Age of Coronavirus: Webinars and More

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Posted by jim

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

'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.