MALF Welcomes Three New Directors

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MALF is thrilled to close out 2020, and start up the New Year, with three new leaders. Each brings experience and a skill set that will be a major asset to our board of directors. It’s our pleasure to introduce you to each in turn:
 
Ed Fagerlund is a retired economist from Stillwater. He appreciates how libraries help citizens, how Friends groups help libraries, and how MALF helps Friends groups. Ed is already intimately familiar with MALF’s mission and work, having already spent one term on our board (about a decade ago). Moreover, he served as organization treasurer in 2012-2013 – a key leadership post he will return to in 2021. 

Before retirement, Ed’s diverse career in his field included time as a Peace Corps volunteer at an Ecuador credit union, and teaching economics in Kansas and Minnesota. His financial acumen will be a huge boon to MALF operations.
 
Marjorie (Marge) McPeak enjoyed a long and fruitful tenure with Hennepin County Library, one of the largest library systems in the country. Over the course of nearly three decades, she rotated between the Southdale, Penn Lake, Edina and Eden Prairie locations during pivotal points in those libraries’ history. (For example, Marge saw the grand opening of the 60,000-square-foot Southdale branch and the evolution of Eden Prairie from a double-wide trailer to a 10,000-square-foot building.)

After retiring in 1996, Marge moved to the Lake Vermilion area. In her new home, she has deployed her hard-won expertise on the board of the Arrowhead Regional Library system.
 
Carol Steele is a long-time member of the Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library – where she spent seven years as either president or co-chair. The local Friends marked several singular achievements over her tenure. For example, attendance at annual meetings increased six-fold, due in large part to efforts enacted by Carol.

Over the National Friends of Library Week in 2013 alone, the Friends’ promotional efforts netted a +25% increase in membership. Carol's group gained a national commendation that same year from the American Library Association for their robust Friends Week efforts.

Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library honored Carol as a Standout Friend during the MALF recognition program's debut year (2016).

WELCOME, Ed, Marge and Carol!

2020 Standout Friends Featurette #1: Benson

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Did you know that there are distinct Norwegian and American stylistic schools of knitting? Hege Herfindahl is expert in both, and has freely shared her skills for years with classes and clubs at the Benson Public Library. It’s just one of many ways in which this Standout Friend contributes to the success of this small library.

Herfindahl is closing in on a decade as part of the governing board of Friends of the Benson Library, and is presently in the middle of a productive term as vice president. However, much of her support falls under “other duties as assigned” (knitting coaching most definitely included).

"Hege is always willing to lend a hand at any library event or activity – whether that is simply hanging holiday decorations, or assisting with twice yearly book sales," shared head librarian Nicole Schmiesing. She can also be found promoting and attending Benson’s book clubs, artfully arranging materials for the Friends’ silent auction, and even scooping out ice cream rewards for young readers during the Summer Reading Program.

"Benson Public Library truly does appreciate all of the countless hours Hege has put in over the last eight plus years!" Schmiesing said.

Click here for a minute-long video featurette on Hege Herfindahl. Click here to view a video montage celebrating MALF’s full 2020 class of Standout Friends. Visiour website for details on our equally impressive 2016-2019 classes of honorees.

 

Two Popular 'Giving Holidays' Fast Approaching

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November 19 - Give to the Max Day
COVID-19 has upended a host of 2020 holidays and traditions. Happily, this year's Give to the Max Day is not one of them. Minnesota's semi-official giving holiday is a-go for Thursday, November 19. As in years past, GTMD brings with it a host of “bonus” fundraising opportunities. In total, a prize pool of $100,000 will be distributed to eligible nonprofits across 140 so-called golden ticket giveaways.

Friends of the Library across Minnesota have reported great success with Give to the Max Day – in no small part because of the campaign’s longevity, visibility, and donor trust. And the prospect of a $500-$6,000 golden ticket (one is awarded every 15 minutes) sure doesn’t hurt!

New to GTMD? 
Click here for donation solicitation tips and promotional resources.
 
December 1 - Giving Tuesday
If there’s a downside to Give to the Max Day, it is that Friends often find themselves competing with other nonprofits in their area for the same charitable dollars. As an alternative (or supplement to) next month’s competitive Give to the Max Day, consider Giving Tuesday.

Brainchild of the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday falls the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in this case, Sunday, December 1), and is intended as a charitable counterweight to the commercialism of Black Friday. Since its inception in 2012, nonprofit fundraising on this day has ballooned from <$20 million to upwards of $400 million.

Now a standalone organization with leadership support from the Gates Foundation, Giving Tuesday offers nonprofits of all types a valuable toolkit, communications templates, and other tips for making the most of this giving “holiday.”  
Click here for further details (including, again, that treasure trove of usable resources).

"Virtual Galas, Real-World Lessons"

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Dinnertime galas – where Friends and other donors wine and dine with popular authors to benefit their library – are a favorite fundraiser model in communities large and small. For obvious reasons, though, it’s not a strategy that translates with great ease into the digital space!

Fresh off their first-ever virtual Opus & Olives event (Minnesota’s largest Friends-sponsored author gala, and one that’s been on the scene 16 years), The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library are hosting a FREE webinar on the subject.


Liz Boyd (Director of Special Events) and Greg Giles (Sr. Director of Development) will recap what went well, what didn’t, and offer replicable ideas worth your consideration. Hosts will also welcome your stories about transitioning long-standing fundraisers to the virtual space – good, bad, and otherwise!

“Virtual Galas, Real-World Lessons” will take place 12:00-1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14. 
Click here to register for the free webinar.

'Saturday Splash' Recap

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wkkk.jpgICYMI: Friends from Crookston to Rochester – and many points in between – convened virtually on September 19 for MALF’s inaugural Saturday Splash mini-conference. New York Times bestselling novelist William Kent Krueger delivered a stirring keynote on the timeless power of storytelling, and emceed MALF’s annual awards presentation.
 
If you missed the morning’s “edu-tainment,” care to revisit, or want to share with colleagues, Saturday Splash is now available for encore viewing on YouTube.

 
  ●  Saturday Splash (all segments) [1:50:43]
  ●  Evy Nordley Awards [41:51]
  ●  2020 Stand Up Friends Montage (full) [13:16]
 
If you joined us on the 19th and have not yet filled out the attendee survey, we would greatly appreciate your candid thoughts on Saturday Splash (both content and mode of delivery). Your feedback will be a shaping factor in MALF’s future virtual programming!

2020 Evy Nordley Finalist #3: Friends of the Brainerd Public Library

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With an easy return to pre-pandemic “normalcy” seeming less and less likely, more and more libraries are doubling down on virtual storytimes for their youngest patrons. Large and nationally reputed libraries like New York City and San Francisco have enjoyed the limelight over the past several months for their rapid adoption and perfection of this new style of programming. However, as parents and tots across central Minnesota can attest, the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library have been right there with the Big Boys from the beginning.

brainerd.pngThe beginning, for all intents and purposes, was mid-March 2020. Long-time board member Sheila DeChantal landed on the concept as the perfect way to keep kids engaged with their Library during the unprecedented facility closure.

In a lightning fast turnaround, “Reading with Friends” moved from idea stage to implementation after just one brainstorm meeting and several frenzied calls with possible readers.

Fortunately for DeChantal, she had a ready short list of qualified prospects to tap. For the past eight years, The Friends in Brainerd have coordinated Wine and Words – a hugely successful gala featuring popular authors hailing from across Minnesota and beyond. Wine and Word “alumni” including Barbara Claypole White, Kristina McMorris, and Heather Gudenkauf volunteered to take early shifts. DeChantal herself took the inaugural morning slot on March 23, with the apropos selection “The Night Library” by David Zeltser.

Hungry for content, families tuned in – to the tune of 200-1,200 hits per episode. These impressive figures factor in views of recordings available after the time of original broadcast. Ready availability of that archive is a prime reason that The Friends tapped Facebook Live for their livestream needs.

facebooklive.pngThese numbers augured well. “While we did not place ads, we received newspaper and radio coverage for what we were doing, because it was one of the first programs back up and running in our community after COVID hit,” explained DeChantal.

Once the program gained momentum in this way, volunteers came out of the woodwork to apply. Between March and May, readers representing community organizations as diverse as the YMCA, United Way, and Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce put themselves forward. Naturally, library staff and Friends leaders also took a turn – or two.

Daily story times (excluding Sundays) concluded May 2. During this run, nearly 70 videos racked up an impressive 27,881 hits. Moreover, the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library grew their Facebook following nearly 50 percent: from 724 to 1,059.

In other ways, the dividends are harder to quantify. “We now have people checking in to see what we’re doing next,” DeChantal noted. The Friends parlayed some of that interest into views in their summer experiment: a series of Brown Bag Virtual Author Visits featuring award-winning novelists like Peter Geye, Brian Freeman, and Sarah Stonich.

2020 Evy Nordley Finalist #2: Friends of the Isanti Area Library

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fial.jpgIn addition to more than 350 brick-and-mortar public libraries, Minnesota is home to dozens of bookmobiles and outreach stations. Satellite service sites like these are necessary to extending regular library service to residents in Minnesota’s most rural areas. The compact Isanti Outreach Library (part of the East Central Regional Library) is a perfect example.

Outsiders could be forgiven for not expecting anything beyond the minimum from Isanti Outreach Library. It is tucked into one corner of Isanti City Hall, has just one computer terminal, and is open only four hours a week. In many ways, however, this Library hits beyond its weight class. The Friends of the Isanti Area Library (FIAL) and their periodic book sales are one reason why.

While book sales are of course a Friends fundraiser staple, we’re not aware of any before now that have been held in a bowling alley!  

It wasn’t always this way. Lacking spaces within their modest Library to organize and display materials, FIAL hosted their first five annual sales inside a member’s home. Once the materials on offer approached 4,000 (in a town of 5,200, mind you!), this venue became untenable.

Mike Warring, owner Bowling Junction, sits on the board of the Friends. For the sixth annual sale – held in February 2019 in conjunction with I Love to Read Month – the Friends set up shop at this popular community establishment on the north side of Isanti.

FIAL Book Sale MW.jpegWishing to optimize the added square footage and “plus” the event, FIAL invited area authors to set up tables around the periphery of the book sale for meet-and-greets and signings.

This move drew book lovers who do not frequent book sales as a general rule. FIAL’s strategic pricing structure also drew in browsers from every adjoining county and beyond.

“We sold all materials for 25 cents each. When asked why we didn’t charge more, we reminded people that our primary goal is getting books into the hands of citizens – making money is secondary. For example, I saw one mother with three children at the sale. She told them they could each choose only one book, because that’s what she could afford. If we charged even 50 cents, those children could have missed out.”

At the same time, however, volunteers manning checkout encouraged buyers able to do so to donate to FIAL beyond this base fee. Consequently, revenue on the 1,700 items sold was substantial by the standards of a rural outreach library.

FIAL will use the proceeds in expand their community reach in the coming year. Among other uses, they intend to purchase Give & Take Bookshelves (somewhat like a Little Free Libraries) for installation within various community businesses.

2020 Evy Nordley Finalist #1: Marine Library Association

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Some say that it’s not about what you know, but who you know. However, any such distinctions are moot for husband-and-wife team and Marine Library Association stalwarts Gayle Knutson and Jim Maher. Their latest passion project, “River Radio,” is the newest initiative to come out of an unconventional Library with a long track record for creativity.

river-radio.jpgMarine Community Library is one of only a handful of volunteer-run public libraries in the Upper Midwest. Although formerly part of the Washington County Library system, the Library reconstituted itself as a Friends of the Library operation after budget belt-tightening threatened its closure in 2011. While small in square footage, the Marine Community Library offers most of the services available at larger and more conventionally funded libraries.

Knutson and Maher are prominent among the residents who regularly contribute their time and talents to the Library’s operations. In fact, Maher is currently chairperson of the Association’s board of directors.

Providentially, both Friends are also veterans of the radio world. After the heightening coronavirus pandemic brought normal operations to an abrupt halt in March, the pair decided to deploy their skills in service to the Library. With assistance from fellow Friends, they hatched “River Radio” – named in homage to Marine’s location along the St. Croix River.

Ingeniously, the partners realized that you don’t need FM airwaves – or even a true station – to pull off a successful radio show. They invest just a few bucks a month into a Zoom videoconference subscription, which they tap for its reliable audio recording and broadcasting capabilities.

River Radio debuted on March 28, and new episodes have debuted weekly ever since. Featured subjects truly run the gamut, and this impressive topical diversity is matched by guest speakers’ credentials in their respective fields. Knutson and Maher have welcomed Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, NPR/MPR senior economics reporter Chris Farrell, and award-winning folk musician John Gorka. Other guests to date have included the mayors of Marine and Scandia, University of Minnesota specialists in economics and epidemiology, and representatives from the National Park Service and varied history and culture institutions.

_logoSmall.jpgUnsurprisingly, given the origins of River Radio, speakers from area libraries and bookstores are also frequent guests of Knutson and Maher.

As you can glean from that line up, the program offers timely content on the unfolding COVID-19 crisis – as well as much needed diversions.

“We feel that River Radio has had great impact on the wellbeing of the Marine community, offering at least something from the Library during the continuing closure,” explained Loralee DiLorenzo, vice chair of the Marine Library Association. On-air surveys, available through Zoom to listeners who tune in live, corroborate the sentiment.

Fortunately for residents of Marine – and really, anyone in or even beyond Washington County who cares to tune in – River Radio is likely to stick around. “The Library is considering offering occasional episodes for part of the summer, and then a more regular schedule again in the fall.”

Reminder: 'Saturday Splash' Making Waves September 19

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Fall is traditionally MALF’s “busy” season, and we’re not about to let COVID-19 get in the way of that! ICYMI: Join us the morning of September 19 for the inaugural – and fully virtual – “Saturday Splash” mini-conference.

New York Times bestselling novelist William Kent Krueger will keynote and emcee the festivities, which will run from 10 a.m. to about noon. Krueger, best known to many for his chart-topping Cork O’Connor mystery series, will offer a keynote talk on the timeless power of storytelling. An audience Q&A will follow.

Next, MALF will introduce our three
 2020 Evy Nordley Award finalists. Representatives from the Friends of the Library in Brainerd (“Virtual Storytimes”), Marine on St. Croix (“River Radio”) and Isanti (“Bowling Junction Book Sale”) will recap the planning and implementation of their innovative and replicable 2019-2020 projects, before Krueger announces the big winner. Top prize is $1,000.

MALF will cap off Saturday Splash with a celebration of our 2020 class of Stand Up for Standout Friends. Each year since 2016, we have honored local movers and shakers whose dedication and energy help their Friends group and Library excel. 
“Saturday Splash” is completely free to attend, but advance registration is requiredPlease do so by September 12 (i.e., one week before the event) at the latest.

On Demand - One Book | One Minnesota: A Good Time for the Truth

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Last week, the Minnesota Center for the Book hosted a panel of six Black writers (contributing essayists to the seminal 2016 anthology A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota) for the capstone event of the summer’s One Book | One Minnesota statewide read initiative. It was an eye-opening, poignant – and at times, sobering – look at the past and present of race in the North Star State.

You can watch the panel (ft. authors Taiyon Coleman, Shannon Gibney, David Lawrence Grant, Carolyn Holbrook, IBé, Andrea Jenkins, and A Good Time for the Truth collection editor Sun Yung Shin) here.


Inspired by what you hear, and want to cater a similar program to your community? You can!

With a topic as broad and as sensitive as racism, brave and honest conversations can be difficult to start. In recognition of this fact, organizers have curated lists of authors/speakers and discussion facilitators for libraries, Friends groups, and private workplaces to turn to for assistance.

This list includes 13 of the A Good Time for the Truth essayists, including Minnesota Book Award winners Heid E. Erdrich, Diane Wilson and Kao Kalia Yang – plus most of the names listed above. (See the complete list
 here.) Each is ready and eminently qualified to lead your group through a productive conversation around race and racism… through Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or any number of other virtual tools. 

Click here for further details, including honorarium recommendations for invited speakers. 

Note: If you are an active member of MALF, your Friends are encouraged to consider our Chris D. Olson Event & Programming Grant as a means to cover some (and very possibly, all) expenses attendant with such a program.

'Library Leadership Cultivation' Now Available On Demand

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Recruiting talented, invested and diverse leaders is a challenge for any all-volunteer enterprise – even in the best of times. And these are far from the best of times.

That’s not the only pain point, either. Once on board – pardon the pun – new recruits need to be trained in. It sounds so basic, but MALF routinely fields queries from Friends board members confused about their role, responsibilities, and restrictions. This onboarding, or lack thereof, often reflects grey areas in a board’s policies and practices more generally.

If this is resonating, you might find value in MALF’s on-demand webinar Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond.

Dozens of Friends joined us earlier this summer (virtually, of course!) for this live, free event keynoted by subject matter expert Mary Jo Wimmer. Principal consultant at Trillium Leadership Development and a senior trainer for the Blandin Foundation, Wimmer has coached scores of not-for-profits and civic bodies across Greater Minnesota on recruitment and leadership best practices.

Library Leadership Cultivation hinges around what Wimmer calls her Five Major Responsibilities, or pillars, of board excellence. Click here to watch the webinar on YouTube – and be on the lookout for news about MALF’s next 2020 webinar, coming soon to a screen near you!

MALF Announces COVID-19 Grant Recipients | Pt. 3

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Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, MALF was able to expand our members-only COVID-19 Response Grant program to five more Friends groups (on top of our original slate of ten recipients)! They are:  

willmar.png11. Friends of the Willmar Public Library
Last summer, the Friends of the Willmar Public Library coordinated their first author gala. Featuring beloved Minnesota authors like William Kent Krueger and Kao Kalia Yang, the inaugural Wisdom and Wine netted $5,000 from a sellout crowd of more than 175 bibliophiles. Before the pandemic put the breaks on the 2020 sequel, the Friends had looked forward to hosting Faith Sullivan and Leif Enger. While this stellar line-up may come to fruition at some later date, MALF’s grant will cover projected summer reading and community read expenses for the Willmar Public Library in the meantime.

12. Friends of the Virginia Public Library
Virginia.jpgThe small Virginia Public Library, located halfway between Duluth and the Canadian border, leans heavily on its Friends group to offset a wide range of expenses. Proceeds from biannual Friends book sales go towards the library's summer reading program for area children; "Hot Reads for Cold Nights" winter programming for adults; and the popular Queen City Reads community initiative. Given the trajectory of the pandemic, it is likely that at least two – and maybe more – book sales will be cancelled before some manner of normalcy returns. MALF’s grant will cover part of the budgetary shortfall.

13. Marine Library Association
marine.jpgMarine Community Library is an all-volunteer enterprise – one of only a few operating in the Midwest. Needless to say, it is funded in a fairly unconventional way. As such, it is particularly vulnerable to the trials and travails of the pandemic. MALF's grant will assist greatly with Phase II of the Library's reopening plan, which requires a variety of structural changes to the facility (one of the oldest public buildings in Minnesota still used for public purposes). Purchases will include plexiglass barriers for the volunteer desk, hand sanitizer and disposable gloves, and other sanitation supplies.

14. Friends of the Lakeville - Heritage Library
lakeville.jpgWhile the doors of the Lakeville Heritage Library (Dakota County Library) may be closed and its services limited, the Friends want to make sure that residents retain some connection to this valued public resource. As one means to that end, the Friends are kickstarting a virtual book club. This move brings with it implementation and publicity expenses, albeit modest ones. In addition, the Friends are considering a wide-ranging awareness campaign targeted at Lakeville residents of all ages. Among other inexpensive giveaways, they will distribute Friends- branded chalk to children.

15. Friends of the Saint Cloud Public Library
StCloud2.jpgIt's not unusual for the Friends of the Saint Cloud Library to raise more than $50,000/yr for Great River Regional Library. Much of this income comes from an on-site bookstore that is one of the best kept secrets in Stearns County. When the pandemic shuttered the Library, however, it also closed down this year-round source of revenue. In a normal year, much of the Friends’ proceeds go towards children’s programming and achievement prizes. Expecting a singularly strange school year, the Friends will use MALF’s grant to ensure at least a modicum of normalcy remains for Saint Cloud’s younger residents.

Join Us September 19 for 'Saturday Splash'!

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4e38ff81-0b61-475d-8516-7fc49b93fb7f.png

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COVID-19 has had a distressing ripple effect within public libraries, forcing the closure of buildings and wholesale cancellation of programs. Friends' activities, including MALF’s, are by no means excluded from this tsunami wave. If all had gone to plan, 2020 would have been a year jam-packed with workshops and seminars across the state.

In lieu of these in-person opportunities, MALF is preparing to make a splash (in a positive way) next month. Please join us the morning of September 19 for the inaugural and fully virtual “Saturday Splash.”

kent.pngNew York Times bestselling novelist William Kent Krueger will keynote and emcee the festivities, which will run from 10 a.m. to about noon. Krueger, best known to many for his chart-topping Cork O’Connor mystery series, will kick off the program with a keynote talk on the timeless power of storytelling (and the role libraries play in preserving and spreading stories). An audience Q&A will follow.

Next, MALF will introduce our three 2020 Evy Nordley Award finalists. Representatives from the Friends of the Library in Brainerd (“Virtual Storytimes”), Marine on St. Croix (“River Radio”) and Isanti (“Bowling Junction Book Sale”) will recap the planning and implementation of their innovative and replicable 2019-2020 projects, before William Kent Krueger announces the big winner. Top prize is $1,000.

MALF will cap off Saturday Splash with a celebration of our 2020 class of Stand Up for Standout Friends. Each year since 2016, we have honored local movers and shakers whose dedication and energy help their Friends group and Library excel. We would hate for this popular recognition program to go dormant, and so are happy to transition it to the virtual space!

Saturday Splash is completely free to attend, but advance registration is required. Please do so by September 12 (i.e., one week before the event) at the latest.

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NOTE: After you click SUBMIT, you should see "Webinar Registration Approved" in blue lettering. This confirms reservation of your spot on September 19. You will NOT receive an email at time of registration. However, MALF will send reminders to attendees as we draw close to the date. (Feel free to make a record of the Webinar ID and Join Link at the bottom of the confirmation screen, but know that these details will be provided again in those forthcoming MALF emails.)

MALF Announces COVID-19 Grant Recipients | Pt. 2

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6. Friends of the Pelican Rapids Library
be5df7f3-b5b7-42a6-94d9-b2bbe7a7d7c3.pngLibraries are for everyone – even the very youngest among us. In service to this mantra, the Friends of the Pelican Rapids Library gifts a complimentary “Baby Bundle” to each newborn in their Library’s service area. Bundles include a flannel receiving blanket, crocheted sweater, handmade quilt, library card application form and (of course!) board books. MALF’s grant ensures continuity of this popular program, even while the Friends’ profitable book sales and silent auction are necessarily on pause.

7. Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries
brochure.jpgOut of an abundance of caution, many Minnesotans are seizing on this turbulent time as the perfect opportunity to assess their estates and revisit personal wills. The Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries (FRCL) hope that library lovers in their area will consider including The Friends as
recipients of a planned gift. Families who pledge such a gift in advance are honored as part of a select Legacy Circle. FRCL will use MALF’s grant to hire a graphic designer to create collateral materials explaining and promoting this growing Legacy Circle.

8. Friends of the Rochester Public Library 
intern1.pngDuring a “normal” year, the Friends of the Rochester Public Library subsidizes a $1,000 education scholarship for one of the Library’s interns. (Beneficiaries are selected through an essay contest focused around applicants’ feelings on the importance of libraries.) In the wake of the pandemic, the Friends have suspended donation intake and seen online book sales slow to a trickle. They will use MALF’s grant to fill the resulting budgetary shortfall, thereby ensuring that a 2020 intern can receive the usual stipend to offset tuition and textbook costs.

9. Friends of the Rock County Library 
53bed07a-7fd7-4fa5-b80a-8f4106185f3a.jpgAs is the case just about everywhere, children in and around Luverne are missing their usual summer pastimes: camps, sports, and the like. Library programming is another casualty of COVID-19 closures. As a substitute for all the fun activities that cannot be held in the Rock County Community Library this summer, the Friends are funding biweekly “Make and Take” crafts. Free for the taking, these kits tie into the Library’s summer reading program theme (Dig Deeper). In this trying time, parents can never have enough screen-free diversions!

10. Friends of the Saint James Library
ancestry.pngCOVID-19 has adversely impacted every aspect of the Friends of the Saint James Library's diverse fundraising model. Less revenue, in turn, makes for exceptionally touch choices on what the Friends fund for the Watonwan County Multicultural Library. One asset deemed especially important is Ancestry [dot] com. MALF's grant will go a long way toward guaranteeing patrons continuity of this perennially popular amenity.

 

MALF Announces COVID-19 Grant Recipients | Part 1

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Earlier this summer, nearly two dozen Friends of the Library organizations submitted a proposal as part of MALF’s special COVID-19 Response Grant program. This strong turnout – and the diversity of funding priorities identified – offers a compelling proof that Friends provide a vital bulwark to their libraries in tough times. (As if further evidence were needed!) 

In the interest of fairness, MALF’s judging panel conducted a randomized drawing to identify the ten winners. Each will receive a $500 grant for their specified purpose.   

1. Becker County Friends of the Library
As the Lake Agassiz Regional Library system deliberates over reopening plans and procedures, hygiene and PPE are top of mind. Becker County Friends of the Library wish to soften the budgetary impact of these measures. They plan to purchase plexiglass barriers for all service desks; floor decals to signal one-way directional flow and encourage social distancing; and disposable masks for the Detroit Lakes Public Library and satellite LINK locations in the towns of Lake Park, Cormorant and Frazee.

2. Friends of the Buffalo Library
For years, the Buffalo Public Library has touted its services and upcoming events with a roadside sign strategically located along Buffalo’s main traffic corridor. In its current incarnation, the sign is small (limiting what can be advertised) and lightweight (liable to blow over in inclement weather). The Friends will use MALF’s grant to purchase a larger, more durable replacement – one boasting wheels for easy transport and a sand ballast port to combat strong winds. Leftover funds will go toward 24'' x 76‘’standing signs for the Library’s vestibule.

3. Friends of the Cook Library
Last year, generous Friends funding allowed the small but proud Cook Public Library to expand its physical footprint with a front patio. This outdoors addition allows patrons additional space to read and to access the free WiFi. In this Age of Coronavirus, the easy social distancing allowed by the patio makes it an even more valuable asset. Unfortunately, the original project budget could not be stretched to purchase tables or chairs for the new space. The Friends will use MALF’s grant to purchase appropriate furnishings.

4. Friends of the Fergus Falls Library
Library staff everywhere are going “above and beyond the call of duty,” ensuring patrons continuity of vital services during this uncertain and unprecedented time. Needless to say, many of the safety and service measures now in place were not part of their original training! In recognition of this fact, Friends of the Fergus Falls Library wish to allocate money to a staff development fund. MALF’s grant enables the Friends to provide a range of online continuing education and virtual networking opportunities.

5. Jackson County Friends of the Library
Minnesota's libraries sponsored more than 72,000 events, classes and other programs in 2018. That averages out to more than 200 per location! Naturally, 2020 will be a stark contrast given the rash of spring and summer cancellations – plus continuing uncertainly about when group activities can resume. In recognition of this fact, Jackson County Friends of the Library intend to purchase a recording kit for Library staff to conduct virtual storytimes and book clubs. Kit will include an iPad, high quality microphone kit, and tripod with mount.

MALF Seeks Board Treasurer

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MALF is currently seeking a board treasurer to serve a 2-year term (with the option of renewal). Among other key responsibilities, the Treasurer guides the creation of MALF's annual budget, liaises with the organization’s CPA and investment management firms, and records all transactions in QuickBooks. Other duties and expectations are laid out in the position posting.

If interested, submit a resume and cover letter to info@mnlibraryfriends.org. Apply by 
Friday, August 14 for first consideration.

One Book | One Minnesota: A Good Time for the Truth

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Across our state, libraries and Friends groups of all sizes are grappling with a pair of year-defining issues. COVID-19, and the resultant closure of brick-and-mortar libraries, has created social isolation and exacerbated existing resource gaps in many communities. This, alone, would make 2020 an historic year for Minnesota –– but of course, that’s not all. Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, our state has also become a flashpoint for national conversations about race and racism.  

With this background in mind, the Minnesota Center for the Book kickstarted a statewide community read program. (Its inaugural season, featuring Newbery Award winner Kate DiCamillo and her beloved classic Because of Winn-Dixie, engaged libraries, classrooms, and book clubs across the state. More than 3,000 attendees “turned out” – virtually, that is – for a capstone talk and Q&A by the author herself on May 20. You can view a recording
 here.)

Over the summer, the Center for the Book and its partners invite readers to take an unflinching – and, frankly, long overdue – look at the stark racial disparities all around us. As a vehicle for this exploration, the second One Book | One Minnesota selection is A Good Time for the Truth. In this series of essays, sixteen of Minnesota’s best writers offer candid and often heart-wrenching stories about what it means to be a Native person or person of color in modern-day Minnesota.


How Friends Can Participate

Now through August 23, residents of Minnesota can access a free e-book copy of A Good Time for the Truth through EBooks Minnesota! In addition, a variety of reading guides and other downloadable resources are available (here) for book clubs and other interested parties.

Naturally, with a topic as broad and as sensitive as racism, brave and honest conversations can be difficult to start. In recognition of this fact, the Minnesota Center for the Book has curated lists of both authors/speakers and experienced discussion facilitators for libraries, Friends groups, and private workplaces to turn to for assistance.

This list includes 13 of the A Good Time for the Truth essayists, including collection editor Sun Yung Shin and Minnesota Book Award winners Heid E. Erdrich, Shannon Gibney, Carolyn Holbrook, Diane Wilson, and Kao Kalia Yang. (See the complete list
 here.) Each is ready and eminently qualified to lead your group through a productive conversation around race and racism… through Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or any number of other virtual tools.

Click here for further details, including honorarium recommendations for invited speakers.

Note: If you are an active member of MALF, your Friends are encouraged to consider our Chris D. Olson Event & Programming Grant as a means to cover some (and very possibly, all) expenses attendant with such a program!

Evy Nordley Award: Deadline Fast Approaching!

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

If you wrack your brain and think waaaay back, can you remember the year 2019? Given the eventful, tumultuous year we’re only mid-way through, it can be surprisingly difficult! However, before library closures and social distancing measures interrupted the flow of “normal” operations, Minnesota’s many Friends of the Library groups conducted a number of clever and successful fundraisers, membership drives, and library programs. We’d hate to give them short shrift.

Remember: Friends initiatives orchestrated any time after January 1, 2019 are eligible for MALF’s 2020 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project. Top prize is $1,000, and monetary prizes will also be awarded to runners-up.

Given the current climate, MALF is foregoing the traditional finalist presentation component of the Award. In lieu of any in-person presentation, a rep from each finalist group will instead be asked to prepare a brief PowerPoint and record an 8-10- minute talk outlining the planning and implementation of their project. MALF will handle all tech considerations, including but not limited to recording and editing. Recordings can be done at a time convenient for each finalist.

After some light postproduction work, these short packages will be shared with MALF’s membership. MP4 files will also be given to the participating finalists, to be used as a video “calling card” to promote The Friends’ visibility and recruitment efforts!

Applications are due this Friday, July 10
. See our website for program details and application form.

Reminder: Members-Only COVID-19 Grant Program

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

One week remains to put your Friends of the Library forward as a candidate for MALF’s special COVID-19 Grant Response Program. Up to ten grants, each of ≤ $500, are available. Qualified expenses include virtual programming, direct operational costs incurred by Friends, and direct support to the library.

Eligible applicants are support organizations that (1) serve a Minnesota-based public, school K-12, college/university, or special library, (2) are 501(c)3 nonprofits eligible to receive tax-deductible donations, and in good standing with the IRS and Minnesota Secretary of State, (3) are current in their annual MALF membership dues, and (4) are willing to report back on expenditures and impacts using a 1-page template provided by MALF. 

Additional details, plus application form, are available
 here.

June 10 Webinar - Last Call!

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Posted by jim under Webinars, Programming

Thanks to everyone who has registered for tomorrow’s (1-3 p.m.) webinar, Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond. We’re expecting a good crowd!

Attendees can expect a primer on a board’s Five Major Responsibilities, pointers on sowing seeds for future success, and low-pressure breakout activities that will drive these messages home.

Missed the sign-up cutoff? Good news: MALF is accepting a limited number of late registrants. Send an email to info@mnlibraryfriends.org before 11 a.m. on June 10, and a representative will share log-in details.

About Our Speaker: Since founding Trillium Leadership Development in 1992, Mary Jo Wimmer has coached dozens of not-for-profits, businesses and civic bodies across rural Minnesota toward actualizing their mission statements and achieving full organizational potential. Her core competencies include teamwork cultivation, leadership training, training on workplace conflict, and assisting organizations with intercultural competency development.

"Now, Today, This Very Minute..."

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Posted by jim under Announcements

Earlier this month, global library cooperative OCLC released a stirring call to action. It reads, in part:

“We sometimes refer to libraries and archives as memory institutions. That’s not a bad description. But it’s not complete. Because memory implies something that is in the past. Something that isn’t active. And so much of what happens in the work we do for our communities happens now, today, this very minute.

What is happening now requires a response. We must speak out against racism and injustice.”

In the two weeks since George Floyd’s tragic and shocking death in Minneapolis, libraries across the country have taken up OCLC’s call. Action plans differ – such is the nature of the diverse library landscape. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your library’s leadership about their equity initiatives (ongoing and in the works), and how the Friends might intersect with and amplify that work.


Looking for resources on how to spark a meaningful dialogue about racism and institutional inequities? Metronet has bundled curated lists of books, articles, documentaries (and more) in recent issues of MetroBriefs. They have thoughtfully archived recent issues of the publication here.

Reminder: Register for 'Library Leadership Cultivation'

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Posted by jim under Programming, Webinars

Speaking of standout leaders, take a moment and reflect. Does your Friends group have a strong pipeline of up-and-coming leaders? Is your recruitment process effectively stalled? Something in between?

Regardless of where exactly you fall on this spectrum, you’ll likely learn something of value in MALF’s upcoming webinar Library Leadership Cultivation: COVID-19, and Beyond.

Mary Jo Wimmer, business coach and founder of Trillium Leadership Development, will discuss recruitment, orientation, and board development more generally on Wednesday, June 10 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). As with our in-person workshops, the webinar is free to attend. However, advance registration is required.

In another nod to the surreal times we are collectively living through, MALF will cap the June 10 webinar with a free-form ideas sharing component. As with our in-person “popcorn style” sharing sessions (which we’ve enjoyed bringing to communities across the state since 2012), this is a no-agenda opportunity to air frustrations, share ideas, and learn a little about what your counterparts across Minnesota are up to.

Reminder: COVID-19 Grant Response Program

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

MALF is still accepting applications for its COVID-19 Grant Response Program. Up to $500 is available per eligible Friends group to defray operational costs, jumpstart virtual programming, or provide direct support to your library in this time of pandemic.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Our newest grant program is intended to be broad and responsive in nature. After all, even in good times, library systems and the Friends groups supporting them are each a little different. As we inch towards recovery and a new normal, it stands to reason that each will do it a little differently.

Applications for this inaugural cycle of the COVID-19 Grant Response Program will be accepted, on a rolling basis, through Friday, June 19 and until certain cap limits are reached. Early submissions are encouraged, as the MALF Board of Directors will evaluate proposals and award funds on a monthly basis (and only until caps are hit). Click here for details.

Back by Popular Demand: Stand Up for Standout Friends

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Over the past four years, Friends of the Library groups in Minnesota have recognized an astounding sixty volunteers with MALF’s Stand Up for Standout Friends honorific. Interest in this program has far exceeded our modest expectations for it (not that we’re complaining)! Given this enthusiasm, MALF is pleased to announce that SUFSF will continue in 2020 – and, like so many things, make the jump to the virtual space.

What Are ‘Standout’ Qualities?
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.

Program Benefits
MALF’s “Gallery of Friends” – which showcases the contributions and achievement of each Friend – is consistently the most visited section on our website. As in years past, we will feature a write-up on each honoree. We will also share word with United for Libraries (the Friends of the Library arm of the American Library Association), and draft personalized letters to mayors and other public officials in the hometown of each recipient (example).

Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to celebrate the 2020 “class” in person this fall. As a substitute, MALF will honor each in a video that will be aired as part of a soon-to-be-announced virtual Friends event in late September. See the nomination form for details.

Every recipient will also receive a matted and frameable Certificate of Recognition. As a final token of our thanks, honorees will receive a copy of Minnesota Book Award finalist “This Tender Land,” signed and personalized by Minnesota’s own William Kent Krueger!


Eligibility and Next Steps
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 publicly on award materials distributed across the state.

Click here to access the nomination form. Submitters from previous cycles will find much that is familiar. Please pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom of the page. Note also that, for the first time, we are requesting a photo of your candidate. Submit your application (and supplementary materials as appropriate) to 
info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 7.  

Webinar 1: Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond

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Webinar 1: Library Leadership Cultivation - During COVID-19, and Beyond

When we last surveyed our members, many voiced a strong interest in virtual opportunities to learn and network with fellow Friends of the Library. In light of more recent developments, that particular piece of feedback sure seems prescient! So, in lieu of our traditional slate of in-person workshops, MALF is pleased to announce our first-ever webinar.

Our debut topic, by popular demand, will be board and leader cultivation. Nonprofits of all types struggle to recruit would-be leaders, but Friends organizations are particularly familiar with that challenge.

And that’s not the only pain point. Once on board – pardon the pun – new recruits need to be trained in. It sounds so basic, but MALF routinely fields queries from Friends board members confused about their role, responsibilities, and restrictions. This onboarding, or lack thereof, often reflects grey areas in a board’s policies and practices more generally.

Mary Jo Wimmer, business coach and founder of Trillium Leadership Development, will discuss these issues and more on Wednesday, June 10 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). As with our in-person workshops, the webinar is free to attend. However, advance registration is required. REGISTER

“We’re living through a strange time. COVID-19 restrictions are impacting every aspect of our lives – volunteer activities, not the least of them,” said Sue Grove, MALF’s vice president of programming. “Our webinars will absolutely take the current climate into account.”

“By moving content to the digital space – versus discontinuing it altogether – we can perhaps bring a silver living to this ‘necessary pause’ in Friends groups’ normal operations.”

In another nod to the surreal times we are collectively living through, MALF will cap the June 10 webinar with a free-form ideas sharing component. As with our in-person “popcorn style” sharing sessions (which we’ve enjoyed bringing to communities across the state since 2012), this is a no-agenda opportunity to air frustrations, share ideas, and learn a little about what your counterparts across Minnesota are up to.

Introducing MALF's COVID-19 Grant Response Program

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In a year defined by a pandemic and its fallout, your library is doubtless facing challenges and uncertainties on an unprecedented scale. You want to help. We want you to, as well.

As one means to that end, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) is proud to announce its COVID-19 Grant Response Program.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Our newest grant program is intended to be broad and responsive in nature. After all, even in good times, library systems and the Friends groups supporting them are each a little different. As we inch towards recovery and a new normal, it stands to reason that each will do it a little differently.

As a way of priming the pump, here are examples of expenses that Friends might seek assistance from the COVID-19 Grant Response Program to defray.

  • Operational Costs. In this age of social distancing, most of us are doing things a little differently: videoconferencing instead of meeting in person, hosting fundraisers in the virtual space for the first time, forgoing print newsletters in favor of online ones, and so on. Are the subscriptions and other start-up costs prohibitive for you? Consider this grant. Costs incurred after March 1, 2020 are eligible.

  • Virtual Programming. Libraries everywhere are experimenting with virtual programs to fill the vacuum left by the closure of their brick-and-mortar facilities. So, too, are many enterprising Friends groups. Author honoraria, instructor compensation, and indirect costs like platform maintenance fees are all eligible for consideration.

  • Direct Library Support. Odds are high that your traditional Friends fundraisers have been, or will be, impacted by the pandemic. Perhaps this puts you in a position where you cannot fund a long-ago-identified library need that the Friends had previously intended to bankroll. Similarly, perhaps COVID-19 introduces brand new funding needs that you wish to assist the library with.
In total, ten grants (each capped at a max of $500) are available in this initial phase of the program. MALF will reevaluate needs and resources later in 2020, and communicate a determination about a future for this fund by year’s end.

Applications for this inaugural cycle of the COVID-19 Grant Response Program will be accepted, on a rolling basis, through Friday, June 19, 2020 and until cap limits are reached. Click here for more details, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

2020 Evy Nordley Award: Upcoming Changes

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COVID-19 is impacting MALF’s grants and awards portfolio in other ways, as well. Most noteworthy are several changes to our flagship Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

As per usual, the 2020 cycle is intended to recognize the previous year’s standout programs – in other words, efforts undertaken after January 1, 2019. Given the timing of the pandemic, MALF hopes to see a (more or less) average number of submissions. So, the Award is still on – and monetary prizes still up for grabs.

MALF strives to make submitting as easy as possible. However, given the unprecedented spring we are all sharing, we are happy to extend the submission deadline: to Friday, July 10.
 Visit our website for application form and instructions. (You can also see examples from 2012-2019. Common project types are special events, successful fundraisers, membership drives, and advocacy campaigns – but the sky is the limit!)

We are also foregoing the traditional finalist presentation component of the Evy Nordley Award.

In lieu of any in-person presentation, a representative from each finalist group will instead be asked to prepare a brief PowerPoint and record a 10-minute talk outlining the planning and implementation of their project. MALF will handle all tech considerations, including but not limited to recording and editing. Recordings can be done at a time convenient for each finalist.

After some light postproduction work, these short packages will be shared with MALF’s membership. MP4 files will also be given to the participating finalists, to be used as a video “calling card” to promote The Friends’ visibility and recruitment efforts.

Impromptu COVID-19 Fundraising "Holidays"

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COVID-19 is turning our calendars upside down, and is creating or exacerbating acute needs in every community. With these realities in mind, several of the nation’s largest grassroots giving initiatives are pivoting to orchestrate giving campaigns over the next month. Opportunities for your Friends to consider:

#GivingTuesdayNow
Not the least of these is Giving Tuesday. For nearly a decade, this self-described “global generosity movement” has offered a platform and tools to empower charities across the world to raise needed funds. (Last year alone, participants raised a combined $2 billion globally.) Giving Tuesday customarily falls late in the year. In recognition of the urgent needs felt by the nonprofits who rely on this giving holiday the most, organizers have just announced a spring supplement called Giving Tuesday Now.

Mark your calendars now for Tuesday, May 5.

#GivingTuesdayNow is gearing up fast. A treasure trove of messaging, templates, and social media strategies are available FREE here. (Sign up for their e-newsletter to keep abreast of additional resources and promotional opportunities as these come online.)


#GiveAtHomeMN
Closer to home, GiveMN – orchestrators behind Give to the Max Day each November – are offering a similar opportunity. Dubbed #GiveAtHomeMN, this weeklong giving campaign will leverage GiveMN’s popular giving platforms to benefit our favorite charities in this time of unprecedented need. GiveMN will also donate proceeds from online processing fees back to participating nonprofits in the form of a rebate.

#GiveAtHomeMN is slated for May 1-8Bookmark their webpage to keep apprised of resources and other developments scheduled to become available in the next week.

Judge the Minnesota Author Project

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MNAuthorProject.pngFor the third year running, a coalition of Minnesota library administrative organizations is coming together to host the Minnesota Author Project. As the name suggests, this novel program (pun intended) recognizes the quality work of first-time authors eager to find a wider audience. Only self- or indie-published materials, and only ebooks by Minnesota authors, are eligible for consideration.

Winners in several categories each receive $1,000, a full-page print spread in Library Journal, and inclusion in Indie Minnesota – a digital collection of local authors available from BiblioBoard Library. Entries are due at the end of May.

Organizers are looking for about a dozen more volunteer judges to evaluate submitted books. Each volunteer can expect to appraise approximately ten submissions between May and August. Judges will receive a webinar training on the user-friendly BiblioBoard e-book platform. Interested in learning more? Please fill out this GoogleDoc at an early convenience.

“Attend” the Minnesota Book Awards

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mnba.pngMinnesota boasts one of the oldest and most robust statewide literary programs in America. Now in its 32nd year, the Minnesota Book Awards were slated to take place at The Ordway on Tuesday, April 28. COVID-19 put an end to those plans, but the announcement celebrations will continue – and are more approachable than ever.

Organizers at the Minnesota Center for the Book (part of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library) will host festivities online starting at 7 p.m. on the 28th. Click here for information on the livestream, which is made possible through a partnership with SPNN studios. Note: Advance registration is requested.

As always, winners will be announced in not one but nine competitive categories: Children’s Literature, General Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, Middle Grade, Minnesota Nonfiction, Novel and Short Story, Poetry, and Young Adult.

Age of Coronavirus: Webinars and More

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Resources, and the best places to find them, are evolving as fast as the virus is spreading. Here is a list of webinars (archived and upcoming) to get you up to speed.

1. American Libraries: Last week, ALA and its American Libraries magazine hosted a panel on how libraries at the vanguard of the pandemic (including those serving King County, Washington and Pisoia, Italy) responded to the rapid situational changes. More than 1,100 attended live! It is available free for viewing.

2. Public Library Association: Every Thursday between March 26 and April 16, PLA will offer free COVID-19 webinars for library stakeholders. Specific topics include “The Current Landscape” (March 26), “Successful Ways to Work Remotely” (April 2), “Managing Stress and Anxiety” (April 9), and “Innovative Solutions in Times of Crisis” (April 16). Each session is all but guaranteed to fill up, so if you are unable to RSVPlook for the archived recordings after the fact!

3. Library Journal: For the foreseeable future, Library Journal has dropped all paywalls on its digital content. Now is a perfect time to do a deep dive into library topics of interest to you. Particularly timely is the FEMA / National Library of Medicine webinar “Libraries and Non-Traditional Facilities in Emergencies.” (Note: Crisis scenarios other than COVID-19 are also covered in this session.)

COVID-19, Libraries, and Friends

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It used to be said that taxes were the only reliable, universal feature of American life. Now, we can all add another commonality to that list: Americans everythwhere are searching for a new normal in the surreal era of COVID-19 mitigation. Libraries and their support organizations are by no means exempt. In fact, due to libraries’ long-standing role as a community gathering place, they are particularly vulnerable. As you know, the majority of public libraries are closed at this time, following CDC and local health official recommendations.

What can we, as Friends, do for our library?
 
1. Stay informed. We don’t doubt that you’re keeping abreast of national and international developments. In addition, there are a growing number of webinars and other online resources popping up specific to librarianship and fundraising. (See below for some jumping off points.) Even if you don’t gain profound, actionable insights, you’ll be gainfully filling time!

2. Check in with staff. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, library staff find themselves in precarious employment situations, overtaxed by a need to reinvent their public services, and/or suffering from low morale. Even if you can do very little for them, they will appreciate knowing you’re thinking of them in this hectic time. (Example: The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has a “buddy system” in place, where each branch manager enjoys a one-on-one relationship with a Friends contact throughout the coronavirus upheaval.)

3. Adhere to best practices. We list it last only because we know you’ve heard it so many times before. Follow the CDC/WHO guidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene. Let’s flatten that curve!

COVID-19: What Is MALF's Game Plan?

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In brief, our office has gone virtual, but daily operations will continue unimpeded.

1. Our office space in Saint Paul is closed until further notice. However, mail will be forwarded to the home address of our office manager. Membership dues, grant applications, and other mail will be processed on the normal timetable.

2. Likewise, our office line will roll over into a MALF leader’s personal cell phone. Phone and email coverage will continue as normal.

3. As alluded to above, our slate of member grants are still available! Now may be the perfect time to look ahead to brighter days and get a jump start on late 2020 / 2021 program planning.

4. We are postponing the planned March print newsletter for members. Naturally, the “news du jour” has changed considerably from when we laid it out at the beginning of this month! However, e-newsletters will continue on the normal timetable.

Game On! Gaming Grant

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While books and reading are as central to the your library’s mission as ever, other needs and pastimes are doubtless jockeying for limited funding. As one example, games – board games, video games, and even interactive, on-site opportunities like escape rooms – are a key draw in many areas, particularly for younger patrons.

Recognizing these facts, the American Library Association recently created a Games and Gaming Round Table to advise and assist libraries in this area. Every spring, through the aptly named Game On! grant program, this round table will offer a limited number of $250-$500 grants to kickstart libraries’ gaming efforts. On-site gaming opportunities, off-site programming sponsored by the library, and appropriate collection development efforts are all fair game (pun intended).

Only members of ALA (including its Friends of the Library arm, United for Libraries) are eligible. Grant window will open and close on a rolling basis, with each year’s recipients announced and honored at the ALA Annual conference. Friends of the Library representatives must also be able to prove approval from their library’s branch manager or system director.
 Click here to learn more.

Meet Mary Jo Wimmer

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Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomed three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time. Next up:

Mary Jo Wimmer is founder of Trillium Leadership Development. Since founding the firm in 1992, Wimmer has coached dozens of not-for-profits, businesses and civic bodies across rural Minnesota toward actualizing their mission statements and achieving full organizational potential. Her core competencies include teamwork cultivation, leadership training, training on workplace conflict, and assisting organizations with intercultural competency development. 

In addition to her own practice, Wimmer is a senior trainer for the Blandin Foundation's leadership programs and a Forum Discussion Leader for the Anderson Center for Leadership and Management. She has recently written a book on training. Among other volunteer commitments, Wimmer manages the bookstore for the Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library. She has served in that capacity since 2008.

Interested in learning more about a potential leadership role with MALF? Email us any time at info@mnlibraryfriends.org

'Lift Every Voice' Programming Grant

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Interested in bringing memorable poetry experiences to your library’s patrons? The National Endowment for the Humanities and not-for-profit Library of America project may have the perfect opportunity for you.

Applications are currently being solicited for the Lift Every Voice program. Subtitled Why African American Poetry Matters, the intent of this national project is to showcase and explore that group’s many past and present contributions to the corpus of American literature (and poetry in particular).

If selected, participating libraries and other eligible cultural institutions will be required to put on a minimum of two events. One must be a discussion featuring or moderated by a scholar of African American literature. The other can take many forms: a poetry workshop, slam event, panel discussion, or even musical performance!

Thanks to the NEA and other generous sponsors, a full 50 grants of $1,200 will be awarded. However, you must apply by March 20
Click here for full details.

Mark Your Calendars: April 23 Is Library Giving Day 2020

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Fundraising is no easy thing, even for dedicated professionals who do it full time. It’s more daunting still for all-volunteer Friends of the Library, who ordinarily have far less expertise and experience to tap.

If giving campaigns are something you’ve struggled with in the past – or not even begun to explore – take a look at
 Library Giving Day. Brainchild of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, this one-day giving “holiday” is devoted solely to library causes and coincides with National Library Week.

Last year, over the inaugural Library Giving Day, 192 organizations from across the country (and four Canadian provinces, to boot!) took part, and gifts far exceeded organizers’ targets for a first-time giving event.

Thursday, April 23, 2020 marks the second annual Library Giving Day. If you missed out on the fun the last time around, now is the time to lay groundwork. Visit the initiative’s
 website for access to an array of free resources: tips webinars, template promotional and campaign materials, logo graphics, and more.

If you participatebe sure to report your campaign results in the official Library Giving Day portal after the fact. This allows organizers and participants to gauge the growth of the event over time.

News You Can Use: MLA Annual Meeting Takeaways

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Friends of the Library don’t operate in a vacuum, and it is to our advantage to keep up with developments impacting Minnesota’s libraries more generally. In that spirit, our board and staff have identified several recent developments from the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) that might interest you.

1. MLA has just rolled out a special Advocate category for Friends of the Library and other self-identified citizen champions of libraries. The intent is to provide non-practitioners an opportunity to add their voice to MLA’s sustained advocacy efforts at the Capitol. Dues are low, at $10/year. Membership at this new tier does not confer voting privileges or most other benefits associated with MLA membership, and is intended as a supplement to rather than a replacement for involvement with MALF or local Friends of the Library groups. Email MLA’s trustees chair Jim Weygand at jimweygand@aol.com for details.

2. MLA passed a memorial resolution in honor of long-time MLA and MALF leader Joan Larson. You can read MALF’s own obituary on Larson here.

3. An overhaul to the Association’s website (mnlibraryassociation.org) is imminent! Watch that space for updates.

4. The organization has added a Continuing Education Committee to its list of standing bodies, in recognition of the career-long importance of professional development to librarians and paraprofessionals.

Click here for additional updates on the state of the Association.

MALF Welcomes New Director Janet Eaton

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Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomed three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time. Next up:

Janet Eaton is a native of Columbia Heights. After a long career as a commercial insurance underwriter and insurance agent, principally in the Pacific Northwest, she moved back to Anoka County in 2005. Fond memories of her childhood library steered Eaton to membership and leadership roles within the Friends of the Anoka County Library – a regional Friends group that supports the libraries in Circle Pines, Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Ham Lake, Anoka and St. Francis. Over the past five years, Eaton has served as secretary and, most recently, treasurer of that dynamic group. MALF is thrilled to have Janet involved in our day-to-day finances and investment management.

Interested in learning more about a potential leadership role with MALF? Email us any time at info@mnlibraryfriends.org

Evy Nordley Award - 2020 Contest Now Open!

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Last year, Minnesota’s many Friends of the Library groups funded and coordinated some incredible projects. MALF honored four as part of our annual Evy Nordley Award for Best Project contest. We’re confident that 2020 will be just as productive and impressive!

By popular request, we are making this year’s Evy Nordley application available early. Entries are due before or on Friday, June 12.

Who can apply? Entrants must be based in Minnesota and attached to a public, K-12 school, college/university, or special library. Libraries themselves, along with individuals and non-library charities, cannot apply. Current membership in the Minnesota Association of Library Friends is a prerequisite for consideration. (However, if necessary, annual dues may be submitted with award application.) Previous years’ finalists and winners are strongly encouraged to reenter for the 2020 cycle. You may also submit multiple candidate projects as part of this or any Evy Nordley cycle.

What can you submit? Common project types are special events, successful fundraisers, membership drives, and advocacy campaigns – but the sky is the limit!

Any Friends-supported project is eligible, provided that (1) project implementation began after January 1, 2019; and (2) either the Friends or their library was the primary beneficiary. (In other words, efforts jointly developed with or sponsored by non-Friends organizations are qualified under many circumstances.) If you have specific questions about the eligibility of a particular project, call 651-366-6492 for clarity.

Top prize is $1,000 - with additional financial prizes awarded. 

New Year, New Directors

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Posted by jim

Along with the New Year, the Minnesota Association of Library Friends welcomes three new directors to its governing board. We’re pleased to introduce them to you, one at a time.

Melissa Brechon is a career librarian and retired library administrator. Her resume includes time at the helm of the Austin (Minn.) Public Library and seven-branch Carver County Library in suburban Minneapolis. In recent years, Brechon also filled in as interim director for the Stillwater Public Library and for MELSA, the federated library consortium servicing the Twin Cities. She is currently a library consultant, with an emphasis on community and facility needs assessments. Her list of past clients includes dozens of public libraries in Minnesota, plus dozens more in places as far afield as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Texas; and Bighorn, Wyoming.

Interested in learning more about leadership on the MALF board? Send an email to info@mnlibraryfriends.org.

Captain Planet Foundation Offers ecoSTEM Kits

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

STEM learning is a priority of youth services librarians everywhere. However, finding and funding exciting, engaging STEM activities can be a challenge. If this sounds relatable, your Friends group might want to look into the Captain Planet Foundation’s readymade ecoSTEM kits. While these are available for purchase, a limited number are also available free of charge to schools and nonprofits.

At this time, four kits are in production. These include a water kit (with water composition and quality monitoring equipment); energy kit (with solar cells, a mini wind turbine, and infrared thermometers); a pollinator kit (with milkweed seeds, butterfly rearing house, and caterpillars); and a composting kit (including worms and a mushroom farm starter).

Click here for more information on each option - plus details on when and how to apply. The Captain Planet Foundation also offers a variety of other grant opportunities worth checking out.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

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Posted by jim

Each year, a special round table of the American Library Association bestows the coveted Coretta Scott King Award. Named after the civil rights leader, this prize recognizes outstanding work for young adults written by African American authors and about the African American experience. 

But what happens to the thousands of books that are submitted after these national competitions have concluded?

In this case, ALA donates complete sets of the year’s entries to worthy organizations: schools, social service agencies, churches, and of course libraries! Donations include a full set of the winning and runner-up titles for the year, and total 60-100 books in all (depending on the year’s candidate pool).

Interested libraries and Friends should contact ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services by Friday, January 31. Applicants are asked to provide statements about why they should be considered, and how this specific material acquisition will aid their work. Supplementary materials are also encouraged, if they bolster your case.

Click here for additional details on eligibility, including a detailed rubric on how proposals are scored. Click here to jump straight to the online application.