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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2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #3: Austin

Posted by jim on September 7, 2021

Flamingoes may be native to Florida and the Caribbean; but over the past year, the distinctive pink birds have made quite a squawk across Austin, Minnesota. Bewildered and amused residents have the local Friends of the Library to thank.

Board members Elizabeth Carlton, Morgan Carlson and Kristie Mickelson devised their alliteratively named “Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser” in fall 2020. They did so with two goals in mind. Foremost, the Friends wanted to raise awareness for both their organization and the Library itself. Second, they hoped to add a little levity to their community in a year defined by a pandemic and contentious election. On both these counts, springing roving bands of gaudy birds on unsuspecting neighbors proved as effective as it was creative!

As a secondary benefit, Flockin’ Flamingoes also proved a surprisingly lucrative fundraiser. “We were able to borrow the majority of our flamingoes, which really helped with our overall budget,” explained Carlton. In all, the Friends purchased only 40 of the iconic yard decorations, but mustered a gaggle of almost 100.

Donors had the opportunity to “hire” flamingoes in batches of one, two or three dozen – up to a maximum tier of 60 plastic birds. They then selected a friend, family member or co-worker to be the recipient or target (depending on one’s point of view) of this avian attention.

Friends of the Library maintained the deployment schedule, and shuttled the flamingoes where they needed to go in the dead of night. They also designed weatherized, corrugated signs to accompany the birds, explain their purpose, and inform passersby where they could learn more.

For its pilot season, Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser ran from October 12 to November 22. In that time, the Friends took no break days and fulfilled a total of 79 orders. “We actually had to stop accepting orders around October 26, because I had serious concerns about not being able to complete them all before the ground got too hard,” Carlton shared.

Austin Friends of the Library’s experiment netted $1,985 in proceeds and considerable buzz in the community. As one metric of the latter, flamingo-focused posts on Facebook consistently reached 500 people a day – a significant boost over normal levels.

Unsurprisingly, the group is already laying groundwork for the return of the now-infamous Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser. Among other tweaks to the model, they intend to start earlier in the summer, to get the most out of their “birding season” before the first winter snowfall makes staking impossible.

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #2: Detroit Lakes

Posted by jim on August 30, 2021

We hope you will join us at 'Saturday Splash' on October 9 to hear presentations from each of this year's Evy Nordley finalist projects (plus the live winner announcement). In the run-up to that event, MALF is pleased to shine the spotlight on each of these exemplary projects – one at a time. Next up:

Becker County Friends of the Library | "Unlimited Possibilities"

As you can glean from the name, denizens of Detroit Lakes consider lake life to be a core part of their identity. This goes double in summertime, when seasonal residents and tourists balloon the City’s population by as much as 40 percent. For this reason, the area’s lake amenities took center stage in Detroit Lakes’ recent Sesquicentennial commemoration.

As a cornerstone of this anniversary celebration, a coalition of community stakeholders came together to launch “150 Sails Up in DL.” In this ambitious public art project, organizations of all kinds sponsored and collaborated with area artists on the creation of 150 sailboat sculptures.

Each boat is made of steel and concrete and measures either 4 feet or approx. 2 feet in height. However, each is truly one of a kind. Themes and styles run the gamut, with subjects as disparate as loons, sunsets, agates, pizza and popsicles coming together to tell a cohesive story about life in Detroit Lakes.

Becker County Friends of the Library partnered on not one but two of the most popular sailboat sculptures. These include “Unlimited Curiosity,” a stained-glass mosaic created by Detroit Lakes artist Becky Mitchell. It now graces the exterior of the historic Carnegie Library and invites passersby into this place of learning and discovery.

For the library’s interior, Friends and staff partnered with artist Eric A. Johnson on a 20’’ sculpture christened “Gohn Be Funky From Now On.” A medley of colors and shapes, this smaller sailboat is a sort of Rorschach test that encourages kids to use their imagination. Both installations debuted in early April at a Sailboat Regatta Party, the tentpole event of the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial. They then moved to the Detroit Lakes Public Library, where both will be on display through December 2021.

The Friends of the Library smashed their initial fundraising goal for this endeavor in just ten days. This enabled them to rent a third sailboat sculpture. “We The People,” by Erinn Prischmann Webb, features Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now graces the library’s YA section.

“We hope to see an increase in traffic inside the library,” explained co-organizer Terry Kalil. “The greater goal, though, is to inspire creativity in all who view our sailboats… and demonstrate Detroit Lakes Public Library’s role as a leading education and culture center in our community.”

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #1: Cook

Posted by jim on August 25, 2021

The Seattle Public Library is commonly credited with creating the “One Book” or “Community Read” program model in the late 1990s. In the two decades since, major American cities from San Francisco to New York City have followed suit by creating their own beloved One Book initiatives. However, community read programs are not just the purview of large and urban communities, as small Cook, Minnesota can attest.

Cook is a town of 500 residents located deep in Saint Louis County, about halfway between Duluth and the Canadian border. During the summer months, Lake Vermillion area cabin dwellers swell the Cook Public Library’s small service area. During this high tide, staff are fortunate to have hands-on support from local Friends of the Library, who take on a range of volunteer duties within the tiny, 1,350-square-foot library.

In the winter, however, the Library has the polar opposite problem – pun intended. Once the weather cools, the patron base shrinks. It can be difficult for staff to find new amusements to engage and enrich year-round residents as the community waits for the spring thaw. As one means to that end, librarian Crystal Phillips suggested a Community Read.

The Friends did not pick a featured title – at least not directly. Instead, they oversaw a bracket vote that allowed residents to choose from 104 books. Administered at the library over the course of 16 weeks, the voting system drew 1,428 ballots. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie eventually emerged as the winning title.

The Friends purchased 20 new copies of this old classic for giveaways and library circulation. In true Community Reads fashion, while the organizers incorporated a book club into the festivities, that was only a beginning. Other highlights included special movie screens of Death on the Nile (2004) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017), with viewing licenses paid for by The Friends.

As the capstone event, Cook Public Library also hoped to hold an interactive murder mystery event on site. Sadly, COVID-19 gathering restrictions forced the cancellation of this last component.

Despite that setback, organizers consider Cook’s inaugural One Book program a great success. After all, 1,428 ballots cast is a tremendous accomplishment for a library in a town of 500!

Minnesota Book Awards: Call For Judges

Posted by jim on August 18, 2021

If you are subscribed to this e-newsletter, we know you love libraries. It doesn’t seem too big a stretch to surmise that you are a fan of books and reading, as well!

The Minnesota Book Awards is currently seeking reader-judges for the program’s 34th year (2021-22). Each year, more than 50 judges are involved in this evaluation process. Panels are comprised of Minnesotans from many walks of life who share a love of literature and aptitude for critical appraisal. Judges commonly include authors, editors, educators – and yes, librarians and Friends.

Evaluation takes place across nine genre categories: Poetry, Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Young Adult, Middle Grade Literature, Children’s Literature, Novel & Short Story, General Nonfiction, and Minnesota Nonfiction.

For each category, adjudication takes place in two rounds: Preliminary and Final. Judges in both rounds will convene on Zoom – on Saturday, January 29 and Saturday, March 12, respectively.

If selected to judge, organizers will mail you books in batches: the perfect wintertime activity! The assignment also comes with a $375 stipend.
 Click here to learn more, or here to jump straight to the application form. Be sure to throw your hat in the ring by the deadline of Friday, September 10.

United For Libraries Hosts #UnitedVirtual Next Week

Posted by jim on August 11, 2021

Friends of the Library in Minnesota rarely have good opportunities to learn from and commune with peers in other parts of the country. United for Libraries, the Friends and trustees arm of the American Library Association, is aiming to change that – starting next week! #UnitedVirtual, a special three-day conference specific to this audience, will take place August 17-19.

#UnitedVirtual promises more than a dozen panels, case study presentations, and roundtables to choose from. Topics are varied: from budgeting, to merchandising, to diversity and equity issues. Naturally, fundraising and public advocacy are also well represented on this jam-packed
 schedule.

Pricing is $99 for nonmembers, and $89 for ALA members. Groups of 2-5 can register together at reduced rates. Registrants will enjoy access to recordings of all #UnitedVirtual sessions up to one year after the conclusion of the program.
 Click here to learn more and to register.