique to the gala and its theme.

For instance, notes long-time Friend and volunteer Sue Gehrz, sales of 1920s-style hats and headbands alone contributed over $500 in revenue. Volunteers painstakingly crafted the headbands by hand and sold them both before and during the gala.

The literary theme also seeped into the fundraiser’s silent and live auction components, in the form of books and period pieces. In total, over 80 items and bundles were donated to the auction, in categories ranging from dining and sightseeing experiences, to original artwork, to sports memorabilia.

While the live auction was the highlight for some, dining, dancing and photoshoots anchored the night for others. Still others appreciated the chance to meet their local librarians, and to go on a guided tour of the Roseville Public Library.

The Friends of the Ramsey County Library were thrilled to see that this combination of activities and attractions – fine-tuned after the inaugural gala in 2014 – drew a mix of people of all ages. The gala also proved a regional happening. “Many attendees traveled not just from outside Ramsey County, but from outside the Twin Cities to be a part of it,” Gehrz said.

The $30,000 raised by the Friends will allow the Ramsey Co. Library to purchase 1,500 new items for collections in Maplewood, Mounds View, New Brighton, North St. Paul, Roseville, Shoreview, and White Bear Lake. (Please visit our blog for more details.)