Minnesota Association of Library Friends

November Brings Giving Opportunities Galore

Posted by jim on November 08, 2018

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!

Posted by jim on November 02, 2018

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

Posted by jim on October 24, 2018

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

Posted by jim on September 21, 2018

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.


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

Posted by jim on September 03, 2018

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

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.

rss-feed Archive




Newsletter Sign-up