NEW: ALA State Legislative Toolkit

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Posted by jim

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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Posted by jim

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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Posted by jim

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.