ALA Co-Sponsors Unique STEM Program Opportunity

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Posted by jim under Programming

Libraries encourage young patrons to reach for the stars – but rarely in a way as literal as this. ALA, in partnership with the Space Science Institute and National Center for Interactive Learning, encourages you to put your library’s name forward for “NASA @ My Library.”

NASA @ My LibrarySeventy-five libraries across the country, selected by the program sponsors, will receive a variety of educational resources (and other supplies) to coordinate in-library STEM programming specific to astronomy and space exploration. Materials include tablet computers pre-loaded with how-to videos, apps, and educational games you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition, representatives from chosen libraries will be invited to Denver for a special, two-day orientation workshop. “NASA @ My Library” will last approximately 18 months for each public library selected.

Click here to learn more, and to start the application process. Be sure to submit your application by end of day Wednesday, March 22.

MALF Announces 2017 Literary Landmark Celebration Honoring Poet Richard Eberhart

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Posted by jim under Literary Landmarks

Per capita, few communities boast as much homegrown literary talent as Austin, Minnesota. Local standouts include National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien and bestselling YA novelist Amanda Hocking. Austin also lays claim to Minnesota’s newest Literary Landmark honoree, world-renowned poet Richard G. Eberhart.

What is a Literary Landmark?

download.jpgIf you are new to MALF, you may be unfamiliar with the term. In short, a Literary Landmark is a site with some strong historical connection to a prominent and influential American author. They are identified and dedicated through a joint partnership between United for Libraries and local affiliates like the Minnesota Association of Library Friends.

Examples range widely, from the birthplaces of Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemmingway, to a Mississippi church that inspired the writings of playwright Tennessee Williams, to the final resting place of illustrator Randolph Caldecott (namesake of literature’s Caldecott Medal).

In total, there are currently over 160 such sites across the country. Minnesota claims seven, thanks in large part to MALF. Recent additions include the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, and Vermilion Community College, home of conservationist Sigurd Olson. (You can find a complete list on our website,

Richard Eberhart: 2017 Honoree

Richard_Eberhart.jpgMower County’s famous native son is a worthy addition to these esteemed ranks. Born in Austin in 1904, Eberhart spent his formative years at the family’s 40-acre estate just outside of town. While he enjoyed a privileged and happy childhood, financial setbacks and the unexpected death of his mother marred his later adolescence.

As fans of Eberhart’s work are quick to point out, much of his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poetry is inspired by both the highlights and travails of this childhood in Austin. Particularly evident are his lifelong fascination with nature, exploration of fate, and fixation with the mysteries of death. Given this focus, contemporary and modern critics alike compare Eberhart – usually quite favorably – to William Wordsworth and the other nineteenth-century English masters of Romanticism.

Eberhart’s journey to worldwide acclaim took him from Minnesota first to Dartmouth College (his future academic home) and later to Cambridge. After completing his coursework, Eberhart visited exotic locales (including most notably Siam, where he spent 1930 as personal tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok). Once back statewide, he quickly made a name for himself as a thoughtful teacher of English and poetry – and an up-and-coming poet in his own right.

After an interlude during which Eberhart served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Dartmouth appointment him poet-in-residence. He would remain with the institution, in some capacity, until his death in 2005 at the ripe old age of 101. At various times, Eberhart also doubled as poet laureate for the state of New Hampshire, official poet consultant for the Library of Congress, and a member of important federal advisory committees dedicated to the arts.

Over this long and fruitful academic career, Eberhart found time to publish a dozen books of poetry. Standouts include Burr Oak (1947), named after his childhood estate in Austin; Selected Poems, 1930-1965, winner of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Collected Poems, 1930-1976, winner of the National Book Award.

Poems held in particularly high regard today include “The Groundhog,” a rumination on mortality and the uniqueness of human consciousness, and "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment," an ode to wartime loss inspired by his own WWII experiences.

Austin Dedication

In partnership with the Friends of the Austin Library, MALF will christen Eberhart’s hometown as America’s newest Literary Landmark on Monday, April 17. That official dedication will include a special program and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Literary Landmark events are free and open to the public, and we would love to see you there. Please stay tuned for further details! 

United for Libraries Invites Baker & Taylor Award Noms

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Posted by jim under Awards

If your Friends group submits entries to MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award contest, make sure that the Baker & Taylor Awards are also on your radar.

Coordinated each year by United for Libraries, this prize recognizes Friends groups (and library Foundations) who orchestrated a program or initiative sometime over the past year that impacted your library in a major way.

Two entrants will receive $1,000 each. Judging is based on the following criteria:

1. Planning: Friends/Foundation, library, and community involvement; use of resources; appropriateness of the activity; and, measurable goals and objectives.
2. Implementation: Use of resources; public relations; task monitoring; and broad membership involvement.
3. Evaluation: Assessment of activity or program; measurable results.
4. Innovation: New idea or implementation; creative involvement of people; fresh use of public relations.
5. Community Relations: Broad support by the community in planning and implementation.

Applications are due in May. Entrants must have current United for Libraries membership status to quality. 
Click here to learn more.