MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

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

Posted by jim on March 1, 2021

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

Posted by jim on February 23, 2021

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

Posted by jim on February 4, 2021

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.
.
“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

Posted by jim on February 2, 2021

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

Posted by jim on January 22, 2021

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

Posted by jim on January 9, 2021

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.

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.

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