MLA Library Staff Survey + Conference Registration

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Posted by jim under Events, Programming

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.

“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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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

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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Posted by jim under Webinars, Programming

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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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

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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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

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.