'I Love My Librarian' Award Invites 2022-23 Nominations

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Speaking of library love, the recent work in Ramsey County offers an excellent segue to our next piece of news: the 2023 I Love My Librarian Award. This annual, national honor is intended to honor “librarians who have made a difference in your life or gone above and beyond to serve your community.”

Each year, up to 10 librarians will be honored with a $5,000 cash prize and special ceremony held in their honor.

Unlike many industry awards, which are selective about applicant criteria, eligible candidates for the I Love My Librarian Award include employees of public, school, college, tribal or university libraries. Furthermore, anyone can put forward a nominee!

Since its inception in 2008 as a collaboration between the American Library Association and New York Public Library, the I Love My Librarian program has honored 140 exceptional public servants hailing from all across the country. However, not a single Minnesotan has entered into this hall of fame to date. Could this be the year that changes?  

Click here to learn more about the I Love My Librarian Award. Be sure to submit your candidate no later than Friday, September 30.


Mark Your Calendars For 'Saturday Splash'!

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We hope that you are savoring these last precious weeks of Minnesota summer. When we inevitably begin that slow slide towards darker and colder days, it’s nice to have a few fall highlights to look forward to. If you’re a Friend of the Library, MALF thinks we have exactly that in Saturday Splash 2022.

Saturday Splash is MALF’s annual mini-conference – a morning of content curated by, for and about Friends of the Library. Itinerary will include a splash of this, and a splash of that (thus the name); but as connective tissue, every program module will celebrate Friends work or offer learning opportunities to further that work.

We’ll convene on Zoom the morning of Saturday, September 24 – along with featured guest and event emcee Kate DiCamillo! Mark your calendars and click here to reserve your FREE spot.

Refer to our website or previous e-newsletter (here) for full details, including a glimpse at run of show and why two-time Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo is the perfect emcee for this particular conference.

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 35th year (2022-23). 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 28 and Saturday, March 11, 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 9.

Reminder: Stand Up for Standout Friends 2022

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Since our last e-newsletter just two weeks ago, Friends of the Library have bankrolled a space camp scholarship fund, kickstarted a first-of-its-kind manga book club, and even coordinated puppetry workshops. Those are just a few especially colorful examples of the many initiatives Friends are responsible for, but enough to show that there is simply no pigeonholing what volunteers can do in support of their library.

In recognition and celebration of that fact, MALF proudly hosts our annual Stand Up for Standout Friends recognition program. Now in its seventh year, this initiative has proven one of our association’s most popular membership perks.

Each member group can submit one name per year. Whether you’ve nominated someone every cycle to date, or are new to the fold, we want to hear from you! 

Perks include: a matted certificate of recognition from MALF; signed and personalized book from a chart-topping Minnesota author (details TBA); commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown; and inclusion in a special video tribute that will be shared with libraries and their supporters across the state.

Click here to access the nomination form, and visit our website for more details. Remember to submit the e-form and supporting materials to MALF by Friday, July 22.

MLA Conference Proposals Due June 11

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Oscar Wilde once quipped: “You know more than you think you know – just as you know less than you want to know.” That witticism offers not one but two compelling reasons to attend the annual Minnesota Library Association conference, scheduled this year for October 27-28 at the DECC in Duluth.

In that spirit of ‘you know more than you think you know,’ MLA encourages you to consider submitting a conference presentation proposal of your own. In their words, “the conference is a wonderful opportunity to share and discuss your new ideas and best practices, challenges faced and lessons learned, future directions and past successes, and more.”

Sessions are an approachable 50 minutes in length, and can be conducted solo or as part of a small group.
 Click here to learn more. Note that the application deadline is coming up fast: Saturday, June 11. All applicants will be notified of outcomes by Thursday, July 14.

(What about that ‘you know less than you want to know’ part of the Wilde quote? Attend the conference as an attendee, of course! Sign up for the MLA Roundup to learn when tickets go on sale.)

Summer Webinar: "Living in Challenging Times: Book Banning Then and Now"

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“According to not-for-profit watchdogs, public libraries grappled with “an unprecedented” 1,500+ book challenges in 2021. That’s on top of the nearly 2,900 school districts that banned at least one book from their collections between July 2021 and March 2022. The trend is receiving national attention, and the issue even received top billing in ALA’s recent State of America’s Libraries Report (2022).

What’s the difference between a challenged and a banned book – and more to the point, why are they dominating our headlines? Is there any precedent for it? Above all, what can Friends do to help their libraries navigate this climate?

Register-Now-Button-Large.pngMALF’s summer webinar, "Living in Challenging Times: Book Banning Then and Now" will tackle these timely questions. Join Sheila DeChantal (president, Friends of the Brainerd Public Library) and Laurel Hall (branch manager, Brainerd Public Library) over the lunch hour on Tuesday, June 21 [12:00-1:30 CDT] for this informative, nonpartisan stroll through the long history of banned books.

We’ll follow the trend right up to the present day. Sheila and Laurel will discuss proactive and reactive measures that Friends can take to support their library in the face of a book challenge.

There will also be ample time for audience Q&A. While you can always share questions during the webinar, we encourage you to pre-submit when registering.

Speaking of, while “Living in Challenging Times” is free to attend, we ask you to register [HERE] on or before Friday, June 17. Registrants will be automatically entered into a drawing to receive one of several great reads (think: banned books) courtesy of the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library!

Webinar Recap: 'Marketing Tune-Up Clinic'

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Marketing is a multi-faceted and sometimes daunting prospect, but it’s an area of operations that no nonprofit can afford to neglect.

Kathy Dempsey, the nationally acclaimed Accidental Library Marketer, joined us earlier this month for a “low stress, high yield” marketing tune-up clinic. Topics of special note included branding, the design and strategic use of print collateral, and how best to partner with one’s library on overarching marketing efforts.

If you missed the webinar, don’t worry. The full 90-minute program is available for replay on our YouTube channel. Moreover, our speaker graciously left all attendees with a handout of suggested readings. If you would like a copy of this handout and the presentation slide deck, simply email our office a
t info@mnlibraryfriends.org.

Minnesota Book Awards Are NEXT TUESDAY!

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Authors and book-lovers from all across the state will congregate at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts next Tuesday, April 26 for the annual Minnesota Book Awards. Limited seats are still available at the bargain price of $22/per.

Don’t want to trek out to Saint Paul on a weekday? You can also be in communion with fellow bibliophiles from the comfort of your own home - courtesy of a FREE livestream option. Click here for registration details.

Last but not least, whet your appetite before Tuesday by watching nine “Meet the Finalists” panel recordings featuring more than 40 area authors writing in the Book Awards genres of: Children’s Literature; General Nonfiction; Genre Fiction; Memoir & Creative Nonfiction; Middle Grade Literature; Minnesota Nonfiction; Novel & Short Story; Poetry; and Young Adult Literature.

'Stand Up for Standout Friends' Returns For 2022

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In some circles, Friends of the Library is seen as a near-synonym for used book sale. While it is true that Friends offer the best book bargains around, our contributions to library work these days are much more diverse, creative, and crucial than the outdated stereotype suggests.

Last year alone, Friends across Minnesota: co-hosted vaccination clinics, constructed clever and harrowing “escape rooms,” built and manned parade floats, provided gratis janitorial support, funded countless take-and-make craft kits –– and that’s just a start. There is simply no pigeonholing Friends of the Library work as it looks in 2022.

In recognition and celebration of that fact, MALF proudly hosts an annual Stand Up for Standout Friends recognition program. Now in its seventh year, this initiative has proven one of our most popular membership perks.

Each member group can submit one name per year. Whether you’ve nominated someone every cycle to date, or are new to the fold, we want to hear from you! 

You may be asking yourself, what exactly are ‘standout’ qualities? In short, it is up to you! Some group may wish to acknowledge a current or former board member or other executive for their contributions in a leadership role. Others may choose to honor a Friend who has been with their organization since its founding. 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.

Perks include: a matted certificate of recognition from MALF; signed and personalized book from a chart-topping Minnesota author (details TBA); commendation letter to the mayor and county commissioner in each recipient’s hometown; and inclusion in a special video tribute that will be shared with libraries and their supporters across the state.

Click here to access the nomination form, and visit our website for more details. Remember to submit the e-form and supporting materials to MALF by 
Friday, July 22.

Register Today For MALF’s Friends Marketing Tune-Up Clinic

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“Marketing” may be one of the most misunderstood words and concepts in the English language. High on the list of misconceptions is that marketing is all about sales when, in fact, it’s actually about service. Phrased another way: Marking is about finding out what potential users want – then telling them that you can provide it for them.

34-347394_clip-art-marketing-icon-drip-room-hd-png.pngNonprofits disregard marketing at their peril. Every organization markets, regardless of mission and activities, and whether leaders realize it or not. Your logo, your website, and your brand’s reputation all relate to marketing, so it’s smart to be strategic about them.

When seen through this broader “lens,” it becomes abundantly clear that no library or Friends group can afford to be lax with its marketing efforts! With that in mind, we hope you will join MALF on Wednesday, April 6 (12:00-1:30 p.m. Central) for a special “Friends Marketing Tune-Up Clinic.” Our first webinar of 2022 will be led by Kathy Dempsey, the self-proclaimed Accidental Library Marketer and an acknowledged expert in the field.

KDempsey-search-engine-shirt-1024x768.jpgAbout the Speaker. Among other bona fides, Dempsey is the editor of Marketing Library Services – a post she has held for 28 years and counting. Published by Information Today, MLS is the longest running publication of its kind, delivering cases studies and how-to articles for professional and accidental marketers in all types of library settings. In 2005, Dempsey parlayed her hard-won experience into a specialized consulting firm, Libraries Are Essential.

Library practitioners may know her best as the pen behind The Accidental Library Marketer, a book-length crash course primed to “put you on the fast track and avoid the pitfalls that ensnare marketing amateurs” (according to the book’s foreword).

About the Webinar. MALF conceptualized this first-ever Friends Marketing Tune-Up Clinic in  direct response to questions and requests we regularly field from Friends of the Library. Groups in Minnesota are at different stages in their own marketing journeys – and some may not even be consciously on one – but several interrelated concerns consistently rise to the fore.

Dempsey will address those areas and more on April 6. Click here to reserve your spot – and to pre-submit your own queries for the speaker’s consideration. Be sure to RSVP before Monday, April 4.

National Library Week Runs April 3-9

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April brings with it one of the best opportunities all year round to celebrate and promote our public libraries. National Library Week, coordinated by the American Library Association, runs April 3-9, 2022.

Appropriately enough, given the above news about the timely Emergency Connectivity Fund, this year’s theme is “Connect With Your Library.” Among the myriad ways libraries are vital and valued today, they are a matchless nexus point for community connectivity – both inside and beyond the building’s four walls.

ALA has helpfully provided an online primer on ways that Friends, staff and other library boosters can make the most of National Library Week. Read it here. Remember, something is better than nothing. A well-timed social media campaign or well-placed op ed letter can really make an impact!

Direct any questions you may have on National Library Week to ALA at campaign@ala.org. (If you’re a planner, you might also want to mark your calendar for next year’s dates, as well: April 23-29, 2023.)

Funding Opportunity: ARPA Technology & Connectivity Grants

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According to the state's Office of Broadband Development, 91.8 percent of Minnesota households have access to wireline broadband service. While high as a national average, that statistic also underscores how pervasive the “digital divide” remains in Minnesota. Courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), our libraries today have an historic opportunity to take a big step towards closing that remaining gap!

ARPA-square.jpgAmong many other priorities, ARPA is providing a one-time boost to public institutions eligible for the FCC’s e-rate program. This includes public libraries. Through the so-called Emergency Connectivity Fund (“ECF”), libraries can receive no-match-needed funding to cover full costs for mobile hotspots, modems, routers, laptops, tablets, and other technology to bridge the digital divide.

Please make your library aware of this special reimbursement opportunity, as well as the so-called EFC Solutions Toolkit recently released by the American Library Association to assist in the application process. (As public charities, Friends of the Library themselves cannot apply. However, volunteers may lend behind-the-scenes support. See the EFC Solutions Toolkit for examples.)

Applications for this round of support will be accepted starting in April, with a firm deadline of Friday, May 13.

4-H STEM Challenge: Galactic Quest

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Most libraries today strive to include STEM activities among their children’s programming. As with so many things, though, this is easier said than done. It is often difficult to find creative, fresh – and above all, affordable – ideas for science and technology programs. If this describes you, be sure to check out the 4-H Club's annual STEM Challenge.

This year's four-activity kit, Galactic Quest, is "focused on the mysteries and adventures of space exploration." (Read more about contents and learning objectives here
.) Family kits, which include materials for 1-4 builders, are normally $19.95. Educator kits, which include materials for 10-12 participants, are typically $32.95.

While supplies last, though, the Public Library Association is currently donating a limited number of Galactic Quest kits to libraries. Applicants need only have membership in some chapter of the American Library Association (including United for Libraries, the association’s Friends of the Library arm).
 Click here to apply via GoogleForm.

2022 Minnesota Book Awards Finalists Announced

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Over the weekend, judges from across the state convened to select the finalist slates for the 34th annual Minnesota Book Awards. Click here to read up on the 36 books honored, which run the gamut from children’s literature, to poetry, to nonfiction on topics relating specifically to Minnesota.

While we’re on the subject: Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 26. For the first time since 2019, authors and readers will gather in person for the announcement and celebration of the winners. In addition to the program proper, this gala will include an “epilogue” reception with book sales and signings from your favorite authors.

Tickets for the spring Minnesota Book Awards gala at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts are now available for the low price of $22. Seats may sell out, so consider
 reserving yours today.

The Minnesota Book Awards are coordinated by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library in that organization’s special capacity as the Library of Congress designated Minnesota Center for the Book.

NEW: ALA State Legislative Toolkit

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The Minnesota Association of Library Friends – and support organizations like it across the country – routinely field questions about public advocacy and what it means for Friends of the Library.

Is it the same thing as lobbying? (Spoiler: It’s not.) Why is it important and how is it different at the federal, state and local levels? Who should take on public advocacy? How does a person even get started?

In answer to questions such as these, the American Library Association has just released its first-ever State Legislative Toolkit. Authored by its Public Policy and Advocacy Office, this primer offers guidance on “effectively navigating legislative sessions, responding to adverse bills, writing policies and position papers, and contacting outside help when necessary.”

You will find a free copy of the State Legislative Toolkit at

Little Free Library 'Impact Grant Program'

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Barely a decade ago, an enterprising Twin Cities book lover built the first Little Free Library. The grassroots initiative has since grown into a global phenomenon, and now boasts more than 75,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the United States alone.

Unfortunately, if unsurprisingly, these take-a-book, leave-a-book kiosks are concentrated in neighborhoods that already enjoy a strong reading culture. By contrast, under-resourced communities – those that stand to benefit most from no-cost reading resources – are far less likely to have Little Free Libraries or books with which to restock them.

In recognition of this disconnect, Little Free Libraries now maintains an Impact Library Grant Program. As the name suggests, this donor-funded initiative awards fully assembled Little Free Libraries to applicants who demonstrate special need and commit to maintaining the book exchange.

Think you fit the bill?
 Click here to learn more and to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested in bringing a Little Free Library to a community in need? Click here to donate to the Impact Library Grant Program yourself!

Standout Friends Spotlight: Cook, Edina

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Last fall, MALF honored the 2021 cohort of Standout Friends – one of our largest to date. Representing all corners of the state, these 14 volunteers are a credit to their individual communities and to Friends of the Library work generally. Next up on our list (#3-4):

Cook – Josh Olson
Cook Public Library has an unofficial mascot: the majestic moose. A moose statue can be found outside this small library in rural St. Louis County; a taxidermy moose graces the inside; and the animal can be found throughout branded materials. Credit for this last goes to Standout Friend and artist extraordinaire Josh Olson.

The Friends of Cook Public Library count on Josh to craft brochures and flyers for a host of occasions. Recent examples include their winter and summer reading programs, the library’s “quilt month,” a special fundraiser for new carpeting, and the Friends’ fun Cozy Mystery play series. For this last, Josh has also shown his thespian side and pitched in as a character actor. In a town of Cook’s size, the library really does depend on its Friends of the Library – and they, in turn, rely on Josh.

Edina – Connie Brekken
The Friends of Edina Community Library feel extraordinarily fortunate to count Connie Brekken among their leaders. Over the years, she has served with distinction as president – not just once, but over four consecutive terms. She has also taken a turn as both VP and Volunteer Coordinator.

Connie shares her passion and experience as a Friends leader with every onboarding board leader. In addition to these officer and mentor duties, this Standout Friend is an exemplary project manager, as well. Most recently, she shepherded a large Friends bequest earmarked for design and construction of a public art installation. Visitors to the Edina Community Library are now greeted by the photo-worthy "Bear and Bunny" sculptural bench in the front entry plaza.