MALF's 2018 MLA Conference Highlights

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Posted by jim under Events

Nearly sixty Friends and other library stakeholders from across Minnesota joined MALF in Saint Paul on Thursday, October 11 for a half-day of panels, presentations, and recognition events by and about Friends of the Library. As most of you already know, MALF co-hosts “Library Friends Day” as part of the larger, annual Minnesota Library Association conference.


Highlights included a full house for our 9:10 primer on Minnesota's political environment and effective library advocacy. Rep. Mary Murphy (D-Hermantown) joined us as a special guest. Other panelists included Amy Wilde and Jim Weygand from the Minnesota Libraries Trustees and Advocates (MLTA), and Friends of the Austin Public Library president Sue Grove.

We also recognized a new class of ‘Stand Up for Standout Friends’ recipients, representing Friends groups from Cook to Rochester, and many points in between. One of these, Priscilla Reineke of Friends and Foundation at Douglas County Library, joined us in person!

Members: Look out for MALF’s next quarterly print newsletter, which will include many more MLA highlights.

We hope to see you all September 19-20, 2019 at the Mystic Lake Center in Prior Lake for MLA 2019! Keep your eyes peeled in the New Year for further details.

“Full ‘STEAM’ Ahead” Nets MALF’s 2018 Evy Nordley Award

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Posted by jim under Evy Nordley

For the second time in three years, Pipestone Area Friend of the Library came away with top prize in MALF’s annual Evy Nordley Award competition. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding Friends of the Library programs and accomplishments, MALF’s flagship honor is announced every fall at the fall Minnesota Library Association conference.

DSC_0341.JPGIn a moment of déjà vu from 2016 – when Pipestone won for innovative library/school partnership “Night at the Museum” – MALF president Nancy Guerino passed off a $1,000 check and commemorative plaque to library director Jody Wacker at the River’s Edge Convention Center in Saint Cloud.

Click here for detailed coverage of “Full ‘STEAM’ Ahead,” Pipestone’s equally impressive 2018 entry. Among other merits, MALF’s judging committee awarded this group top marks for project impact. The Friends hosted a one-day maker movement event at the Meinders Community Library, to serve as ‘proof of concept’ and justify construction of a dedicated, expensive makerspace within the Library.

Attendees turned out in droves. Moreover, this pilot allowed Pipestone Area Friends of the Library to seek – and receive – a $25,000 grant through the competitive State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program. (Out of nearly 2,000 submissions, Pipestone was selected as one of only 40 to get the full $25,000 amount.)

On October 11, MLA conference attendees also heard from runners-up Sheila DeChantal of Brainerd (“CLUE™ Book Club Murder Mystery Event”) and Kay Stait of Buffalo (“Library Outdoor Reading Space, Phase I”). No one came away empty handed. In fact, for the first time in Evy Nordley’s history, MALF recognized second and third place winners – versus two undifferentiated runners-up who each receive $250 in prize money.

Brainerd (like Pipestone, an Evy Nordley Award “alum”) took home second place and a $500 check. Click here for details on the design and implementation of both Brainerd’s and Buffalo’s projects.

Evy Nordley Candidate #3: Pipestone Area Friends of the Library

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

Today, Meinders Community Library in Pipestone, Minnesota is home to a state-of-the-art makerspace – one that a public library in a community three times Pipestone’s size would envy. Its free resources range from 3D printers and stop motion animation equipment, to cricut machines and industrial staplers.


A well-equipped makerspace represents a significant financial commitment, and one that Meinders Library did not make lightly. In order to gauge interest for and demand in these cutting-edge library amenities, the Library turned to the Pipestone Area Friends of the Library.

On May 20, 2017, the Friends hosted “Full STEAM Ahead,” a celebration of science and creativity that showcased the various technologies available through a permanent makerspace. (For those unfamiliar with it, STEAM is an education acronym for Science • Technology • Engineering • Art • Mathematics.)

In total, the program featured more than 25 free activities and presentations. Crowd favorites included book binding, wool spinning, kite making and cricut crafting seminars.

Thanks to a robust publicity campaign and strong relationship with the area school, which adjoins the Meinders Library, more than 100 attendees of all ages participated in the day-long extravaganza. That healthy turnout approached the Library’s all-time event record – not bad, especially for a library with a programming budget of zero dollars in 2017.


However, as the saying goes, nothing comes from nothing. The Friends donated 100+ volunteer hours to the planning and execution of Full STEAM Ahead. Other community volunteers contributed another 20+. Local businesses provided a complimentary lunch and refreshments for all guests.  

Full STEAM Ahead proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Pipestone area was ready for a permanent makerspace. After the program’s resounding success, the Library applied for a $25,000 grant through the competitive State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program. The Friends’ resounding success with the Full STEAM Ahead pilot set it apart from other applicants. Out of nearly 2,000 submissions, Pipestone was selected as one of only 40 to get the full $25,000 amount.

This is a huge boon for the community, and in particular for Pipestone Area Public Schools. “Because the Library is attached, students are able to use the new [makerspace] for school projects,” said director Jody Wacker. “It’s doing much to equalize economic disparity.”