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2017 Literary Landmark + Eberhart Poetry Contest Recap

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Posted by jim under Literary Landmark

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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Posted by jim

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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Posted by jim under Programming

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.