Minnesota Association of Library Friends

National Library Legislative Day Update

Posted by admin on May 7, 2012


More than 300 library supporters from across the country descended on Washington, DC April 24 for 2012 National Library Legislative Day. A strong delegation – representing southeast, central, northwest and the metro areas --helped make the NLLD a success for Minnesota libraries.

We hit the high notes with legislators and legislative staff: The importance of LSTA – Library Services and Technology Act -- funding to Minnesota libraries and the important, innovative work libraries are doing in workforce development. Minnesota has recognized and formalized the strong relationship between libraries and workforce development: Marlene Moulton Janssen is the library representative to the Governor’s Workforce Development Council.
The delegation was led by Michael Scott, Southeastern Libraries Cooperating assistant director, and participants included Kathy Fredette, Barbara Misselt, Marlene Moulton Janssen,  Mollie Pherson and Carol Walsh, MALF president. (pictured above: Minnesota library delegation at the office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from left to right:Barbara Misselt; Kathy Fredette; Michael Scott; Elizabeth Frosch, legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; Carol Walsh; Marlene Moulton Janssen; and Mollie Pherson.)
Frends, save the date: National Library Legislative Day 2013 will be held May 6-7 at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, DC.


MALF President Carol Walsh will be among Minnesota participants --Michael Scott, Mollie Pherson, Marlene Moulton Janssen, Kathy Fredette, and Barbara Misselt – for National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C., April 23-24.

We’ll be telling our library stories to Sen. Al Franken and other staff members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation. Click here for key issues from ALA.
A pre-conference on Sunday, April 22 will include a welcome from Sally Reed, whom many of you know as the executive director of ALTAFF. We’ll also hear from Stephanie Vance, Advocacy Associates LLC on ‘Winning the Influence Game: 10 DC Insider Strategies for Making a Difference for Libraries.’ One highlight of her presentation: What staffers hate to hear the most. Should be terrific!

Save the Date for MALF's Statewide Workshops

Posted by jim on April 20, 2012


The Minnesota Association of Library Friends is pleased to present "Drafting the Blueprint: Strengthening Relationships Between Library Friends and the Community" a workshop series designed to help all in the library community (friends, advocates, staff and supporters) develop the tools they need to better support the library.



COST: $10

REGISTRATION: Open to all members of the community. Register here!

The workshop will be presented by Brenda Hough, nationally recognized library consultant and trainer, and Diana Weaver, Director of the Basehor (Kansas) Community Library. Each of the five workshops across the state will help participants draft a plan to better support their library in through the development of strong relationships in the community.

The workshops will take place across the state in July and August:

METRO: Saturday, July 21 at Brookdale Library

NORTHEAST:  Monday, July 23 at Grand Rapids Area Library

SOUTHEAST: Wednesday, July 25 at the SELCO office

NORTHWEST: Wednesday, August 22 at Perham Area Library

SOUTHWEST: Friday, August 24 at Redwood Falls Public Library


Here is an idea of what the workshop will cover to help you become a better library friend, trustee, staff person or just an involved community member:

What's your Advocacy Goal?
Each workshop participant should arrive with an advocacy goal. We will discuss these goals and work with the presenters to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely)

Public Perceptions
We will discuss recent research related to public perceptions of the library and how the research can help inform their plans for achieving their advocacy goals. The research includes some very surprising findings that will give participants an edge in understanding the role of the library in the community.

Telling the Library's Story
Each participant will work on their own "parking lot speech." Who is your target audience? What types of messages are effective with those audiences? Participants will work with the presenters to hone their presentation skills and set goals using tools provided.

Building Relationships
Strong partnerships and community relationships are important and can help the library achieve its advocacy goals. Each participant will brainstorm about existing and potential partnerships they could form in their community.

Planning for Action
Each participant will develop a plan for achieving his or her advocacy goal, along with an outline with next steps and key milestones for the project.

Each workshop takes place from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm with a break for lunch. Advanced registration is $10 for Library Friends Members and includes lunch. Register now!



Brenda Hough is a library consultant and trainer. She currently works for the Northeast Kansas Library System, teaches adjunct courses for Empria State University, and is a trainer in the Public Library Association's Turning the Page 2.0 Online Advocacy course. Her past experience includes working with the Lake Agassiz Regional Library, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WebJunction, and TechSoup for Libraries.

Diana Weaver is the Director of the Basehor (Kansas) Community Library, where she has been recognized for her innovative approaches to both advocacy and e-content. She receiveed her Masters in Library Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has been involved with libraries for over 40 years in various capacities including Friend, Trustee, and library user.

Learn to convene and moderate community discussions in four free monthly online workshops presented through with support from the ALA Cultural Communities Fund.



The nationally available workshops - a four-part series - are underway as free webinars, and explain how libraries, Friends of the Library, and other partners can support and host a community forum.

Nancy Kranich, Rutgers University Special Projects Librarian and School of Communication and Information Lecturer, will conduct the series.

The Web sessions, which will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. CST March 27, April 24 and May 22, must be signed up for separately

Part one of the series, which occurred February 28, is available in's archive here under the title Getting Started: An Introduction to Convening Forums @ your library


Session Topics

(Taken from

Moderating Forums @ your library, Part 1--Nuts and Bolts

Tuesday, March 27

This session will cover what is involved in moderating a public deliberative forum in the library--how moderating is different from facilitating; how to promote deliberation; how to stay neutral but help people consider diverse perspectives; how to keep track of time and use an issue framework to help the group deliberate; and how to work with a forum recorder.

Click here to register


Moderating Forums @ your library, Part 2—Step-by-Step

Tuesday, April 24

This session will continue webinar #2--how to moderate and/or
record a public deliberative forum at the library; a step-by-step guide to making a deliberative forum work, from introducing the issue and participants and showing the video, to deliberating about approaches and finding common ground; and ideas about how to gain practice moderating discussions. 

Click here to register


Convening Forums @ your library--Nuts and Bolts

Tuesday, May 22

This session will cover the logistics and choices involved in planning to
hold a forum--choosing the issue topic; setting the date; preparing
the room and equipment; publicity; assigning moderators and recorders; participant registration; following up after the forum; and preparing issue-related resources for forum participants.

Click here to register

Advocacy: seven questions with Peter Pearson

Posted by jim on February 24, 2012


Peter Pearson is president of The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Through extensive advocacy efforts, friends advocates were able to restore

$376,000 to the libarary's 2012 budget. Read about it here.


What is Advocacy?
There are actually several different forms of advocacy.  Advocacy can be as simple as talking to your friends and neighbors about the importance of the library. An advocate for the library can is someone who understands the importance of the library in the community and wants others to know about it.  

Beyond that level is, what I would call “political advocacy,” one of the more advanced levels of advocacy. It’s the same type of thing. It’s talking about the importance of libraries in the community but instead of talking to friends and neighbors, it’s talking to your elected officials at the local level about the library’s importance.  With that, you would probably bring a message of the importance of supporting the library’s budget.


What does Advocacy mean for library friends groups?
I think Friends groups can participate in all levels of advocacy. It’s important to know that not everyone from a friends group has to feel comfortable talking to their elected officials.  You may have a Friends group where some people are only comfortable talking to their friends and neighbors, but others want to take it to the next level and go to elected officials.  

We need to encourage Friends to be comfortable with the type of advocacy that fits them and not assume that everyone is going to be comfortable doing “political advocacy” because building support for libraries through individuals is just as important. We want everyone in the library to become a library “fan” in a sense.  For library Friends groups, the meaning of Advocacy can go across that whole spectrum.

Who makes a good library advocate?
When it comes to being a “political advocate,” one of the things you need to remember is that library staff do not make good advocates. Our elected officials are going to assume that anyone who works for the library has a vested interest in the library receiving good funding.  Therefore, they would be less likely to listen to those individuals.  

So, if the library director came to the mayor or city council members and said, “I really need more money for the library.”  The response would likely be, “Well, of course you are going to say that, you’re the library director.”  

A good library advocate is someone who has nothing to gain from the library having a bigger budget to provide better services.  It’s people in the community who know the importance of libraries.  It could be business leaders or people  who are known and well respected by the elected officials; when they speak, others listen to them.  Also, of course, there are people who are just very passionate about the library; people who are regular users and understand the need for libraries can make great library advocates.

How much of Advocacy is lobbying?
Very little of advocacy actually ends up being a discussion with an elected official. Much of what we do in advocacy is to prepare messages. We prepare a platform of ideas and funding initiatives to which you want elected officials to look and respond. A lot of that comes in meetings with the library director, gathering information about community needs and discussing with other people interested in advocacy.  

Maybe five percent of your time is spent actually going to an elected official and presenting that information. So, if someone says “political advocacy” scares him or her, I would say a great approach is to be a part of the initial advocacy piece, which is tp prepare messages. Let others who are more comfortable going to the meetings do that part.

What separates a good advocacy campaign from a great one?
A great advocacy campaign, first of all, is going to be developed around community needs.  We don’t want to go to elected officials and say, “The library needs more money.”  We want to go to the elected officials and say, “Our citizens need the library to be open more hours because they’re using it for such extensive purposes as jobs search, early literacy  programs, homework help centers, etc.”  Making the case from the citizens’ perspective is extremely important.

Another piece that would set apart a great advocacy campaign is one that is able to refine its messages very clearly.  I think the last thing we want to do with an elected official is give them a message such as, “Please raise the library’s budget.”  Instead, we should go to them with a message of, “Please increase the library’s book budget by $25,000 because there is a huge need for materials, circulation has increased 10 percent in the last year.”  So, being specific with the message, I think, is a very critical part to the campaign.

Third, it’s always good if you can have highly visible people in the community be spokespersons in your advocacy campaign.  It’s very effective when business leaders and people influential in the community speak out.  When they speak, people really listen.

The final piece would be, if ever possible, to offer your community the enticement of matching funds for what you’re asking.  Your request  will always be listened to more closely.  For instance, if you were to tell the elected officials you’d like to see them add $25,000 to the library’s book budget and if they do, you and your friends group will add another $5,000 of private money.  That’s a hard request to turn down.

How is a good advocacy goal determined?
You really have to have good conversations with the library director.  This is where you’re going to have to take the key from him or her about what they think is needed.  I think in this day and age, every community is faced with very tight budget constraints. We’d be looked upon as foolish if we walked in to our elected officials and asked for a 50 percent increase in the library’s budget.  We know we can’t be ridiculous in our requests.  The library director, I think, can help determine a reasonable increase in the library’s materials budget, technology budget or hours.  Involving the library director in that conversation is the best way to determine what is a good goal.

What resources are necessary for a good advocacy campaign?
This is the best part about advocacy: it’s really inexpensive.  Our organization does an extensive, year-round advocacy campaign in St. Paul, and yet we spend hardly any money because most of the effort is volunteer time.  We have a volunteer committee, with volunteer chairs, and we have a small printing budget so that we are able to print copies of what it is we’re requesting from officials.  

These days you can’t even buy your elected officials a cup of coffee, so you can’t spend money on wining and dining them either.  So, truly the only cost is a minor printing budget for your advocacy piece and perhaps mailing costs, which would be very modest.  In addition, much can be sent through E-mail.  The best part about advocacy is its really inexpensive and you can get some really amazing results.

A statewide survey that reveals Minnesota’s support for public libraries

ublic-libraries.jpgThursday, February 23, 2012
St. Cloud Public Library
1300 West St. Germain Street St. Cloud, MN 56301
10 a.m. to Noon
Friday, February 24, 2012
Ramsey County Library — Roseville
2180 North Hamline Avenue Roseville, MN 55113
10 a.m. to Noon

Please join us to hear Jim Skurla, Director of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics Bureau of Business and Economic Research, present the findings of the Minnesota Public Libraries Return on Investment (ROI) report. Attendees will have two opportunities to hear the report findings — please feel free to attend one or both sessions listed below.
To register for this event, please visit by Tuesday, February 21, 2012 . Questions? Contact your regional library system.
The Return on Investment report was made possible with funds from the Arrowhead ROI grant from the IMLS, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership & a lifetime of learning, & State Library Services, the Minnesota state library agency, under the provisions of the Library Services & Technology Act.
Highlights of the presentation include the results of:
  • The total economic impact of library spending or expenditures
  • The total value of library services
  • The value of contributions Minnesotans are willing to make to continue the current level of library services
  • The dollar return on investment in public libraries, as funded


Hello, Library Friends,

Save the date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
Cost: Free for all Library Friends Members

carol-walsh-blog.jpgEach year the Minnesota Library Association – MLA -- and Minnesota Educational Media Association – MEMO -- the organization of school librarians, co-sponsor Library Legislative Day at the Capitol.

What goes on? Simply, we meet with legislators to advocate for the MLA platform, tell them about the important work libraries do in our cities and communities throughout Minnesota and, of course, thank them for their support.        

This year Library Legislative Day is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28. MLA/MEMO lobbyist Elaine Keefe will give a briefing about the platform (approved by MLA members at the MLA 2011 Annual Conference in Duluth) and the current political environment at 6 p.m., February 27 and again at 9 a.m., February 28. The two briefings (and you don’t need to attend both!) will be held at the Best Western Kelly Inn, 161 St. Anthony Avenue, St. Paul. Handouts on issues important to our libraries will be available for your reading and to have with you as you visit your legislators.

n-capitol.jpgPlease consider attending! If you have never participated in Library Legislative Day and are a little uncertain, please know that you won’t be visiting your legislator on your own. We can assist you with understanding the platform, introductions, and navigating your way through the buildings of the Capitol Complex.  

Given the current economic environment it has never been more important to show your support of libraries. If you’ve been following MALF on twitter, you’ve heard information in real-time about reductions in hours, cuts to programs, and loss of staff.

If you can’t attend, make sure that you know your legislators and contact them about the MLA platform.

Specific information about pre-registration for Library Legislative Day will be available soon.

See you at the Capitol!

Carol Walsh
Board President


The Friends of the Ely Library received a windfall in November 2011 in the form of a $100,000 gift from the Edward B. and Esther Nelson Estate.

The Ely Friends publicly announced the gift in a January 10 press release following the most recent meeting of its board of directors.


"The Board is appreciative of this gift, which will help to ensure the continued success of the Friends organization as well as the Ely Public Librar," the Ely Friends Board said through a press release. "This is the third estate gift that has been received by the Friends of the Ely Public Library in the last few years. It clearly indicates that the citizens of the greater Ely community know that the future success of the Ely Public Library is of great importance for our community."


According to the press release, the board is intent on ensuring that the money is spent wisely.


"There have been recent efforts and discussion on behalf of the City of Ely to build a new public library in conjunction with a new government building," the press release stated. "The Board of Directors feels that it is in the best interest of the Ely Public Library to invest the gift at this time. If and when a new library is built, there will be a great need to furnish and equip the library to meet the requirements of the 21st Century.


Though the gift is generous and will certainly help with providing resources and enrichment for the Ely library, the success of the library has been contingent upon stable, steady member support.


"Because of the ongoing support of our members, we have continued to make significant progress in equipping our library with nine new public-use computers, new book shelves, new books, DVDs, magazine subscriptions, and other numerous improvements," the board said in the press release. "The Friends of the Ely Library has been a significant part of the success of our library during hard economic times. We look forward to continue to do even more."

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