Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Libraries are among any community’s best (and in some places and cases, only) resources for new immigrants to gain English language proficiency, workforce assistance, and other services vital to acclimating to life in a new country.

In recognition of this fact, Georgia-based Vernon Library Supplies, a privately owned and operated materials vendor, is donating 100% of its 2017 profits to benefit libraries across the country in their ongoing efforts to serve immigrants.

“Immigrants and their successful integration into the country have been critical to what has made America into the wonderful country it is,” said company president Shai Robkin. “We therefore owe our libraries a great debt of gratitude.”

Up to $5,000 is available to libraries that can prove a diverse demographic/patron base, demonstrate a history of serving New Americans, and lay out a game plan for wisely spending any money awarded. Click here to learn more, and to apply.

Applications must be received by October 31, 2017. Decisions will be made on or before December 1.

MALF Welcomes Two New Leaders

Posted by jim on March 08, 2017

MALF is thrilled to announce the introduction of two new Board of Directors members to our growing ranks: Jim Weygand and Roseanne Byrne.

Roseanne Byrne
brings impressive library field ‘bona fides’ to MALF. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she served for a time as assistant deputy director and youth services librarian for the Des Plaines (IL) Public Library. Byrne has since worked in three MELSA library systems, including time as an assistant branch manager with the Saint Paul Public Library, nearly 25 years in various capacities at Hennepin County Library, and 13 years with Dakota County Library (including time as system deputy director). She is a highly active, and founding, member of the Wentworth – Dakota Friends of the Library.

Jim Weygand is deeply invested in public libraries and other public causes in the southwest Twin Cities metro. Although a (retired) semiconductor process engineer by trade, residents of Carver County will know Weygand best as a past City Council member and Mayor of Carver. He recently finished serving nearly a full decade on the Library Board of Carver County Library. Weygand is currently President of the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Trustee and Advocates division, and a dedicated member of the Minnesota Library Association board.

Interested in learning more about serving on the MALF Board, and other volunteering opportunities with the Friends? Email info@mnlibraryfriends.org, and we will be happy to get you in touch with our Nominating Committee.

Friends of the Library know as well as anyone that school media centers routinely face budget shortfalls and cuts. Unfortunately, this is especially true in poorer communities – in the schools where children could most benefit from a robust library.

If your local school media center serves a high proportion of disadvantaged students, the Snapdragon Book Foundation wants to help. For nearly a decade, this organization (started by a former librarian, who understands the challenges faced by these important facilities), has been providing much needed monetary assistance to school libraries looking to expand their lending collections.

If your media center is looking to purchase materials within the next nine months, visit their website to see if you are eligible. Before proceeding, be sure to check out their thorough FAQ.

Last year, the Snapdragon Book Foundation received more than 500 applications – and awarded a number of grants ranging from $1,500 to $15,000. Apply by Sunday, April 16 to be considered for the 2017 cycle.

ALA Co-Sponsors Unique STEM Program Opportunity

Posted by jim on February 27, 2017

Libraries encourage young patrons to reach for the stars – but rarely in a way as literal as this. ALA, in partnership with the Space Science Institute and National Center for Interactive Learning, encourages you to put your library’s name forward for “NASA @ My Library.”

NASA @ My LibrarySeventy-five libraries across the country, selected by the program sponsors, will receive a variety of educational resources (and other supplies) to coordinate in-library STEM programming specific to astronomy and space exploration. Materials include tablet computers pre-loaded with how-to videos, apps, and educational games you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition, representatives from chosen libraries will be invited to Denver for a special, two-day orientation workshop. “NASA @ My Library” will last approximately 18 months for each public library selected.

Click here to learn more, and to start the application process. Be sure to submit your application by end of day Wednesday, March 22.

Per capita, few communities boast as much homegrown literary talent as Austin, Minnesota. Local standouts include National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien and bestselling YA novelist Amanda Hocking. Austin also lays claim to Minnesota’s newest Literary Landmark honoree, world-renowned poet Richard G. Eberhart.

What is a Literary Landmark?

download.jpgIf you are new to MALF, you may be unfamiliar with the term. In short, a Literary Landmark is a site with some strong historical connection to a prominent and influential American author. They are identified and dedicated through a joint partnership between United for Libraries and local affiliates like the Minnesota Association of Library Friends.

Examples range widely, from the birthplaces of Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemmingway, to a Mississippi church that inspired the writings of playwright Tennessee Williams, to the final resting place of illustrator Randolph Caldecott (namesake of literature’s Caldecott Medal).

In total, there are currently over 160 such sites across the country. Minnesota claims seven, thanks in large part to MALF. Recent additions include the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, and Vermilion Community College, home of conservationist Sigurd Olson. (You can find a complete list on our website, mnlibraryfriends.org.)

Richard Eberhart: 2017 Honoree

Richard_Eberhart.jpgMower County’s famous native son is a worthy addition to these esteemed ranks. Born in Austin in 1904, Eberhart spent his formative years at the family’s 40-acre estate just outside of town. While he enjoyed a privileged and happy childhood, financial setbacks and the unexpected death of his mother marred his later adolescence.

As fans of Eberhart’s work are quick to point out, much of his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poetry is inspired by both the highlights and travails of this childhood in Austin. Particularly evident are his lifelong fascination with nature, exploration of fate, and fixation with the mysteries of death. Given this focus, contemporary and modern critics alike compare Eberhart – usually quite favorably – to William Wordsworth and the other nineteenth-century English masters of Romanticism.

Eberhart’s journey to worldwide acclaim took him from Minnesota first to Dartmouth College (his future academic home) and later to Cambridge. After completing his coursework, Eberhart visited exotic locales (including most notably Siam, where he spent 1930 as personal tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok). Once back statewide, he quickly made a name for himself as a thoughtful teacher of English and poetry – and an up-and-coming poet in his own right.

After an interlude during which Eberhart served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Dartmouth appointment him poet-in-residence. He would remain with the institution, in some capacity, until his death in 2005 at the ripe old age of 101. At various times, Eberhart also doubled as poet laureate for the state of New Hampshire, official poet consultant for the Library of Congress, and a member of important federal advisory committees dedicated to the arts.

Over this long and fruitful academic career, Eberhart found time to publish a dozen books of poetry. Standouts include Burr Oak (1947), named after his childhood estate in Austin; Selected Poems, 1930-1965, winner of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Collected Poems, 1930-1976, winner of the National Book Award.

Poems held in particularly high regard today include “The Groundhog,” a rumination on mortality and the uniqueness of human consciousness, and "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment," an ode to wartime loss inspired by his own WWII experiences.

Austin Dedication

In partnership with the Friends of the Austin Library, MALF will christen Eberhart’s hometown as America’s newest Literary Landmark on Monday, April 17. That official dedication will include a special program and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Literary Landmark events are free and open to the public, and we would love to see you there. Please stay tuned for further details! 

United for Libraries Invites Baker & Taylor Award Noms

Posted by jim on February 05, 2017

If your Friends group submits entries to MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award contest, make sure that the Baker & Taylor Awards are also on your radar.

Coordinated each year by United for Libraries, this prize recognizes Friends groups (and library Foundations) who orchestrated a program or initiative sometime over the past year that impacted your library in a major way.

Two entrants will receive $1,000 each. Judging is based on the following criteria:

1. Planning: Friends/Foundation, library, and community involvement; use of resources; appropriateness of the activity; and, measurable goals and objectives.
2. Implementation: Use of resources; public relations; task monitoring; and broad membership involvement.
3. Evaluation: Assessment of activity or program; measurable results.
4. Innovation: New idea or implementation; creative involvement of people; fresh use of public relations.
5. Community Relations: Broad support by the community in planning and implementation.

Applications are due in May. Entrants must have current United for Libraries membership status to quality. 
Click here to learn more.

Register for Free "Libraries = Education" Webinar

Posted by jim on January 29, 2017

Friends of the Library know better than anyone than libraries in the twenty-first century are about much more than books. Among other important services, libraries today offer an array of extracurricular classes, homework help clinics, and adult education opportunities.

webinar-globe.jpgUnfortunately, in many cases, the community a library supports is unaware of its value as an institution for learning. If this sounds familiar, a rekeying of the Friends message may be in order.

On February 23, United for Libraries and sponsor Demco invite you to attend “Libraries = Education,” a free webinar on library messaging and branding. Hosted by Howard County (Maryland) Library System director Valerie Gross, this hour-long session will leave you able to:

• Rebrand your library in a new, innovative way using strategic vocabulary.
• Increase respect for libraries as institutions of learning.
• Heighten your library's visibility and stature with community members and potential education partners like schools.
• Introduce this approach to key constituents and develop strategies you can integrate immediately into your work.

Click here to learn more, and to reserve your spot. Webinar is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. CT.

Minnesota Library Legislative Day is just around the corner. Friends of the Library – and library supporters of all types and stripes – are invited to converge at the Capitol in Saint Paul for the Big Event on February 21-22.  

Although Wednesday is the highlight, activities begin on Tuesday. MLA invites you to the Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St., that afternoon. After light refreshments and an informal meet-and-greet, representatives of Capitol Hill Associates, MLA’s lobbying team, will get us up to speed on legislative developments affecting public libraries in 2017-2020.

If you are unable to attend the briefing, don’t worry. Capitol Hill Associates will host a repeat session the next morning at the Judicial Center (on the capitol grounds). You will then have a chance to meet with your congressional representatives and voice your support for libraries and their continued funding.

Click here to learn more, and to register for this free and truly invaluable advocacy opportunity. We look forward to seeing you there!