MALF connects Friends of Library organizations, provides valuable resources to support their work, and is a strong voice for Friends of Library groups and libraries throughout Minnesota.




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"It’s so hard to find good help these days.” It’s trite, but true – and something MALF hears regularly from Friends of the Library across our wide network.

If enticing and motivating new volunteers is a problem for your organization, MALF’s next webinar is sure to be of interest. Join us over the lunch hour on Wednesday, June 23 for “Making New Friends: Volunteer Recruitment and Cultivation.”


Beth Steinhorn, president of Colorado-based VQ Volunteer Strategies, will lead the 90-minute session. In her decades of consulting, Steinhorn has aided not-for-profits as varied as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, American Red Cross, and Meals on Wheels. Past clients in the library sphere include the Public Library Association (PLA) and California Library Association.

“VQ Volunteer Strategies believes that by helping our clients shift how they think about and approach volunteer engagement, there’s no limit to what they can achieve,” Steinhorn shared.

Her deep understanding of national volunteer trends and emerging best practices will be of enormous value to grassroots Friends groups.

VQ_secondary_horiz_blue.png“While we don’t always think of it this way, Friends of the Library are in competition with many other worthy causes in their community for a finite amount of volunteer ‘bandwidth,’” explained MALF board member Melissa Brechon. Compounding matters, “There’s never a shortage of life obligations and other distractions to deter people from a new volunteer commitment.”

In addition to the training seminar, participants will come away with valuable sample and rubric documents from VQ: boilerplate volunteer position descriptions, a targeted recruitment primer, and samples of strategic messaging, to name a few.

Best of all, “Making New Friends” is free to attend.
 Registration is required – though open until one hour before the start of the 12:00-1:30 CDT event. (Don’t delay, though. Early registrants will receive additional communications as we draw closer to June 23.)

Five years ago, a renovated and expanded Northfield Public Library reopened on the city’s downtown thoroughfare. Built around a century-old Carnegie, this enlarged facility incorporates a two-story glass atrium, expanded children's area, and modular community spaces. In the words of one architectural reviewer, this construction restored the Library’s place as the "civic beacon" of Northfield.

Naturally, such a large-scale but tasteful overhaul comes at a cost – in this case, $3.4 million. That daunting target simply would not have been met without spirited fundraising from The Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, who ultimately contributed close to $1 million. The Friends, in turn, credit much of that success to 'Standout Friend' Kathy Sommers.

Kathy served as an integral member of the organization's board for eight years. This includes a significant investment of time and energy as treasurer.

"She leveraged years of experience in accounting to modernize our financial recordkeeping, and worked hard to establish the financial framework that we still use," noted board member Lynne Marie Young.

This back-end work - often uncelebrated - paid huge dividends when the Library needed assistance with capital reinvestments at several points in Kathy's tenure. In addition to the 2015-16 rebuild, examples include the purchase of a second bookmobile (“Booker II”) in 2006, and the subsidization of the Library’s first major foray into loanable e-readers.

In between marquee purchases, she volunteered "on the ground" at the Friends' many social and fundraising events. These include the Friends' popular annual Trivia Bee, where she handled all ticketing and money-handling.

Although she is no longer on the leadership team, Kathy remains an active member of the Friends. Nevertheless, she is sorely missed by the board. “Kathy brought a kindness, a sense of humor, and a cool, critical perspective to each meeting,” said Lynne Young. “Decisions were better, and discussions more productive, through her ever-vigilant commitment."

Do you have a Standout Friend in your midst that you’d like to acknowledge on a statewide stage? MALF is now welcoming nominees for the 2021 "class" of Standout Friends.
 Visit our website to learn how to put a peer forward - but be sure to do so before Friday, August 6.

We live in an information-rich world. Making sense of what's most relevant, what’s timely, and what is trustworthy can be a challenge - even for librarians, who deal with information professionally! With this internet age conundrum in mind, a coalition of state library partners has just launched a new self-paced (and entirely free) online curriculum.

Media Landscapes - 23 Things is intended, first and foremost, as a professional development tool for library staff. However, trustees and Friends are openly invited to take part… and, by the end, you will be spotting misinformation and writing attention-grabbing web copy just like the pros!

Click here to see the curriculum modules available to date. (Note: More will be added in the coming weeks.) Click here to register and get started!

An F. Scott Fitzgerald inspired dance party. A student-led cheese-making demo. A chautauqua style community expo featuring a ragtime clarinetist and DNR rangers. What do these events have in common (besides, of course, being incredibly creative)? All were held in Minnesota libraries, and coordinated by Friends. Each was put forward for MALF’s yearly Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

We know that 2020 wasn’t replete with many social events like the ones outlined above. However, the pandemic and its fallout offered Friends a unique opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and resilience. Whether a fundraiser, membership drive, advocacy campaign, or something else – MALF wants to know what you’ve been up to!

Indeed, any Friends-supported project is eligible, provided that (1) project implementation began after January 1, 2020; and (2) either the Friends or their library was the primary beneficiary.
 Click here for details on eligibility and how to apply. Top prize is $1,000. Deadline is coming up fast: Friday, July 9

Minnesota Author Project Seeks Judges

Posted by jim on May 4, 2021

MN Writes MN Reads is bringing back the Minnesota Author Project for its fourth year!

As the name suggests, this novel program (pun intended) recognizes the quality work of first-time authors eager to find a wider audience. Only self- or indie-published materials, and only ebooks by Minnesota authors, are eligible for consideration.
 Click here to learn more about the program.

Here’s where you come in. MN Writes MN Reads relies on panels of volunteer judges – composed of librarians, Friends, booksellers, teachers, and other bibliophiles – to carefully read and review submitted materials. (It’s no small thing: Winners receive $1,000, a full-page print spread in Library Journal, and inclusion in popular ebook databases!)

Evaluators will begin to receive submission materials after May 31, and have until September to grade. For more information, and to throw your hat into the ring, fill out
 this Google Form.