MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Last month, MALF named the ten recipients of the third and final round of the organization's COVID-19 Grant Response Program. It’s now our privilege to profile each of these worthy Friends and projects, a few at a time.

Friends of the Cambridge Public Library
Cambridge Public Library moved to a new, spacious building in July 2020. Among other amenities, the new site boasts a courtyard well suited to host outdoor programming, book club meetings, and other library gatherings. Unfortunately, what the Library does not have is permanent outdoor furniture for this versatile and beloved space. In preparation for each outdoor program, staff gamely trek chairs from inside the building and return them after the event wraps up. Naturally, this is not an ideal or a sustainable solution. Friends of Cambridge Public Library sought a MALF grant to purchase permanent and weatherproof furnishings for the Library’s courtyard.

Friends of the Park Rapids Library
Park Rapids Area Library is a proud member of that community’s Dementia Friendly Action Team. As the name suggests, this task force provides resources and experiences for residents with Alzheimer’s and related conditions (as well as their caregivers). As one means to that end, the Library offers loanable Yesteryear Kits. Each adheres to a specific theme, with School Days, Farm Life, and Flowers & Gardening standing out as particular favorites. All are specially designed to evoke fond memories from – and stoke conversations with – people experiencing Alzheimer’s. Park Rapids Friends of the Library sought a mini-grant from MALF to enable them to make an investment in more Yesteryear Kits on behalf of their Library.

OneBook OneLakeville is among the longest running and best loved community reads initiatives in the Twin Cities. The Friends of the (Lakeville) Heritage Library are instrumental to its success – and have been since the program’s inception in 2009. While it’s an all hands on deck affair, the Friends in turn credit much of OneBook OneLakeville’s success to “hospitality specialist” Ruth Weber.

"Ruth is such a vital and energetic member… Whatever is asked of her, her usual response is 'Count me in!'" explained Loretta Ellsworth, a fellow Friend and one of OneBook OneLakeville’s founders.

Weber’s energetic contributions extend beyond The Friends’ tentpole event each spring. Her hospitality skills also come in handy when the group throws so-called Silver Teas. Geared towards Lakeville residents aged 55+, these soirees boast both lively conversation and live entertainment. Over recent teas, the audience has been regaled with everything from Italian mandolin, to African banjo, to ukulele.

Ruth can also be counted on to pitch in headlong with the (often thankless) tasks associated with used book sale fundraisers.

“And on top of all that, we all agree that Ruth is the sharpest dresser of us all," concluded Ellsworth.

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.

MLA Conference Registration Opens

Posted by jim on June 28, 2021

Registration is now open for the 2021 Minnesota Library Association conference, slated for October 6-8. For library staff – and the Friends and trustees who support them – this two-day convening is one of the year’s biggest highlights.

Ordinarily, participating requires trekking to a host city. In contrast, this year’s MLA festivities will be entirely virtual, making 2021 the perfect year to take the plunge if you’ve never before taken part!

Early bird rate is $175 (or $100 for MLA members) if you register before July 31. Price jumps to $200 (or $125 for MLA members) after that date. 
Click here for more details.

MALF Hosts "Making New Friends" Noon Wednesday!

Posted by jim on June 21, 2021

Friends of the Library live and die by the strength of their volunteer pipeline. When new volunteers seem to be in short supply, then, it is rightfully a cause for concern.

Join us this Wednesday for “Making New Friends,” a jam-packed webinar about how to find, recruit, onboard and motivate the very best volunteers in your community.

Beth Steinhorn, president of Colorado-based VQ Volunteer Strategies, will lead this 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.

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. 

"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.”

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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.

friendssale.jpg
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

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