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2017 Evy Nordley Winner: Marine Library Association (Marine on St. Croix)

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Congratulations to the devoted Friends of the Library at Marine Library Association, winners of the 2017 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. MALF made the announcement Friday, October 6 at the Minnesota Library Association conference, after a 10-minute presentation by Mary Burke on the conception and implementation of “Once Upon A River.”

DSC_0245.JPGAlong with Burke, Friends leaders Loralee DiLorenzo and Sue Logan made the 100-mile trek from Rochester to accept the custom award plaque and $1,000 cash prize.

In order to truly appreciate this inaugural program, a little background on the Marine Community Library is necessary. Back in 2011, the Washington County Library system made the difficult decision to withdraw funding from its small branch in Marine on St. Croix (population 680). Rather than letting this valued public service lapse, this tight-knit, book-loving community banded together to keep their Library running as an all-volunteer organization. Marine Community Library – as it is now known – remains a vital and vibrant resource for the residents of Marine and nearby Scandia.

“Once Upon a River”

The historic Marine Village Hall in Marine on St. Croix is Minnesota's oldest public facility of its kind still used for governmental purposes. However, on October 15, 2016, the 130-year-old building hosted something entirely new.

The Friends of the Marine Library (aka Marine Library Association) hosted "Once Upon A River" at the historic venue. Marine Library Association marketed this unique performance as a blend of photography exhibits, live music, and more celebrating the beautiful St. Croix River and environ.

More than 150 ticket holders turned out for this fundraiser. Headliners included artist Marty Harding and nature photographer Gary Noren, who shared the distinction of being selected as ‘Pine Needles Artists in Residence’ for the St. Croix Watershed Research Station – a big honor, for those in the know.

Other highlights included the 30-member River Chorale, jazz and ragtime clarinetist Butch Thompson, and renowned pianist and accordionist Dan Chouinard.

e18d71c247b99a2ae09a17e5b75b4265.jpgGiven the environmental theming, the Friends were able to convince the St. Croix River Association, St. Croix Watershed Research Station (Science Museum of Minnesota), and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (National Park Service) to partner on the funding, design, and promotion of this first-of-its kind endeavor.

Moreover, the Marine Library Association’s dedicated promotions team went all out, designing a well-circulated poster and securing plugs in area newspapers and other media.

"Once Upon A River" packed the house and then some. Some hopefuls who had not purchased their ticket in advance could not get into the Village Hall, noted organizer Loralee DiLorenzo. (This is, as they say, a good problem to have.) Fortunately, some of the exhibits on display at OUAR are slated to enjoy a long second life in other Washington County venues. This includes the popular artwork of Harding and Noren.

At the end of the night, the Marine Library Association had netted $7,735. Success is attributable not just to ticket sales and sponsorship support, but to the Friends’ stellar job securing in-kind donations for the program. This included over $3,500 in comped audio visual support from a local vendor, among other services.

2017 MLA Conference Programming Recap

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Nearly fifty Friends of the Library joined MALF leaders at Rochester’s beautiful Mayo Civic Center on Friday, October 6 for “Library Friends Day 2017,” an integral part of the annual Minnesota Library Association conference.

MALF, a proud premier sponsor of the Conference, hosted three panels. In the morning, Sue Grove (president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library), Rollin Hall (mayor of Wabasha), Ann Hutton (retired director of SELCO), Joe Owens (past president of the Friends of the Ely Public Library), and Jim Weygand (president of MLA’s Trustee and Advocates division) led a packed session on “Collaborations That Engage Communities In Transforming Libraries.”

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Hutton offered a helpful primer on the patchwork of library governance structures co-existing in Minnesota, as well as the varied funding steams that support the hundreds of libraries throughout our state. Hall and Weygand discussed what supportive government leaders – and “average joe” citizens – can do to foster an atmosphere conducive to public financial support for the local library. Owens talked about how the Friends of the Ely Public Library marshalled community support to help build the new, large and beautiful Ely Public Library (one of the most noteworthy Friends victories in the past few years).

After a stirring lunchtime keynote by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, the Friends attendees reconvened for MALF’s Annual Meeting and semi-formal Idea Exchange.

Capping off the afternoon, MALF president Judy Schotzko recognized Minnesota’s twenty Standout Friends. Two of these, Joyce Harlow (Red Wing) and Corinne Lenort (Blooming Prairie) were in attendance! We also heard from Sue Grove (Austin), Sheila DeChantal (Brainerd), and Mary Burke (Marine), finalists for this year’s Evy Nordley Award.

'Empowering Friends' Workshop Recap

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Last month, Dr. Julie Todaro – immediate past president of the American Library Association – zigzagged 715 miles across Minnesota to keynote MALF workshops in Rochester, Stillwater and Cook. Todaro focused on her passion, the art and science of storytelling.

Her thesis is this: Storytelling is a highly effective way to convince public officials (at all levels of government) of the impact and continued relevance of libraries.

Dr. Todaro offered attendees a mix of adaptable frameworks to consider, along with helpful real-life examples. Attendees particularly appreciated Todaro’s hierarchy of credible sources.

Ranked from most credible and best to use, to least credible and best used sparingly, these include:

  • Irrefutable Data: Statistically significant, unquestionable data from a highly credible source.
  • Substantial Data: “Point-in-time” information or directionally accurate data (includes most surveys).
  • Expert Commentary: Quotes from industry experts (leading community members, peers in appropriate fields) can be considered a summary or synthesis of information.
  • Anecdotal Data: Although many consider anecdotal data only “example” or “endorsement” data, it can be data driven! What separates it from Substantial Data is that it includes only one or two data points or examples that support your case.
  • Quotes: Comments from business people, parents, students, etc. can illustrate need and use, and be sprinkled in as powerful evidence.
  • Your Opinion: From the perspective of the audience, your opinion is typically too biased to be considered supporting evidence.

Details on this information hierarchy, and other storytelling best practices covered by Dr. Todaro at MALF’s fall workshops, is available in a 23-page handout available through the MALF office. Email info@mnlibraryfriends if interested.

MALF extends a sincere thank you to the hosts of the three workshops: Reagen Thalacker and the SELCO staff in Rochester; Mary Ann Sandeen and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library; and Crystal Phillips and the Friends of the Cook Library. Dr. Todaro reports enjoying her travels in Minnesota and the expressions of friendship offered at each session.

Evy Nordley Nominee Profile: Dinosaurs, Donuts & Dads

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Dinosaurs have not roamed Minnesota for millennia – with one recent, notable exception, courtesy of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library. 

On March 19, the Friends hosted an exceedingly imaginative event dubbed “Dinosaurs, Donuts and Dads.” Geared towards Isanti County children aged 4-7 and their dads (or grandfather or uncle), the special event easily garnered attention and media coverage in the Cambridge community, population 8,300.

While it may seem oddball at first pass, the unique theme is very much in keeping with the Friends’ philosophy. Bolstering children’s programming is a key tenet in their long-standing mission statement.

Themed activities ran the gamut, from storytime and finger puppet plays, to dinosaur songs and dance, to crafts galore. Afterward, to burn off energy, the youngest participants were given dinosaur masks to wear, and told to follow dinosaur footprints around the Library in search of special surprises.

The Friends enjoyed able assistance from library staff in orchestrating these dinosaur-themed festivities.

Unlike previous Friends programs, including their 2013 Evy Nordley Award winning
 “Saving the Library Budget”campaign, “Dinosaurs, Donuts and Dads” was not targeted at augmenting the Library’s budget per se. The explicit goal was to drive families to the downtown library who do not otherwise make stops part of their regular routine. It is for this reason that organizers added donuts to the mix; an extra, sugary incentive never hurts!

They were certainly successful, driving more than the usual amount of traffic that Saturday. In light of this success, Friends of the Cambridge Library already have additional program ideas up their collective sleeves. These include an equally imaginative children’s program: “Moms and Muffins.”

Evy Nordley Nominee Profile: Wentworth's Sign-Up Revolution

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Friends organizations come in all sizes, but are united by two things: a shared love of libraries, and reliance on volunteers to coordinate their fundraisers and programming. The Friends of Wentworth Library in W. St. Paul are certainly no exception.

As a case in point, The Friends’ most recent book sale, held over the course of three days, required 15 shifts and 90 volunteer time slots to carry out. In total, 30 volunteers turned out to fill those 90 slots, and the fundraiser went off without a hitch. Approximately 500 happy shoppers left with at least one new used book in hand.

This high-level overview belies one of the most significant challenges associated with putting on such a large endeavor: filling all those shifts! Until recently, notes member Karen Griffin, the event coordinator or coordinators did this with pen and paper. Griffin and her colleagues found that process cumbersome and time-consuming.

In preparation for the group’s October 2016 and April 2017 book sales, leaders explored online alternatives. Ultimately, the growing volunteer tool “SignUp.com” struck them as the best option, in terms of user intuitiveness and expense. They determined to pilot it and share their findings with other Friends facing these same challenges.

Happily, the move paid almost immediate dividends – and exceeded their original expectations. “Using ‘SignUp,’ we quickly found we could better track volunteer hours, send messages like reminders and thank yous, and generate reports after the fact,” Griffin said.

The Friends highly recommend that other groups take advantage of their upfront research and “sign up” (pun intended!) for this free and easy tool.

October 6 Is ‘Library Friends Day’ –– Registration Now Open!

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logo.jpg“Radical Librarianship” is the energizing theme of this year’s Minnesota Library Association Conference. It’s an apt focus. Libraries are going through rapid and radical transformations: in the community profiles they serve, the services they offer, and the way they embrace new technologies.

Friends of the Library, too, are rapidly evolving. MALF, as a proud premier sponsor of the MLA Conference, invites you to join us in Rochester on Friday, October 6 for our annual “Library Friends Day.”

We hope to see you at the Mayo Civic Center (30 Civic Center Dr. SE). MALF members can register at a special Friends-only rate for Friday. “Early birds” pay only $68. If you register after September 5, the cost jumps to $89. You can also purchase a full-conference pass for $261. We are bringing three panels to Rochester:

Collaborations That Engage Communities In Transforming Libraries
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. [Room 110]

Our mission as Friends is to advance the mission of our library. One perennial roadblock to success is that few of us understand the financing and internal structuring of a public library. However, a little ‘insider’ knowledge can go a long way on the advocacy front. Our panelists will speak on governance and revenue sources in general, and then explore specificexamples of library improvements which came to fruition thanks to strong public-private partnerships and Friends advocacy. Panelists include Sue Grove, president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library; Rollin Hall, mayor of Wabasha; Joe Owens, past president of the Friends of the Ely Public Library; and Jim Weygand, president of MLA’s Trustee and Advocates division.

MALF Annual Meeting | Friends of the Library Idea Exchange
1:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. [Room 103]

Back by popular demand, MALF is bringing its “popcorn style” Idea Exchange to Rochester. Share ideas, and learn about: successful membership drives, creative fundraising, advocacy and more. (Remember, no idea is too small or too oddball. If it worked for you, it may work for other Friends!) MALF will devote the second half of the hour to the organization’s annual meeting. Stay and learn what MALF has been up to in 2017! Highlights include a fall workshop series on library advocacy featuring the outgoing president of the American Library Association; a host of grant and award news; and some exciting internal restructuring intended to help us better serve you!

Evy Nordley Best Projects by Friends | Stand Up for Standout Friends
2:15 p.m. – 3:05 p.m. [Room 110]

In tough economic times, libraries are perpetually short on discretionary funds, and both collection development and programming staff find themselves stretched thin. For this reason, MALF makes it a priority to recognize Friends who go above and beyond in their efforts to supplement what the library can do for its community. We will announce the winner of the 2017 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project after each of three finalists shares their project: Sue Grove, Friends of the Austin Public Library, “Blind Date with a Book”; Sheila DeChantal, Friends of the Brainerd Public Library, “Books, Burgers and Brews”; and Mary Burke, Marine Library Association, “Once Upon A River.” We will also acknowledge each of this year’s Standout Friends – hailing from Ely to Rochester, Moorhead to Cook, and all points in between!

NEW Workshop: "Empowering Friends to Tell the Library's Stories"

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Storytellers can change perspectives, and in so doing change the world.” This is a popular marketing maxim, and one that assuredly holds true for library advocacy. Legislators – and your community at large – are rarely moved by dry, impersonal statistics on library performance and community needs. Stories, by contrast, personalize the library’s mission and impact.

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Friends of the Library are well positioned to champion the continued relevance and the diverse offerings of the local public library. Many, however, are unsure how or when to make this case. MALF’s fall workshop series is targeted at just this sort of advocacy.

Please join us this September for “Empowering Friends to Tell the Library’s Stories.” Award-winning and nationally recognized library leader Julie Todaro, PhD, will lead us through half-day workshops in Rochester, Stillwater, and Cook (Saint Louis County).

Dr. Todaro is Dean of Library Services at Austin Community College in Texas, and her field credentials are as numerous as they are impressive. Advocacy is her passion. In recent years, she co-chaired ALA’s popular “Frontline Advocacy” initiative, and authored the ALA project “The Power of Persuasion.”

“Our libraries are full of people’s stories – but stories need someone to tell them,” she said. “[Friends] should be able to share transformative stories and translate those stories into support for libraries."

2017_workshops.jpgSELCO (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating)
Thursday, September 14 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) 
2600 19th St. NW, Rochester, MN, 55901

Stillwater Public Library
Friday, September 15 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
224 3rd St N, Stillwater, MN, 55082

Cook Community Center
Saturday, September 16 (10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)  
510 Gopher Drive, Cook, MN, 55723

“In addition to the keynote, attendees will participate in small group roundtables, plus have a chance to share their thoughts and experiences during an hour-long idea exchange session – a MALF workshop staple, and one of participants’ best opportunities all year round to network and share with Friends from across Minnesota.

"Empowering Friends to Tell the Library’s Stories" is FREE to attend, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to do so. A complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Pre-registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and informational packets. Registration for all three sessions opens Tuesday, August 1 and will close Monday, August 31. 

Join MLA’s New Legislative Working Committee!

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logo.jpgAre you a Friend interested in expanding your view and doing something to aid all Minnesota libraries? Do you want to learn more about legislative processes that affect public library funding? Can you squeeze another volunteer assignment into your fall and winter schedule?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, the Minnesota Library Association invites you to join its brand new Legislative Working Committee. MLA members from all walks of life are invited to contribute their skills set to this endeavor. Committee responsibilities will include, but are not limited to: drafting legislative committee documents (such as the annual MLA advocacy platform), organizing Minnesota Library Legislative Day, and planning the yearly Library Legislative Forum.

No prior legislative, lobbying, or event planning experience is required. Click here to learn more, and click here to fill out a short form expressing your interest. You may direct any specific questions to incoming MLA legislative chair Ann Walker Smalley (ann@metronet.lib.mn.us / 651-646-0475).

ALA Announces Newest Programming Opportunity

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partner-ala.pngALA’s Programs Office strives to make popular and meaningful traveling exhibits available to member libraries throughout the country. Their latest such endeavor, sure to be a hit, is a novel partnership with Ken Burns. The award-winning documentarian’s most recent film, “The Vietnam War,” is intended to spark a national conversation about America’s most divisive and misunderstood foreign war.

In advance of the documentary’s September 17 debut on PBS, ALA invites applications from public libraries interested in coordinating adult programming around the War in Vietnam. Fifty entrants, chosen by a panel of judges, will receive the entire 18-hour series, full performance rights, and a host of “program in a box” print and e- resources. Winners will also receive pre-made promotional materials and an opportunity to partner with their local PBS station on tie-ins.

Interested parties must agree to schedule at least one tie-in event at the library between August 30 and January 1, and to submit a brief impact report by February 1. Note that no financial stipend is provided. Click here to read the FAQs, and to apply. Do so by end of day August 1.

Evy Nordley Nominee Spotlight: Brainerd

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On March 20, 2017, literati in Brainerd dined on the “Mae Holland-aise Burger”: a truly unique entrée composed of bacon, cheddar, hollandaise drizzle, and a heaping side of literary inside jokes. Mae Holland is the plucky protagonist in The Circle by Dave Eggers.

It is only one of many one-of-kind dishes prepared in recent months for the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and their guests as part of “Books, Burgers and Brews.” The Friends inaugurated this innovative program in October 2016, in hopes of spreading the group’s fundraising and messaging to an inviting locale outside the library.

Untitled.jpgBooks, Burgers and Brews is held at Prairie Bay, a popular farm-to-table eatery not far from downtown. Each month, the restaurant's book-loving head chefs crafts a menu themed to that month's Friends book club selection.

"Working together with the Library, we chose titles that we felt would be appealing to both men and women," explained organizer Sheila DeChantal. The first selection was sci fi favorite The Martian, by Andy Weir. That dinner drew about 35 attendees – and an encouraging high proportion of men.

“We were looking to have that elusive mix of men and women,” DeChantal said. “We were also targeting non-readers and 'dormant' readers.”

Attendance now tops 40 during any given month. Recent installments have included the non-fiction hit Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly), which centers around African American women at NASA in the 1960s and inspired the spicy pepper “Blast Off Burger,” and The Nest (Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney), namesake of the fried onion Nest Egg Burger.

Each month's dinner is accompanied by a short program, including a slideshow presentation and live author Skype discussions when possible.

The Friends had initially planned to take a hiatus during the summer months, and pick back up in the fall. However, due to program growth and pending promotional opportunities, Books, Burgers and Brews is now held year-round. Moreover, the owners of Prairie Bay are actively exploring the possibility of bringing this novel book club idea to two other venues they own in the Brainerd area.

In addition to greater awareness about the Brainerd Public Library and its Friends, the series has yielded other dividends, as well. The Friends purchase 20 copies of each highlighted title for the Library’s collection, and have leveraged “BBB” as a way to stoke interest in Brainerd's book-club-in-a-bag offerings.

Evy Nordley Nominee Spotlight: "Blind Date With A Book"

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Thank you to the Friends of the Library groups throughout Minnesota who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. Our judges have difficult decisions ahead of them!

As we inch closer to this year’s Minnesota Library Association conference, when the winner and runners-up will be announced, it is our privilege to showcase each nominee (starting alphabetically). Like what you’re reading? Stay subscribed for more success stories and replicable ideas.   


“Blind Date With A Book”

In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, the Friends of the Austin Public Library set up fifty blind dates! But, this feat of matchmaking took a different form from what you probably have in mind.

February fundraiser “Blind Date With A Book” generated several hundred dollars for the Friends, and invaluable exposure with new audiences in Austin. The idea stemmed from a board of directors brainstorming sessions last fall. The Friends wanted a fresh idea with modest costs attached – a tall order, as any fundraising volunteer can attest!

Capitalizing on an inventory of like-new books they had on hand from a recent book sale, they decided to put a Valentine’s twist on the traditional Friends book sale model. They wrapped hundreds of books, representing a wide range of genres, in plain paper, which they then tapped into their artistic talents to ornament. They priced these anonymous “book dates” at $5.00 for a hardcover, or $5.00 for two paperbacks.

As an added incentive for picky and curious readers alike, the organizers decided to include keywords and other clues written on each.

In addition to the library, the Friends partnered with a local coffeehouse to set up a table in a highly trafficked corner of downtown. “We decided we needed to move outside of the library to draw more attention to our group,” explained member Sue Grove. On sale days, Friends volunteered to “staff” the table at the coffee shop and handle transactions.

Friends of the Austin Public Library received significant local publicity, including a front-page story in the newspaper and a feature on a popular radio talk show.

All told, the Friends sold 50 wrapped books; with additional donations, they netted $393.00 over the course of the event (more than 50 percent above their target)!

“’Blind Date’ is such a fun project to put on, and it can be easily replicated by any Friends group!” explained Grove. Given their initial success and the relative ease of scaling up the program, organizers are already committed to holding a sequel “Blind Date With A Book” in 2018. Next time around, they are going to expand their offerings to include children’s and young adult titles, and thereby make it an all-ages event.

MLA Invites Award Noms From 'Friends'

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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!

Walmart's Foundation Offers $250-$2,500 'Community Grants'

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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.

MALF's 2017 National Library Legislative Day Recap

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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.

Literacy Foundation Invites Minnesota Grant Requests

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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.

2017 Literary Landmark + Eberhart Poetry Contest Recap

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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

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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

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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!

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Posted by jim under Advocacy

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.

Vernon Offers $5,000 Grants For Library Immigrant Services

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Posted by jim under Grants

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

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Posted by jim under Board of Directors

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.

Snapdragon Book Foundation Offers School Library Support

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Posted by jim under Grants

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.

ALA Co-Sponsors Unique STEM Program Opportunity

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Posted by jim under Programming

Libraries encourage young patrons to reach for the stars – but rarely in a way as literal as this. ALA, in partnership with the Space Science Institute and National Center for Interactive Learning, encourages you to put your library’s name forward for “NASA @ My Library.”

NASA @ My LibrarySeventy-five libraries across the country, selected by the program sponsors, will receive a variety of educational resources (and other supplies) to coordinate in-library STEM programming specific to astronomy and space exploration. Materials include tablet computers pre-loaded with how-to videos, apps, and educational games you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition, representatives from chosen libraries will be invited to Denver for a special, two-day orientation workshop. “NASA @ My Library” will last approximately 18 months for each public library selected.


Click here to learn more, and to start the application process. Be sure to submit your application by end of day Wednesday, March 22.

MALF Announces 2017 Literary Landmark Celebration Honoring Poet Richard Eberhart

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Posted by jim under Literary Landmarks

Per capita, few communities boast as much homegrown literary talent as Austin, Minnesota. Local standouts include National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien and bestselling YA novelist Amanda Hocking. Austin also lays claim to Minnesota’s newest Literary Landmark honoree, world-renowned poet Richard G. Eberhart.

What is a Literary Landmark?

download.jpgIf you are new to MALF, you may be unfamiliar with the term. In short, a Literary Landmark is a site with some strong historical connection to a prominent and influential American author. They are identified and dedicated through a joint partnership between United for Libraries and local affiliates like the Minnesota Association of Library Friends.

Examples range widely, from the birthplaces of Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemmingway, to a Mississippi church that inspired the writings of playwright Tennessee Williams, to the final resting place of illustrator Randolph Caldecott (namesake of literature’s Caldecott Medal).

In total, there are currently over 160 such sites across the country. Minnesota claims seven, thanks in large part to MALF. Recent additions include the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, and Vermilion Community College, home of conservationist Sigurd Olson. (You can find a complete list on our website, mnlibraryfriends.org.)

Richard Eberhart: 2017 Honoree

Richard_Eberhart.jpgMower County’s famous native son is a worthy addition to these esteemed ranks. Born in Austin in 1904, Eberhart spent his formative years at the family’s 40-acre estate just outside of town. While he enjoyed a privileged and happy childhood, financial setbacks and the unexpected death of his mother marred his later adolescence.

As fans of Eberhart’s work are quick to point out, much of his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poetry is inspired by both the highlights and travails of this childhood in Austin. Particularly evident are his lifelong fascination with nature, exploration of fate, and fixation with the mysteries of death. Given this focus, contemporary and modern critics alike compare Eberhart – usually quite favorably – to William Wordsworth and the other nineteenth-century English masters of Romanticism.

Eberhart’s journey to worldwide acclaim took him from Minnesota first to Dartmouth College (his future academic home) and later to Cambridge. After completing his coursework, Eberhart visited exotic locales (including most notably Siam, where he spent 1930 as personal tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok). Once back statewide, he quickly made a name for himself as a thoughtful teacher of English and poetry – and an up-and-coming poet in his own right.

After an interlude during which Eberhart served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Dartmouth appointment him poet-in-residence. He would remain with the institution, in some capacity, until his death in 2005 at the ripe old age of 101. At various times, Eberhart also doubled as poet laureate for the state of New Hampshire, official poet consultant for the Library of Congress, and a member of important federal advisory committees dedicated to the arts.

Over this long and fruitful academic career, Eberhart found time to publish a dozen books of poetry. Standouts include Burr Oak (1947), named after his childhood estate in Austin; Selected Poems, 1930-1965, winner of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Collected Poems, 1930-1976, winner of the National Book Award.

Poems held in particularly high regard today include “The Groundhog,” a rumination on mortality and the uniqueness of human consciousness, and "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment," an ode to wartime loss inspired by his own WWII experiences.

Austin Dedication

In partnership with the Friends of the Austin Library, MALF will christen Eberhart’s hometown as America’s newest Literary Landmark on Monday, April 17. That official dedication will include a special program and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Literary Landmark events are free and open to the public, and we would love to see you there. Please stay tuned for further details! 

United for Libraries Invites Baker & Taylor Award Noms

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Posted by jim under Awards

If your Friends group submits entries to MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award contest, make sure that the Baker & Taylor Awards are also on your radar.

Coordinated each year by United for Libraries, this prize recognizes Friends groups (and library Foundations) who orchestrated a program or initiative sometime over the past year that impacted your library in a major way.

Two entrants will receive $1,000 each. Judging is based on the following criteria:

1. Planning: Friends/Foundation, library, and community involvement; use of resources; appropriateness of the activity; and, measurable goals and objectives.
2. Implementation: Use of resources; public relations; task monitoring; and broad membership involvement.
3. Evaluation: Assessment of activity or program; measurable results.
4. Innovation: New idea or implementation; creative involvement of people; fresh use of public relations.
5. Community Relations: Broad support by the community in planning and implementation.

Applications are due in May. Entrants must have current United for Libraries membership status to quality. 
Click here to learn more.

Register for Free "Libraries = Education" Webinar

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Posted by jim under Webinars, Education

Friends of the Library know better than anyone than libraries in the twenty-first century are about much more than books. Among other important services, libraries today offer an array of extracurricular classes, homework help clinics, and adult education opportunities.

webinar-globe.jpgUnfortunately, in many cases, the community a library supports is unaware of its value as an institution for learning. If this sounds familiar, a rekeying of the Friends message may be in order.

On February 23, United for Libraries and sponsor Demco invite you to attend “Libraries = Education,” a free webinar on library messaging and branding. Hosted by Howard County (Maryland) Library System director Valerie Gross, this hour-long session will leave you able to:


• Rebrand your library in a new, innovative way using strategic vocabulary.
• Increase respect for libraries as institutions of learning.
• Heighten your library's visibility and stature with community members and potential education partners like schools.
• Introduce this approach to key constituents and develop strategies you can integrate immediately into your work.


Click here to learn more, and to reserve your spot. Webinar is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. CT.

2017 Minnesota Library Legislative Day Registration Opens

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Posted by jim

Minnesota Library Legislative Day is just around the corner. Friends of the Library – and library supporters of all types and stripes – are invited to converge at the Capitol in Saint Paul for the Big Event on February 21-22.  

Although Wednesday is the highlight, activities begin on Tuesday. MLA invites you to the Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St., that afternoon. After light refreshments and an informal meet-and-greet, representatives of Capitol Hill Associates, MLA’s lobbying team, will get us up to speed on legislative developments affecting public libraries in 2017-2020.

If you are unable to attend the briefing, don’t worry. Capitol Hill Associates will host a repeat session the next morning at the Judicial Center (on the capitol grounds). You will then have a chance to meet with your congressional representatives and voice your support for libraries and their continued funding.

Click here to learn more, and to register for this free and truly invaluable advocacy opportunity. We look forward to seeing you there!

Recognize Library Marketing Excellence in 2017

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Posted by jim

estrat-gia-foco-e-assertividade-para-o-marketing--15.pngMarketing is every bit as important for public libraries as it is for-profit organizations. After all, our services are only valuable if patrons know about them. In recognition of this fact, Library Journal created its Marketer of the Year Award.

Sponsored by Library Ideas, a popular e-resource vendor, this annual honor comes with a cash prize of $2,000. Library Journal will also feature the 2017 honoree in its October 1 issue.

Criteria include a demonstrated ability to promote library services and happenings - successfully and in an innovative manner; marked improvements in library visibility in your community; and strong coalition building skills.

Nominators must include examples of their candidate’s print and digital work, an approximately 1,000-word narrative, and statistics to prove impact. Nominations from Friends of the Library are encouraged.

Click here to learn more. Submit questions, and completed submissions, to rmiller@mediasourceinc.com. Deadline is August 8, 2017.