Age of Coronavirus: Webinars and More

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Resources, and the best places to find them, are evolving as fast as the virus is spreading. Here is a list of webinars (archived and upcoming) to get you up to speed.

1. American Libraries: Last week, ALA and its American Libraries magazine hosted a panel on how libraries at the vanguard of the pandemic (including those serving King County, Washington and Pisoia, Italy) responded to the rapid situational changes. More than 1,100 attended live! It is available free for viewing.

2. Public Library Association: Every Thursday between March 26 and April 16, PLA will offer free COVID-19 webinars for library stakeholders. Specific topics include “The Current Landscape” (March 26), “Successful Ways to Work Remotely” (April 2), “Managing Stress and Anxiety” (April 9), and “Innovative Solutions in Times of Crisis” (April 16). Each session is all but guaranteed to fill up, so if you are unable to RSVPlook for the archived recordings after the fact!

3. Library Journal: For the foreseeable future, Library Journal has dropped all paywalls on its digital content. Now is a perfect time to do a deep dive into library topics of interest to you. Particularly timely is the FEMA / National Library of Medicine webinar “Libraries and Non-Traditional Facilities in Emergencies.” (Note: Crisis scenarios other than COVID-19 are also covered in this session.)

COVID-19, Libraries, and Friends

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It used to be said that taxes were the only reliable, universal feature of American life. Now, we can all add another commonality to that list: Americans everythwhere are searching for a new normal in the surreal era of COVID-19 mitigation. Libraries and their support organizations are by no means exempt. In fact, due to libraries’ long-standing role as a community gathering place, they are particularly vulnerable. As you know, the majority of public libraries are closed at this time, following CDC and local health official recommendations.

What can we, as Friends, do for our library?
1. Stay informed. We don’t doubt that you’re keeping abreast of national and international developments. In addition, there are a growing number of webinars and other online resources popping up specific to librarianship and fundraising. (See below for some jumping off points.) Even if you don’t gain profound, actionable insights, you’ll be gainfully filling time!

2. Check in with staff. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, library staff find themselves in precarious employment situations, overtaxed by a need to reinvent their public services, and/or suffering from low morale. Even if you can do very little for them, they will appreciate knowing you’re thinking of them in this hectic time. (Example: The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has a “buddy system” in place, where each branch manager enjoys a one-on-one relationship with a Friends contact throughout the coronavirus upheaval.)

3. Adhere to best practices. We list it last only because we know you’ve heard it so many times before. Follow the CDC/WHO guidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene. Let’s flatten that curve!

COVID-19: What Is MALF's Game Plan?

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In brief, our office has gone virtual, but daily operations will continue unimpeded.

1. Our office space in Saint Paul is closed until further notice. However, mail will be forwarded to the home address of our office manager. Membership dues, grant applications, and other mail will be processed on the normal timetable.

2. Likewise, our office line will roll over into a MALF leader’s personal cell phone. Phone and email coverage will continue as normal.

3. As alluded to above, our slate of member grants are still available! Now may be the perfect time to look ahead to brighter days and get a jump start on late 2020 / 2021 program planning.

4. We are postponing the planned March print newsletter for members. Naturally, the “news du jour” has changed considerably from when we laid it out at the beginning of this month! However, e-newsletters will continue on the normal timetable.

Game On! Gaming Grant

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While books and reading are as central to the your library’s mission as ever, other needs and pastimes are doubtless jockeying for limited funding. As one example, games – board games, video games, and even interactive, on-site opportunities like escape rooms – are a key draw in many areas, particularly for younger patrons.

Recognizing these facts, the American Library Association recently created a Games and Gaming Round Table to advise and assist libraries in this area. Every spring, through the aptly named Game On! grant program, this round table will offer a limited number of $250-$500 grants to kickstart libraries’ gaming efforts. On-site gaming opportunities, off-site programming sponsored by the library, and appropriate collection development efforts are all fair game (pun intended).

Only members of ALA (including its Friends of the Library arm, United for Libraries) are eligible. Grant window will open and close on a rolling basis, with each year’s recipients announced and honored at the ALA Annual conference. Friends of the Library representatives must also be able to prove approval from their library’s branch manager or system director.
 Click here to learn more.

Meet Mary Jo Wimmer

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Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomed three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time. Next up:

Mary Jo Wimmer is founder of Trillium Leadership Development. Since founding the firm in 1992, Wimmer has coached dozens of not-for-profits, businesses and civic bodies across rural Minnesota toward actualizing their mission statements and achieving full organizational potential. Her core competencies include teamwork cultivation, leadership training, training on workplace conflict, and assisting organizations with intercultural competency development. 

In addition to her own practice, Wimmer is a senior trainer for the Blandin Foundation's leadership programs and a Forum Discussion Leader for the Anderson Center for Leadership and Management. She has recently written a book on training. Among other volunteer commitments, Wimmer manages the bookstore for the Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library. She has served in that capacity since 2008.

Interested in learning more about a potential leadership role with MALF? Email us any time at info@mnlibraryfriends.org

'Lift Every Voice' Programming Grant

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Interested in bringing memorable poetry experiences to your library’s patrons? The National Endowment for the Humanities and not-for-profit Library of America project may have the perfect opportunity for you.

Applications are currently being solicited for the Lift Every Voice program. Subtitled Why African American Poetry Matters, the intent of this national project is to showcase and explore that group’s many past and present contributions to the corpus of American literature (and poetry in particular).

If selected, participating libraries and other eligible cultural institutions will be required to put on a minimum of two events. One must be a discussion featuring or moderated by a scholar of African American literature. The other can take many forms: a poetry workshop, slam event, panel discussion, or even musical performance!

Thanks to the NEA and other generous sponsors, a full 50 grants of $1,200 will be awarded. However, you must apply by March 20
Click here for full details.

Mark Your Calendars: April 23 Is Library Giving Day 2020

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Fundraising is no easy thing, even for dedicated professionals who do it full time. It’s more daunting still for all-volunteer Friends of the Library, who ordinarily have far less expertise and experience to tap.

If giving campaigns are something you’ve struggled with in the past – or not even begun to explore – take a look at
 Library Giving Day. Brainchild of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, this one-day giving “holiday” is devoted solely to library causes and coincides with National Library Week.

Last year, over the inaugural Library Giving Day, 192 organizations from across the country (and four Canadian provinces, to boot!) took part, and gifts far exceeded organizers’ targets for a first-time giving event.

Thursday, April 23, 2020 marks the second annual Library Giving Day. If you missed out on the fun the last time around, now is the time to lay groundwork. Visit the initiative’s
 website for access to an array of free resources: tips webinars, template promotional and campaign materials, logo graphics, and more.

If you participatebe sure to report your campaign results in the official Library Giving Day portal after the fact. This allows organizers and participants to gauge the growth of the event over time.

News You Can Use: MLA Annual Meeting Takeaways

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Friends of the Library don’t operate in a vacuum, and it is to our advantage to keep up with developments impacting Minnesota’s libraries more generally. In that spirit, our board and staff have identified several recent developments from the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) that might interest you.

1. MLA has just rolled out a special Advocate category for Friends of the Library and other self-identified citizen champions of libraries. The intent is to provide non-practitioners an opportunity to add their voice to MLA’s sustained advocacy efforts at the Capitol. Dues are low, at $10/year. Membership at this new tier does not confer voting privileges or most other benefits associated with MLA membership, and is intended as a supplement to rather than a replacement for involvement with MALF or local Friends of the Library groups. Email MLA’s trustees chair Jim Weygand at jimweygand@aol.com for details.

2. MLA passed a memorial resolution in honor of long-time MLA and MALF leader Joan Larson. You can read MALF’s own obituary on Larson here.

3. An overhaul to the Association’s website (mnlibraryassociation.org) is imminent! Watch that space for updates.

4. The organization has added a Continuing Education Committee to its list of standing bodies, in recognition of the career-long importance of professional development to librarians and paraprofessionals.

Click here for additional updates on the state of the Association.

MALF Welcomes New Director Janet Eaton

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Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomed three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time. Next up:

Janet Eaton is a native of Columbia Heights. After a long career as a commercial insurance underwriter and insurance agent, principally in the Pacific Northwest, she moved back to Anoka County in 2005. Fond memories of her childhood library steered Eaton to membership and leadership roles within the Friends of the Anoka County Library – a regional Friends group that supports the libraries in Circle Pines, Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Ham Lake, Anoka and St. Francis. Over the past five years, Eaton has served as secretary and, most recently, treasurer of that dynamic group. MALF is thrilled to have Janet involved in our day-to-day finances and investment management.

Interested in learning more about a potential leadership role with MALF? Email us any time at info@mnlibraryfriends.org

Evy Nordley Award - 2020 Contest Now Open!

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Last year, Minnesota’s many Friends of the Library groups funded and coordinated some incredible projects. MALF honored four as part of our annual Evy Nordley Award for Best Project contest. We’re confident that 2020 will be just as productive and impressive!

By popular request, we are making this year’s Evy Nordley application available early. Entries are due before or on Friday, June 12.

Who can apply? Entrants must be based in Minnesota and attached to a public, K-12 school, college/university, or special library. Libraries themselves, along with individuals and non-library charities, cannot apply. Current membership in the Minnesota Association of Library Friends is a prerequisite for consideration. (However, if necessary, annual dues may be submitted with award application.) Previous years’ finalists and winners are strongly encouraged to reenter for the 2020 cycle. You may also submit multiple candidate projects as part of this or any Evy Nordley cycle.

What can you submit? Common project types are special events, successful fundraisers, membership drives, and advocacy campaigns – but the sky is the limit!

Any Friends-supported project is eligible, provided that (1) project implementation began after January 1, 2019; and (2) either the Friends or their library was the primary beneficiary. (In other words, efforts jointly developed with or sponsored by non-Friends organizations are qualified under many circumstances.) If you have specific questions about the eligibility of a particular project, call 651-366-6492 for clarity.

Top prize is $1,000 - with additional financial prizes awarded. 

New Year, New Directors

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Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomes three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time.

Melissa Brechon is a career librarian and retired library administrator. Her resume includes time at the helm of the Austin (Minn.) Public Library and seven-branch Carver County Library in suburban Minneapolis. In recent years, Brechon also filled in as interim director for the Stillwater Public Library and for MELSA, the federated library consortium servicing the Twin Cities. She is currently a library consultant, with an emphasis on community and facility needs assessments. Her list of past clients includes dozens of public libraries in Minnesota, plus dozens more in places as far afield as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Texas; and Bighorn, Wyoming.

Interested in learning more about leadership on the MALF board? Send an email to info@mnlibraryfriends.org.

Captain Planet Foundation Offers ecoSTEM Kits

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STEM learning is a priority of youth services librarians everywhere. However, finding and funding exciting, engaging STEM activities can be a challenge. If this sounds relatable, your Friends group might want to look into the Captain Planet Foundation’s readymade ecoSTEM kits. While these are available for purchase, a limited number are also available free of charge to schools and nonprofits.

At this time, four kits are in production. These include a water kit (with water composition and quality monitoring equipment); energy kit (with solar cells, a mini wind turbine, and infrared thermometers); a pollinator kit (with milkweed seeds, butterfly rearing house, and caterpillars); and a composting kit (including worms and a mushroom farm starter).

Click here for more information on each option - plus details on when and how to apply. The Captain Planet Foundation also offers a variety of other grant opportunities worth checking out.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

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Each year, a special round table of the American Library Association bestows the coveted Coretta Scott King Award. Named after the civil rights leader, this prize recognizes outstanding work for young adults written by African American authors and about the African American experience. 

But what happens to the thousands of books that are submitted after these national competitions have concluded?

In this case, ALA donates complete sets of the year’s entries to worthy organizations: schools, social service agencies, churches, and of course libraries! Donations include a full set of the winning and runner-up titles for the year, and total 60-100 books in all (depending on the year’s candidate pool).

Interested libraries and Friends should contact ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services by Friday, January 31. Applicants are asked to provide statements about why they should be considered, and how this specific material acquisition will aid their work. Supplementary materials are also encouraged, if they bolster your case.

Click here for additional details on eligibility, including a detailed rubric on how proposals are scored. Click here to jump straight to the online application.