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November Brings Giving Opportunities Galore

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Posted by jim under Donations

December may be the traditional “season of giving,” but here in Minnesota, the month of November gives it a run for the title. November offers not one, but two ‘holidays’ over which you can celebrate and support libraries - and the nonprofits that keep them strong.

First, this coming Thursday, November 15 is Give to the Max Day (GTTM). GiveMN’s self-styled “Minnesota giving holiday” is now in its tenth year. In its run to date, GTTM has raised upwards of $150 million for a host of charities and schools. Friends of the Library of all sizes have been beneficiaries. 
Click here to see if your local Friends are participating, and here to read up on the advantages of donating as part of Give to the Max Day.

Friends Leaders: Click here to ‘claim’ your nonprofit, and to learn best practices for optimizing GTTM donations.

Second, mark your calendars for Giving Tuesday! Observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (memorably, right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday), Giving Tuesday is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season. Thanks to grassroots momentum throughout (and recently, beyond) the United States, the holiday is slowly becoming a global phenomenon.

Friends Leaders: Want to know how to make the most out of Giving Tuesday? 
Click here for case studies and recommendations.

Last, we’d be remiss not to add that MALF also welcomes financial gifts in any amount. You can support our mission on Give to the Max Day, Giving Tuesday, or any other day by donating (see right side of homepage).
 

Like What We Do? Join Our Board!

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Posted by jim

As any Friends veteran will tell you, financial gifts alone cannot keep Friends of the Library afloat. Your time and talents are no less valuable.

In this spirit, MALF invites you to put your name forward for our own Board of Directors. Our all-volunteer Board hail from across the state and represent many walks of life. Without them, our programming, grant work, and advocacy efforts would not be possible.

Would-be directors are asked to be present for half-day quarterly meetings in Saint Paul, and available (in person or remotely) for occasional committee sessions as needs dictate.  

If interested, please send a brief cover letter and resume to info@mnlibraryfriends.org. Our nominating committee chair will respond promptly to all inquiries.

MALF's 2018 MLA Conference Highlights

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Posted by jim under Events

Nearly sixty Friends and other library stakeholders from across Minnesota joined MALF in Saint Paul on Thursday, October 11 for a half-day of panels, presentations, and recognition events by and about Friends of the Library. As most of you already know, MALF co-hosts “Library Friends Day” as part of the larger, annual Minnesota Library Association conference.

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Highlights included a full house for our 9:10 primer on Minnesota's political environment and effective library advocacy. Rep. Mary Murphy (D-Hermantown) joined us as a special guest. Other panelists included Amy Wilde and Jim Weygand from the Minnesota Libraries Trustees and Advocates (MLTA), and Friends of the Austin Public Library president Sue Grove.

We also recognized a new class of ‘Stand Up for Standout Friends’ recipients, representing Friends groups from Cook to Rochester, and many points in between. One of these, Priscilla Reineke of Friends and Foundation at Douglas County Library, joined us in person!

Members: Look out for MALF’s next quarterly print newsletter, which will include many more MLA highlights.

We hope to see you all September 19-20, 2019 at the Mystic Lake Center in Prior Lake for MLA 2019! Keep your eyes peeled in the New Year for further details.

“Full ‘STEAM’ Ahead” Nets MALF’s 2018 Evy Nordley Award

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Posted by jim under Evy Nordley

For the second time in three years, Pipestone Area Friend of the Library came away with top prize in MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award competition. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding Friends of the Library programs and accomplishments, MALF’s flagship honor is announced every fall at the fall Minnesota Library Association conference.

DSC_0341.JPGIn a moment of déjà vu from 2016 – when Pipestone won for innovative library/school partnership “Night at the Museum” – MALF president Nancy Guerino passed off a $1,000 check and commemorative plaque to library director Jody Wacker at the River’s Edge Convention Center in Saint Cloud.

Click here for detailed coverage of “Full ‘STEAM’ Ahead,” Pipestone’s equally impressive 2018 entry. Among other merits, MALF’s judging committee awarded this group top marks for project impact. The Friends hosted a one-day maker movement event at the Meinders Community Library, to serve as ‘proof of concept’ and justify construction of a dedicated, expensive makerspace within the Library.

Attendees turned out in droves. Moreover, this pilot allowed Pipestone Area Friends of the Library to seek – and receive – a $25,000 grant through the competitive State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program. (Out of nearly 2,000 submissions, Pipestone was selected as one of only 40 to get the full $25,000 amount.)

On October 11, MLA conference attendees also heard from runners-up Sheila DeChantal of Brainerd (“CLUE™ Book Club Murder Mystery Event”) and Kay Stait of Buffalo (“Library Outdoor Reading Space, Phase I”). No one came away empty handed. In fact, for the first time in Evy Nordley’s history, MALF recognized second and third place winners – versus two undifferentiated runners-up who each receive $250 in prize money.

Brainerd (like Pipestone, an Evy Nordley Award “alum”) took home second place and a $500 check. Click here for details on the design and implementation of both Brainerd’s and Buffalo’s projects.

Evy Nordley Candidate #3: Pipestone Area Friends of the Library

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

Today, Meinders Community Library in Pipestone, Minnesota is home to a state-of-the-art makerspace – one that a public library in a community three times Pipestone’s size would envy. Its free resources range from 3D printers and stop motion animation equipment, to cricut machines and industrial staplers.

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A well-equipped makerspace represents a significant financial commitment, and one that Meinders Library did not make lightly. In order to gauge interest for and demand in these cutting-edge library amenities, the Library turned to the Pipestone Area Friends of the Library.

On May 20, 2017, the Friends hosted “Full STEAM Ahead,” a celebration of science and creativity that showcased the various technologies available through a permanent makerspace. (For those unfamiliar with it, STEAM is an education acronym for Science • Technology • Engineering • Art • Mathematics.)

In total, the program featured more than 25 free activities and presentations. Crowd favorites included book binding, wool spinning, kite making and cricut crafting seminars.

Thanks to a robust publicity campaign and strong relationship with the area school, which adjoins the Meinders Library, more than 100 attendees of all ages participated in the day-long extravaganza. That healthy turnout approached the Library’s all-time event record – not bad, especially for a library with a programming budget of zero dollars in 2017.

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However, as the saying goes, nothing comes from nothing. The Friends donated 100+ volunteer hours to the planning and execution of Full STEAM Ahead. Other community volunteers contributed another 20+. Local businesses provided a complimentary lunch and refreshments for all guests.  

Full STEAM Ahead proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Pipestone area was ready for a permanent makerspace. After the program’s resounding success, the Library applied for a $25,000 grant through the competitive State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program. The Friends’ resounding success with the Full STEAM Ahead pilot set it apart from other applicants. Out of nearly 2,000 submissions, Pipestone was selected as one of only 40 to get the full $25,000 amount.

This is a huge boon for the community, and in particular for Pipestone Area Public Schools. “Because the Library is attached, students are able to use the new [makerspace] for school projects,” said director Jody Wacker. “It’s doing much to equalize economic disparity.”

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Brainerd, Minn.

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

While board games are a popular pastime, they suffer from a drawback: the gameplay experience is a decidedly two-dimensional one. The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library turned that on its head last year with a wildly popular CLUE murder mystery event.

Hosted at the Brainerd Public Library (where else?), this first-of-its-kind role playing event brought to life the popular Hasbro game and its stately mansion setting.

The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library are no strangers to experimental programming. In 2014, they won the Evy Nordley Award for “Wine & Words,” an author gala fundraiser. Last year, they were runners-up with “Books, Burgers & Brews,” a truly unique literary dining experience held in Crow Wing County restaurants and pubs.

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However, while these previous initiatives targeted the public at large, invitations to the CLUE Event were restricted to just one special audience: members of area book clubs.

“You may think that creating an exclusive event for book clubs is preaching to the choir, but that is not true,” explained Friends president Sheila DeChantal.”Many book clubs do not utilize their local library – and more so, they do not know the resources that today’s libraries provide.”

In the run-up to the big day, each area book club received a “summons” (delivered in ornate envelopes appropriately marked Confidential). More than 100 book club members answered that call.

Many dressed in period costumes, complementing the Victorian veneer given to Brainerd Public Library for the day. “A local photographer loaned us backdrops, including bookshelves and a study, which really completed the setting,” DeChantal recalled.

The Friends organizers tasked guests with solving a murder by visiting sixteen themed areas within the Library. Just like in the board game CLUE, players used process of elimination to zero in on a murder weapon, the scene of the crime – and its perpetrator.

Going the extra mile, the Friends also secured an event liquor from the City and offered a free beer tasting. Hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and coffee were also donated by area businesses. Each attendee left with a Friends of the Library swap bag containing promo materials about the group and the Library, chocolates, and coupons for local breweries and coffeehouses.

Impressively, thanks to in-kind donations, the Friends were able to put on the CLUE Event with only $200 of their own money.

MLA Conference 'Early Bird' Window Closing Soon

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Posted by jim under MLA Conference

Before your Labor Day ramps up in earnest, take two minutes to pre-register for the Minnesota Library Association conference at the reduced Early Bird rates.

After the Wednesday, September 5 cutoff, the cost to participate jumps from $71 to $93 for those registering at the (Thursday-only) Friends rate. For folks inclined to stay for the conference’s full run, registration for non-MLA members jumps from $330 to $412.


On the fence? Take a look at MALF’s special, half-day track of Friends of the Library programming for October 11. You can also view the entire conference schedule, here

Submit 'I Love My Librarian' Nominations by October 1

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

If you love your library enough to call yourself a Friend of the Library, odds are high that you have strong and positive feelings about the people who staff it, as well! If you think that your library boasts a librarian who is a cut above the rest, consider nominating her or him for the 2018 'I Love My Librarian!' Award.

As the name suggests, this long-standing American Library Association program recognizes the service of exemplary public, academic, or school librarians. Ten individuals are honored each year, and awarded $5,000 each (plus a travel stipend to attend a December recognition ceremony in New York City).


Click here to learn more, and to nominate someone. Be sure to do so before Monday, October 1. Note that applications must be submitted online, and in just one browsing session. (In other words, you cannot save and return to your work.) Your candidate must hold an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited university, and be practicing in the field currently, in order to be eligible. Click here for application suggestions from ALA.

MALF Announces 2018 MLA Programming Track

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MALF is proud to reprise our role as a premier sponsor of the annual Minnesota Library Association conference! 

Why? MLA is the library field’s best chance all year to brush up on best practices, learn about emerging trends in their dynamic field, and network with peers from across Minnesota. Day 1 of the Conference doubles as an invaluable opportunity for Friends of the Library to do the same! Join us in Saint Cloud on Thursday, October 11 for a half day of Friends-specific programming.  

9:10 – 10:00 a.m. | What Does ‘Library Advocacy’ Actually Look Like?* 

We’ve all heard, time and again, that healthy and sustained public funding requires active library advocacy. Our panel of experts will unpackage this catch-all term – what it means in practical terms, and where you fit in. Questions to be addressed include: Who are all the players, and what is the role of Friends of the Library? Can citizen advocates overstep? How do you develop effective advocacy plans? How do you approach members of the State Legislature? 

*Panel co-sponsored with the Minnesota Library Trustees Association (MLTA). Panelists will include, as a special guest, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Stay tuned for the announcement!  

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. | Evy Nordley Award & Stand Up Friends Recognition 

MALF’s flagship yearly prize recognizes innovative and replicable Friends of the Library programs. Come listen to our 2018 finalists – Friends of the Brainerd Public Library (“CLUE Event”), Friends of the Buffalo Library (“Reading Space Project”), Pipestone Area Friends of the Library (“Full STEAM Ahead”) – share a little about their Evy Nordley candidates. Winner receives $1,000! We will also name and honor more than a dozen recipients of this year’s Stand Up for Standout Friends honor. 

1:00 – 1:50 p.m. | MALF Annual Meeting & Idea Popcorn 

Meet the Minnesota Association of Library Friends board of directors, and learn about the organization’s 2017-2018 highlights. After this brief meeting (open to non-members as well as members), we will have our always popular “popcorn- style” Friends idea sharing session. Typical topics include membership recruitment and retention, fundraising, and effective advocacy. Attendees are encouraged to bring samples and resources to share at this informal session. 

Registration is now open. Make sure to do so by September 5 to secure the early bird rate of $71. Friends pay $93 for a Thursday ticket after that date.  

Coming from out of town? Details on nearby hotels – and the conference’s discount lodging rate – are available here.  

Evy Nordley Candidate Spotlight: Rochester, Minn.

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

Thank you to all the members who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award. Our judging committee has a tough call ahead of them! They will convene later this summer, and a slate of three finalists will be announced in the run-up to the Minnesota Library Association conference. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, it’s our privilege to profile the 2018 contenders, one at a time. First up: 

Friends of the Rochester Public Library ("Magic Game Day")

Hobgoblins, trolls, werewolves and dragons have a villainous reputation in fantasy fiction, and deservedly so. However, on March 17, the Friends of the Rochester Public Library used this gallery of rogues as a force for good. On that day, the Friends hosted a gaming fundraiser around the perennially popular card game Magic: The Gathering.

The Friends organized this “magical” event to benefit Rochester Reading Champions (RRC). RRC is a literacy intervention program coordinated through Rochester Public Library. It provides trained, volunteer tutors to underachieving youth and low-literacy adults throughout Olmsted County. The Friends have supported RRC since its inception in 2014.

Recently, the Rochester Public Library received a matching grant opportunity to support Reading Champions. Staff turned to The Friends to meet the match threshold. They delivered – with their most outside-the-box program to date.

Pat Stephenson, a long-time volunteer, approached the local nonprofit Weirdcards about a potential fundraising collaboration. Weirdcards is a unique nonprofit social organization, originally formed at Mayo Clinic. It leverages the philanthropic spirit of the gaming community in southeast Minnesota to support area nonprofits and their causes. They jumped at the opportunity.  

While the board and card game market is flooded with hundreds of titles to choose from,Magic: The Gathering boasts an active fan base of over 20 million players, making the deck-building card game a logical focus for this inaugural fundraiser.

The Friends and Weirdcards co-hosted Magic Game Day at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Rochester. Players paid a $25 entrance fee. Concessions, provided by The Friends, raised additional funds.

Dozens of families, college students, and Mayo Clinic staffers turned out to test their Magic: The Gatheringskills. Magic Game Day raised $844 outright for Rochester Reading Champions. A match from The Valley of Rochester Scottish Rite Children’s Foundation doubled that contribution, to $1,688.

“These funds will directly impact undeserved people in our community, by paying for volunteer training, tutoring supplies, and student assessments,” Stephenson explained.

Event revenue, which exceeded organizers’ expectations, is the proverbial cherry on top for the high-performing Friends of the Rochester Public Library!

Evy Nordley Candidate Spotlight: Virginia, Minn.

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

Thank you to all the members who submitted entries for this year’s Evy Nordley Award. Our judging committee has a tough call ahead of them! They will convene later this summer, and a slate of three finalists will be announced in the run-up to the Minnesota Library Association conference.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, it’s our privilege to profile the 2018 contenders, one at a time. First up: 


The Friends of the Virginia Public Library ("The Book Lovers Tea")

Virginia, Minnesota is home to fewer than 8,800 residents. Looking at the high level of activity at the Friends of the Virginia Public Library, you sure wouldn’t know it.

For nearly twenty years, the Library and its Friends have hosted a Hot Reads for Cold Nights series. Perfect for long, frigid and dreary winters on the Iron Range, this series is geared toward adult audiences and aims to combat adult alliteracy.

The Library and Friends have embraced more unconventional, less passive programming ideas, as well. One, with the tongue-in-cheek title Cook the Book, is a twist on the traditional potluck. Residents are encouraged to visit the Library and select a recipe out of a cookbook set aside by staff for that month’s Cook the Book. Participants try the recipe out at home and bring the dish to the Library for a sometimes cohesive and always fun communal meal.

​Last but not least, The Friends of Virginia Public Library host an annual event called The Book Lover’s Tea. At its heart, this bash is an opportunity for area bibliophiles to gather together around their shared love of literature (and savory snacks).

Volunteers first conceived of The Book Lover’s Tea – their Evy Nordley Award nominated program – nine years ago. While it started as a modest enough affair, “this has since transformed into an annual highlight headlined by an established Minnesota author,” explained board member Carol Gunderson. It is held each February, usually the week of Valentine’s Day.

Previous guests have included comedienne and New York Times bestselling author Lorna Landvik, popular children’s illustrator Chris Monroe, novelist Sarah Stonich, and Scandinavian chef Bea Ojakangas. This year, they doubled down on the culinary theme by hosting food and lifestyle writer, memoirist, and gourmet chef Beth Dooley.

While The Book Lover’s Tea is free and open to the public, space constraints limit attendance to fifty guests. Given the high demand in recent years, “regulars” know to make their reservations well in advance.

“Our members take great pride and joy in decorating our auditorium and preparing the delightful food,” Gunderson said. Staples include finger sandwiches, pastries, desserts – and, of course, an array of English teas!

Registration For 2018 MALF Workshop Now Open!

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Registration is now open for MALF’s summer workshop series, “Strengthening Your Organization: Fuel Relevancy and Impact.” Long-time nonprofits coach and consultant Sandy Anderson will join us in Duluth, Saint Michael, and Northfield for a keynote and working session on relevancy geared specifically for Friends of the Library.

Session 1: 
Tuesday, August 28
Duluth Public Library520 W. Superior St., Duluth, MN, 55802

Session 2: 
Wednesday, August 29
Saint Michael Public Library11800 Town Center Dr., St. Michael, MN, 55376

Session 3: 
Thursday, August 30
Northfield Public Library210 Washington St., Northfield, MN, 55057

Attendance is FREE, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to participate. Moreover, a complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and info packets. Do so by Friday, August 17.

Last, if you’re so inclined, we’d love for you to help spread the word amongst your networks (press release | flier | teaser video).

2018 Library Legislative Forum: You're Invited!

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Posted by jim under Events

brookdale.jpgIn today’s unsure funding climate, public advocacy for library funding is more important than ever. We occasionally hear that Friends are uncomfortable championing their library in this way, are inclined to write off advocacy as the responsibility of other stakeholders, or simply don’t know where to begin.

Fortunately, this summer is the perfect time to dip your toe in, learn the ropes – choose your metaphor! The Minnesota Library Association is co-hosting the annual Library Legislative Forum on Wednesday, August 8. Friends of the Library are cordially invited to join library staff and trustees for this traditional start to the library community’s legislative year.

Forum starts at 9:00 and will conclude by 3:30. The day will center around in-depth discussions about MLA's proposed Legislative Platform for the important 2019-2020 budget cycle. (Priorities are likely to include bonding for library buildings, expanded broadband access, and net neutrality – but the particulars must be worked through by those present!)

confab.jpgMLA leadership will also discuss advocacy tactics and priorities. Please consider attending, particularly if you are an advocacy novice. Learning by doing really is the best way!

The Library Legislative Forum will be held this year at the Hennepin County Library - Brookdale Public Library. Lunch is provided free of cost to advance registrants. Make sure to register by Friday, August 3.

'Stand Up Friends': One Month Mark!

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Posted by jim under Awards

While only one winner comes away with the Evy Nordley Award, every Friend of the Library group in Minnesota can claim a 2018 ‘Standout Friend’ simply by submitting a candidate they feel strongly about.

Stand Up for Standout Friends is, in essence, MALF’s equivalent of an Unsung Hero Award (a popular award of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and like-minded charities across the country). In thanks for ‘standout’ contributions to their work, each MALF member organization is invited to put forward the name of one individual for this special yearly honor.

Among other perks, every honoree will receive a certificate of achievement from MALF, plus recognition at this year’s Minnesota Library Association conference. MALF will also send notification letters to the mayor’s and/or county commissioner’s offices of all winners, and add their names and stories to a growing 
“Gallery of Friends” on our website.  

Applying is easy. Fill out and submit
 this form to our office, together with a cover letter addressing why your candidate is a Standout Friend. (Explanation of reasoning and qualifications should run a minimum of 100 words, and 200-300 words is advised.) Submit no later than Friday, July 27.

'The Lisa Libraries' Donating New Childrens Materials

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Posted by jim under Grants

According to the Library and Book Trade Almanac, a staggering 21,878 children's book titles were published or rereleased last year. Unfortunately, if not unsurprisingly, these books are more accessible to some children than to others.

Public and school libraries play an important role in equalizing access, of course – but in poor and underserved areas, a library’s collection budgetwill only stretch so far. If your library serves a high proportion of underprivileged youth, Lisa Libraries wants to help!

The Lisa Libraries is a 501c3 private foundation, started by The Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin in 1992 to honor the memory of a friend. It provides a selection of new fiction and nonfiction books (K-6) to small libraries and “other small grassroots organizations” – daycare centers, prison visiting areas, homeless shelters, and third party after-school programs.

If your library can make a case for such a gift,
 please apply. Be prepared to supply statistics on the number of children you serve and the socio-economics status of your service area (e.g., eligibility data for Title 1 and Federal School Lunch programs).

MALF Workshop Teaser Video: Focus On Relevancy

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Posted by jim under Workshops, Programming

Friends of the Library groups large and small often suffer from a handful of common problems: dwindling and aging membership, mediocre fundraising success, and perhaps most pernicious of all, mission creep

You should take some amount of solace in the knowledge that these issues are not unique to you. Indeed, they are not unique to Friends. In today’s nonprofit landscape, 501c3’s of all types and stripes experience these same stressors.

Long-time nonprofits coach and consultant Sandy Anderson knows this better than most. “We’re living in a time when charities are expected to do more with less.” Some degree of burnout is inevitable – especially if the core group of people doing your organization’s ‘heavy lifting’ is relatively small.

But assuming that a fresh infusion of donors and volunteers is not forthcoming, where does that leave us? Explains Anderson: “In short, we need to shift the conversion from doing more with less, to doing what’s relevant.”

Naturally, this pivot is easier said than done, but it is most certainly attainable.

With this in mind, MALF cordially invites you and your Friends colleagues to join Sandy Anderson this summer for a hands-on workshop: “Strengthening Your Organization: Create 'Tables' That Fuel Relevancy and Impact.” We’re bringing this free, engaging session to Duluth (August 28), Saint Michael (August 29), and Northfield (August 30). Registration opens Monday, July 9.


In the meantime, we encourage you to view this 3-minute overview video of the upcoming MALF workshop, specially tailored by Anderson for Friends of the Library audiences. It may make you ask: Where do tables and coffee filters enter the equation? Well, you will just have to join us August 28-30 to find out!

Great Stories Club 2018-2019

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Posted by jim under Grants, Programming

Speaking of July 9, that same Monday marks an important deadline. Between now and then, ALA's Public Programs Office invites public libraries to apply for the September 2018 - August 2019 cycle of its NEH-funded Great Stories Club (GSC).

Unfamiliar with the program? Great Stories Club’s raison d'être is to give underserved youth (and particularly those facing significant challenges) the opportunity to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them. The popular program has reached more than 750 libraries – and more than 30,000 young adults – to date.

Grantees host reading and discussion events for curated book titles (usually for a core group of 6-12 young people) that fit with the GSC’s ongoing theme. Books, support materials, and support services will be provided free of charge.

This year, for the first time, the American Library Association has announced not one, but two themes to choose from: Empathy and Heroism. Eleven eligible book titles truly run the gamut, covering everything from intergalactic diplomacy, to irresponsible time travel, to the underappreciated role of the Navajo tribe in World War II. Intrigued by that capsule description? We hope so.
 Click here to read more.

History Spotlight: Minnesota's Oldest Carnegie Libraries Still in Use

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Posted by jim under History, Guest Features

Kris Lindahl, Contributing Writer

Did you know that the state of Minnesota once boasted a total of 65 public libraries built with grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York? (One additional grant was awarded to Hamline University for an academic library.) It’s true! Between 1886 and 1919, the steel tycoon and renowned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gifted $45 million to fund 1,579 libraries across the country, and Minnesota claimed her fair share.

Remarkably, of the original 66 libraries located in cities and towns throughout Minnesota, 50 still stand. Twenty-three continue to function as libraries. Others have been converted into galleries, art centers, offices or commercial space. For example, the former library in Montevideo now serves as community space, while the Carnegie Library built in Pipestone in 1903 enjoys new life as a senior center. All of these beautiful, historic libraries contribute much to their communities’ aesthetic, and are one of many amenities prospective residents can look forward to when moving to Minnesota.


 

Standout Carnegie Libraries

Although many of Carnegie's initial grants were to communities where he had personal ties, 25 Minnesota towns were recipients of library commissions between 1899 and 1903. Duluth received the state's first commissions, for three quote "free public libraries." Minneapolis received four grants; three of these libraries are still in operation. Saint Paul, recipient of four grants, still counts two 1917 buildings as active libraries. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of my favorites.

Stillwater

Stillwater.jpgStillwater, just across the St. Croix River from Wisconsin, is sometimes known as the "birthplace of Minnesota.” It was the site of a territorial convention in 1848 that led to Minnesota statehood, so it seems fitting that it became the site of one of the first public libraries to be built in the state. On July 3, 1901, Stillwater received a Carnegie grant in the amount of $27,500.

Interestingly, Stillwater previously had a library association and maintained a lending library which supplied reading materials for a fee. In 1897, however, the city passed a referendum calling for taxation to fund a public library. When Carnegie funding for a building became available, Stillwater was therefore "first in line," so to speak, spurred on by an all-woman library board. 

The library opened the following year, and it is still operating. Although it has been enlarged and renovated, Stillwater Public Library still bears the stamp of its original Beaux Arts design, and carries on the tradition of its early years.

Little Falls

Distinguished by its Craftsman architecture, the Carnegie Library in Little Falls continues to serve residents some 113 years after its opening. The city received approval of its grant application in 1902, began construction of its library in 1904, and opened the doors in February 1905. Little Falls Public Library recorded 1,415 registered borrowers that inaugural year. 

Nowadays – after extensive renovations and updates to add public computers, etc. – the library is part of the Great River Regional Library System, and serves upwards of 8,300 regional borrowers.

Hutchinson

The Hutchinson Free Public Library was dedicated and opened in June 1904. Built of Kasota limestone and brick in the popular Classical Revival style, construction was made possible by a $12,500 grant from Carnegie. Nearly 100 years later, in 2003, an extensive restoration of the original Carnegie portion of the building began.

During the intervening years, the existing space was nearly tripled. Some of the original features, including original shelving and decorative woodwork, are still intact. The library – although changed and sporting a new entrance – still has a prominent place on Hutchinson's main public square.

Sauk Centre

sauk.jpgIn early 1903, citizens of Sauk Centre used $10,000 in grant funding to build the Bryant Public Library. (Its name honors American poet William Cullen Bryant.) It opened the following year.

An additional $1,000 Carnegie grant was awarded in 1907 to replace the original roof. A cupola was added in 1909 to increase the interior's natural light.

Today, the library is known as the  Sauk Centre Public Library. It was expanded in 1998 with two wing additions and interior renovations. New entrance steps were added in 1992, but the building retains its original brick Renaissance Revival façade— highlighted by a low-hipped roof, square-hipped cupola, and central entrance projection that boasts an impressive arched opening. 

Crookston and Morris

Two of northern Minnesota's early libraries are still open, and served for decades as their counties’ only libraries until they were purchased by their county historical societies.

Crookston.jpgCrookston was first offered $12,500 by Carnegie to build its library – but negotiated an increase to $17,500. They won their bid in November 1903. It took several more years to move the project forward, however. Although the cornerstone bears a date of 1907, the library did not open to the public until 1908. Typical of so many Carnegie Libraries, this is a Classical Revival style single-story building with a raised basement and an entrance staircase. A new, larger library was constructed on an adjacent site in 1984. Now the former Carnegia Library contains the Polk County Historical Society's archives.

Similarly, the Morris Public Library was relocated to new quarters in 1968, while the older building became headquarters and a museum operated by the Stevens County Historical Society. The original Classical Revival building, which opened in 1905, has been extensively renovated.

A 2005 addition nearly doubled existing display and storage space, and moved the entrance to another street. The new entrance was designed as a replica of the original, including period columns, quoining, parapet and pediment. The building still prominently features the Carnegie name.

These "free libraries" were never free to the communities that benefited from them. Rather, they were supported by taxation, a somewhat novel concept for the time. Learn more about Minnesota libraries by visiting Minnesota Carnegie Libraries Tour.

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 'Unsung Hero' Award

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“Minnesota Nice” is well understood and documented, but we would contend that “Minnesota Modesty” is no less pervasive. Every day, Friends of the Library work tirelessly but unassumingly to better their local libraries. They rarely receive the recognition that their selfless contributions deserve.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits knows this, too. For the past three years, the organization has offered its Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award, “in acknowledgment of the recipient’s role in creating a positive impact on Minnesota.”

While the award is a competitive one, top prize includes $10,000 and a special recognition at MCN’s annual conference in November. Candidates must be Minnesota residents, and self-nominations will not be accepted. Otherwise, eligibility criteria are few!


Click here to access application procedures and read up on 2015-2017 recipients, to better gauge if the colleague you have in mind would be competitive. Submit by Friday, May 25. As always, good luck!

2018 Nonprofit 'Mission' Awards

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Even when a Friends organization boasts an Unsung Hero worthy of statewide recognition, their successes still invariably represent a group effort. For this reason, MCN also invites nominations for its 2018 Nonprofit Mission Awards.

As the name suggests, Mission Awards recognize outstanding organizational achievements in further of a nonprofit’s objectives. They are granted annually, and in four categories: Responsive Philanthropy, Anti-Racism Initiatives, Advocacy, and Innovation. In particular, these last two are well suited to Friends of the Library priorities and accomplishments.

In this case, Friends leaders are welcome to submit their own organization for consideration (although formal affiliation is not required to put forward a nomination). A Minnesota Council of Nonprofits panel will winnow down the list of nominees to a set of finalists, which will be voted on by MCN membership.

As with the Unsung Hero Award, you can read up on previous years’ winners, to determine if your Friends of the Library are a good fit. 
Click here to learn more. Submit your application no later than Monday, May 21!

How Friends Attract & Retain Young Donors, Pt. 3

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MALF is pleased to present this three-part miniseries on Millennial donors, adapted with permission from a piece originally prepared by and for Library Strategies, our office management firm. We've heard from you, our members, that this is a topic of great and increasing importance.

Tip 4: Don't "Be On" Social Media. Use Social Media.

Invest time and energy in the three core social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. However, be aware of an all too-common fundraising pitfall.

Nonprofits – particularly small ones and those who’ve traditionally catered to older donors – often excitedly turn to social media, but immediately become disenchanted when the donations do not effortlessly poor in. They delete their Facebook and Twitter or simply let the organization’s social media presence go dormant.

This misses the point entirely. Although - as we discussed in detail in Part 2 - they are practitioners of online and mobile giving, Millennials want something different from social media. Instead of a fundraising organ, think of social media as a storytelling and relationship building tool. Young donors follow institutions because they want to hear about their mission in action. Repeated exposure to positive messages makes these individuals more receptive to “asks” over the long term. Is this ideal for your purposes? Perhaps not – but think long term. Eighty-eight percent of Americans aged 18-29 use Facebook, and 76 percent of Facebook users turn to the site daily.

Do you really want to miss out on this time and attention?

Scholastic Invites Applications for $500 Mini-Grants

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According to the National Education Association, nearly 90 percent of all public schools in America offer students a library/media center. However, relatively few have a collection development budget that librarians or teachers would consider robust. If you are a Friend of the Library associated with a K-12 school media center - or know someone who is - encourage them to apply for Scholastic Inc.’s Patterson Partnership Book Giveaway.

Scholastic, together with New York Times bestselling novelist James Patterson, will give mini-grants of $500 to 4,000 schools in 2018. That's $2 million in all!

No time to fill out a lengthy application? Not to worry; it couldn’t be easier. Find a teacher to sponsor your request, and fill out a 100-word explanation of how the $500 would be used to better your school’s learning environment. (By our math, that’s potentially $5/word, so why not put your name forward?)


Click here to read the Patterson Partnership’s detailed FAQ page, and here to apply. Submit your bid by Tuesday, July 31. Winners will be notified on Thursday, September 6.

Compile Those Evy Nordley Materials Now!

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MALF is now accepting entries for its flagship Friends prize, the annual Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. You have until Friday June 15 to submit your application(s).

As in years past, any Friends-supported project can be considered. Examples include programming and fundraisers, advocacy or membership campaigns, a new website or publication, or outstanding community collaborations. Efforts jointly sponsored or developed with the library (or another public agency) are eligible, provided that the library or Friends of the Library was the primary beneficiary of the effort. Current MALF membership is also a prerequisite for consideration.

Applicants will be considered by a MALF judging panel this summer. Finalists will be asked to join us at the 2018 Minnesota Library Association conference in Saint Cloud (October 11-12) and give a ten-minute presentation on their project. Top prize, announced at MLA, is $1,000 and a custom commemorative plaque!


Click here for further details on the Evy Nordley Award’s purpose and history, eligibility criteria, and applicant recommendations. Click here to access the application. Good luck!

*VIRTUAL* Library Legislative Day 2018

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As you may already have heard, National Library Legislative Day 2018 is scheduled for May 7-8. Like in years past, MALF is proud to have a representative on the ground to participate in the American Library Association’s slate of events and meet with members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

Legislative Day is held – where else? – in Washington D.C. ALA understands that, due to cost constraints and scheduling availability, most library advocates cannot attend NLLD in person. Fortunately, you can still participate: in Virtual Library Legislative Day... In point of fact, there’s no excuse not to take part! Simply pledge to do one or more of the following:


• Email or call your senators and representative, on or around May 8;
 Make an appointment to meet with your congressmen, when they are next home;
 Organize a talk or demonstration to bring attention to library issues in your hometown;
 Promote Virtual Library Legislative Day within your personal network, and on social media (using hashtag #NLLD18).

Click here to learn more, and click here to fill out an ALA “pledge card.”

How Friends Attract Younger Donors, Pt. 2

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MALF is pleased to present this three-part miniseries on Millennial donors, adapted with permission from a piece originally prepared by and for Library Strategies, our office management firm. We've heard from you, our members, that this is a topic of great and increasing importance.

Tip 3: Encourage Online Giving. Watch Mobile Giving.

Fifteen years ago, checks accounted for 46 percent of all non-cash transactions. By 2012, that figure had dwindled to just 15 percent – and the percentage is still shrinking. If any charity overlooks the obvious ramifications this trend has for fundraising, they are going to miss out on substantial cumulative gifts from young donors.

At a bare minimum, your website should include a link to a PayPal account. If you fundraise through ticket sales of any kind, your site should also have an obvious link to an online ticketing platform, such as Eventbrite, EventZilla, or Event Smart. (Their names may be similar, but functions and fees vary. Do your research and find the tool that best matches your needs.) If cutting a check is required, some younger donors will simply spend their weekend and money elsewhere.

Mobile payments are another trend to watch. Apple Pay, the digital wallet platform launched by Apple Inc. in 2013, currently boasts about 90 percent of this market. Apple is presently focused on expanding commercial applications, but large nonprofits like the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and St. Jude’s already use the platform.

Moreover, some forward-thinking libraries are already accepting Apple Pay for overdue fines. Friends and Foundations should keep on eye on this development.

MN Book Awards Opens Gala Registration, Announces Group Contest

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mn-book-awards.jpgOn Saturday, April 21, book-lovers from all across Minnesota will descend on downtown Saint Paul for the 2018 Minnesota Book Awards ceremony. At this annual gala – the linchpin of the state literary community’s spring calendar – winners in each of the nine categories will be announced.

If you’ve flirted with the idea of attending in the past, make this the year! Tickets range from $40-$60 and are going fast. Your ticket includes wine and refreshments during the ceremony, and entry to the Epilogue After-Party at the end of the night.

Friends of the Library are invited, and encouraged, to book seats next to one another. Simply enter the name of your organization in the “Seating Preferences” space located at the bottom of the checkout form.

For the first time ever, the Minnesota Book Awards team have even added a special incentive to groups to reserve a table of ten. Book a full table, and your book club will be entered into an exclusive drawing to host an appearance by one of the 2018 finalist authors! Library book clubs and Friends of the Library are two constituencies with significant overlap, so we know this is a perk that will appeal to many of you!

Click here to read more about the book club contest, and call 651-366-3242 with any questions. Visit thefriends.org/ceremony to make a reservation. Seating is limited, so don’t delay!

Note: Did you know? The Minnesota Book Awards is organized by long-time MALF member The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, who serve as Minnesota’s state Center for the Book.

 

Mark Your Calendars: MLA 2018

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With another Library Legislative Day “in the books,” preparations for the Minnesota library community’s other tentpole event – the annual Minnesota Library Conference – are underway. Mark your calendars for October 11-12!

MALF is proud to continue is premier- level sponsorship of the MLA Conference, and to host a day-long programming track specific to the needs and interests of Friends of the Library. Full panel details will be made available this summer; registration opens August 1.

We sincerely hope you will join library staff, administrators, and Friends from across the state in Saint Cloud at the River’s Edge Convention Center. MALF members pay a reduced rate of $71 for entrance on Friends Day – if booked before the early bird deadline of September 5. Price for one-day Friend of the Library admission jumps to $93 after that date.

How Friends Attract Younger Donors, Pt. 1

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Posted by jim under Fundraising

MALF is pleased to present this three-part miniseries on Millennial donors, adapted with permission from a piece originally prepared by and for Library Strategies, our office management firm. We know that this is a topic of great interest to our membership.

Nearly 85 percent of employed Millennials (age 18-34) donated to a charitable cause last year, according to a recent Millennial Impact Report. That’s impressive in itself – and doubly so when you factor in that America’s youngest working generation is also its largest. Eighty-five percent of Millennials translates to 67 million donors!

Furthermore, data from a recent, “buzzy” Pew Research Center report certifies what front-line librarians have been saying for years: Millennials are active and proud library users, and (on the whole) use their local library more often than older generations. In short, if your Friends organization is not courting the largesse of these younger donors, you are almost surely leaving money on the table.

What’s the catch?

Millennials choose their causes, and how much to give, based on patterns and preferences that may come as a curveball to any fundraiser versed in what’s “tried and true” among older givers. Savvy library support organizations must learn both the best practices and faux pas of this new giving landscape.

Offer “Participatory” Giving Opportunities.

According to the Millennial Impact Report cited earlier, an astounding 64 percent of young people have participated (actively or passively) in a walk, run or cycle event for charity. Collectively, nonprofits netted an estimated $1.2 billion through such events in 2012 alone. That’s nearly double what participatory giving opportunities brought in back in 2002.

Young donors are disproportionately represented here, and the reasons for that are twofold. Young adults are not as affluent as their parents and grandparents. Participatory giving opportunities along the “Fun Run” model allow young people to give as little as $5.00 to a friend’s race fund, and still feel the peer affirmation and vicarious commitment of the person they are donating “through.” Under other circumstances, the donor might not view such a gift as appreciated or worth the effort.

Second, participatory giving opportunities allow a young donor unable to contribute substantial funds to have a comparable impact by freely offering their time and enthusiasm instead. (Unsurprisingly, parents and grandparents are oftentimes big contributors.)

Ramsey County Public Library in Minnesota and Person County Public Library in North Carolina are among the many who have had recent success with “Fun Runs.” Others add a fresh, library twist. Read-a-thons and overnight lock-ins have proven equally effective at marshaling pledges.

Emphasize Cause Over Organization.

This is a generation who thinks critically about who they give to and what impact their dollar is having. Furthermore, compared to their parents, few young donors are “brand loyal” – they will jump ship if another charity with an allied mission looks to be more effective.

For these reasons, mammoth nonprofits with multi-pronged missions have had trouble attracting and retaining younger donors in recent years. It’s not always easy for an organization like United Way to trace a clear line between donation and dividend.

Library support organizations should not expect young donors to rally to them “because libraries need our support.” Instead, cite the added value the Library is able to offer to the community because of private donations routed through the Friends or Foundation. For example: “Your donation of [$x] will allow us to add [x] new titles to our recently expanded children’s area.”

Assuming the money will be put towards the same purpose regardless, employing special asks for specific needs is the perfect way to harness this “cause over organization” mentality.

Hypothetical examples are sometimes appropriate, if based on sound math. In an end-of-year appeal, this might take the form of “In 2016, you donated [$x]. That’s the cost equivalent of [xx] one-on-one tutoring sessions at the Library or [xx]…”

2018 Innovations in Reading Prize: Apply Today!

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Untitled.jpgLast year, entrepreneur and social justice speaker Alvin Irby made waves with “Barbershop Books”: a grassroots movement to encourage young boys of color to read to their neighborhood barber in exchange for a free or discounted haircut. CNN, MSNBC, NPR and a host of other media outlets recently ran glowing stories on the positive community impact Barbershop Books is having. Irby and his colleagues owed that boost, in part, to the National Book Foundation, who bestowed its 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize to Barbershop Books.

Has your Friends of the Library group created, or contributed to, a new and innovative reading initiative over the past year? If so, the National Book Foundation wants YOU to put forward your program or project for consideration as part of the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize cycle.

Parameters are relatively broad, provided your program “sustains a lifelong love of reading.” Five groups and projects will be honored at the 2018 Why Reading Matters Conference. Top prize also receives $10,000! Applications can be submitted online. Submit yours by February 28.

Minnesota Library Legislative Day Registration Opens!

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In today’s uncertain budgetary climate, it is more important than ever to advocate for the public resources we hold dear. If you are reading this, it’s safe to assume that libraries make your personal list!

We hope you will join MALF, MLA, and library supporters from all across the state on March 5-6 for 2018 Minnesota Library Legislative Day. Held each year at the Capitol, this is our best opportunity all year round to turn out in force and state a case for robust library funding in front of our elected representatives.

Festivities kick off at the Roseville Public Library on Monday, March 5 with an evening briefing focused on challenges and goals this congressional term. Optional dinner opportunities will follow. Registrants will meet in small groups with their reps on the following day, per usual.
 Click here to register!

In preparation for this year’s festivities, organizers have rolled out a brand new website. This new resource offers a wealth of valuable data: legislative updates, an itinerary, talking points, and a “tool kit” for success on the Big Day. Be sure to check it out!

MALF Seeks Treasurer; Help Spread the Word!

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downloadsa.jpgHave a head for figures, and a heart for libraries? MALF’s treasurer is slated to rotate out of that important role by 2019, and we are currently seeking a replacement to assume those duties after a long transitional period. Read on for full details.

If interested in this – or in contributing to MALF’s board or committees in some other capacity – send a brief cover letter and resume to info@mnlibraryfriends.org. Our nominating committee will respond promptly!

Primary Duties
● Serve on the board of directors, and on MALF’s executive committee (alongside president, vice presidents, and secretary).
● Maintain the organization’s checkbook and bank account.
● Collaborate with MALF’s hired accountant to record expenses and income streams.
● Lead the Board of Directors in a quarterly review of financial reports created by the accountants.
● Chair MALF’s finance and investment committee.
● Collaborate in creation of an annual budget.
● Meet quarterly with MALF’s investment advisors.
● Participate in – and make data available from – annual internal audit.
● Renew MALF’s memberships with affiliated organizations (e.g., Minnesota Council of Nonprofits).

Requirements

● Must be able to commit at least six hours per month to above activities.
● Prior experience or great familiarity with library organizations is not required, but a commitment to MALF’s mission and values is a must.
● Strong communication skills, and timely responses to all phone and email queries.
● Must maintain a personal MALF membership (minimum $10/yr).

Additional

● All meetings of the full Board of Directors, executive committee, and finance and investment committee are held in the Twin Cities.
● Note: Accountants, not Treasurer, prepare MALF’s quarterly finance reports and annual tax forms.

Minnesota Seeks 'Letters About Literature' Volunteer Judges

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hqdefault.jpgIn the coming weeks, thousands of Minnesota schoolchildren will pen letters to their favorite writers, living or dead, about how that author’s work has changed them or their world view. It’s not merely a fun creative exercise – though it certainly is that. All across the country, students 4-12 are tackling this writing prompt as part of “Letters About Literature.”

The Library of Congress kickstarted the program back in 2000, and continues to provide oversight. However, entries are judged and prizes awarded on the state level. Here in Minnesota, the state’s Center for the Book coordinates first- and second-round judging. With so many entries incoming, coordinators are seeking volunteers with librarian, educator or experience (professional or volunteer) to read and assess letters. ‘Workload’ is projected to be approximately 50 one- to two-page letters per judge.

Entrants are judged by age category (grades 4-5, 7-8 and 9-12). If you have preference(s), be sure to mention these in your email. Letters ranked highly by you will be considered for statewide (and ultimately national) award consideration. If interested, contact with Alayne Hopkins (alayne@thefriends.org) for more information or to put your name forward.

"Minnesota Libraries Transform Because…"

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Posted by jim under Advocacy

In the past year, frequent and attentive library goers may have seen tantalizing "Because" statements plastered to their library’s walls, doors, and shelf endcaps. ("Because access equals opportunity." "Because a library card is the most important school supply of all."). These messages are the output of a viral publicity campaign conducted by the American Library Association. “Because” statements answer the rhetorical but important question: Why are our libraries so important?

This month, in response to ALA’s phenomenal success on the national level, the Minnesota Library Association's new Legislative Working Group just announced a tagline contest of its own: "Minnesota Libraries Transform Because…"

Entering is simple! Complete the sentence, and post to Twitter along with #mnlibrariestransform. You are welcome to submit your entry online, instead. Collected submission may be used in collateral materials created for Minnesota Library Legislative Day and Virtual Library Legislate Week 2018 (scheduled for March 5-8).

One lucky winner will also receive a large, decorative print of their “Because” statement (and bragging rights, to boot)! Make sure you submit your entry by Friday, February 2. Good luck!

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Institute of Museum and Library Services Needs Our Help!

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download.jpgYou may not know the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) by name. However, every time you visit a public library, you have the IMLS - in part - to thank for the amenities you used and the service you received. Among other duties, IMLS stewards Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) funding, the only federal dollars exclusively set aside for libraries.

LSTA is the pot through which 1,500+ state grants are funded each year. In recent years, Minnesota's population-based allotment has hovered around $2.7 million, so much is at stake!

In the coming months, IMLS is up for reauthorization (a piece of legislation passed by Congress certifying a program or department’s continued relevance). IMLS and LSTA were last reauthorized back in 2010. With a new and uncertain fiscal year on the horizon, authorization is perhaps more important than ever.

Constituents can contact their congressional representatives and encourage them to support bipartisan bill “S. 2271” (aka Museum and Library Services Act of 2017) in the Senate. You can read more about the renewal bill here.