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

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.