Watch Your Mailboxes / Inboxes!

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Posted by jim under Membership

As the year winds towards its close, we’re looking ahead eagerly to what’s in store for 2022. MALF will have some exciting updates to share after the holidays. For now, though, we will restrict ourselves to a bit of year-end “housekeeping.”

Be on the lookout: Renewal notices for all individual and institutional MALF members went out in the mail earlier this week. Rates remain unchanged – just $25/group, $10/individual. This dues structure reflects MALF’s hope and intention to involve as many Minnesota library advocates as possible!

If you are unsure of your membership status, your contact details have changed over the past year, or you do not see that December letter, feel free to contact our office at info@mnlibraryfriends.org or 651-366-6492.

Free December Webinar Spotlights Volunteer Retention

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Posted by jim under Webinars, Programming

Finding and recruiting new help is a challenge common to Friends – and shared by nearly all volunteer-run organizations. If your group has grappled with enlistment recently, be sure to watch MALF’s summer webinar on the topic (“Making New Friends”).

However, as any seasoned volunteer coordinator will tell you, recruiting is only half the battle. In order to be sustainable, Friends must be effective at volunteer retention, as well. In a nutshell, this means engaging and motivating volunteers in ways that increase the likelihood that one-time assistance grows into a long-term commitment to your cause.

That is easier said than done, even under ideal conditions… And with pandemic cautions and restrictions still an ever-present part of our lives, it is safe to say that we’re all operating under less-than-ideal circumstances. Across Minnesota and beyond, Friends of the Library are emerging from a slow period forced by COVID-19 and finding it challenging to mobilize and energize their volunteer workforce.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad. According to VolunteerMatch and The Nonprofit Times, the number of Americans willing to donate time and energy to a meaningful cause is stable, or even growing, across a wide range of sectors. Without exception, the nonprofits able to maintain these numbers are intentional about their retention strategies.

Beth Steinhorn, president of VQ Volunteer Strategies, will join MALF on 
Tuesday, December 7 (12:00-1:30 p.m. CST) to discuss exactly that!

In ‘Making New Friends,’ Steinhorn offered us insights learned from decades of experience coaching nonprofits as diverse as Meals on Wheels, the American Farm Bureau, and the Public Library Association. In this follow-up ('Staying Friends'), we will delve into replicable strategies and other best practices specific to volunteer retention.

In addition to an info-packed 90 minutes, attendees will come away with a valuable pdf handbook (“Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers in Uncertain Times”).


And here’s the best part. Attendance is FREE – to MALF members and non-members alike! Click here to save your seat. Be sure to do so no later than Monday, December 6.

Available Now: "Flockin' Flamingoes" - Unabridged

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If you joined MALF last month for Saturday Splash, you heard in real time that Friends of the Austin Public Library is the new crown holder for the annual Evy Nordley Award. (Read more here.) Their fun, fresh and alliteratively named Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser won plaudits from both our judging committee and the Saturday Splash audience.

Our only regret is that, due to the constraints of conference run time, we did not get a chance to broadcast everything that Friends president Bethie Carlton recorded for us. If you missed the original program or want a “deep dive,” you can now view the full 20-minute presentation about Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser on MALF’s YouTube channel!


Click here to learn all about Austin’s project planning, execution and evaluation, including an answer to a question you never thought to ask: How many plastic flamingoes can fit in a Prius?

ALA Grant Opportunity: "Let's Talk About It"

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Libraries are a unique nexus point for community collaboration and open dialogue. Indeed, nearly all libraries coordinate adult programming – events that, in many communities, few other institutions are as well equipped to host.

In recognition of this fact, the American Library Association created its
 Let’s Talk About It (LTAI) series. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, LTAI is a ten-week, scholar-led curriculum that invites a library’s staff and patrons to do a “deep dive” on a topic core to American history, society or identity. Each cycle is based around a curated selection of books on that topic.

Women’s Suffrage is the focus of the next round, slated for next March - September. ALA will select up to 25 interested libraries to co-host this 2022 installment of Let’s Talk About It.

Winners each receive $1,000 towards program costs (including but not limited to speaker honorariums). Participating libraries also receive ten copies each of five book titles focused on the suffrage movement, plus enjoy support and resources from ALA’s Programs Office.


Click here to learn more. Be sure to submit before the December 1, 2021 deadline!

Prepare Today For 'Give to the Max Day'

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Posted by jim under Fundraising, Events

Charities view December as the pivotal month for fundraising. Donors often wait until this proverbial last minute to make year-end, tax-exempt contributions to their favorite causes. Fortunately for not-for-profits here in Minnesota, though, there is a golden opportunity to kickstart year-end fundraising a full month early!

Give to the Max Day 2021 (#GTMD21), the state’s semi-official giving holiday, is slated for Thursday, November 18. Last year, more than 3,000 nonprofits – including dozens of Friends of the Library groups – got in on the action and raised upwards of $30 million. That’s a new record!

New to Give to the Max Day, but interested in taking advantage this time around? GiveMN, the organization which stewards GTMD, has helpfully compiled a variety of free resources – including many created specifically for fundraising novices! These include a “DIY” fundraising campaign planning workbook, downloadable templates and graphics, and no-cost workshop opportunities. 
Click here to learn more!

Saturday Splash: Recap + Video Links

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Thanks to everyone who joined us on October 9 for MALF’s second annual Saturday Splash. We packed a lot of leaning and fun into just two hours – and as an added bonus, no one had to drive home afterwards! While MALF looks forward to hosting you all in person someday soon, virtual events bring that distinct advantage…

There’s another advantage, as well. If you missed Saturday Splash – or attended but wish to revisit a favorite segment – you can now catch
 the whole program on YouTube.

1. Keynote + Q&A. Comedienne and Minnesota Book Award mainstay Lorna Landvik regaled us with stories from her youth (including how visits to her Minneapolis branch library influenced the humorist’s unique career trajectory). As an added bonus, Lorna shared a ukulele homage to our favorite public institutions… in all likelihood, a first!

2. Evy Nordley Awards. Four fantastic Friends groups offered “flash presentations” on ingenious fundraisers and initiatives conducted 2020-21.

Austin Friends of the Library (Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser)
Friends of the Cook Public Library (Community Reads: Murder on the Nile)
Grand Rapids Area Friends of the Library (Holiday Notecard Fundraiser)
Becker County Friends of the Library (150 Sails Over Detroit Lakes)

Spoiler: Austin came away as first place finisher. Watch for an unabridged presentation on Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser in our next e-newsletter!

3. Stand Up for Standout Friends. We wrapped up with a 20-minute video montage honoring the commitment and achievements of twelve ‘Standout’ volunteers across Minnesota. Communities represented include: Bemidji, Brainerd, Cook, Edina, Grand Rapids, Kasson, Moorhead, Northfield, Ramsey County, Stillwater, Wabasha and Winona.

If you attended Saturday Splash but haven’t yet had an opportunity to provide feedback, it’s not too late to take our 5-mintue surveyWe really do take this feedback to heart as we plan future Friends programming.

2021 National Friends of Libraries Week

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National Friends of Libraries Week is fast approaching! Mark your calendars for October 17-23, 2021.

What is Friends of Libraries Week? It might be best described as a yearly celebration of all that Friends do for their libraries and communities. United for Libraries, the Friends arm of the American Library Association, first conceptualized it as a springboard for fundraising campaigns, membership recruitment, and general Friends recognition.

There is no wrong way to celebrate. Creative examples include:


✔ a large-scale and themed “coupon” giveaway in Escanaba, Michigan, which induced hundreds of residents to visit a Friends book sale for the very first time;

✔ a Pirate’s Treasure Party in Conroe, Texas (where, spoiler alert, the “pirates” declared the library’s collections as the town’s most prized treasure);

✔ a “gnomination” campaign in Mansfield, Texas, where Friends encouraged friends and neighbors to join the ranks with a membership information packet delivered to their doorstep - with a garden gnome as its courier and paperweight!

Each of these projects, and dozens more besides, have won one of United for Libraries’ annual Friends of Libraries Week Awards. It comes with a cash prize and major national kudos.
 Click here to learn more about the 2021 awards cycle, and be sure to get your bid in by the December 3 deadline.

Not ready to try something on quite this scale? Don’t worry. United for Libraries has a wide variety of replicable ideas, templates, and other resources
 on their website for you to peruse. Happy planning!

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #4: Grand Rapids

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Grand Rapids Area Library is among the handful in Minnesota that boasts a permanent Friends bookstore on site. Ordinarily, this year-round stream of income is the Friends’ “golden goose,” with proceeds bankrolling much of what the organization does for the Library. When the pandemic brought an abrupt and protracted halt to sales, however, the board realized they needed to think beyond their comfort zone.  

Ironically, the Friends did not have to travel or look far for their Big Idea; all they had to do was step outside the Library. Grand Rapids Area Library’s exterior façade is graced by a massive mural of a chickadee. It is one of several naturescapes by Carlton County artist Adam Swanson that can be found in and around Grand Rapids.

In January 2020, a Friends task force approached Mr. Swanson about profiling his iconic work on a series of Friends-branded notecards. He agreed to this novel partnership, and under generous terms; for every $20 box that the group sold, he would take a $4.50 commission.

Even with this green light, the Friends faced a number of choices and challenges. First, which of the decorated artist’s works would they profile? They ultimately decided to double down on the Northland theme, which is a favorite of Swanson’s. In addition to the famous library chickadee, each packet of eight cards features a wolf, black bear, moose, and other animals native to the area.

When it came to printing, organizers opted to keep their money local and partner with a Grand Rapids vendor. They recouped some of these higher production costs by securing clever in-kind donations, such as transparent corsage bags from the local florist to “box” the card sets.

Promotion and distribution proved the biggest puzzlers of all, given the Library’s prolonged closure. As a workaround, volunteers secured permission to conduct sales out of the building’s drive-up window. They then spread the news as widely as possible, including with a front-page mention in the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

Grand Rapids Area Friends hit their production targets in time to roll out the new fundraiser for the 2020 holiday season. In all, they netted an impressive $2,500 – not bad for a “Plan B” fundraiser. They hope to build on this debut effort in advance of the 2021 holiday season.

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #3: Austin

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Flamingoes may be native to Florida and the Caribbean; but over the past year, the distinctive pink birds have made quite a squawk across Austin, Minnesota. Bewildered and amused residents have the local Friends of the Library to thank.

Board members Elizabeth Carlton, Morgan Carlson and Kristie Mickelson devised their alliteratively named “Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser” in fall 2020. They did so with two goals in mind. Foremost, the Friends wanted to raise awareness for both their organization and the Library itself. Second, they hoped to add a little levity to their community in a year defined by a pandemic and contentious election. On both these counts, springing roving bands of gaudy birds on unsuspecting neighbors proved as effective as it was creative!

As a secondary benefit, Flockin’ Flamingoes also proved a surprisingly lucrative fundraiser. “We were able to borrow the majority of our flamingoes, which really helped with our overall budget,” explained Carlton. In all, the Friends purchased only 40 of the iconic yard decorations, but mustered a gaggle of almost 100.

Donors had the opportunity to “hire” flamingoes in batches of one, two or three dozen – up to a maximum tier of 60 plastic birds. They then selected a friend, family member or co-worker to be the recipient or target (depending on one’s point of view) of this avian attention.

Friends of the Library maintained the deployment schedule, and shuttled the flamingoes where they needed to go in the dead of night. They also designed weatherized, corrugated signs to accompany the birds, explain their purpose, and inform passersby where they could learn more.

For its pilot season, Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser ran from October 12 to November 22. In that time, the Friends took no break days and fulfilled a total of 79 orders. “We actually had to stop accepting orders around October 26, because I had serious concerns about not being able to complete them all before the ground got too hard,” Carlton shared.

Austin Friends of the Library’s experiment netted $1,985 in proceeds and considerable buzz in the community. As one metric of the latter, flamingo-focused posts on Facebook consistently reached 500 people a day – a significant boost over normal levels.

Unsurprisingly, the group is already laying groundwork for the return of the now-infamous Flockin’ Flamingoes Fundraiser. Among other tweaks to the model, they intend to start earlier in the summer, to get the most out of their “birding season” before the first winter snowfall makes staking impossible.

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #2: Detroit Lakes

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We hope you will join us at 'Saturday Splash' on October 9 to hear presentations from each of this year's Evy Nordley finalist projects (plus the live winner announcement). In the run-up to that event, MALF is pleased to shine the spotlight on each of these exemplary projects – one at a time. Next up:

Becker County Friends of the Library | "Unlimited Possibilities"

As you can glean from the name, denizens of Detroit Lakes consider lake life to be a core part of their identity. This goes double in summertime, when seasonal residents and tourists balloon the City’s population by as much as 40 percent. For this reason, the area’s lake amenities took center stage in Detroit Lakes’ recent Sesquicentennial commemoration.

As a cornerstone of this anniversary celebration, a coalition of community stakeholders came together to launch “150 Sails Up in DL.” In this ambitious public art project, organizations of all kinds sponsored and collaborated with area artists on the creation of 150 sailboat sculptures.

Each boat is made of steel and concrete and measures either 4 feet or approx. 2 feet in height. However, each is truly one of a kind. Themes and styles run the gamut, with subjects as disparate as loons, sunsets, agates, pizza and popsicles coming together to tell a cohesive story about life in Detroit Lakes.

Becker County Friends of the Library partnered on not one but two of the most popular sailboat sculptures. These include “Unlimited Curiosity,” a stained-glass mosaic created by Detroit Lakes artist Becky Mitchell. It now graces the exterior of the historic Carnegie Library and invites passersby into this place of learning and discovery.

For the library’s interior, Friends and staff partnered with artist Eric A. Johnson on a 20’’ sculpture christened “Gohn Be Funky From Now On.” A medley of colors and shapes, this smaller sailboat is a sort of Rorschach test that encourages kids to use their imagination. Both installations debuted in early April at a Sailboat Regatta Party, the tentpole event of the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial. They then moved to the Detroit Lakes Public Library, where both will be on display through December 2021.

The Friends of the Library smashed their initial fundraising goal for this endeavor in just ten days. This enabled them to rent a third sailboat sculpture. “We The People,” by Erinn Prischmann Webb, features Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now graces the library’s YA section.

“We hope to see an increase in traffic inside the library,” explained co-organizer Terry Kalil. “The greater goal, though, is to inspire creativity in all who view our sailboats… and demonstrate Detroit Lakes Public Library’s role as a leading education and culture center in our community.”

2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #1: Cook

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The Seattle Public Library is commonly credited with creating the “One Book” or “Community Read” program model in the late 1990s. In the two decades since, major American cities from San Francisco to New York City have followed suit by creating their own beloved One Book initiatives. However, community read programs are not just the purview of large and urban communities, as small Cook, Minnesota can attest.

Cook is a town of 500 residents located deep in Saint Louis County, about halfway between Duluth and the Canadian border. During the summer months, Lake Vermillion area cabin dwellers swell the Cook Public Library’s small service area. During this high tide, staff are fortunate to have hands-on support from local Friends of the Library, who take on a range of volunteer duties within the tiny, 1,350-square-foot library.

In the winter, however, the Library has the polar opposite problem – pun intended. Once the weather cools, the patron base shrinks. It can be difficult for staff to find new amusements to engage and enrich year-round residents as the community waits for the spring thaw. As one means to that end, librarian Crystal Phillips suggested a Community Read.

The Friends did not pick a featured title – at least not directly. Instead, they oversaw a bracket vote that allowed residents to choose from 104 books. Administered at the library over the course of 16 weeks, the voting system drew 1,428 ballots. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie eventually emerged as the winning title.

The Friends purchased 20 new copies of this old classic for giveaways and library circulation. In true Community Reads fashion, while the organizers incorporated a book club into the festivities, that was only a beginning. Other highlights included special movie screens of Death on the Nile (2004) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017), with viewing licenses paid for by The Friends.

As the capstone event, Cook Public Library also hoped to hold an interactive murder mystery event on site. Sadly, COVID-19 gathering restrictions forced the cancellation of this last component.

Despite that setback, organizers consider Cook’s inaugural One Book program a great success. After all, 1,428 ballots cast is a tremendous accomplishment for a library in a town of 500!

Minnesota Book Awards: Call For Judges

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If you are subscribed to this e-newsletter, we know you love libraries. It doesn’t seem too big a stretch to surmise that you are a fan of books and reading, as well!

The Minnesota Book Awards is currently seeking reader-judges for the program’s 34th year (2021-22). Each year, more than 50 judges are involved in this evaluation process. Panels are comprised of Minnesotans from many walks of life who share a love of literature and aptitude for critical appraisal. Judges commonly include authors, editors, educators – and yes, librarians and Friends.

Evaluation takes place across nine genre categories: Poetry, Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Young Adult, Middle Grade Literature, Children’s Literature, Novel & Short Story, General Nonfiction, and Minnesota Nonfiction.

For each category, adjudication takes place in two rounds: Preliminary and Final. Judges in both rounds will convene on Zoom – on Saturday, January 29 and Saturday, March 12, respectively.

If selected to judge, organizers will mail you books in batches: the perfect wintertime activity! The assignment also comes with a $375 stipend.
 Click here to learn more, or here to jump straight to the application form. Be sure to throw your hat in the ring by the deadline of Friday, September 10.

United For Libraries Hosts #UnitedVirtual Next Week

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Friends of the Library in Minnesota rarely have good opportunities to learn from and commune with peers in other parts of the country. United for Libraries, the Friends and trustees arm of the American Library Association, is aiming to change that – starting next week! #UnitedVirtual, a special three-day conference specific to this audience, will take place August 17-19.

#UnitedVirtual promises more than a dozen panels, case study presentations, and roundtables to choose from. Topics are varied: from budgeting, to merchandising, to diversity and equity issues. Naturally, fundraising and public advocacy are also well represented on this jam-packed
 schedule.

Pricing is $99 for nonmembers, and $89 for ALA members. Groups of 2-5 can register together at reduced rates. Registrants will enjoy access to recordings of all #UnitedVirtual sessions up to one year after the conclusion of the program.
 Click here to learn more and to register.

One Book | One Minnesota, ft. Marcie Rendon

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Did you know that the State of Minnesota boasts a Community Read all its own?

One Book | One Minnesota launched just last year, and is already on its fifth program “chapter.” The Minnesota Center for Book announced the latest pick earlier this week: Murder on the Red River, the debut entry in Ojibwe novelist Marcie Rendon’s popular Cash Blackbear series.

Between now and September 26, residents anywhere in Minnesota can check out the ebook or audiobook of Murder on the Red River free
 through Ebooks Minnesota – no waiting! Reading and discussion guides, and other support resources, are available here.

If you read the featured title, be sure to register for the capstone virtual event, featuring Rendon in conversation with Allison Waukau, the Native community liaison at Hennepin County Library. It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. on 
Tuesday, August 31. It will be held over Zoom. 

Lorna Landvik Headlines 'Saturday Splash' October 9

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Last fall, hundreds of you joined MALF for our first-ever Friends of the Library conference. Like countless other events, the pandemic forced “Saturday Splash” online. That pivot brought a silver lining, though – allowing Friends from all across the state to attend a seminar they would have been unable to experience in person.

In response to your positive feedback on the format, as well as reinstated gathering restrictions in many parts of the state, Saturday Splash will reprise this model in 2021!

Mark your calendars and join us on Saturday, October 9. Festivities will kick off at 10 a.m. and conclude a little before noon. Saturday Splash will be keynoted and emceed by Minnesota’s own Lorna Landvik.

Landvik is a comedienne, actress, playwright, and prolific novelist. Her 1995 fiction debut Patty Jane’s House of Curl – a zany but heartwarming story about two sisters who open a beauty parlor, “complete with live harp music and Norwegian baked goods” – introduced readers to Landvik’s unique brand of humor. She has since published nearly a dozen other books.

Her newest is Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes). In the fictional yet real-to-life town of Granite Creek, Minnesota, a curmudgeonly but beloved newspaper columnist slips unexpectedly into a coma. In a scramble to fill the void, her editor republishes old articles – dredging up a host of memories for the denizens of Granite Creek in the process.

In addition to a keynote talk about her work and feelings about libraries, Landvik will hold court for a live Q&A session. She will also stick around to moderate the second hour of Saturday Splash, when we will shine the light on some of Minnesota’s outstanding Friends in two short segments.


○ Evy Nordley Award. Friends representatives from Austin, Cook, Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids will overview the design and execution of the 2020-21 projects that put them in contention for “Best Project by Friends of the Library.”

○ Stand Up for Standout Friends. We will wrap with a short video montage profiling the 2021 class of volunteers who have been put forward by their peers for MALF’s unique Standout Friends honor. (Fun fact: Among other perks, each honoree will receive a personalized copy of Lorna Landvik’s latest book!)

Click here to register for this FREE event.

MLA Library Staff Survey + Conference Registration

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As the three grantee case studies above clearly demonstrate, COVID-19 forced library Friends and staff to be nimble, creative and resilient. In point of fact, it would be impossible for any one person alone to pinpoint all the many ways that libraries have gone above and beyond in the last year.

The Minnesota Library Association wants to learn more about these transformations – and in particular, what adaptations from the last year are likely to become permanent fixtures of the Minnesota library landscape. This knowledge will inform the development services and other support our libraries receive from their professional association.

As a means to that end, they are administering a statewide survey of library staff. Please help MLA – and more to the point, your local librarians – by sharing word about this important input opportunity. Staff have until Friday, July 30 to make their voices heard through this online questionnaire, which takes a mere 5-12 minutes to complete.

LINK: 
“Minnesota Libraries Lead Survey”

Speaking of MLA… Early bird registration rates for the 2021 Minnesota Library Association conference – which will be held online October 6-8 – expire at the end of the month. Cost for nonmembers is $175 through July 31, and jumps to $200 after that date. Click here to learn more about registration, keynote speakers, and other conference details as information becomes available.

COVID-19 Grant Recipient Spotlights | Cycle 3, #2

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Earlier this summer, MALF named the ten recipients of the third and final round of the organization's COVID-19 Grant Response Program. It’s now our great privilege to briefly profile each of these worthy Friends and projects. Next up:

Friends of the Anoka County Library
Despite the surprises and setbacks brought on by COVID-19, the Friends of the Anoka County Library had an admirably busy year in 2020. The Friends kept constituents apprised of those happenings through their first-ever print newsletter. In addition to their member base, who each received color copies, the group printed 1,000 grayscale copies to be shared with patrons as part of holds pickup at Anoka's eight branch libraries. It proved a popular experiment, even prompting a number of donations. With most fundraising efforts temporarily curtailed, The Friends sought and received a MALF grant to defray print and mailing costs for a second issue of this newsletter.

Friends of the Austin County Library
Before the pandemic, the Austin Public Library hosted – and easily filled – a wide variety of painting classes and craft programs. Now that normal activities can resume, the pent-up demand is evident! The Friends of the Library wish to give programming staff added flexibility through the purchase of movable art easels. They will use this small grant from MALF to purchase 18 affordable but sturdy easels on aluminum tripods. Their chosen model is suitable for both standing and tabletop use, meaning that classes can be held outdoors or inside as weather dictates.

Friends of the Rock County Library
Alongside more traditional materials, the Rock County Community Library in Luverne loans patrons telescopes and metal detectors. Both purchases came courtesy of the local Friends of the Library. When pandemic conditions nudged patrons to spend more time outside, the Friends decided to double down on their investments in this outdoors-oriented “Library of Things.” The Friends applied for a COVID-19 Grant from MALF to acquire croquet and bocce ball sets, jumbo-sized yard Yahtzee and Connect Four games, and even Bushnell binoculars for birdwatching. Friends and staff are confident that these popular items will remain in-demand even as pandemic conditions abate

June Webinar Recap + Replay

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According to The Nonprofit Times, the monetary value of a single volunteer hour could be more than $28. By this metric, the country's volunteers donate a dizzying $187.7 billion worth of their time every year! We all know that, in truth, our Friends volunteers are truly priceless. However, thought exercises like these do much to contextualize why hard-working volunteers are a rare and valued commodity – and why charities in many communities regularly compete with one another on volunteer recruitment.

Beth Steinhorn, president of VQ Volunteer Strategies, discussed this perennial challenge (and viable recruitment strategies) last month as part of MALF’s summer webinar. If you couldn't join us for "Making New Friends: Volunteer Recruitment and Cultivation," be sure to catch the 90-minute presentation and Q&A on YouTube.

Wish you’d had the opportunity to ask Steinhorn a question in real time? You will have a second chance! Stay tuned for a ‘save the date’ and details about our December webinar, in which June 23's keynote speaker will be back – this time, to offer insights and strategies around volunteer retention.

COVID-19 Grant Recipient Spotlights | Cycle 3, #1

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Last month, MALF named the ten recipients of the third and final round of the organization's COVID-19 Grant Response Program. It’s now our privilege to profile each of these worthy Friends and projects, a few at a time.

Friends of the Cambridge Public Library
Cambridge Public Library moved to a new, spacious building in July 2020. Among other amenities, the new site boasts a courtyard well suited to host outdoor programming, book club meetings, and other library gatherings. Unfortunately, what the Library does not have is permanent outdoor furniture for this versatile and beloved space. In preparation for each outdoor program, staff gamely trek chairs from inside the building and return them after the event wraps up. Naturally, this is not an ideal or a sustainable solution. Friends of Cambridge Public Library sought a MALF grant to purchase permanent and weatherproof furnishings for the Library’s courtyard.

Friends of the Park Rapids Library
Park Rapids Area Library is a proud member of that community’s Dementia Friendly Action Team. As the name suggests, this task force provides resources and experiences for residents with Alzheimer’s and related conditions (as well as their caregivers). As one means to that end, the Library offers loanable Yesteryear Kits. Each adheres to a specific theme, with School Days, Farm Life, and Flowers & Gardening standing out as particular favorites. All are specially designed to evoke fond memories from – and stoke conversations with – people experiencing Alzheimer’s. Park Rapids Friends of the Library sought a mini-grant from MALF to enable them to make an investment in more Yesteryear Kits on behalf of their Library.

Standout Friends Featurette: Ruth Weber of Lakeville

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OneBook OneLakeville is among the longest running and best loved community reads initiatives in the Twin Cities. The Friends of the (Lakeville) Heritage Library are instrumental to its success – and have been since the program’s inception in 2009. While it’s an all hands on deck affair, the Friends in turn credit much of OneBook OneLakeville’s success to “hospitality specialist” Ruth Weber.

"Ruth is such a vital and energetic member… Whatever is asked of her, her usual response is 'Count me in!'" explained Loretta Ellsworth, a fellow Friend and one of OneBook OneLakeville’s founders.

Weber’s energetic contributions extend beyond The Friends’ tentpole event each spring. Her hospitality skills also come in handy when the group throws so-called Silver Teas. Geared towards Lakeville residents aged 55+, these soirees boast both lively conversation and live entertainment. Over recent teas, the audience has been regaled with everything from Italian mandolin, to African banjo, to ukulele.

Ruth can also be counted on to pitch in headlong with the (often thankless) tasks associated with used book sale fundraisers.

“And on top of all that, we all agree that Ruth is the sharpest dresser of us all," concluded Ellsworth.

Do you have a Standout Friend in your midst that you’d like to acknowledge on a statewide stage? MALF is now welcoming nominees for the 2021 "class" of Standout Friends. Visit our website to learn how to put a peer forward - but be sure to do so before 
Friday, August 6.

MLA Conference Registration Opens

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Registration is now open for the 2021 Minnesota Library Association conference, slated for October 6-8. For library staff – and the Friends and trustees who support them – this two-day convening is one of the year’s biggest highlights.

Ordinarily, participating requires trekking to a host city. In contrast, this year’s MLA festivities will be entirely virtual, making 2021 the perfect year to take the plunge if you’ve never before taken part!

Early bird rate is $175 (or $100 for MLA members) if you register before July 31. Price jumps to $200 (or $125 for MLA members) after that date. 
Click here for more details.

MALF Hosts "Making New Friends" Noon Wednesday!

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Posted by jim under Webinars, Programming

Friends of the Library live and die by the strength of their volunteer pipeline. When new volunteers seem to be in short supply, then, it is rightfully a cause for concern.

Join us this Wednesday for “Making New Friends,” a jam-packed webinar about how to find, recruit, onboard and motivate the very best volunteers in your community.

Beth Steinhorn, president of Colorado-based VQ Volunteer Strategies, will lead this 90-minute session. In her decades of consulting, Steinhorn has aided not-for-profits as varied as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, American Red Cross, and Meals on Wheels. Past clients in the library sphere include the Public Library Association (PLA) and California Library Association.

In addition to the training seminar, participants will come away with valuable sample and rubric documents from VQ: boilerplate volunteer position descriptions, a targeted recruitment primer, and samples of strategic messaging, to name a few.

Best of all, “Making New Friends” is free to attend.
 Registration is required – though open until one hour before the start of the 12:00-1:30 CDT event. 

Announcing "Making New Friends: Volunteer Recruitment and Cultivation"

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"It’s so hard to find good help these days.” It’s trite, but true – and something MALF hears regularly from Friends of the Library across our wide network.

If enticing and motivating new volunteers is a problem for your organization, MALF’s next webinar is sure to be of interest. Join us over the lunch hour on Wednesday, June 23 for “Making New Friends: Volunteer Recruitment and Cultivation.”

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Beth Steinhorn, president of Colorado-based VQ Volunteer Strategies, will lead the 90-minute session. In her decades of consulting, Steinhorn has aided not-for-profits as varied as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, American Red Cross, and Meals on Wheels. Past clients in the library sphere include the Public Library Association (PLA) and California Library Association.

“VQ Volunteer Strategies believes that by helping our clients shift how they think about and approach volunteer engagement, there’s no limit to what they can achieve,” Steinhorn shared.

Her deep understanding of national volunteer trends and emerging best practices will be of enormous value to grassroots Friends groups.

VQ_secondary_horiz_blue.png“While we don’t always think of it this way, Friends of the Library are in competition with many other worthy causes in their community for a finite amount of volunteer ‘bandwidth,’” explained MALF board member Melissa Brechon. Compounding matters, “There’s never a shortage of life obligations and other distractions to deter people from a new volunteer commitment.”

In addition to the training seminar, participants will come away with valuable sample and rubric documents from VQ: boilerplate volunteer position descriptions, a targeted recruitment primer, and samples of strategic messaging, to name a few.

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Best of all, “Making New Friends” is free to attend.
 Registration is required – though open until one hour before the start of the 12:00-1:30 CDT event. (Don’t delay, though. Early registrants will receive additional communications as we draw closer to June 23.)

Standout Friends Spotlight: Kathy Sommers, Northfield

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Five years ago, a renovated and expanded Northfield Public Library reopened on the city’s downtown thoroughfare. Built around a century-old Carnegie, this enlarged facility incorporates a two-story glass atrium, expanded children's area, and modular community spaces. In the words of one architectural reviewer, this construction restored the Library’s place as the "civic beacon" of Northfield.

Naturally, such a large-scale but tasteful overhaul comes at a cost – in this case, $3.4 million. That daunting target simply would not have been met without spirited fundraising from The Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, who ultimately contributed close to $1 million. The Friends, in turn, credit much of that success to 'Standout Friend' Kathy Sommers.

Kathy served as an integral member of the organization's board for eight years. This includes a significant investment of time and energy as treasurer.

"She leveraged years of experience in accounting to modernize our financial recordkeeping, and worked hard to establish the financial framework that we still use," noted board member Lynne Marie Young.

This back-end work - often uncelebrated - paid huge dividends when the Library needed assistance with capital reinvestments at several points in Kathy's tenure. In addition to the 2015-16 rebuild, examples include the purchase of a second bookmobile (“Booker II”) in 2006, and the subsidization of the Library’s first major foray into loanable e-readers.

In between marquee purchases, she volunteered "on the ground" at the Friends' many social and fundraising events. These include the Friends' popular annual Trivia Bee, where she handled all ticketing and money-handling.

Although she is no longer on the leadership team, Kathy remains an active member of the Friends. Nevertheless, she is sorely missed by the board. “Kathy brought a kindness, a sense of humor, and a cool, critical perspective to each meeting,” said Lynne Young. “Decisions were better, and discussions more productive, through her ever-vigilant commitment."

Do you have a Standout Friend in your midst that you’d like to acknowledge on a statewide stage? MALF is now welcoming nominees for the 2021 "class" of Standout Friends.
 Visit our website to learn how to put a peer forward - but be sure to do so before Friday, August 6.

Friends Invited to 'Media Landscapes - 23 Things'

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We live in an information-rich world. Making sense of what's most relevant, what’s timely, and what is trustworthy can be a challenge - even for librarians, who deal with information professionally! With this internet age conundrum in mind, a coalition of state library partners has just launched a new self-paced (and entirely free) online curriculum.

Media Landscapes - 23 Things is intended, first and foremost, as a professional development tool for library staff. However, trustees and Friends are openly invited to take part… and, by the end, you will be spotting misinformation and writing attention-grabbing web copy just like the pros!


Click here to see the curriculum modules available to date. (Note: More will be added in the coming weeks.) Click here to register and get started!

2021 Nordley Award Cycle Recognizes A Unique Year

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An F. Scott Fitzgerald inspired dance party. A student-led cheese-making demo. A chautauqua style community expo featuring a ragtime clarinetist and DNR rangers. What do these events have in common (besides, of course, being incredibly creative)? All were held in Minnesota libraries, and coordinated by Friends. Each was put forward for MALF’s yearly Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends of the Library.

We know that 2020 wasn’t replete with many social events like the ones outlined above. However, the pandemic and its fallout offered Friends a unique opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and resilience. Whether a fundraiser, membership drive, advocacy campaign, or something else – MALF wants to know what you’ve been up to!

Indeed, any Friends-supported project is eligible, provided that (1) project implementation began after January 1, 2020; and (2) either the Friends or their library was the primary beneficiary.
 Click here for details on eligibility and how to apply. Top prize is $1,000. Deadline is coming up fast: Friday, July 9

Minnesota Author Project Seeks Judges

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MN Writes MN Reads is bringing back the Minnesota Author Project for its fourth year!

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.
 Click here to learn more about the program.

Here’s where you come in. MN Writes MN Reads relies on panels of volunteer judges – composed of librarians, Friends, booksellers, teachers, and other bibliophiles – to carefully read and review submitted materials. (It’s no small thing: Winners receive $1,000, a full-page print spread in Library Journal, and inclusion in popular ebook databases!)

Evaluators will begin to receive submission materials after May 31, and have until September to grade. For more information, and to throw your hat into the ring, fill out
 this Google Form.

Minnesota Book Awards Announced April 29

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The linchpin event of the state’s literary calendar is nearly upon us! The virtual Minnesota Book Awards will take place next Thursday, April 29. Category winners will be announced in real time, and Minnesota screenwriter and justice advocate Alexs Pate honored with the '21 Kay Sexton Award. A mix of pre-packaged videos celebrating books and book-lovers in Minnesota will round out this memorable evening in the virtual space.

(Waiting on a formal invite? Well,
 here you go!)

Attending is free, but you must register.
 Click here to do so, and to read up on the 36 outstanding finalists across all nine genre categories.

The Next Chapter in Used Book Sales - Recap, Recording

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Thanks to the more than 120 of you who turned out in real time for “The Next Chapter in Used Book Sales.” Attendees hailed from Caledonia to Crookston, and from Marshall to Mountain Iron – a true testament to the distance-bridging power of webinars!

Our featured speakers, too, represented a nice cross-section of Minnesota. We heard from Susi McCune in tiny Isanti, who has overseen the local book sale’s move to a special, spacious location: the town bowling alley! On the opposite end of the size spectrum, Susan Miller and her Friends colleagues in suburban Ramsey County have pioneered new, sustainable ways of organizing curbside used book sales perfect for this age of social distancing.

Meanwhile in Moorhead, Karen Jacowitz is reselling higher value materials through a special consignment arrangement with an out-of-town book vendor, and exploring the viability of a brick-and-mortar storefront in the local mall. Rounding out our list, Brooke Barsness from Fergus Falls overviewed her group’s reconceptualization of the standard book sale as a series of silent auctions.

Is that enough to leave you intrigued? You can now watch “The Next Chapter in Used Book Sales” in full
 on our YouTube. For a limited time, supporting documents are also available on our website.

2020 Standout Friends Featurette #5: Grand Rapids

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For the Friends of Grand Rapids Area Library, leader Bonnie Gelle is not just instrumental. She is foundational. Her name can be found front and center in the group’s 1985 incorporation papers.  

In those early years, Bonnie put together Grand Rapids’ first book sales in the modest basement of the community’s old Carnegie Library. (Nowadays, COVID notwithstanding, that sale is a summer bonanza that spans three days.)  

Bonnie was also present when Itasca Community Television opened its first studio at Itasca Community College. For years, she partnered with a TV crew to broadcast story times – a popular supplement to the public library’s children’s programming. (At present, the children’s department in Grand Rapids is the busiest outside of Duluth in the Arrowhead region, and the Friends’ commitment to the library’s efforts continues apace.)
 
“Over the years, Bonnie has also served as secretary and president,” explained group treasurer Susan Hayes. “If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she served as president ‘way too many years’ - but you will not find a Friend among us who agrees with her on that one!”


Who is your Bonnie Gelle?

Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, it also gave volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

With these standout individuals in mind, MALF is pleased to renew Stand Up for Standout Friends for its 6th consecutive year! 
Click here to learn how to nominate a peer for this recognition. Each and every MALF member organization is invited to put one name forward for 2021!

Introducing "Friends 101"

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Self-promotion and volunteer recruitment are two perennial challenges for Friends. Knowing this, MALF is excited to share a little something to boost your “elevator pitch.”

Background: Earlier this year, in partnership with the Library and Information Science program at St. Catherine University, MALF crafted a 20-minute “Friends 101” video for inclusion in the institution’s LIS master’s degree curriculum. Topics included:

  • Who are Friends, exactly?
  • What do Friends do? What can’t they do?
  • What are commonplace Friends fundraisers?
  • Where does an umbrella organization like MALF come in?

Naturally, librarian trainees are not the only people who stand to benefit from this primer. So, we’ve just *recut* that video for use with a wider of audiences and situations. View/download it here, and use however you see fit!

Minnesota Book Awards: Gala Registration, Call for Selfies

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The more things change, the more they stay the same:

While the pandemic has forced the Minnesota Book Awards online for the second year running, this linchpin program is holding strong. Registration is now open for the culminating announcement ceremony on Thursday, April 29. It is free to “attend.”


Click here to register. Click here to read up on the 36 finalist authors and titles in each of nine literary categories.

As one upshot to the online format, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (organizers of the Minnesota Book Awards) are pursuing new and creative participatory opportunities for book lovers. Among these is a call for “bookish selfies.” From their website:

"We’re asking readers from every corner of Minnesota to show us their love of reading – and their state. It’s easy: take a selfie with a book you love in a place you love. Any book. Any place. (Let’s see some Minnesota landmarks, people)! Then share it on social media with #mnbookawards for the chance to be featured during this year’s virtual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony!"

Visit thefriends.org/selfie for more details.

RaiseMN Campaign Institute Offers Fundraising Assistance

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In a recent survey of Minnesota nonprofits, GiveMN determined that only 30 percent are confident in their fundraising knowledge and current strategies. Charities serving Greater Minnesota feel at a particular disadvantage in this regard. As one means of bridging the gap, GiveMN has created the RaiseMN Campaign Institute.  

Funded with support from the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, RaiseMN is a six-month fundraising training regimen for small- and medium-sized nonprofits (defined as ≤$2 million a year in revenue). Participating organizations will be paired with a seasoned professional as their personal fundraiser coach, enjoy a variety of cohort learning and networking opportunities, and come away with custom, actionable fundraising strategies.

Friends of the Library organizations and other eligible nonprofits must be based outside the Twin Cities, currently conduct at least one fundraising activity per annum, and have board members or other internal stakeholders ready to invest time and energy in the RaiseMN Campaign Institute curriculum.


Click here to learn more, and to access the application form. Submit your candidacy by Friday, April 2. Direct any questions you may have to raisemn@givemn.org.

Online Learning Opportunities Galore!

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We’re all eagerly awaiting the return of in-person workshops, author talks, and other events. However, there’s been one upshot to the pandemic. With trainings, fundraisers, and other programming migrating online out of necessity, it has suddenly become time and cost effective to indulge in a variety of opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. MALF has flagged a few upcoming programs that might be of special interest to Friends.

Webinar: Retraining Volunteers Amid Uncertainty (March 11)
Even before COVID-19 reared its head, nonprofits of all stripes reported a shared and worrying trend. Finding long-term volunteers (and would-be leaders) is harder than it used to be. With the pandemic now causing so much uncertainty, recruiting and retaining dedicated volunteers has become an even bigger challenge.

This upcoming Thursday, March 11 (1 p.m. CT), Sterling Volunteers and VQ Volunteer Strategies are offering a FREE webinar on this important topic.
 Click here to learn more – and here to jump straight to registration for “Retraining Volunteers Amid Uncertainty: Converting One-Timers to Repeat Volunteers.”

Showcase: Penguin Random House Book Festival (April 6)
Penguin Random House is teaming up with Library Journal to celebrate 2021 National Library Week in a new and exciting way. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 6, when librarians, Friends and other book lovers are invited to gather together (virtually, of course) for a day-long celebration of the written word. PRH will showcase current and upcoming release from its impressive stable of imprints, including Knopf, Doubleday, Pantheon, Vintage, Putnam, Riverhead and Ballantine. Whether you are interested in mysteries, memoirs, or a mix of everything, the inaugural Penguin Random House Book Festival is sure to leave you with a long “must read” list!

Click here to reserve your spot, and to learn more about free e-galley book opportunities, prize giveaways, and other fun festival tie-ins!

Conference: ALA Annual Exhibition (June 23-29)
Every summer, the American Library Association holds a national convention in a major city. In a normal year, registration and travel costs preclude Friends of the Library from attending this mega event, which is dominated by librarians and other field practitioners. For the June 23-29, 2021 conference, organizers are moving the whole affair online.

As with every ALA Annual Exhibition itinerary, this one will be chock-full of high profile author presentations, can’t-miss keynotes, and hundreds of educational programs covering nearly every aspect of librarianship. Tickets are reasonable, starting at $69. On the fence? 
Visit their website, or follow conference developments on Twitter (@ALAConferences, #alaac21). Don’t wait too long, though; early bird rates all expire April 16!

2020 'Stand Up for Standout Friend' Spotlight #4: Cook

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Auctions built around themed gift baskets are a common Friends fundraising strategy. In general, they are favored by charities in communities with a strong commercial sector. This makes sense. After all, the majority of the donated baskets come from local businesses. However, the tiny town of Cook, Minnesota (pop. 570) is something of an exception to that rule – and Standout Friend Linda Kronholm is a chief reason why.

Kronholm is a driving force behind the Friends of the Cook Public Library’s annual Holiday Basket Fundraiser. Contrary to what the name would suggest, planning for this lucrative event is a year-round commitment, and one that Linda tackles with an alacrity that would put Santa himself to shame!

In addition to scouting donations, FOL president Kathy Sacchetti reports that Kronholm plays point on the “decking out” of the library as a winter wonderland, and coordinates many of the logistics associated with a holiday tea that the Friends run in conjunction with the auction. (For a town of Cook’s size, it really is a community happening!)

In truth, Kronholm’s leadership role with the Holiday Basket Fundraiser is just one of many ways in which this long-serving board member and group vice president contributes to the success of the Cook Public Library. “This is demonstrated daily by her frequent emails and attendance at nearly all library functions!” explained Sacchetti.

Call For Panelists: Forthcoming Book Sale Webinar

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, this past year’s limitations on travel and social activities have had an indirect impact on another favorite pastime: leisure-time reading. More people are reading – and on the whole, readers are reading more. In contrast to that marked uptick, it is a slow and confused time for that most tried-and-true Friends of the Library fundraiser: used book sales.

With accruing inventories and “pent up demand” on the one hand, but safety considerations like building occupancy rules on the other, how are Friends managing today? This question will be the crux of MALF’s next free webinar.

Unlike recent installments, this next program will be a panel discussion – and speaker slots are still available! If your group has insights and replicable ideas to share on the topics of online book sales, flash sales, or other book-based fundraising alternatives, MALF would love to showcase your stories. Email
 info@mnlibraryfriends.org to learn more!

MALF's COVID-19 Grant Program Returns For 2021

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It would be a futile exercise (not to mention a depressing one) to try and list out the many ways that the pandemic has adversely impacted Minnesota’s libraries. Suffice it to say, COVID-19 has upended normal for each and every one. Fortunately for many, the stalwart support of local Friends of the Library helped somewhat to “blunt the blow” in 2020. 

Last year, MALF encouraged and empowered Friends to redouble their support by piloting a new grant initiative: the aptly named COVID-19 Grant Response Program. In all, 15 member organizations received thousands of dollars to fill fundraising shortfalls or offset important expenses that the Friends’ coffers could not otherwise cover.

With coronavirus still a defining characteristic of our daily lives, MALF is pleased to announce the renewal of this popular grant program for 2021! Between now and Friday, April 30, MALF invites member Friends groups to put their names forward for one of ten $400 mini-grants.

This program is, by design, broad and responsive in nature. A wide array of purchases and priorities are qualified for consideration, so long as you can demonstrate value for your library and, by extension, its patrons. See the form for eligibility and applications requirements. (We promise they are mercifully few!) Note: Organizations who received financial assistance from MALF in 2020, as part of this or any other grant initiative, are eligible to (re)apply.

In early May, MALF’s awards committee will randomly draw the ten winners from a pool of all fully eligible requests. All applicants will be notified of outcomes around this time.  

Interested in applying, but unsure how to most effectively deploy $400? We recommend asking with your library’s leadership team! You can also peruse
 MALF’s blog for featurettes on all the 2020 award recipients, which is sure to give you ideas.

April 4-10 Marks National Library Week

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The American Library Association has announced the 2021 dates for National Library Week. Mark your calendars for April 4-10!

As the name suggests, the raison d'être of National Library Week is to spotlight the mission and achievements of our libraries. There is no one right way to celebrate. ALA recommends customizing the opportunity to the circumstances and needs of your library.

In years past, Friends have leaned on National Library Week as the framework for successful public advocacy and funding initiatives, major membership drives, and substantial capital campaign fundraising efforts. Visit the ALA website for ideas, case studies, and a “library” of usable templates.
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“Welcome to Your Library” is the theme of the 63rd(!) year of National Library Week. ALA selected it to promote the idea that, in practice, library service extends well beyond the four walls of a building. That’s not a new concept, but in light of COVID closures and continued restrictions, the message is particularly timely!


If you decide to conduct a program or project around National Library Week, be sure to keep it in mind for the 2021 cycle of MALF’s own Evy Nordley Award!

MALF Welcomes 2021 'Standout Friends' Nominations

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Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, there was also something of a silver lining to a year defined by COVID-19 and all that flowed from it. It gave staff and volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

MALF is eager to recognize individual Friends of the Library who went “above and beyond” in service to their group and its library in 2020. As means to that end, we are pleased to bring back our popular Stand Up for Standout Friends program for its 6th consecutive year.

What are ‘standout’ qualities? In short, it is up to you! Some acknowledge a current or former board member for their contributions in a leadership role. Others 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. Note: You do NOT need to focus your nomination around 2020 and COVID-19. It’s just one new avenue to consider.

Perks include a matted certificate from MALF, commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown, inclusion in a special video tribute [
example], and a written featurette in an upcoming MALF e-newsletter. (Speaking of: Read on to learn a bit about the next in our line of 2020 award recipients.)

Click here for details about the recognition program, including eligibility requirements and a 2021 application form. Pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom. Note also that MALF now requests photo(s) of all candidates. Please submit your nomination to info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 6.

MALF Welcomes 2021 'Standout Friends' Nominations

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

Last year brought a daunting array of challenges for libraries and their support organizations. However, there was also something of a silver lining to a year defined by COVID-19 and its fallout. It gave staff and volunteers new opportunities to showcase their ingenuity, dedication, and service ethos.

MALF is eager to recognize individual Friends of the Library who went “above and beyond” in service to their group and its library in 2020. As means to that end, we are pleased to bring back our popular Stand Up for Standout Friends program for its 6th consecutive year.

What are ‘standout’ qualities? In short, it is up to you! Some may acknowledge a current or former board member for their contributions in a leadership role. Others 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. Note: You do NOT need to focus your nomination around 2020 and COVID-19. It’s just one new avenue to consider.

Perks include a matted certificate from MALF, commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown, inclusion in a special video tribute [
example], and a written featurette in an upcoming MALF e-newsletter. (Speaking of: Read on to learn a bit about the next in our line of 2020 award recipients.)

Click here for details about the recognition program, including eligibility requirements and a 2021 application form. Pay mind to the acknowledgement checkboxes at the bottom. Note also that MALF now requests photo(s) of all candidates. Please submit your nomination to info@mnlibraryfriends.org by Friday, August 6.

2021 Evy Nordley Award Materials Now Available

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Last year brought monumental challenges for libraries and their Friends. As a silver lining, though, it afforded Friends of the Library an unprecedented opportunity to showcase their creativity and perseverance.

MALF cannot wait to showcase what you managed to learn and accomplish in 2020. Our long-running Evy Nordley Award for Best Project offers a perfect mechanism to do just that.

“Project” is an intentionally broad term. Any Friends-supported project is eligible, provided that (1) project implementation began after January 1, 2020; 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.)

Common project types are special events, successful fundraisers, membership drives, and advocacy campaigns – but the sky is the limit! In a year defined by COVID-19 and long library closures, MALF full expects and absolutely encourages unconventional entries.

Click here for more details, including early access to the application form. Submission deadline is end of day 
Friday, July 9.

ALA 'Libraries Transform Communities' Engagement Grant

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transform.jpgWhile we’re in a “grants” frame of mind, spare a minute for the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant. The mission of this popular annual initiative is to recognize and support libraries’ ability to act as a community nexus and catalyst for change.

That is a broad mandate, to be sure. For this reason, each year’s program spotlights a specific theme. This year, that theme is is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) – with a specific focus on anti-racism. Per ALA, competitive applicants will have “a demonstrated commitment to anti-racism work,” and a clear roadmap for using $2,000 to enhance the library's community engagement around this important and timely topic.

Visit the program’s web page for an extensive FAQ - as well as basic ideas on ‘in scope’ collaborations and programs to spark your thinking. The firm application cutoff is Friday, February 5.

New Programming Grant - Peggy Barber Tribute Grant

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peggy.jpgLooking for seed money to kickstart your next Evy Nordley Award contender? Take a look at the American Library Association’s newest assistance program.

Named after the ALA leader who masterminded such programs as National Library Week and the juggernaut Celebrity READ series, the new Peggy Barber Tribute Grant will award $2,500 to three eligible libraries to support their own programming efforts. For this inaugural cycle, ALA's Cultural Communities Fund is specifically inviting proposals centered around humanities programming – a personal passion of Barber’s.

Public, academic, K-12 and special libraries are all eligible for consideration, as are Friends partnerships. Applicants must hold membership in ALA or one of its divisions, either at the institutional or personal level.

Strong preference will be given to libraries that can demonstrate an acute need and general track record of under-funded programming. Additional guidelines are available here. Be prepared to submit your proposal (online only) by Friday, February 5. Click here to do so.