Minnesota Association of Library Friends

MALF Bids A Fond Farewell

Posted by jim on December 06, 2017

download.jpgAs the year draws to a close, we big an official farewell to one of our longest serving board members, Howie Burke.

Howie’s involvement with MALF stretches back nearly a decade. As president of Friends of the St. Michael / Albertville / Hanover Library, he shepherded the organization through its first-ever capital campaign in 2009-2010. “Build It, Together” ultimately exceeded its target, funding multimedia, shelving, tables, and other furnishings for the area’s new library. It garnered St. Michael the 2011 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project.

Howie joined MALF as a board director several years later. A web developer and communications specialist by trade, he joined MALF’s communications committee - and served ably as its chair. He served simultaneously as chair of the membership committee.

His organizational skills and copyediting prowess will be greatly missed! Fortunately for MALF, Howie intends to remain an active citizen member, particularly in the realm of 2018 programming. 

AmeriCorps_VISTA_Logo1_Halftone.jpgIs your library interested in getting a new school readiness program off the ground? Expanding its adult literacy and ESL instruction offerings? Creating a volunteer pipeline to provide students one-on-one tutoring assistance? Establishing a performing arts or creative writing program from the ground up?

Even if those examples don’t quite hit the mark, odds are good that your library aspires to expand its literacy offerings in some way or another. Unfortunately, they are hampered by limited resources – and in particular, limited personnel time.

Minnesota Literacy Council and AmeriCorps VISTA want to help! They are currently scheduling VISTA ambassadors for deployment in Minnesota communities in 2018.

VISTA ambassadors are trained volunteers who make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at an eligible nonprofit organization or public agency. (Most are pursuing or exploring a career in education or public/social services. They are compensated through school scholarships, professional development credits, and a modest living allowance.)

It’s a true win-win arrangement for many. If your library could make effective use of a full-time VISTA educator, click here to learn more. On the fence? Interested parties are invited to attend information sessions on December 14, January 9, and January 18.

Applications must be submitted by Thursday, January 25.

MALF Welcomes Ann Hutton, Sue Hall

Posted by jim on November 29, 2017

Ann-Hutton-500x500.pngMALF is thrilled and privileged to announce the addition of two new, multitalented individuals to our Board of Directors. Friends of the Library familiar with library governance, long-range planning, or fundraising may already know their names.

First, welcome to Ann Hutton. Ann recently retired as executive director of Rochester-based SELCO (Southeastern Libraries Coordinating). Her library expertise and experience in that area date back to 1984, when she accepted a regional librarian position. She assumed the executive director post in 1996, and her accomplishments in the role are many and varied. Recent achievements include completion of an 11-county Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub digitization project, and bringing the Bremer Rural Libraries & Literacy Leadership Institute (L3) to SELCO libraries.

Ann is a long-time and active member of the Minnesota Library Association. She served two terms as legislative chair – as well as chair of the Minnesota Library Council during a critical period when the state lacked a State Librarian. She was inducted onto the ALA Advocacy Honor Roll in 2015.

Sue-BW-Photo-V2-500x500.pngWe are also pleased to welcome Sue Hall, outgoing director of Library Strategies Consulting Group (the in-house consulting arm of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library). Sue co-founded Library Strategies in 2006; it remains the only library consulting firm in the country imbedded inside a library support organization. As a consultant, Sue has helped American libraries in over 30 states – and Romania and Saudi Arabia, to boot.

Sue co-wrote the ALA Press title Beyond Booksales: Raising Real Money for Your Library (2013), and has played a leadership role in multiple statewide or multi-state initiatives. Recent examples include the Bremer Rural Libraries & Literacy Leadership Institute (L3) and Legacy-funded ‘Once Upon a Reader’ one-read program.

Like What MALF Does? Join Our Board!

Posted by jim on November 10, 2017

The Minnesota Association of Library Friends is proud to be a Board-driven organization. In other words, not only do we have a volunteer Board of Directors at the helm –– we rely on this body to staff committees and take on much of the day-to-day and project-oriented work that allows MALF to aid and advocate for Friends in Minnesota.

As we approach a new year, we invite interested candidates from across the state to put their names and credentials forward for consideration! Please email us at your leisure, at info@mnlibraryfriends.org. Include your full name and phone number, and preferably a copy of your resume / curriculum vitae. A member of our Nominating Committee will be back to you.

In particular, we welcome queries from candidates with a finance background (nonprofit, corporate, or public sector). Responsibilities of particular note include sitting on MALF’s finance and investment committee, driving internal audits when appropriate, and identifying cost saving opportunities as able.

Furthermore, MALF’s treasurer is slated to rotate out of that important role by 2019. A replacement is sought to take over treasurer duties after a long transitional period. Treasurer’s added responsibilities include budgeting oversight, submitting and tracking payments, and active collaboration with MALF’s president, staff, and accountant.

Past Award Applicants, MALF Wants Your Feedback!

Posted by jim on October 23, 2017

MALF’s Grants & Awards Committee is currently surveying past applicants for the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

If you’ve applied in the past, but did not do so in 2017, we would appreciate your honest input on this topicClick here to complete the survey. (If your Friends of the Library group DID submit in 2017, or has NEVER submitted, you may disregard.)

Did we mention… it’s only three questions! Please reply by Friday, October 27

Congratulations to the devoted Friends of the Library at Marine Library Association, winners of the 2017 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. MALF made the announcement Friday, October 6 at the Minnesota Library Association conference, after a 10-minute presentation by Mary Burke on the conception and implementation of “Once Upon A River.”

DSC_0245.JPGAlong with Burke, Friends leaders Loralee DiLorenzo and Sue Logan made the 100-mile trek from Rochester to accept the custom award plaque and $1,000 cash prize.

In order to truly appreciate this inaugural program, a little background on the Marine Community Library is necessary. Back in 2011, the Washington County Library system made the difficult decision to withdraw funding from its small branch in Marine on St. Croix (population 680). Rather than letting this valued public service lapse, this tight-knit, book-loving community banded together to keep their Library running as an all-volunteer organization. Marine Community Library – as it is now known – remains a vital and vibrant resource for the residents of Marine and nearby Scandia.

“Once Upon a River”

The historic Marine Village Hall in Marine on St. Croix is Minnesota's oldest public facility of its kind still used for governmental purposes. However, on October 15, 2016, the 130-year-old building hosted something entirely new.

The Friends of the Marine Library (aka Marine Library Association) hosted "Once Upon A River" at the historic venue. Marine Library Association marketed this unique performance as a blend of photography exhibits, live music, and more celebrating the beautiful St. Croix River and environ.

More than 150 ticket holders turned out for this fundraiser. Headliners included artist Marty Harding and nature photographer Gary Noren, who shared the distinction of being selected as ‘Pine Needles Artists in Residence’ for the St. Croix Watershed Research Station – a big honor, for those in the know.

Other highlights included the 30-member River Chorale, jazz and ragtime clarinetist Butch Thompson, and renowned pianist and accordionist Dan Chouinard.

e18d71c247b99a2ae09a17e5b75b4265.jpgGiven the environmental theming, the Friends were able to convince the St. Croix River Association, St. Croix Watershed Research Station (Science Museum of Minnesota), and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (National Park Service) to partner on the funding, design, and promotion of this first-of-its kind endeavor.

Moreover, the Marine Library Association’s dedicated promotions team went all out, designing a well-circulated poster and securing plugs in area newspapers and other media.

"Once Upon A River" packed the house and then some. Some hopefuls who had not purchased their ticket in advance could not get into the Village Hall, noted organizer Loralee DiLorenzo. (This is, as they say, a good problem to have.) Fortunately, some of the exhibits on display at OUAR are slated to enjoy a long second life in other Washington County venues. This includes the popular artwork of Harding and Noren.

At the end of the night, the Marine Library Association had netted $7,735. Success is attributable not just to ticket sales and sponsorship support, but to the Friends’ stellar job securing in-kind donations for the program. This included over $3,500 in comped audio visual support from a local vendor, among other services.

2017 MLA Conference Programming Recap

Posted by jim on October 06, 2017

Nearly fifty Friends of the Library joined MALF leaders at Rochester’s beautiful Mayo Civic Center on Friday, October 6 for “Library Friends Day 2017,” an integral part of the annual Minnesota Library Association conference.

MALF, a proud premier sponsor of the Conference, hosted three panels. In the morning, Sue Grove (president of the Friends of the Austin Public Library), Rollin Hall (mayor of Wabasha), Ann Hutton (retired director of SELCO), Joe Owens (past president of the Friends of the Ely Public Library), and Jim Weygand (president of MLA’s Trustee and Advocates division) led a packed session on “Collaborations That Engage Communities In Transforming Libraries.”


Hutton offered a helpful primer on the patchwork of library governance structures co-existing in Minnesota, as well as the varied funding steams that support the hundreds of libraries throughout our state. Hall and Weygand discussed what supportive government leaders – and “average joe” citizens – can do to foster an atmosphere conducive to public financial support for the local library. Owens talked about how the Friends of the Ely Public Library marshalled community support to help build the new, large and beautiful Ely Public Library (one of the most noteworthy Friends victories in the past few years).

After a stirring lunchtime keynote by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, the Friends attendees reconvened for MALF’s Annual Meeting and semi-formal Idea Exchange.

Capping off the afternoon, MALF president Judy Schotzko recognized Minnesota’s twenty Standout Friends. Two of these, Joyce Harlow (Red Wing) and Corinne Lenort (Blooming Prairie) were in attendance! We also heard from Sue Grove (Austin), Sheila DeChantal (Brainerd), and Mary Burke (Marine), finalists for this year’s Evy Nordley Award.

'Empowering Friends' Workshop Recap

Posted by jim on October 03, 2017


Last month, Dr. Julie Todaro – immediate past president of the American Library Association – zigzagged 715 miles across Minnesota to keynote MALF workshops in Rochester, Stillwater and Cook. Todaro focused on her passion, the art and science of storytelling.

Her thesis is this: Storytelling is a highly effective way to convince public officials (at all levels of government) of the impact and continued relevance of libraries.

Dr. Todaro offered attendees a mix of adaptable frameworks to consider, along with helpful real-life examples. Attendees particularly appreciated Todaro’s hierarchy of credible sources.

Ranked from most credible and best to use, to least credible and best used sparingly, these include:

  • Irrefutable Data: Statistically significant, unquestionable data from a highly credible source.
  • Substantial Data: “Point-in-time” information or directionally accurate data (includes most surveys).
  • Expert Commentary: Quotes from industry experts (leading community members, peers in appropriate fields) can be considered a summary or synthesis of information.
  • Anecdotal Data: Although many consider anecdotal data only “example” or “endorsement” data, it can be data driven! What separates it from Substantial Data is that it includes only one or two data points or examples that support your case.
  • Quotes: Comments from business people, parents, students, etc. can illustrate need and use, and be sprinkled in as powerful evidence.
  • Your Opinion: From the perspective of the audience, your opinion is typically too biased to be considered supporting evidence.

Details on this information hierarchy, and other storytelling best practices covered by Dr. Todaro at MALF’s fall workshops, is available in a 23-page handout available through the MALF office. Email info@mnlibraryfriends if interested.

MALF extends a sincere thank you to the hosts of the three workshops: Reagen Thalacker and the SELCO staff in Rochester; Mary Ann Sandeen and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library; and Crystal Phillips and the Friends of the Cook Library. Dr. Todaro reports enjoying her travels in Minnesota and the expressions of friendship offered at each session.

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