MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Minnesota Book Awards Announced April 29

Posted by jim on April 22, 2021

The linchpin event of the state’s literary calendar is nearly upon us! The virtual Minnesota Book Awards will take place next Thursday, April 29. Category winners will be announced in real time, and Minnesota screenwriter and justice advocate Alexs Pate honored with the '21 Kay Sexton Award. A mix of pre-packaged videos celebrating books and book-lovers in Minnesota will round out this memorable evening in the virtual space.

(Waiting on a formal invite? Well,
 here you go!)

Attending is free, but you must register.
 Click here to do so, and to read up on the 36 outstanding finalists across all nine genre categories.

Thanks to the more than 120 of you who turned out in real time for “The Next Chapter in Used Book Sales.” Attendees hailed from Caledonia to Crookston, and from Marshall to Mountain Iron – a true testament to the distance-bridging power of webinars!

Our featured speakers, too, represented a nice cross-section of Minnesota. We heard from Susi McCune in tiny Isanti, who has overseen the local book sale’s move to a special, spacious location: the town bowling alley! On the opposite end of the size spectrum, Susan Miller and her Friends colleagues in suburban Ramsey County have pioneered new, sustainable ways of organizing curbside used book sales perfect for this age of social distancing.

Meanwhile in Moorhead, Karen Jacowitz is reselling higher value materials through a special consignment arrangement with an out-of-town book vendor, and exploring the viability of a brick-and-mortar storefront in the local mall. Rounding out our list, Brooke Barsness from Fergus Falls overviewed her group’s reconceptualization of the standard book sale as a series of silent auctions.

Is that enough to leave you intrigued? You can now watch “The Next Chapter in Used Book Sales” in full
 on our YouTube. For a limited time, supporting documents are also available on our website.

2020 Standout Friends Featurette #5: Grand Rapids

Posted by jim on April 7, 2021

For the Friends of Grand Rapids Area Library, leader Bonnie Gelle is not just instrumental. She is foundational. Her name can be found front and center in the group’s 1985 incorporation papers.  

In those early years, Bonnie put together Grand Rapids’ first book sales in the modest basement of the community’s old Carnegie Library. (Nowadays, COVID notwithstanding, that sale is a summer bonanza that spans three days.)  

Bonnie was also present when Itasca Community Television opened its first studio at Itasca Community College. For years, she partnered with a TV crew to broadcast story times – a popular supplement to the public library’s children’s programming. (At present, the children’s department in Grand Rapids is the busiest outside of Duluth in the Arrowhead region, and the Friends’ commitment to the library’s efforts continues apace.)
 
“Over the years, Bonnie has also served as secretary and president,” explained group treasurer Susan Hayes. “If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she served as president ‘way too many years’ - but you will not find a Friend among us who agrees with her on that one!”


Who is your Bonnie Gelle?

Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, it also gave volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

With these standout individuals in mind, MALF is pleased to renew Stand Up for Standout Friends for its 6th consecutive year! 
Click here to learn how to nominate a peer for this recognition. Each and every MALF member organization is invited to put one name forward for 2021!

Introducing "Friends 101"

Posted by jim on April 1, 2021

Self-promotion and volunteer recruitment are two perennial challenges for Friends. Knowing this, MALF is excited to share a little something to boost your “elevator pitch.”

Background: Earlier this year, in partnership with the Library and Information Science program at St. Catherine University, MALF crafted a 20-minute “Friends 101” video for inclusion in the institution’s LIS master’s degree curriculum. Topics included:

  • Who are Friends, exactly?
  • What do Friends do? What can’t they do?
  • What are commonplace Friends fundraisers?
  • Where does an umbrella organization like MALF come in?

Naturally, librarian trainees are not the only people who stand to benefit from this primer. So, we’ve just *recut* that video for use with a wider of audiences and situations. View/download it here, and use however you see fit!

The more things change, the more they stay the same:

While the pandemic has forced the Minnesota Book Awards online for the second year running, this linchpin program is holding strong. Registration is now open for the culminating announcement ceremony on Thursday, April 29. It is free to “attend.”


Click here to register. Click here to read up on the 36 finalist authors and titles in each of nine literary categories.

As one upshot to the online format, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (organizers of the Minnesota Book Awards) are pursuing new and creative participatory opportunities for book lovers. Among these is a call for “bookish selfies.” From their website:

"We’re asking readers from every corner of Minnesota to show us their love of reading – and their state. It’s easy: take a selfie with a book you love in a place you love. Any book. Any place. (Let’s see some Minnesota landmarks, people)! Then share it on social media with #mnbookawards for the chance to be featured during this year’s virtual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony!"

Visit thefriends.org/selfie for more details.

In a recent survey of Minnesota nonprofits, GiveMN determined that only 30 percent are confident in their fundraising knowledge and current strategies. Charities serving Greater Minnesota feel at a particular disadvantage in this regard. As one means of bridging the gap, GiveMN has created the RaiseMN Campaign Institute.  

Funded with support from the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, RaiseMN is a six-month fundraising training regimen for small- and medium-sized nonprofits (defined as ≤$2 million a year in revenue). Participating organizations will be paired with a seasoned professional as their personal fundraiser coach, enjoy a variety of cohort learning and networking opportunities, and come away with custom, actionable fundraising strategies.

Friends of the Library organizations and other eligible nonprofits must be based outside the Twin Cities, currently conduct at least one fundraising activity per annum, and have board members or other internal stakeholders ready to invest time and energy in the RaiseMN Campaign Institute curriculum.


Click here to learn more, and to access the application form. Submit your candidacy by Friday, April 2. Direct any questions you may have to raisemn@givemn.org.

Online Learning Opportunities Galore!

Posted by jim on March 8, 2021

We’re all eagerly awaiting the return of in-person workshops, author talks, and other events. However, there’s been one upshot to the pandemic. With trainings, fundraisers, and other programming migrating online out of necessity, it has suddenly become time and cost effective to indulge in a variety of opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. MALF has flagged a few upcoming programs that might be of special interest to Friends.

Webinar: Retraining Volunteers Amid Uncertainty (March 11)
Even before COVID-19 reared its head, nonprofits of all stripes reported a shared and worrying trend. Finding long-term volunteers (and would-be leaders) is harder than it used to be. With the pandemic now causing so much uncertainty, recruiting and retaining dedicated volunteers has become an even bigger challenge.

This upcoming Thursday, March 11 (1 p.m. CT), Sterling Volunteers and VQ Volunteer Strategies are offering a FREE webinar on this important topic.
 Click here to learn more – and here to jump straight to registration for “Retraining Volunteers Amid Uncertainty: Converting One-Timers to Repeat Volunteers.”

Showcase: Penguin Random House Book Festival (April 6)
Penguin Random House is teaming up with Library Journal to celebrate 2021 National Library Week in a new and exciting way. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 6, when librarians, Friends and other book lovers are invited to gather together (virtually, of course) for a day-long celebration of the written word. PRH will showcase current and upcoming release from its impressive stable of imprints, including Knopf, Doubleday, Pantheon, Vintage, Putnam, Riverhead and Ballantine. Whether you are interested in mysteries, memoirs, or a mix of everything, the inaugural Penguin Random House Book Festival is sure to leave you with a long “must read” list!

Click here to reserve your spot, and to learn more about free e-galley book opportunities, prize giveaways, and other fun festival tie-ins!

Conference: ALA Annual Exhibition (June 23-29)
Every summer, the American Library Association holds a national convention in a major city. In a normal year, registration and travel costs preclude Friends of the Library from attending this mega event, which is dominated by librarians and other field practitioners. For the June 23-29, 2021 conference, organizers are moving the whole affair online.

As with every ALA Annual Exhibition itinerary, this one will be chock-full of high profile author presentations, can’t-miss keynotes, and hundreds of educational programs covering nearly every aspect of librarianship. Tickets are reasonable, starting at $69. On the fence? 
Visit their website, or follow conference developments on Twitter (@ALAConferences, #alaac21). Don’t wait too long, though; early bird rates all expire April 16!

Auctions built around themed gift baskets are a common Friends fundraising strategy. In general, they are favored by charities in communities with a strong commercial sector. This makes sense. After all, the majority of the donated baskets come from local businesses. However, the tiny town of Cook, Minnesota (pop. 570) is something of an exception to that rule – and Standout Friend Linda Kronholm is a chief reason why.

Kronholm is a driving force behind the Friends of the Cook Public Library’s annual Holiday Basket Fundraiser. Contrary to what the name would suggest, planning for this lucrative event is a year-round commitment, and one that Linda tackles with an alacrity that would put Santa himself to shame!

In addition to scouting donations, FOL president Kathy Sacchetti reports that Kronholm plays point on the “decking out” of the library as a winter wonderland, and coordinates many of the logistics associated with a holiday tea that the Friends run in conjunction with the auction. (For a town of Cook’s size, it really is a community happening!)

In truth, Kronholm’s leadership role with the Holiday Basket Fundraiser is just one of many ways in which this long-serving board member and group vice president contributes to the success of the Cook Public Library. “This is demonstrated daily by her frequent emails and attendance at nearly all library functions!” explained Sacchetti.

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