2021 Evy Nordley Spotlight #2: Detroit Lakes

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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

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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Posted by jim under Grants & Awards

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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Posted by jim under Awards

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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Posted by jim under Programming, Education

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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Posted by jim under Programming, Events

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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Posted by jim under Programming, Saturday Splash

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.