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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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Posted by jim under Workshops

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.