Open Call For ALA 'Great Stories Club' Grant

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ALA's Public Programs Office invites public libraries and collaborating organizations to apply for the 2017 cycle of its NEH-funded Great Stories Club (GSC). Next year’s theme is “Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence.”

Unfamiliar with the program? Great Stories Club’s raison d'être is to give underserved youth facing significant challenges the opportunity to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them. The popular program has reached more than 700 libraries – and more than 30,000 young adults – to date

Grantees host reading and discussion events for curated book titles (usually for a core group of 6-12 young people) that fit with the GSC’s ongoing theme. Books, support materials, and support services will be provided free of charge

Competitive library applicants are located within or working in partnership with organizations that serve at-risk youth, such as alternative high schools, juvenile justice organizations, homeless shelters, foster care agencies, teen parenting programs, residential treatment facilities and other nonprofit and community agencies.

Click here to learn more, and to apply. Deadline to put your library forward for consideration is December 30, 2016.

Do You Know A Standout 'Paralibrarian'?

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c01e15a04bf5446b245f99b7561f0664_f269.pngIn many libraries across the country, prominent Friends of the Library double as part-time support staff for that same facility. If one of your number fits that description, consider nominating that multitalented colleague for Paralibrarian of the Year.

Each year, Library Journal honors one support staffer with this special honor. Sponsored by DEMCO, it comes with a $1,500 cash prize, reception at the annual ALA conference, and a feature in the March 2017 issue of Library Journal.

Criteria for consideration include: a track record of encouraging reading in your community, a clear commitment to free access to information, and a demonstrated ability to break down barriers between librarians and other staff.

Nominations must include a short (500-word) write up on why your Friend is a contender. Click here to learn more. Postmark or email your entry materials by January 10, 2017.

Apply Today For ALA Conference Scholarship

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Next year’s American Library Association conference (the biggest annual convention of its kind) will be held close to home. ALA 2017 is slated for June 22-27 in Chicago.

If you have been curious to gain exposure to the broader library world, there’s no better opportunity. United for Libraries, MALF’s counterpart on the national stage, is offering a scholarship to a first-time attendee. Courtesy of UFL partner Thrift Books, the recipient will receive full conference admission plus $850 towards travel and other expenses.

Interested? Applicants must secure a letter of recommendation from either the library’s director or a Board member of their Friends group. You must also write a one-page summary describing your Friends involvement to date. 
Click here to learn more. Direct questions to or (800) 545-2433, ext. 2161.

2017 Membership Renewal Reminder

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Reminder-clipart-free-clip-art-images-2-image-clipartcow.jpgAs the year draws to a close and we reflect on the highpoints of 2016, it is clear that MALF owes its every success to the spirited involvement of Friends like you. Thank you!

MALF operates on a membership year equal to the corresponding calendar year, and many have already renewed their membership for calendar/membership year 2017. If you were a member in 2016, you should have received a letter (and handy renewal form) from us within the past three weeks. If you do not receive the expected letter, or were not a member in 2016, email us at and we will send you an invoice.

As in years past, Friends of the Library groups pay only $25, and Individuals pay just $10. MALF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your dues are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. We also welcome and appreciate donations, in any amount, which you can submit with your dues - or online through our secure website portal. 

2017-2018 NEA ‘Big Read’ Grants Available

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If your Friends of the Library group is looking to up its programming game in 2017, consider applying for a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Sums ranging from $5,000 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 around ten discussion sessions.

Communitywide reading programs proposed for any time between September 2017 and June 2018 are now eligible for consideration.  

Requested funding must be matched one-to-one with non-federal contributions, and the NEA stipulates that your Big Read revolve around one of these 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.

Click here to learn more. Apply by Thursday, January 26.

Public Library Association Award Noms Due December 5

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Posted by jim under Grants, Awards

PLA.jpgFriends of the Library work closely with library staff, and often have a better understanding than most patrons of the unique skills and stellar work ethic that librarians bring to the table. Consequently, the Public Library Association (PLA) invites Friends to put forward the name of your favorite public servant for any of nine association honors. Highlights include:

Allie Beth Martin Award

This award honors a librarian who, in a public library setting, has demonstrated extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books or other library materials and has distinguished ability to share that knowledge.

Charlie Robinson Award

This award honors a public library director who, over a period of seven years, has been a risk taker, an innovator and/or a change agent in a public library.

Gordon M. Conable Award

This award honors a public library staff member, a library trustee, or a public library, that has demonstrated a commitment to intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights.

John Illiff Award

This award recognizes the contributions of a library worker, librarian, or library that has used technology and innovative thinking as a tool to improve services to public library users.

Deadline for these and all other PLA awards is Monday, December 5. You can create an online user identity and apply online any time. Send all questions to PLA as directed on their website. 


See Our NEW 'Stand Up for Standout Friends' Gallery

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We know that most of you were unable to join us in Duluth for the live announcement of the inaugural class of Stand Up for Standout Friends. MALF is pleased to catch you up – and to honor these truly outstanding Friends in perpetuity – with this new Stand Up for Standout Friends website gallery. Click the link, or visit the new page, to read up on our sixteen recipients.

Know of someone in your community whose dedication and accomplishments stack up? Keep them in mind for next year’s awards cycle!

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation 'Mini Grants'

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Friends groups in Minnesota are often deeply involved in their library’s children’s and young adult programming. In some 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.

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/performance of plays. 

The Foundation will distribute approximately 60 grants to worthy applicants next year. Applications are due March 31, 2017. All winners will be notified in May. Visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s website for more details. A little planning goes a long way, so don’t delay!

National Friends of Libraries Week Award Opportunity

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Did your Friends of the Library coordinate a big fundraiser, plan a membership drive, or conduct visibility efforts last week in conjunction with National Friends of Libraries Week? If so, United for Libraries wants to hear about it!

Friends who pulled off particularly successful and/or innovative tie-in activities are invited to put forward a nomination for the annual (and aptly named) National Friends of the Library Week Award. Applying is simple. Write a one- to two-page summary of what you did, and submit online to the judging committee by December 2, 2016.

Thanks to a generous partnership with the Lana and Michael Porter Foundation, at least two of the nominees that United for Libraries deems worthy will receive $250.00 prize grants for their library. Click here to learn more. If you did not get an opportunity to coordinate events this year in conjunction with the week-long Friends holiday, mark next year’s on your calendar now: October 15-21, 2017!

Pipestone Friends of the Library Win Evy Nordley Award

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Hearty congratulations to Pipestone Area Friends of the Library (Meinders Community Library), winners of the 2016 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends.
Jody Wacker, director of Meinders Library, gave a presentation about Pipestone’s prize-winning project (“Night at the Museum”) and accepted a plaque on Thursday, September 29 during the Minnesota Library Association conference at the Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center.
Inspired loosely by the popular movie of the same name, Night at the Museum’s dovetailing goals were to give students an opportunity to showcase their artwork, bridge generation gaps, and get people into the library. “Students have few people with whom to share their art and academic success with, as school projects that take time and effort are then typically crammed into backpacks and are often seen only by teachers and parents,” Wacker explained.
Planning and promotion began in September. All told, 216 area students (3rd-12th grades) contributed a total of 91 exhibits to Night at the Museum. These varied widely, from canvas art and educational displays, to short feature films and podcasts – and even a cheesecake-making demonstration and a scone taste-testing!
A turnout of over 160 attendees beat expectations – despite the night coinciding with the year’s first big snowfall. After the main event, 50 students and adults stuck around to watch “Night at the Museum.”
Click here to learn more about Pipestone Area Friends of the Library and Night at the Museum. Click here to read up on our two excellent runners-up: Friends of the Elmore Public Library (“Book-nanza”) and Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library (“Celebration of Friends Book Bags”).

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library

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In 2015-2016, the City of Northfield – together with numerous community partners and donors – financed a $3.4 million renovation to the Northfield Public Library. Private support accounted for an impressive 45 percent of that price tag.

MN_Rice.pngThe Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library played an integral role in seeing this public-private partnership through to its conclusion. Not content to rest on their laurels, however, the Friends remain hard at work promoting the newly expanded facility and all that it has to offer.

Two recent, overlapping book bag promotions are emblematic of the Friends’ tireless community outreach efforts.

Northfield Public Library owns several pieces of artwork by local artEvyists, including the iconic Jubilante by St. Olaf professor emeritus John Maakestad. Library staff rolled out a “brand refresh” to coincide with their facility’s grand reopening, and used Jubilante as something of a centerpiece: on library cards, a new website, and more.

With the permission of the Maakestad family, the Friends used the masterwork as the design for a new line of totes, as well. They sold these, at the reopening celebration and afterwards, for $15 each (in order to keep the tote affordable to all) – but encouraged a $5 “extra” donation.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Northfield Library targeted their second book bag initiative at an underserved population: residents who speak English only as a second language. After applying for and receiving a $1500 grant from Women in Northfield Giving Support (“WINGS”), the Friends assembled more than 100 blue-and-white bags stuffed to the brim with outreach resources. Goodies included Spanish-to-English flash cards, spelling and math activity books, pamphlets about the library, and bus vouchers. (Northfield Public Library is located close to a major bus line. Organizers included complimentary bus tokens to invite visits from community members who do not have other easy transportation options.)

Careful grant fund management allowed the Friends to assemble 150 full totes (versus the 100 originally projected). They targeted recipient families with able assistance from area schools and the local Community Action Center.

As the Friends noted in their recent Evy Nordley application, they had hoped that this outreach push would “incentivize visits from families who do not regularly use the library’s programs, services, and resources.” Happily, multiple tote recipients were in evidence among the 2,200-strong crowd at the library’s rededication ceremony – indicating that they are having the desired impact.

Jubilante also made its mark. The Friends sold out of their initial order relatively quickly, and just as quickly reordered more. They intend to market the colorful, waterproof tote heavily as part of future holiday fundraisers. 

That's A Wrap!

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Posted by jim under Workshops

What a turnout! Nearly 150 devoted Friends of the Library came out last week to hear Sally Gardner Reed, director of United for Libraries, speak about best practices to refresh and revitalize Friends groups (among other workshop highlights). That is a new record for MALF’s growing fall series. Members, look for a full feature in the next MALF newsletter.

Our thanks to the Friends at Anoka County Library – Rum River, Austin Public Library, Dakota County Library – Wentworth, and Douglas County Library for your partnership on “Refresh and Revitalize Your Friends Group.” If you would like to partner with MALF to bring a workshop and national caliber speaker to your library sometime in 2017, we’d love to hear from you. Simply send an email to 


TEI Landmark Audio Announces Library/Literacy Grant

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Posted by jim under Grants, Awards

Are your library's staff and supporters interested in pursuing more grant opportunities, but intimated by the research and reams of paperwork some applications seem to entail?

Here’s your point of entry. In celebration of 25 years servicing the library market, TEI Landmark Audio is rolling out a one-time-only Literacy and Programming Grant. Later this year, 25 libraries will receive $1,000 each to support their youth literacy endeavors. You'll find that the application is quite manageable: only one page in length!

Applications must be received by Tuesday, November 15. A contract or other purchasing relationship with TEI Landmark Audio is NOT required to be eligible, and individual branches within larger library systems are welcome to apply. However, while Friends may partner on an entry project, funds will only be awarded to libraries themselves – and your library director must sign off on the proposal.

Winners will be announced by December 15, with the expectation that funds will be used for their intended purpose by July 1, 2017. 
Click here to read over the one-page application, and to learn more.

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Pipestone Area Friends of the Library

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Last fall, for one night only, the Pipestone Area Friends of the Library (PAFL) transformed the local Meinders Community Library into southwest Minnesota’s most innovative museum.

Pipestone’s library is a relative rarity in today’s landscape, notes director Jody Wacker. It is a combined school and public library facility; it serves the Pipestone Area Schools, as well as the 4,000-person community at large. “We are therefore in a unique position to create ties inter-generationally, and across the cultural and socio-economic divides common in our town,” Wacker explained.

PAFL did just that on November 20 with its inaugural “Night at the Museum” – the largest ever library event hosted inPipestone.

pipeston.gifInspired loosely by the popular movie of the same name, the event’s dovetailing goals were to give students an opportunity to showcase their artwork, bridge generation gaps, and get people into the library. “Students have few people with whom to share their art and academic success with, as school projects that take time and effort are then typically crammed into backpacks and are often seen only by teachers and parents,” Wacker explained.

Planning and promotion began in September. All told, 216 area students (3rd-12th grades) contributed a total of 91 exhibits to Night at the Museum. These varied widely, from canvas art and educational displays, to short feature films and podcasts – and even a cheesecake-making demonstration and a scone taste-testing!

A turnout of over 160 attendees beat expectations – despite the night coinciding with the year’s first big snowfall. After the main event, 50 students and adults stuck around to watch “Night at the Museum.”

For a program with so many moving pieces, PAFL’s event could not have been more cost effective. The Friends provided about $35 towards refreshments, but most other costs were picked up by local media and patron donors. Naturally, the students did most of the set-up and tear-down work.

Building on this first year’s success, Jody Wacker feels that as little as $500 for paid promotions would go a long way towards making any “sequels” even bigger community affairs.

By all accounts, Night at the Museum is an achievement worth repeating. “We successfully brought together two demographics within our community that typically have little interaction and great misconceptions of each other: our youth and our elderly,” Wacker said. “All night – and for months afterward – we heard how much people enjoyed spending time with the youth and seeing them in a whole new light. The impact was significant enough that the library continues to highlight student projects.”

Evy Nordley Finalist Spotlight: Friends of the Elmore Library

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Posted by jim under Awards, MLA

Friends in small and rural areas are often tempted to use the modest size of their library, community, or member roster as excuses not to “think big.” Friends of the Elmore Public Library are proof positive that, with pluck and ingenuity, small Friends organizations can accomplish truly great things.


Located an hour south of Mankato along the Iowa state line, Elmore is a farm town of only 600. Unsurprisingly, as of last year, membership in the local Friends was among the lowest of any organization in southern Minnesota.

Consequently, many in the community voiced doubts when the Friends announced their intention to organize a large book basket silent auction as part of Elmore’s summer Horse and Buggy Days weekend celebration.

“Someone on our Board of Directors had seen another library do this sort of fundraiser, where they created baskets themed around a book title,” explained secretary Kristin Travis. “We decided to expand on that idea, by reaching out to the business community and asking them to donate either baskets or money for a silent auction.”

While the partnership opportunity sounds straightforward enough on paper, it is a tall order for Elmore – a town with no grocery store, no bank branch, and little commercial activity to speak of. At present, Elmore sustains only six active businesses.

Hoping to cast a wider net, “our Board brainstormed what businesses in nearby towns and cities benefit from the residents of Elmore shopping or patronizing them – or anyplace connected because owners or employees are alumni,” Travis recalled. (Elmore High School ceased graduating seniors in 1994, but Faribault County is full of town alumni working in various leadership positions.)

In total, the Friends compiled a list of 88 recipients for a letter requesting basket donations for the library’s silent auction. Impressively, 53 of those contacted wished to take part!

Kristin Travis attributes this response in part to flexible participation options. Donors did not have to devote time and effort to a themed basket if they did not want to. A cash donation option eliminated that barrier. In those cases, the Friends assembled an appropriate basket.

All these efforts reaped a range of dividends. Exposure helped the Friends boost their profile and nearly double the size of their Board (from 5 to 9). Every auction item sold during Horse and Buggy Days weekend, allowing the Friends to buy a computer and needed software for the library. Moreover, “Basket Book-nanza” raised so much that the Friends had enough left over to buy the facility a new Cricut machine and about $200 worth in DVDs.

This last acquisition brought with it an encouraging ripple effect. Elmore Public Library recently weeded its outdated VHS collection but had little to offer by way of new and in-demand DVD titles. This post-auction donation helped change that situation. DVDs now in rotation account for nearly 50 percent of the library’s entire circulation. “It has also fueled an interest in community members willing to donate movies,” noted Travis. (Approximately 1,300 are now available, up from just 100 last July.)

Friends of the Elmore Public Library is eager to try their hand at this fundraiser again – but next go around, they aim to reach out to an expanded contact list of nearly 150 businesses.

'Library Friends Day' Line-Up Announced

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MLA is celebrating its ‘Quasquicentennial,’ and MALF wants YOU to be a part of it! Join us in Duluth for a full day of programming targeted specifically at Friends of the Library. You will learn about successful Friends grants, fundraising opportunities, community partnerships, member campaigns, and more. Register now!

When? Thursday, September 29, 2016

→ Where? Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, 350 Harbor Drive
→ Cost: $65/person if purchased before 8/29; $85/person after [Friends rate] 

8:50-9:50 // Being the Voice of an Organization: A New Approach to Advocacy 
Advocacy is a long-time MALF and MLA focus area, and guest speaker Sam Walseth knows the territory better than anyone. As a VP of one of the state’s lead governmental affairs consultant agencies, Walseth has championed public library priorities in state government for years. Attendees will come away with tips on how to advocate, individually and organizationally.

10:55-11:55 // Forming a Partnership Between Community Partners of Libraries
In addition to dedicated staff, libraries rely on the tireless efforts of three sometimes overlapping groups: (1) Friends of the Library, (2) Library Foundations, (3) Library Board / Trustees. Each has its own functions, but all are ultimately working towards the same goal: strong libraries. MALF and MLTA will spend a productive hour examining ways that these different organizations can better work in tandem. 

12:05-1:35 // Lunch Keynote: "Relevance," with Nina Simon
In an interactive address, author Nina Simon will share inspiring examples and practical theories on how to make your work more vital and valuable to diverse communities. 

1:45-2:45 // MALF Annual Meeting + Idea Exchange
Back by popular demand, MALF is bringing its “popcorn style” Idea Exchange to MLA. Share ideas, and learn about: successful membership drives, creative fundraising, advocacy and more. MALF will devote the second half of the hour to the organization’s annual meeting. Stay and learn what MALF has been up to in 2016!

3:50-4:50 // Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library
MALF will spotlight three exceptional projects made possible by member Friends groups between January 2015 and January 2016. Representatives from three finalist groups will offer 10-minute overviews of their projects before the big winner is announced. Attendees are guaranteed to come away with at least one replicable idea!


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Posted by jim under Workshops

Sally Gardner Reed, executive director of United for Libraries, will lead and keynote half-day workshops in four locations across Minnesota in September. We will hold sessions of "Refresh and Revitalize Your Friends Group" in:

2016_Workshops_Map_2.pngAustin Public Library
323 4th Ave NE, Austin, MN, 55912
Wednesday, September 14 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
(ACL) Rum River Library  
4201 6th Ave, Anoka, MN, 55303
Thursday, September 15 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)

(DCL) Wentworth Library
199 Wentworth Ave. E., W. St. Paul, MN, 55118

Friday, September 16 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) 

Douglas County Library
720 Fillmore St., Alexandria, MN, 56308
Saturday, September 17 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
In addition to the keynote, attendees will participate in small group roundtables, plus have a chance to share their thoughts and experiences during an hour-long idea exchange session – a MALF workshop staple, and one of participants’ best opportunities all year round to network and share with Friends from across Minnesota.
"Refresh and Revitalize Your Friends Group" is FREE to attend, and it is not necessary for you to be a member of MALF or any Library Friends organization to do so. A complimentary lunch will be provided at each location. Pre-registration is required, to ensure the appropriate number of lunches and informational packets. 

Actionable Advice From Library Legislative Day 2016

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Hundreds of library advocates from all walks of life converged on the U.S. Capitol in May for National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). Organized each year by the Washington office of the American Library Association, NLLD is one of the nation’s premier library advocacy opportunities. MALF president Judy Schotzko made the trek this year as a member of Minnesota’s “delegation.” She came away impressed with the advocacy event – and even more impressed with NLLD as an advocacy education opportunity.

“Meeting with congressional representatives and their aides is the highlight, but the organizers prepare you well on the Sunday before – and that training included replicable advice that anyone can use at home,” Schotzko explained. Among other speakers, ALA’s briefing and training session featured a keynote by former Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). 

Here is a list of NLLD “best practices” you should keep in mind, when meeting with public officials and advocating for libraries at the local, county and state levels. 

1. Champion specific bills, actions, and priorities. Voicing general support for libraries is not typically effective. Most governmental officials support the continued existence of public libraries, and very few have a negative view of the institution. Championing specific priorities (e.g. allocation of funds to purchase and maintain more computer consoles) is far more likely to be heard and heeded. 

2. Research the person you are speaking with. Do not go blind into any meeting with elected officials. Your time with them is almost definitely going to be limited. In order to maximize that time and leave the best possible impression, research that person beforehand. Find out how he or she has voted in the past, and what their funding priorities appear to be. As best you can, tailor your pitch accordingly.

3. Leave something behind. (No, don’t go forgetting your hat or coat.) If you can spare the time, draw up a one-page summary of your key talking points. Going this extra mile affirms your seriousness, serves as insurance if you forget something, and saves your audience from having to take many notes. Print and bring several copies; one or more aides may be in attendance. At a minimum, be prepared to leave a business card.

4. Don’t underestimate aides and other assistants. If you set up a meeting with the office of a state or federal official, do not be surprised if you do not get to meet the congressman or woman in person. Their time and attention are at a premium, and this sort of work is often delegated to trusted aides. Do not feel cheated, or give your meeting anything less than your best effort. Aides are influential, and their bosses respect their opinions. Having an aide paraphrase your key points can be a powerful thing indeed.

5. Don’t feel self-conscious about what you don’t know. As a Friend, you likely do not know the ins and outs of the library world as well as library staff. Think of this as an advantage. When librarians approach elected officials about library priorities, many assume they are speaking primarily out of self-interest. When a Friend makes the same pitch, however, their motives will not be questioned.

If anything, this last point is most important, according to Schotzko. “In my experience over the years, whenever staff lobbies for something, it is presumed they are lobbying for their job. Volunteers ask only because they care. These are the people that can have a huge impact.”

MALF Welcomes Two New Board Members

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welcome.jpgAs we gear up for a busy fall, MALF is thrilled and fortunate to welcome two new members to our expanding Board of Directors. Skip Levesque and Virginia (Ginny) Copeman recently joined our ranks.

Ginny Copeman comes to MALF with a broad-based communications and graphic design background. She serves currently as interactive marketing director for Saint Mary's University in Winona. In that capacity, she manages the university's top-tier social media platforms, maintains a dynamic university newsblog, and provides faculty and staff trainings on best practices for these and other e-tools (among other key duties). Prior to assuming that post in 2013, Ginny contributed her skills set as a graphic designer in the Communications Service Division of the Rochester Public Library.

Skip Levesque, formerly of Maple Grove, moved to St. Michael after retiring three years ago. He became an active member of the local Friends of the Library (St. Michael, Albertville and Hanover) shortly thereafter, and has since stepped into a leadership role during a pivotal growth phase for that organization. Since assuming the presidency in May 2015, Skip has led the local Friends through an inaugural Founders Recognition celebration and their highest grossing book sale to date. As part of our Board, he looks forward to contributing to MALF’s expanding statewide and national advocacy efforts.

We will also take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Board member Sheila DeChantal. DeChantal is an active force in the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library. Among other accomplishments, she led that organization through its first successful “Wine & Words” annual fundraisers. The inaugural event, held in 2013, won Brainerd the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project in 2014. In her time with MALF, DeChantal contributed that same passion for programming to MALF’s programming committee.

As a poet once said, “The only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes.”

Foundation Offering 2:1 Children’s Collection Funds Match

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pilcrow-logo-479x210.pngIf your Friends group supports a small and rural library looking to augment its children’s book collection, consider exploring a grant from The Pilcrow Foundation. A two-to-one match is available for libraries able to secure a local sponsor willing to chip in seed money.

Specifically, the Foundation will provide $600-800 to eligible libraries able to secure $200-400 in other funding – towards the acquisition of up to $1200 worth of books (calculated at retail value). Financial support from the Friends is one such secondary funding source.

Branch libraries serving rural communities within larger library systems are welcome to apply. Libraries with annual operating budgets under $50,000 will receive funding priority. School media centers are eligible if that library doubles as a collection open to the public.

Collection development staff at libraries receiving Pilcrow Foundation funds will be asked to make selections from a curated list of over 500 hardcover, star-reviewed titles. Click here for more details, and to apply.

Direct specific questions to

Best Buy Foundation Offering Technology Grants

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Posted by jim under Grants, Awards

Capture.pngAs any library Friend or staffer will tell you – quite contrary to the stereotype that persists in some quarters – libraries are much more than simply repositories for print books. In many communities, among other purposes, the public library serves as the central access point for technology and tech education. In recognition of this fact, the Best Buy Foundation is extending its popular Best Buy Community Grants program to eligible libraries and 501(c)3 Friends groups.

The cardinal aim of this program is to empower organizations that “provide teens with places and opportunities to develop twenty-first century technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices.” As their website explains, “too many teens have little or no access to technology and, as a result, they fall behind their peers.”

Activities eligible for support include classes and initiatives focused on computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and mobile app development. Grants average $5,000, but up to $10,000 is available to strongly qualified candidates.

For a list of eligibility requirements, click here. (The Best Buy Foundation offers a pre-application quiz to help make it easy.) Note that only Friends and libraries located within 50 miles of a Best Buy store location will be considered. Submit your application by Friday, July 1. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their proposal by September 15.

NEW: Acknowledge Your Exceptional Volunteers With MALF’s “Standout Friends” Honor

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One thing we’ve learned in our collaborations with Friends across Minnesota is that, while every group faces challenges, each can boast at least a few standout members – movers and shakers whose dedication, creativity and boundless energy help the organization overcome those obstacles.  What is lacking, by contrast, are good opportunities to acknowledge these outstanding contributors statewide.

In recognition of this fact, MALF is pleased to introduce our newest initiative, “Stand Up For Standout Friends.” Each and every member organization is invited to put forward the name of one individual for this special annual honor, in thanks for standout efforts in furtherance of Friends of the Library work.

Standout Friends from across the state will be honored this fall in a number of ways:

  • A personalized, matted, and frameable Certificate of Recognition for each recipient
  • Special acknowledgment during ‘Library Friends Day,’ part of the Minnesota Library Association conference
  • Permanent place of honor on the Gallery of Friends, a new MALF website portal now in development
  • Official notification, tendered by MALF, to your local Mayor’s office
  • Mention on the official MALF Blog and in an e-newsletter feature
  • Recognition in an upcoming quarterly newsletter

What constitutes standout work? 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.


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 publically on award materials distributed across the state. In order to prevent duplicated efforts, MALF asks, though does not require, that the nomination come to us from the current president of each member Friends group.

Please fill out the Standout Friend Nomination Form and return to us by email (to: If necessary, you may also mail a paper copy to our office (MALF, 1080 Montreal Ave., Ste. 2, St. Paul, MN, 55116). Applications must be received or postmarked by Friday, August 12, 2016.

Evy Nordley Award Application Window Closes June 17

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Submit your application today for MALF’s flagship prize, the Evy Nordley Award for ‘Best Project by Friends of the Library.’

Each year, we recognize original ideas and innovative projects created by Friends with this first-of-its-kind honor. Any Friends-supported project is eligible for consideration, provided project implementation began after January 1 of the preceding year (in this case, 2015). Examples include print publications, programming events, membership drives, fundraising campaigns, and digital initiatives.

Entry submission is free, but participation requires a current MALF membership. (Contestants unaffiliated with MALF are welcome to submit membership application and annual dues along with their Evy Nordley entry materials.) All entries for the 2016 cycle must be postmarked by Friday, June 17.

Each cycle, three finalists will be notified over the summer and invited to give a ten-minute presentation describing the design, development and impact of their Friends effort at the annual fall Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference. The winner will be announced at this time, and be awarded $1,000. Runners-up will receive $250 and a framable Certificates of Recognition.

YALSA Offers Ten 'Teen Read Week' Grants

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October 9-15 is national Teen Read Week. While the fall may seem a long way off, now is a good time to turn an eye to tie-in programming.

Why? Over the summer, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is partnering up with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to give select libraries a head start in their planning and funding. As in years past, a YALSA judging committee plans to award ten $1,000 Teen Read Week “activity grants” to deserving public libraries – and, where appropriate, partnering Friends groups – interested in coordinating special programs any time October 9-15.

Teen Read WeekThe focus for the 2016 cycle is on ESL and multilingualism. Program ideas catering to the estimated 22% of the nation’s youth who speak a language other than English in the home will receive top priority.  Tip:Take into account YALSA teen program best practices, which you can find here.

Click here to learn more, and to apply. Your application is due by June 1. Recipients will be notified the week of July 11.

May 2-3: 'Virtual' National Library Legislative Day

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vote.pngWhile only a small fraction of the nation’s library supporters can make the trek out to Washington each spring for National Library Legislative Day, each and every one of us can make use of this important advocacy opportunity and should have May 2-3 marked on our calendars.

Back by popular demand, the American Library Association is pleased to announce ‘Virtual’ Library Legislative Day. In conjunction with NLLD, Friends of the Library and other supporters are encouraged to call the office of, or write to, their congressional representatives.

ALA’s Washington Office, in partnership with the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, has crafted talking points to assist you. In brief, national priorities for the next fiscal year include: increased support for school libraries, PATRIOT Act reforms, LSTA appropriations, and a push to make more taxpayer-funded research freely available to all (through libraries and otherwise). 

Click here to learn more about each ALA priority and the bills relating to them. Click here to learn how best to get in touch with the people representing you in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

MALF Remembers Nowell Leitzke

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Minnesota’s library community lost another trailblazer last week. Nowell D. Leitzke, a prominent Friend and one-time president of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends, passed away on April 18 at age 87 in Saint Paul.

Leitzke began his distinguished library services career in north central Wisconsin, where he served as the first-ever bookmobile driver in the state’s largest county. He later moved to Minnesota, eventually serving in leadership roles in Faribault, Austin and Ramsey County. Leitzke later spent two distinguished decades with the Minnesota Department of Education Office of Library Development and Services.

Leitzke’s tireless support for public libraries extended well beyond the business day. In addition to serving on the MALF board, he was a long-time and avid supporter of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

Skip Levesque Wins MALF's Inaugural NLLD Grant

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Congratulations to Skip Levesque, recipient of MALF’s first-ever National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) Grant!

trophy-award-icon.pngSkip, of St. Michael, will represent MALF and the Minnesota library community generally in Washington next month during NLLD. Coordinated by the American Library Association, this annual, two-day event is the highest profile library advocacy opportunity in the country. Minnesota attendees will receive an in-depth briefing on library legislation before getting the opportunity to meet in person with members of our own congressional delegation.

Skip is currently serving as president of the Friends of the St Michael - Albertville - Hanover Library. In that capacity, he recently oversaw the library’s first ever Founders Recognition event (in celebration of the library’s twenty-fifth anniversary), as well as a record-setting fall book sale.  

We look forward to hearing Skip’s report of his experiences in D.C. – and will of course be sure to share the highlights!

NEA Invites 'Challenge America' Art Grant Applications

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For many communities, the public library is the immediate area’s only cultural institution of note. It is hardly surprising, then, that staff and Friends at libraries often do their best to extend their range of services beyond the obvious, to arts appreciation and education opportunities.

'Challenge America' GrantIf this is a priority of yours – regardless of your library’s or community’s size – the National Endowment for the Arts encourages you to explore its Challenge America grant. Challenge America’s broad raison d'etre is to engage underserved elements of the public "with diverse and excellent art.” In this context, ‘underserved’ is very board; it encompasses any group whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

Projects underwritten include but are not limited to art festivals, special exhibits, readings and recitals, broadcasts and live performances, and other activities highlighting the work of a guest artist. Campaigns to increase art appreciation and awareness in your area more generally will also be considered.

Libraries and 501(c)3 Friends of the Library organizations may apply. However, note that the Challenge America grant amount is fixed at $10,000. If you do not think that your project or initiative could responsibly deploy this budget, please do not apply. Note also that all grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1:1. Click here to learn more, and to apply. Preliminary applications are due this month, so don’t delay!

Assistance Available for Environmental/STEM Programs

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oyf9sxf7qwju9ndo23ax.pngMinnesota is prominent in the vanguard of the “seed lending library” movement, one of public libraries’ most successful and innovative experiments to date in gardening and agro-education.

If your library is looking to invest in such a program – or desires ‘seed money’ for another program centered around environmental topics and geared toward young people – the Captain Planet Foundation may be able to help. As the name suggests, this foundation (the brainchild of Ted Turner) exists to foster “high quality, hands-on environmental stewardship projects.”

Through its so-called Small Grant Program, the Captain Planet Foundation is currently inviting schools and 501(c)3 nonprofits to apply for between $500 and $2500 to aid in the coordination of new initiatives that are “project-based, performed by youth, and have real environmental outcomes or implications.”

Visit their website for project examples from past years, and for a comprehensive FAQ. Preferential consideration is given to requesters who have secured at least 50 percent matching or in-kind funding for their project. Note that library landscaping and beautification projects are ineligible. Apply by Friday, September 30 at latest for consideration.

If your library is interested in diversifying their children’s programming and offering more STEM-centered activities and events, consider applying instead for the foundation’s EcoTech Grant. Grants in the amount of $2,500 will be awarded to schools and non-profit organizations coordinating programs based around STEM. Strongest attention will be paid to applications focused around the role of technology in ongoing addressing environmental problems. (The EcoTech Grant entries window is currently closed, but will re-open soon.)

Snapdragon Book Foundation Offers School Library Support

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Posted by jim under Grants, Awards

Snapdragon_Book_Foundation_1.5x2..375.jpgSchool libraries in many parts of the country routinely face budget shortfalls and cuts. Unfortunately, this is especially true in poorer communities – in the schools where children could most benefit from a robust library and media center.

If your school media center serves a high proportion of disadvantaged students, the Snapdragon Book Foundation wants to help. For the past seven years, this organization (started by a former librarian, who understands the challenges faced by these important facilities), has been providing much needed monetary assistance to school libraries looking to expand their lending collections. If your media center is looking to purchase materials within the next nine months, visit their website to see if you are eligible.

Last year, the Snapdragon Book Foundation received 550 applications – and awarded a number of grants ranging from $1,500 to $15,000. Apply by Friday, April 15 to be considered for the 2016 cycle.

Knight Foundation Invites “Game-changing” Library Ideas

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knight.jpgEach year, any number of exciting award and grant opportunities are aimed at public libraries and Friends of the Library. As you’ve doubtless noticed, some are rather niche in their focus – not to mention specific with their eligibility requirements. Well, the Knight Foundation is trying something a little different.

As part of their “Knight News Challenge: Libraries,” the foundation is conducting an open call for ideas focused on advancing libraries so that our favorite public institution is better equipped to “serve individuals and communities in the twenty-first century.” The competition is open to Friends, other non-profits, libraries themselves – really, anyone with innovative ideas on how to improve the library world.

Select applicants will receive support from the Knight Foundation to help make their dream a reality. Assistance ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 will be provided to the winners. In total, up to $3 million may be awarded!

At this first stage of the “Knight News Challenge: Libraries” contest, they do not ask for a budget request. (This occurs during the second review phase, with selected semifinalists.)

It’s as simple as that! If you have a game-changing idea, submit it online any time between now and Monday, March 21. Visit the Foundation’s website to do so – and for further program details.

ALA’s YA ‘Great Stories Club’ Explores “The Art of Change”

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Posted by jim under Awards, Books

greatstories.jpgIf your library serves a significant number of at-risk young people (ages 12-21), the American Library Association encourages you to apply for the upcoming round of its “Great Stories Club” program. GSCG is a three-part, thematic reading and discussion series designed with this underserved audience in mind. The theme this cycle is “The Art of Change: Creation, Growth and Transformation.”

Curriculum: The three books chosen for this series are memoirs and semi-autobiographical works in which the young adult narrators make decisions about how to respond to the great personal, social, and cultural forces they encounter. Each protagonist moves forward towards positive change by, among other factors, their involvement in the creative arts. Each books raises important questions about we how respond to the very essence of human existence.”

Titles selected by an ALA panel to anchor Great Stories Club 2016 will be instantly recognizable to many:

  • Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante 
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

If your library is selected to participate – and up to 75 will be – you will receive eleven copies of each title, together with online access to professionally designed, customizable, and downloadable curriculum materials. One representative of each library will also receive a special training session during this year’s ALA Annual Conference.

If the Great Stories Club is of interest, advise library staff that applications must be received by Friday, April 15 to be considered. Click here for a thorough FAQ, and to apply.

Apply Today: Minnesota Academic Innovators Award

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trophy-award-icon.pngInnovation. Change. Transformation. Breakthrough.

Do you know an academic librarian or academic project team whose projects, programs, or services have made recent outstanding contributions that advance the mission of an academic and/or research library through an innovative project, program or service?

If so, nominate him or her today for the Minnesota Academic Innovators Award! Nominations can be made online through April 4, 2016.

About the award: The Minnesota Academic Innovators Award is sponsored by the MLA Academic & Research Libraries Division (ARLD). The recipient of the award will be recognized and presented with $300 at ARLD Day 2016 (April 29th at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum). MLA membership is not required for nominators or nominees.

Award criteria: Projects, programs, or services should demonstrate creativity, quality, and innovation within the context of an academic institution. Innovation is doing something in a new way.  Innovation can be a brand new idea or refining something that’s always been done with great results.  Innovation will be considered very broadly and is not limited to technology. Previous winners’ projects have included embedded librarianship, community outreach, and library assessment.

Please contact Jayne Blodgett with any and all questions.

Join Friends, YA Lit Enthusiasts for Spotlight on Books

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cass.pngSpotlight on Books, central Minnesota’s premiere conference focused on children’s and youth literature, is gearing up for its twenty-eight year. Join guests of honor like Anton Treuer, Candace Fleming and Carrie Ehlet Newman on April 8-9 at the beautiful Chase on the Lake resort in Walker, Minn. It’s a perfect getaway for teachers, librarians, Friends of the Library or college students who have an interest in this topic.

The Friends of the Grand Rapids Public Library, long-time supporters of the annual event, are introducing a new fundraiser this year. A large and one-of-a-kind quilted wall hanging, featuring the signatures of Treuer and over twenty other authors, will be raffled off during Spotlight on Books weekend. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase tickets on site, with proceeds benefiting the work of the Friends of the Grand Rapids Public Library. (The quilt raffle will take place in September, and the winner will be notified.)

Visit the Spotlight on Books website for more details, and to register!

2016 Minnesota Library Legislative Day Registration Opens

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As the season’s first big thaw sets in, we at MALF are turning an eye to the Minnesota library community’s exciting spring schedule. Highlights include 2016 Minnesota Library Legislative Day, the linchpin event of our state’s library advocacy calendar. Friends of the Library – and library supporters of all types and stripes – from all across the state are invited to converge at the Capitol in Saint Paul for the Big Event on April 12-13.


Although Wednesday is the highlight, activities begin on Tuesday. MLA invites you to the Ramsey County Library - Roseville (2180 N. Hamline Ave.) that afternoon. After light refreshments and an informal meet-and-greet, representatives of Capitol Hill Associates, MLA’s lobbying team, will get us up to speed on legislative developments affecting public libraries in 2016-18. (Amy Wilde, chair of Minnesota Libraries, Trustees and Advocates (MLTA), will then hold a brief second session specific to trustees.)

We will gather in downtown Saint Paul at the Judicial Center the next morning. In order to schedule a meeting with your elected representatives on April 13, click here and enter your city and zip code information to find their contact details.

Click here for more information on Minnesota Library Legislation Day, and to register. Online registration is available through April 8.

We’ll see you at the Capitol!

Evy Nordley Award Alum Rebrands Themed Gala Fundraiser

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Spies, Lies & Literature

The Friends of Ramsey County Libraries is bringing back its popular winter gala for a third year, and under a new guise – or disguise, as the case may be. After two successful years as the Great Gatsby Gala, the 2016 fundraiser is rebranding with a new literary theme: Spies, Lies and Literature.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to join with the Friends at the 
Roseville Public Library on Saturday, February 6 (6:30-9:30 p.m.). Costumes or festive evening attire are encouraged but not required. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. 

Whether you favorite sleuth is Ian Fleming’s agent James Bond, Agatha Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot, or the inimitable Sherlock Holmes, this night will offer something for everyone. Dancing, silent and live auctions, a spy hunt, and wine and hors d’oeuvres are among the highlights.

Proceeds allow the Friends to add needed items to the lending collections of libraries in Maplewood, Mounds View, New Brighton, North St. Paul, Roseville, Shoreview and White Bear Lake. Tickets are only $50 in advance. This can be done online, or by check. At-the-door registrations are also welcome.
 Click here to learn more.

In its earlier incarnation as the Great Gatsby Gala, this innovative gala earned the Friends of Ramsey County Libraries an Evy Nordley Award for Best Project certificate of recognition. Click here to read all about it!


Nomination Window Now Open for MALF's 2016 Evy Nordley Award

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It's that time once again! Nominations are now being accepted for MALF’s flagship prize, the Evy Nordley Award for ‘Best Project by Friends of the Library.’ Each year, we recognize original ideas and innovative projects created by Friends with this first-of-its-kind honor.

EN2015-Austin.jpgAny Friends-supported project is eligible for consideration, provided project implementation began after January 1 of the preceding year (in this case, 2015). Examples include print publications, programming events, membership drives, fundraising campaigns, and website or digital initiatives.

Entry submission is free, but participation requires a current MALF membership. (Contestants unaffiliated with MALF are welcome to submit membership application and annual dues along with their Evy Nordley entry materials.) All entries for the 2016 cycle must be postmarked by June 17, 2016.

Each cycle, three finalists will be notified over the summer and invited to give a ten-minute presentation describing the design, development and impact of their Friends effort at the annual fall Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference. The winner will be announced at this time, and be awarded $1,000. Runners-up will receive $250 and a framable Certificates of Recognition.

Deadline Approaching: ALA Loleta D. Fyan Grant

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If there is one thing that our stewardship of the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library has taught us, it is that Friends do not lack for creative, actionable ideas about how to help their libraries. The problem, of course, is funding those ideas.

If this describes you, ALA encourages you to check out its Loleta D. Fyan Grant. Applicants are invited to make a case for grants of up to $5,000.

Strong candidate projects:

  • must result in the development and improvement of public libraries and the services they provide,
  • must have the potential for broader impact and application beyond meeting a specific local need;
  • should be designed to effect changes in public library services that are innovative and responsive to the future; and
  • should be capable of completion within one year

Click here to learn more. Deadlines for this one are approaching fast, so don’t delay!

2016 Membership Year Renewal Reminder

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As we reflect on the highpoints of 2015, it is clear that MALF owes every success to the spirited involvement of Friends like you. Your membership is a visible marker of the fact that Minnesotans care about the health of our libraries.

MALF operates on a membership year equal to the corresponding calendar year. Thanks to all of you who have already renewed your membership for 2016. If you were a member in 2015 but have not already done so, you will receive a letter from us within the next few days with an easy renewal form.

If you do not receive the expected letter, or were not a member in 2015, email us at and we will send you an invoice.

As in years past, Friends of the Library groups pay only $25, and Individuals pay just $10. Click here for a quick look at benefits of your membership.