MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

April 4-10 Marks National Library Week

Posted by jim on February 4, 2021

The American Library Association has announced the 2021 dates for National Library Week. Mark your calendars for April 4-10!

As the name suggests, the raison d'être of National Library Week is to spotlight the mission and achievements of our libraries. There is no one right way to celebrate. ALA recommends customizing the opportunity to the circumstances and needs of your library.

In years past, Friends have leaned on National Library Week as the framework for successful public advocacy and funding initiatives, major membership drives, and substantial capital campaign fundraising efforts. Visit the ALA website for ideas, case studies, and a “library” of usable templates.
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“Welcome to Your Library” is the theme of the 63rd(!) year of National Library Week. ALA selected it to promote the idea that, in practice, library service extends well beyond the four walls of a building. That’s not a new concept, but in light of COVID closures and continued restrictions, the message is particularly timely!


If you decide to conduct a program or project around National Library Week, be sure to keep it in mind for the 2021 cycle of MALF’s own Evy Nordley Award!

MALF Welcomes 2021 'Standout Friends' Nominations

Posted by jim on February 2, 2021

Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, there was also something of a silver lining to a year defined by COVID-19 and all that flowed from it. It gave staff and volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

MALF is eager to recognize individual Friends of the Library who went “above and beyond” in service to their group and its library in 2020. As means to that end, we are pleased to bring back our popular Stand Up for Standout Friends program for its 6th consecutive year.

What are ‘standout’ qualities? In short, it is up to you! Some acknowledge a current or former board member for their contributions in a leadership role. Others 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. Note: You do NOT need to focus your nomination around 2020 and COVID-19. It’s just one new avenue to consider.

Perks include a matted certificate from MALF, commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown, inclusion in a special video tribute [
example], and a written featurette in an upcoming MALF e-newsletter. (Speaking of: Read on to learn a bit about the next in our line of 2020 award recipients.)

Click here for details about the recognition program, including eligibility requirements and a 2021 application form. Pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom. Note also that MALF now requests photo(s) of all candidates. Please submit your nomination to info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 6.

MALF Welcomes 2021 'Standout Friends' Nominations

Posted by jim on January 22, 2021

Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, there was also something of a silver lining to a year defined by COVID-19 and its fallout. It gave staff and volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

MALF is eager to recognize individual Friends of the Library who went “above and beyond” in service to their group and its library in 2020. As means to that end, we are pleased to bring back our popular Stand Up for Standout Friends program for its 6th consecutive year.

What are ‘standout’ qualities? In short, it is up to you! Some may acknowledge a current or former board member for their contributions in a leadership role. Others 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. Note: You do NOT need to focus your nomination around 2020 and COVID-19. It’s just one new avenue to consider.

Perks include a matted certificate from MALF, commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown, inclusion in a special video tribute [
example], and a written featurette in an upcoming MALF e-newsletter. (Speaking of: Read on to learn a bit about the next in our line of 2020 award recipients.)

Click here for details about the recognition program, including eligibility requirements and a 2021 application form. Pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom. Note also that MALF now requests photo(s) of all candidates. Please submit your nomination to info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 6.

2021 Evy Nordley Award Materials Now Available

Posted by jim on January 9, 2021

Last year brought monumental challenges for libraries and their Friends. As a silver lining, though, it afforded Friends of the Library an unprecedented opportunity to showcase their creativity and perseverance.

MALF cannot wait to showcase what you managed to learn and accomplish in 2020. Our long-running Evy Nordley Award for Best Project offers a perfect mechanism to do just that.

“Project” is an intentionally broad term. 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. (In other words, efforts jointly developed with or sponsored by non-Friends organizations are qualified under many circumstances.)

Common project types are special events, successful fundraisers, membership drives, and advocacy campaigns – but the sky is the limit! In a year defined by COVID-19 and long library closures, MALF full expects and absolutely encourages unconventional entries.

Click here for more details, including early access to the application form. Submission deadline is end of day 
Friday, July 9.

transform.jpgWhile we’re in a “grants” frame of mind, spare a minute for the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant. The mission of this popular annual initiative is to recognize and support libraries’ ability to act as a community nexus and catalyst for change.

That is a broad mandate, to be sure. For this reason, each year’s program spotlights a specific theme. This year, that theme is is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) – with a specific focus on anti-racism. Per ALA, competitive applicants will have “a demonstrated commitment to anti-racism work,” and a clear roadmap for using $2,000 to enhance the library's community engagement around this important and timely topic.

Visit the program’s web page for an extensive FAQ - as well as basic ideas on ‘in scope’ collaborations and programs to spark your thinking. The firm application cutoff is Friday, February 5.

New Programming Grant - Peggy Barber Tribute Grant

Posted by jim on January 5, 2021

peggy.jpgLooking for seed money to kickstart your next Evy Nordley Award contender? Take a look at the American Library Association’s newest assistance program.

Named after the ALA leader who masterminded such programs as National Library Week and the juggernaut Celebrity READ series, the new Peggy Barber Tribute Grant will award $2,500 to three eligible libraries to support their own programming efforts. For this inaugural cycle, ALA's Cultural Communities Fund is specifically inviting proposals centered around humanities programming – a personal passion of Barber’s.

Public, academic, K-12 and special libraries are all eligible for consideration, as are Friends partnerships. Applicants must hold membership in ALA or one of its divisions, either at the institutional or personal level.

Strong preference will be given to libraries that can demonstrate an acute need and general track record of under-funded programming. Additional guidelines are available here. Be prepared to submit your proposal (online only) by Friday, February 5. Click here to do so.

2020 Standout Friends Featurette #2: Ramsey County

Posted by jim on December 9, 2020

Seasonal used book sales are a Friends of the Library staple. However, only a comparative handful of Friends organizations have the wherewithal to maintain a permanent bookstore. Friends of Ramsey County Libraries boasts not just one year-round store, but three – in Maplewood, Roseville and Shoreview. Maintaining inventory and staffing these outlets takes time and commitment.

Fortunately for The Friends, bookstore manager Dianne Marti has proven more than up to that task over the past decade. Mostly recently, Dianne has headed the Maplewood operation. In a normal year, this location alone takes a rotation of 15+ volunteers to staff and raises $16,000-$20,000.


Dianne – who also served on Friends of Ramsey County Libraries’ board of directors from 2010-2019 – remains a visible leader in other areas, as well. In a year defined by COVID, the Friends’ brick-and-mortar stores are shuttered. Already by August, however, “Dianne had secured more than $1,800 through online sales,” explained Friends president Cyndi Cook. “She is also mentoring other bookstore managers to take up a similar role – a much needed boost given our revenue losses due to COVID-19 bookstore closures."

Thank you and congratulations, Dianne! Click here for a minute-long video featurette on this honoree. Click here to view a video montage celebrating MALF’s full 2020 class of Standout Friends. Visit our website for details on our equally impressive 2016-2019 classes of honorees.

Reminder: FREE MALF Webinar On Dec. 7

Posted by jim on December 1, 2020

Communications & Marketing is a broad topic – sometimes frustratingly so. After all, essentially everything your organization does has strategic communications implications. With that conundrum in mind, MALF is pleased to spotlight Communications & Marketing during our last webinar of 2020. Please join us 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT on Monday, December 7 for “’Friend-ly Tips’: Effective Friends Marketing.”

Kim Horton, Sr. Director of Communications at The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, will lead and keynote this session. Click here for full session details.

This webinar is FREE to attend, but you must pre-register.
 Click here to claim your seat. (Please do so by December 6.)

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