The Search is on for the “Best Small Library in America”

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Posted by jim under Awards

lj.jpgThe Southern Area Public Library (SAPL) in tiny Lost Creek, West Virginia, is by far the smallest of that state's 175 public libraries. It is also, in many ways, the most impressive, according to Library Journal, who named it the “Best Small Library in America” last year.

The reasons for that selection are many, but the most critical may be the strong volunteer ethic that underlies SAPL’s work. In Lost Creek, volunteers and Friends outnumber staffers ten to one. With their invaluable help, Library Director Mary Beth Stenger recently upgraded equipment, expanded inventory and services, and turned the library into the locus of community activity – all on an annual budget that most would consider “shoestring” at best.

The annual ‘Best Small Library’ distinction is bestowed annually by Library Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As the name suggests, its intent is to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of modestly-sized libraries. The winner receives $20,000, a feature story in Library Journal early in 2015, and a number of other perks.

Do you feel that your Friends efforts contribute to making your local library the ‘Best’ of its kind? Consider nominating it for the 2014 award cycle, which ends September 10.

Judging is based on a number of factors, including: creativity in developing and implementing replicable programming, availability of computers/Internet and tech support, sustained cooperation with other libraries, and evidence of the library’s long-standing value as a community center. Only public libraries with service populations under 25,000 are eligible for consideration.

For more information, including comprehensive judging criteria, and step-by-step nomination instructions, visit Library Journal online.

F. Scott Fitzgerald the Focus of MLA’s 2014 “Lunch for Libraries”

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Posted by jim under Events

dave.jpgMinnesota’s love for native son F. Scott Fitzgerald hasn’t abated in the decades since his death. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as the success of events like the recent Great Gatsby gala in Roseville can attest. It is fitting, then, that this literary giant is the focus of MLA’s seventh annual summer “Lunch for Libraries” fundraiser.  

Long before his rise to fame, while growing up in the Crocus Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, schoolboy Fitzgerald kept an ordered diary of his life. He named it, appropriately enough, his “Thoughtbook.” Scholar Dave Page, a teacher of English at Inver Hills Community College, recently edited this overlooked juvenile work for publication.

You can hear Page speak Wednesday, June 11 at Macalester College’s Kagin Commons, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul. The program will begin at 11:15 a.m. with book sales and signings. Page’s talk will run until 1:15 p.m.

Tickets are $40 each or $300 to sponsor a table for eight. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Judy Todd, MELSA, at 651-645-5731 or email

The Minnesota Library Foundation raises and distributes funds to enhance services and increase public awareness of all Minnesota libraries. Lunch for Libraries has raised more than $10,000 – both for libraries throughout the state and for leadership training for emerging library leaders.

Apply Today for a Bush Prize for Community Innovation

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Posted by jim under Awards

bush-altlogo-color.pngThe Bush Foundation realizes that local nonprofits hold tremendous potential as vehicles of positive change in their community. In recognition of that fact, the Foundation created the Bush Prize for Community Innovation to spur on such efforts.

Specifically, the Bush Prize for Community Innovation is intended to empower organizations with a proven "track record of making great ideas happen," with creative capital to take those efforts one step further. Grant amounts are variable – up to 25 percent of the applicant’s budget over the last fiscal year.

Libraries and 501(c)3 status Friends of the Libraries groups are eligible and encouraged to apply for the 2014 award cycle, which ends next month. Your odds are good! A minimum of two awards will be given to applicants in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Native nations within these same states.

Primary judging criteria are: a pattern of innovative solutions (e.g., breakthroughs in addressing community needs); a history of using collaborative and resourceful processes; organizational leadership that fosters a culture of innovation; and good governance and financial stability.

For details, see the award's detailed Frequently Asked Questions page. Specific questions not answered by the FAQ can be sent to You can jump straight to application materials here

“Lisa Libraries” Offers Needed K-8 Materials to Friends, Other Needy Applicants

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Posted by jim under Donations, Grants

lisa.jpgDoes your Friends group work with children in underserved or otherwise disadvantaged parts of the state? If so, the Lisa Libraries program wants to help by donating new, age appropriate books to your youth literacy efforts.

“Lisa Libraries” is the brainchild of Newbery Medal-winning author Ann M. Martin, and named in honor of her good friend, renowned editor Lisa Novak. Unlike other nonprofit initiatives with this same focus, Martin and fellow organizers do not give preferential treatment to candidates in urban or in rural areas. If the need is there, Lisa Libraries wants to help.

Since 1990, in addition to public libraries, large materials donations have been awarded to organizations ranging from daycare centers and after-school programs, to homeless and battered women’s shelters, to prison visiting areas where children meet with incarcerated parents. To date, the organization has donated over 350,000 books to applicants across the country.

Applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis. There is no standard application form, but you must compile and mail:

  • Basic information about your program (overview letter, brochures, news clippings, etc.)
  • Information on the size, age range, and socio-economic status of the youth population you serve
  • Details on your books request, including how the new materials would be used
  • Overview of annual budget and current funding sources (if available)

Click here for further submission details. (Alternatively, if your Friends group finds itself in possession of a large stock of new or like new children’s books, click here to learn how to make a tax deductible donation to the Lisa Libraries.)