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

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.