RGK Foundation Wants To Partner With YOU!

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Posted by jim under Grants, Opportunities

rgk1.gifFriends of the Library have long had a friend of their own in the RGK Foundation, a national organization devoted to the advancement of youth literacy and other K-12 education initiatives.

If youth literacy is a special focus of your group’s 2014-2015 programming, the Foundation invites you to submit a Letter of Inquiry seeking a grant to offset project costs.

It’s as simple as that! A judging panel will review your request and, if interested, invite you to submit a formal project proposal. Letters are being accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis, and the panel is next set to meet on Friday, September 19.

Please note that, ordinarily, annual galas, capital campaigns, student projects, and scholarships are ineligible for consideration. Your Friends group must also be 501(c)3 incorporated to be eligible.

For further information, including letter-writing best practices, visit the RGK Foundation’s excellent FAQ pageClick here to write and submit an ‘e-letter.’ (Looking for inspiration? Click here to read about a variety of exciting literacy projects funded to date.)

Library of Congress Surplus Program Invites Applications

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Posted by jim under Library of Congress, Surplus Books Program, Washington, Friends, Friends of the Library

loc.gifLibraries and partnering Friends groups often accept and “accession” book donations from private, local donors. Circulation collections everywhere are stronger for these added efforts. If you are enterprising and looking to expand those collections even further, consider looking into the Library of Congress Surplus Books Program.

The Surplus Books Program is, essentially, just what it sounds like. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., sets aside all books not needed for its own uses for distribution to qualifying organizations across the country. Eligible institutions include colleges, museums, school systems, state and federal agencies, and – of course – public libraries! (Under certain circumstances, Friends and other 501 nonprofits may participate without partnering with library staff.)

Books claimed through the program must be used to build collections, and cannot be immediately resold for fundraising.

The “catch,” so to speak, is that a representative of your organization must be on site at the Library of Congress to sift through and choose available titles. (You can, of course, deputize someone to take on those responsibilities on your behalf. This is quite common.) 

Requests are being accepted and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Applicants need only fill out a basic application and submit a brief letter, preferably on letterhead stationary, requesting approval to participate. Application materials and more information are available at loc.gov/acq/surplus.html. 

Minnesota Has a New “Literary Landmark”

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Posted by jim under Literary Landmarks

On Friday, May 16, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends – together with the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and Central Lakes College (CLC) Foundation – had the great honor to dedicate CLC’s Jon Hassler Library as Minnesota’s fifth official “Literary Landmark.”

Literary Landmarks are sites with a strong historical connection to prominent American authors, recognized through a partnership between United for Libraries' Literary Landmarks Association and local affiliates. As anyone familiar with his body of work can attest, perennial bestseller Jon Hassler is as deserving as any.

kellerman.jpgHassler, a teacher by training, burst onto the writing scene in a big way in 1977 with the publication of his first novel, Staggerford. The debut garnered Hassler accolades from all corners – for a strong narrative voice, engaging plot devices, and, above all, a refreshingly authentic look at dynamics in a small Midwestern town. Over the next three decades, Hassler contributed another dozen novels to the corpus of Minnesota literature, in addition to several well-received nonfiction works, short stories anthologies, and children’s books.

Hassler passed away in 2008, at age 74, after a long and courageous battle with a Parkinson’s-like disease. Shortly after, Central Lakes College, where this multitalented man taught for many years, rechristening its central library the “Jon Hassler Library” in his memory.

CLC Librarian Emeritus Larry Kellerman served as master of ceremonies at May’s Literary Landmark dedication, which was attended by 75 guests. These included Hassler’s wife, Liz, and son, Michael. Board of Directors members Joan Larson and Joe Owens were on hand to represent MALF.

The afternoon’s poignant highlight came when Hassler’s long-time friend Joseph Plut (author of Conversations with Jon Hassler) read aloud a letter from one of the author’s former students, Dr. Patrick Hicks. The latter credits his own writing success to Hassler’s teaching and guidance. Plut also read excerpts from Simon’s Night, a recent and popular posthumous work by Hassler.

This Literary Landmark designation puts Jon Hassler in a league with only three other Minnesota names: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Maud Hart Lovelace, and, most recently, Sinclair Lewis. (MALF, in partnership with the Sinclair Lewis Foundation, dedicated that author’s boyhood home in Sauk Centre as a Literary Landmark in 2013.)

Which author and historic site are next on the docket? Stay tuned to find out!  Photo Credit: Larry Kellerman/CLC.

Remembering Friends Luminary Mary Ida Thomson

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Posted by jim under Obituary, History

As many of you have already likely heard, Friends luminary Mary Ida Thomson passed away last week in Hastings. She was 92.Thomson’s contributions to Minnesota libraries were many and sundry. Near the top of that list, her drive and keen insights helped shape the Minnesota Association of Library Friends during its early formative years.

MALF exists to support Friends of the Library organizations throughout the state, but Thomson’s legacy left its most indelible mark in the Twin Cities. As a representative of First Bank, she served on the board of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library for thirteen years (1979 -1992), including the last six as president.

In this capacity, she memorably co-founded the wildly popular Minnesota Festival of the Book in 1988. The inaugural event lasted ten days and drew thousands to St. Paul to celebrate literacy and book culture. The Festival proved no small logistical challenge; success required the skilled coordination of nearly 100 organizations across the state. Thomson and colleague Leslie Wolfson accomplished this and much more with a budget that many would consider shoestring at best.

The first Minnesota Festival of the Book also saw the very first Minnesota Book Awards, a program which continues to grow year over year under the aegis of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Like many of MALF’s early leaders, Thomson realized that a strong library is the cornerstone of a strong community, and her volunteer efforts were not restricted to library initiatives as such. At various times, she also served on the boards of community organizations like the Charities Review Council, Minnesota Church Foundation, People Inc., and the St. Croix Valley Girl Scouts.

Mary Ida Thomson will be greatly missed by all who know her, but her influence will continue to be felt as organizations like MALF and the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library help guide Minnesota’s vibrant library community into the future.