Library Staff, Friends Eligible for Flexible Children’s Programming Grant

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Posted by jim under Grants, Opportunities

EzraJackKeatsFoundation_logo.jpgWe know from speaking with MALF members that many Friends groups in Minnesota are deeply and passionately involved in their library’s children’s and young adult programming. In some of these cases, Friends involvement is limited only by lack of available funds. If this describes you, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation wants to help.

Established in the 1960s by the Caldecott Medal winning writer and children’s book illustrator, the Foundation continues strong today. Its primary focus remains to foster the ideals Keats valued most: creative expression, teamwork, and diversity/multiculturalism.

Minigrants, one of its flagship and most popular programs, offers awards of $500 to public school and library teams looking to create special, enriching activities for school-aged children outside of the standard curriculum. Popular examples include bookmaking workshops, community or multicultural ‘portrait projects,’ pen pal initiatives, and the creation and performance of plays or puppet shows. Click here for a full list of past winners and program types.

If your idea is strong, your chances are good! The Foundation will distribute approximately 70 grants to worthy applicants this year.

Applications are due March 15. All winners will be notified by May 1. Visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s website for more details, or jump straight to the Minigrants application.

MALF Member Wins National Friends Award

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Posted by jim under Awards, Events

Congratulations to MALF member The Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library, winner of this year’s National Friends of Libraries Week Award!

As the name suggests, this honor – one of ALA United for Libraries’ most publicized – is bestowed annually to two groups in acknowledgement of standout achievements during the preceding fall’s Friends of Libraries Week.

This annual celebration serves a two-fold purpose: to give Friends a chance to promote their own work, and, just as importantly, to allow their home communities a prime opportunity to do the same! These are, of course, very broad criteria that leave plenty of room for customization and innovation. United for Libraries created the eponymous award to call out the most unique and impressive activities and programs.

The Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library proved an especially strong contender. They began by coordinating a kickoff event with the City of Grand Rapids. Mayor Dale Adams signed a special Proclamation designating Oct. 20-26 “Friends of the Library Week.” Library staff then unveiled a beautiful lobby display thanking the Friends for their many years of service.

It was far from a one-sided affair, however. The Friends went all out in promoting membership and book sales.

Mayor.jpg“During the week, we handed out coup ons to library goers for a free book at the Friends bookstore. This brought in many new customers. Once there, a variety of brochures and bookmarks on Friends work and membership were available,” said president and co-chair Carol Steele.

They also offered a variety of incentives for joining up (or renewing). These included a drawing for one of five themed giftbaskets. All told, by week’s end, “we had increased membership by almost 25 percent!,” Steele said.

United for Libraries will briefly recognize the organization January 27 at its Gala Author Tea, part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

And, in case you were wondering, National Friends of Libraries Week 2014 is slated for October 19-25. It’s never too early to start your planning!

New IMLS Grant Aims to “Spark” STEM Programming in America’s Libraries

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Posted by jim under Grants

MALF’s Evy Nordley Award exists to reward innovation and replicability in Friends of the Library projects. We have something of a kindred spirit in the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a key source of federal support for America’s 123,000+ libraries and 17,500+ museums.

imls.jpgNow through February 3, IMLS is currently accepting applications for its “Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries” program. Sparks! allocates amounts ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to libraries willing to develop, prototype, and evaluate innovations that “result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices.” The Institute believes that these kick-starters enable grantees to undertake otherwise impractical activities that involve risk and – whether they succeed or fail – provide valuable information to the greater library field.

It’s as broad as that, and there are no matching requirements!

Friends of the Library may not submit an application independent of their library. However, Friends involvement is often a key component behind the success of library applicants. The best project proposals will address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning needs in all age brackets. Click here for a complete run-down of eligibility requirements.

Programs green lit with a Sparks! grant must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014.

Go “Big” – An NEA Grant Can Take Your Friends Programming to the Next Level

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Posted by jim under Grants

big-nea-images.jpgMany Friends groups – particularly those that draw from predominantly rural areas – schedule their years around one or two tent-pole events. An ambitious few, however, organize programming and other special events on a near-monthly basis. If your Friends group is one such, you may be a strong candidate for a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Big Read program is designed to “revitalize the role of literature in American culture, and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.”

Sums ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 are available to Friends and like-minded organizations willing to host a community reads program consisting of at least a dozen separate events, including a kick-off party, keynote lecture, and ten discussion sessions.

Requested funding must be matched one-to-one with non-federal contributions, and the NEA stipulates that your Big Read revolve around one of 36 pre-selected book titles. This still leaves quite a bit of room for customizability, however. Funds can be applied toward book purchases, speaker fees and travel, staff salaries, advertising, and venue rentals.

Grant recipients are automatically eligible to use a variety of online training resources and professionally designed promotional and educational materials.

For a detailed listing of eligibility requirements, and to start your application, visit The Big Read’s website. The entry deadline for the next grant cycle (September 1, 2014-June 30, 2015) is 4:00 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 28.

MALF Board of Directors Bids Farewell to Five ‘Friends'

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Posted by jim under News, MALF

kthanks.jpgJanuary is a time of new beginnings – and not just a new calendar year. For MALF, it marks the start of a new events cycle and the welcoming in of new members to the Board of Directors. Some changes are more bittersweet, however. MALF must also bid a fond farewell to five long-serving and highly productive Board members: Barbi Byers, Edward Fagerlund, Joan B. Larson, Ruth Solie, and Carol Walsh.

Edward Fagerlund spent a long and fruitful career in the fields of economics and finance, and in his tenure with MALF put that invaluable knowledge and experience to use on a weekly basis. As MALF Treasurer and Finance Committee lead, he has effectively served as point person on all budgetary matters for the last several years. In addition, he has been a key contributor to several non-finance process initiatives, including a 2013 retooling of the membership renewal process.

Ruth Solie, retired director of the Northern Lights Library Network, made a name for herself helping to establish Friends groups in school, academic and public libraries across the state. That experience has proved of inestimable value to MALF. Among other responsibilities, Solie has co-organized MALF’s successful summer workshop series, Drafting the Blueprint.

Carol Walsh, communications specialist with the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development, joined the Board in 2005. She has put her invaluable public relations and outreach skills to work as a member of MALF’s communications committee. In her eight years on the Board, she has helped turn MALF into a robust source of Friends of the Library-specific news. She also served a productive term as MALF President, and as the organization’s liaison to National Library Legislative Day (NLLD).

Last but not least, MALF is losing two long-serving Board members who have been leading voices in the organization for the better part of its history.

Among committee assignments simply too numerous to list in full, Barbara Byers served for over a decade as President. She also played a key role in the formative years of the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library and in initiating MALF’s programming presence at the annual MLA Conference.

Joan Larson is also a wealth of institutional memory, having been affiliated with MALF in some capacity for over twenty years. Recent achievements include co-planning many of MALF’s highly successful workshops and programs and spearheading MALF’s partnership with United for Libraries on the Literary Landmark series.  

Thank you, all! You will be missed!

Does Your Library Excel at Public Relations? If So, ALA Wants to Know

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Posted by jim under Awards

His name may not be immediately familiar to most, but Friends of the Library and patrons everywhere owe much to the life and career of 20th-century library innovator John Cotton Dana. Dana, in a very real sense, put the public in public library. He introduced or popularized many of the facility features we take for granted today: the “open stacks” model, a large and diverse fiction selection, and a children-specific reading and programming areas.

Dana died nearly a century ago, but his spirit and principles live on through the work of countless library staffers and Friends across the country.  

2013.12-john-cotton-dana.jpgALA created the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award in 1946 to honor both Dana and these more recent achievements in public librarianship. In particular, this high distinction recognizes outstanding library outreach and communications projects – from summer reading programs and special community partnerships, to fundraising and awareness campaigns. As in years past, thanks to financial support from the H.W. Wilson Foundation, ALA is pleased to announce that eight winners will be chosen to receive the Award. Each will receive a $10,000 monetary prize.

Libraries of all sizes are eligible to apply. (Click here for a full listing of eligibility requirements.) At minimum, candidates are asked to submit an online application and three-page project narrative. Applicants may also submit a variety of supporting materials, such as photos, press clippings, testimonials/patron comments, research analyses, and marketing materials samples.

Entries must be submitted by Friday, February 14. Winners will be announced in April, and all entrants will be invited to attend a special Dana Awards Reception co-sponsored by EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation at the ALA Annual Conference.

Click here to start your online application!


(While we can’t speak to your odds, Minnesota and its library advocates have historically been well represented within the roster of winners. To date, our state lays claim to over twenty Dana Award wins! Click here for the full listing of them.)