MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Reminder: Members-Only COVID-19 Grant Program

Posted by jim on June 11, 2020

One week remains to put your Friends of the Library forward as a candidate for MALF’s special COVID-19 Grant Response Program. Up to ten grants, each of ≤ $500, are available. Qualified expenses include virtual programming, direct operational costs incurred by Friends, and direct support to the library.

Eligible applicants are support organizations that (1) serve a Minnesota-based public, school K-12, college/university, or special library, (2) are 501(c)3 nonprofits eligible to receive tax-deductible donations, and in good standing with the IRS and Minnesota Secretary of State, (3) are current in their annual MALF membership dues, and (4) are willing to report back on expenditures and impacts using a 1-page template provided by MALF. 

Additional details, plus application form, are available
 here.

June 10 Webinar - Last Call!

Posted by jim on June 9, 2020

Thanks to everyone who has registered for tomorrow’s (1-3 p.m.) webinar, Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond. We’re expecting a good crowd!

Attendees can expect a primer on a board’s Five Major Responsibilities, pointers on sowing seeds for future success, and low-pressure breakout activities that will drive these messages home.

Missed the sign-up cutoff? Good news: MALF is accepting a limited number of late registrants. Send an email to info@mnlibraryfriends.org before 11 a.m. on June 10, and a representative will share log-in details.

About Our Speaker: Since founding Trillium Leadership Development in 1992, Mary Jo Wimmer has coached dozens of not-for-profits, businesses and civic bodies across rural Minnesota toward actualizing their mission statements and achieving full organizational potential. Her core competencies include teamwork cultivation, leadership training, training on workplace conflict, and assisting organizations with intercultural competency development.

"Now, Today, This Very Minute..."

Posted by jim on June 2, 2020

Earlier this month, global library cooperative OCLC released a stirring call to action. It reads, in part:

“We sometimes refer to libraries and archives as memory institutions. That’s not a bad description. But it’s not complete. Because memory implies something that is in the past. Something that isn’t active. And so much of what happens in the work we do for our communities happens now, today, this very minute.

What is happening now requires a response. We must speak out against racism and injustice.”

In the two weeks since George Floyd’s tragic and shocking death in Minneapolis, libraries across the country have taken up OCLC’s call. Action plans differ – such is the nature of the diverse library landscape. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your library’s leadership about their equity initiatives (ongoing and in the works), and how the Friends might intersect with and amplify that work.


Looking for resources on how to spark a meaningful dialogue about racism and institutional inequities? Metronet has bundled curated lists of books, articles, documentaries (and more) in recent issues of MetroBriefs. They have thoughtfully archived recent issues of the publication here.

Speaking of standout leaders, take a moment and reflect. Does your Friends group have a strong pipeline of up-and-coming leaders? Is your recruitment process effectively stalled? Something in between?

Regardless of where exactly you fall on this spectrum, you’ll likely learn something of value in MALF’s upcoming webinar Library Leadership Cultivation: COVID-19, and Beyond.

Mary Jo Wimmer, business coach and founder of Trillium Leadership Development, will discuss recruitment, orientation, and board development more generally on Wednesday, June 10 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). As with our in-person workshops, the webinar is free to attend. However, advance registration is required.

In another nod to the surreal times we are collectively living through, MALF will cap the June 10 webinar with a free-form ideas sharing component. As with our in-person “popcorn style” sharing sessions (which we’ve enjoyed bringing to communities across the state since 2012), this is a no-agenda opportunity to air frustrations, share ideas, and learn a little about what your counterparts across Minnesota are up to.

Reminder: COVID-19 Grant Response Program

Posted by jim on May 26, 2020

MALF is still accepting applications for its COVID-19 Grant Response Program. Up to $500 is available per eligible Friends group to defray operational costs, jumpstart virtual programming, or provide direct support to your library in this time of pandemic.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Our newest grant program is intended to be broad and responsive in nature. After all, even in good times, library systems and the Friends groups supporting them are each a little different. As we inch towards recovery and a new normal, it stands to reason that each will do it a little differently.

Applications for this inaugural cycle of the COVID-19 Grant Response Program will be accepted, on a rolling basis, through Friday, June 19 and until certain cap limits are reached. Early submissions are encouraged, as the MALF Board of Directors will evaluate proposals and award funds on a monthly basis (and only until caps are hit). Click here for details.

Over the past four years, Friends of the Library groups in Minnesota have recognized an astounding sixty volunteers with MALF’s Stand Up for Standout Friends honorific. Interest in this program has far exceeded our modest expectations for it (not that we’re complaining)! Given this enthusiasm, MALF is pleased to announce that SUFSF will continue in 2020 – and, like so many things, make the jump to the virtual space.

What Are ‘Standout’ Qualities?
In short, it is up to you! Some may wish to acknowledge a current or former board member or other executive for their contributions in a leadership role. Others may choose to honor a Friend who has been with their organization since the beginning. You are also welcome to bestow the honorific based on number of hours volunteered, amount of money raised, or any mix of these and other factors.

Program Benefits
MALF’s “Gallery of Friends” – which showcases the contributions and achievement of each Friend – is consistently the most visited section on our website. As in years past, we will feature a write-up on each honoree. We will also share word with United for Libraries (the Friends of the Library arm of the American Library Association), and draft personalized letters to mayors and other public officials in the hometown of each recipient (example).

Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to celebrate the 2020 “class” in person this fall. As a substitute, MALF will honor each in a video that will be aired as part of a soon-to-be-announced virtual Friends event in late September. See the nomination form for details.

Every recipient will also receive a matted and frameable Certificate of Recognition. As a final token of our thanks, honorees will receive a copy of Minnesota Book Award finalist “This Tender Land,” signed and personalized by Minnesota’s own William Kent Krueger!


Eligibility and Next Steps
Each member organization may only submit one name per year for the Standout Friends honor. Any Friend is eligible, provided he or she is part of a Friends of the Library group current in its MALF membership and is willing to have his or her name shared publicly on award materials distributed across the state.

Click here to access the nomination form. Submitters from previous cycles will find much that is familiar. Please pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom of the page. Note also that, for the first time, we are requesting a photo of your candidate. Submit your application (and supplementary materials as appropriate) to 
info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 7.  

Webinar 1: Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond

When we last surveyed our members, many voiced a strong interest in virtual opportunities to learn and network with fellow Friends of the Library. In light of more recent developments, that particular piece of feedback sure seems prescient! So, in lieu of our traditional slate of in-person workshops, MALF is pleased to announce our first-ever webinar.

Our debut topic, by popular demand, will be board and leader cultivation. Nonprofits of all types struggle to recruit would-be leaders, but Friends organizations are particularly familiar with that challenge.

And that’s not the only pain point. Once on board – pardon the pun – new recruits need to be trained in. It sounds so basic, but MALF routinely fields queries from Friends board members confused about their role, responsibilities, and restrictions. This onboarding, or lack thereof, often reflects grey areas in a board’s policies and practices more generally.

Mary Jo Wimmer, business coach and founder of Trillium Leadership Development, will discuss these issues and more on Wednesday, June 10 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). As with our in-person workshops, the webinar is free to attend. However, advance registration is required. REGISTER

“We’re living through a strange time. COVID-19 restrictions are impacting every aspect of our lives – volunteer activities, not the least of them,” said Sue Grove, MALF’s vice president of programming. “Our webinars will absolutely take the current climate into account.”

“By moving content to the digital space – versus discontinuing it altogether – we can perhaps bring a silver living to this ‘necessary pause’ in Friends groups’ normal operations.”

In another nod to the surreal times we are collectively living through, MALF will cap the June 10 webinar with a free-form ideas sharing component. As with our in-person “popcorn style” sharing sessions (which we’ve enjoyed bringing to communities across the state since 2012), this is a no-agenda opportunity to air frustrations, share ideas, and learn a little about what your counterparts across Minnesota are up to.

In a year defined by a pandemic and its fallout, your library is doubtless facing challenges and uncertainties on an unprecedented scale. You want to help. We want you to, as well.

As one means to that end, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) is proud to announce its COVID-19 Grant Response Program.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Our newest grant program is intended to be broad and responsive in nature. After all, even in good times, library systems and the Friends groups supporting them are each a little different. As we inch towards recovery and a new normal, it stands to reason that each will do it a little differently.

As a way of priming the pump, here are examples of expenses that Friends might seek assistance from the COVID-19 Grant Response Program to defray.

  • Operational Costs. In this age of social distancing, most of us are doing things a little differently: videoconferencing instead of meeting in person, hosting fundraisers in the virtual space for the first time, forgoing print newsletters in favor of online ones, and so on. Are the subscriptions and other start-up costs prohibitive for you? Consider this grant. Costs incurred after March 1, 2020 are eligible.

  • Virtual Programming. Libraries everywhere are experimenting with virtual programs to fill the vacuum left by the closure of their brick-and-mortar facilities. So, too, are many enterprising Friends groups. Author honoraria, instructor compensation, and indirect costs like platform maintenance fees are all eligible for consideration.

  • Direct Library Support. Odds are high that your traditional Friends fundraisers have been, or will be, impacted by the pandemic. Perhaps this puts you in a position where you cannot fund a long-ago-identified library need that the Friends had previously intended to bankroll. Similarly, perhaps COVID-19 introduces brand new funding needs that you wish to assist the library with.
In total, ten grants (each capped at a max of $500) are available in this initial phase of the program. MALF will reevaluate needs and resources later in 2020, and communicate a determination about a future for this fund by year’s end.

Applications for this inaugural cycle of the COVID-19 Grant Response Program will be accepted, on a rolling basis, through Friday, June 19, 2020 and until cap limits are reached. Click here for more details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

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