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Evy Nordley Candidate Spotlight: Rochester, Minn.

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!