Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Call Your Senator in Support of SKILLS Act

Posted by admin on October 7, 2011

Funding for school libraries is in jeopardy. Across the country, students are attending schools without effective school library programs. Without access to school libraries, students are missing out on college and career readiness programs, digital literacy instruction, and personalized support from state certified school librarians.

The Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act is a bill introduced in the Senate that would ensure that students everywhere have access to a quality school library program. Here’s how you can help move this piece of legislation forward.
1. Go the ALA Legislative Action Center by clicking here: SKILLS
2. Read over the talking points and type in your zip code to find the phone number for your senator’s office. You can also be connected to your senator’s office by calling the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121
3. Call both senators and ask them to co-sponsor the SKILL Act using the provided talking points and your own stories about why school libraries are so important.
4. Fill out the feedback card or email  to describe what you heard.

Best Library Friends Projects of 2011

Posted by admin on October 4, 2011

Where’s the Book Bag
Friends of the Buffalo Library

Friends of the Buffalo Library sponsored a summer contest. The public was invited to purchase a library book bag for $9, take it on summer travels or walks around town, and snap a photo of the bag in front of a familiar landmark for a chance to win a prize. From June to August 2010 photos were submitted to or brought to the library desk, listing name, phone, and location of photo. Photos were posted in the library when received. In September the public guessed the location of book bag photos. Posters encouraged readers to “Guess where The Friends of the Buffalo Public Library traveled this summer and match numbered photos of book bags’ travels (left column) with alphabetical locations (right column).” Friends awarded prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Contact: Susan North, 612-205-5179,


Children’s Book Bins-Eden Prairie Library
Friends of the Eden Prairie Library

The Eden Prairie Library has the highest circulation rate of juvenile materials in the entire Hennepin County Library system. Given the size of the library and number of annual visitors at the Eden Prairie Library, there is an extraordinary demand for children's materials. In 2009 alone, 607,641 juvenile items were checked out. Due to budget constraints, the Eden Prairie Library was only able to purchase half the desired number children's book bins after completion of the new library. The additional bins allow more items to be on the floor rather than in storage, making the materials more accessible to children. This project succeeded in raising the $21,100 necessary to acquire the rest of the children's book bins by bringing together a diverse group of people to raise the necessary money and benefit the children.

Contact: Emily Jacobsen, 952-886-0069,


Backstreet Books                                             
Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library Friends Foundation

Inspired by the Douglas County Library in Alexandria and their presentation at the 2010 MLA Conference in Rochester, the newly formed JFHML Friends Foundation (established Feb 2011) opened a used bookstore on-site at the Library on July 12, 2011 to help meet a projected budget shortfall from the library’s benefactors. Backstreet Books, the European-flavored shoppe, features high quality books (all donations), reasonably priced (all $1-$3) and repurposed book art items created by staff and friends. A successful membership drive found 108 new friends for the Library and helped to raise over $3,000. . . . In the words of some enthusiastic Friends’ members, “We are on our way!”

Contact: Peggi Beseres, 218-546-8005,


Friends of Linden Hills Library Kick-Off
The Friends of Linden Hills Library

As part of forming a Friends group for a beloved and beautifully remodeled community library, a committee of seven founding members planned an Open House at the library, offering attractions for people of all ages and diverse backgrounds. The day’s activities included a music trio featuring traditional Scandinavian selections, crafts, games, a library treasure hunt, story hours led by various readers, and a visit from firefighters who brought their fire truck. Officials including a Hennepin County Commissioner and a City Council member spoke at the event. Light refreshments, a centerpiece for the refreshment table, and items for the raffle were all donated by local merchants. The Friends gained ten new members the day of the kick-off event and another 10 members in the days following. They took in $400 in donations and generated interest in the library and in the Friends with their hospitality.

Contact: Betsy Thomas, 612-926-4194,


Many Cultures, One Community, a book of stories and recipes 
Friends of the Pelican Rapids Library                 

Friends of the Pelican Rapids Library, in collaboration with The Pelican Rapids Multicultural Committee and School District #548, created Many Cultures, One Community, a book of stories and recipes, to foster relationships within Pelican Rapids and in the larger community around Pelican Rapids. The purpose of the book is to share recipes from all the cultures that make up the community, and also to share the stories of the people who contributed those recipes. Recipes from over 20 different countries represented in town are included, as well as hunting and fishing recipes, recipes from ordinary cooks, from local restaurants and from participants in the local Farmer's Market. Each recipe is accompanied by a story about the donor. The book was published not a fundraiser, but as a way to change public opinion. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to print more copies.

Contact: Joan Ellison, 218-863-5904,


Hot Reads for Cold Nights 2011 at the Red Wing Library  (Finalist)
Friends of the Red Wing Library

Friends of the Red Wing Library planned a winter adult reading program called Hot Reads for Cold Nights, which they presented in January, February and March of 2011. Several activities were included in the program. Three authors gave featured presentations: Kitty Gogins, author of My Flag Grew Stars; Gayla Marty, author of The Memory of Trees; and Thomas Saylor, author of Long Hard Road.  Reader bags full of incentives such as bookmarks, reading logs, Book Lover's Calendars, pencils, and tea bags were given away; and monthly contests were sponsored to stimulate written creativity. All activities created interest in use of the library and in the authors and their new works.  Attendance and interest were high. Program evaluations showed a successful literary lift in a snowy winter season.

Contact: Lois Burnes, 651-388-6465,


The Christmas Bears
The Friends of the Redwood Falls Library

In November, the Friends decorated the library's large Christmas tree with lights, ribbons, garlands, and gold and silver ornaments. Signs were placed nearby, and informative bookmarks were handed out at the circulation desk encouraging patrons to contribute small teddy bears for the tree. Community members of all ages placed their gifts of teddies on the tree. The Friends supplemented the donations by contributing $50 to purchase additional bears. Everyone enjoyed the lovely tree and the warm, generous holiday spirit it displayed. When the holiday season ended, the bears were given to the Redwood Area Hospital to comfort hospitalized children. The project showcased the Redwood Falls Public Library, encouraged community involvement, and provided maximum goodwill and pleasure with minimum effort and funds. Best of all, it benefited children in special need.

Contact: Pat Van Stralen, 507-721-2125,


Building It Together (Finalist)
Friends of the St. Michael - Albertville - Hanover Library

The Building It Together project came about as a new civic building, housing a library, senior center, and city offices, was beginning construction in St. Michael in early 2010. Due to budget cutbacks for furnishings by city government, a committee was put together to raise money locally. This group, comprised of citizens involved with the Crow River Senior Center, STMA Rotary Club, and in particular the Friends of the St. Michael-Albertville-Hanover Library, worked throughout the year into 2011, soliciting area businesses and organizations. The effort included production of media collateral and advertising, group presentations, parade-walking, planning, and countless face-to-face appeals. The initial fund raising goal was $50,000. To date the committee has raised just under $80,000 in completed and deferred payment donations. Library furniture, tables, shelving, benches, multimedia and other furnishings are the result.

Contact: Howard Burke, 763-425-3530,


Book It: The Party! (Finalist)
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

The Friends of the SPPL launched a new series of social events designed to bring young professionals into the library and cultivate future leaders and donors. Book It: The Party! was developed by an ad hoc group of Metro-area trendsetters who are part of a demographic segment looking for new ways to volunteer and support their community. Events have featured local celebrities, friendly competitions, world -class food, cocktails, literature, art and music. The price of admission and expenses were kept low with the collaboration and support of many community partners and sponsors. We've had a spelling bee, scavenger hunt, and food by Barrio Restaurant. We've celebrated Oktoberfest with German games, beer tasting, music and food under the tent. This fall Don Shelby presents his popular one man show as Mark Twain on the Centennial Showboat then joins us in character on the Anson Northrop for a tour of the Mississippi River.

Contact: Liz Boyd or Ann McKinnon, 651-222-3242, liz@thefriends.orq or ann@thefriends.orq

Volunteer at the Children's Pavillion

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011

Courtesy of our Friends at MELSA originally from MetroBriefs:


If you want to spend a fun Saturday surrounded by authors and performers promoting reading to kids, this is the Ambassador (volunteer) gig for you.  

Event: Twin Cities Book Festival Children's Pavilion
Date : Saturday, October 15
Time: 11:00-4:00

Location: Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC is easy to get to (, the Children's Pavilion is on the second floor of the Technical Building connected to the parking ramp by skyway. MELSA will reimburse for parking. 

Ambassador Duties:    

  • Assist with craft
  • Run the trivia wheel 
  • Card kids (get a button if they have a library card) 
  • Manage authors 
  • And more   

Perks: In addition to the thrill of working the event, Ambassadors will get a chance to visit with authors for grownups on the main floor and will receive an I'd Rather Be at the Library t-shirt!
Also on hand that day: Bruce the Bug Guy, The Bazillions, Dazzling Dave the Yo-Yo Master, & more to be announced. 
If you're interested in working this event contact Kathleen James at MELSA (

Senate Committee Clears Bill, Funds for Libraries

Posted by jim on September 28, 2011

The following comes from the American Library Association Washington Office. Please continue to contact your legislators to ensure funding for school libraries in this unsure economy.

capitol-hill.jpgThe Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill yesterday with at least $15 million designated for school libraries. The bill also level-funds the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $189 million.

The Senate bill sets aside $30 million for national non-profit organizations and school libraries in high-need areas and directs that at least 50 percent of this funding be used for school libraries.

“Last year, funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was wiped from this bill, which left school libraries without any specific federal funding, and the President’s budget request also zeroed out the program,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.

“It seems the Senate Appropriations Committee has recognized what a mistake this was, and we thank them for including new funding in the bill that will directly benefit students depending on their school libraries. Yet, we understand that there is a long road ahead and urge House appropriators to safeguard this funding for our nation’s students when they mark up their version of the bill.”

school-library.jpgSheketoff said protecting LSTA funding at its current level in this “slash and burn” Congress is one of the most important federal issues for public libraries.

“This is a very uncertain time for the future of many, many federal programs,” Sheketoff said.

“We knew there was a strong chance the Senate appropriators could choose to further reduce LSTA funding – or even cut it all together. While we take it as a positive sign that LSTA cleared the first hurdle, we know the race is not over yet. In these tough economic times, the public has been using their public libraries more than ever, depending on the library’s computers, Internet access and employment skills training.  LSTA allows libraries to continue offering these important services.”

Getting and Keeping Members

Posted by jim on September 20, 2011

for Friends and Foundations

books.jpgAs an organization, MALF aims to provide useful information to Friends groups across the state. In our resources section you can find a number of useful PDFs (including this blog post) on anything from gaining 501c3 status to creative fundraising. I was browsing our resources today and thought this was a very helpful document regarding membership. I hope you find it helpful too, it comes from the great folks at ALTAFF. 

There are basically two types of Friends members – “contributing members” who faithfully write a check every year because they want to support the library; and “active members” who serve on the executive board and/or are willing to volunteer for committee assignments and other Friends’ projects. Both types of members are important – “contributors” because their money helps you help the library, and “active members” because they help with the work and leadership of the group.

  1. Define your mission and why people should join. Then be sure you make the case for support at every opportunity – during your membership drive, the Friends book sale, and all Friends events and programs.
  2. Set your dues so that membership is available in a number of classes, from a minimum (for seniors and students) to increasingly higher patron levels.
  3. Design an attractive brochure that gives members an idea of the group’s purpose, and offers ways for them to become involved. List the types of committees and volunteer opportunities you have and be sure to call if they indicate interest. These new “active members” can become future executive board members keeping your group dynamic and fresh.
  4. bookshelf.gifBe sure that all programs you sponsor include an opportunity for the audience to become members of the Friends. These programs should entertain, educate, and stimulate the audience. Provide hospitality at every function, so that members and non-members are made to feel welcome.
  5. Have membership brochures available at the check-out desks of libraries, book sales and every other Friends function. Keep the community aware by notifying the media about the Friends’ events.
  6. Be prompt in sending out renewal notices. Let members know how their dues help the library and what the Friends have accomplished during the year.
  7. Membership benefits can include special ticket prices for events sponsored by the Friends and a preview night “for members only” at the book sale. A newsletter for members should be published a minimum of twice a year; quarterly is better, and monthly is best.
  8. Solicit the business community to join. Have a special membership category for them and list their names so they receive recognition.

For additional ideas, see Even More Great Ideas for Libraries and Friends, available from ALTAFF.

Sally Gardner Reed
Executive Director
(800) 545-2433, ext. 2161
fax (215) 545-3821

109 S. 13th St., Suite 3N
Philadelphia, PA 19107 

eCourse: Raise Money and Build Relationships

Posted by jim on September 19, 2011

signorelli_commpartn_200x300.jpgCommunity Partnership: How to Raise Money and Build Relationships

eCourse Facilitated by Paul Signorelli
October 3rd - October 28th

Building partnerships with community businesses and organizations is an excellent way for libraries to address the increased demand for library services that is coinciding with current funding cuts. These partnerships offer the opportunity to engage with influential members of the community who can help raise funds for new services as well as showcase the library’s value.
In this interactive course, Paul Signorelli will help you identify and act on opportunities that match your library's mission and goals with those of businesses and other organizations in your community.

Paul Signorelli has more than 20 years of experience as a learning leader for libraries and other organizations and businesses.

10...Steps to Effective Library Advocacy

Posted by jim on September 19, 2011

Check out this video from ALA Washington's Webinar “10 Quick and Painless Steps to Effective Advocacy for Libraries." It is a little over an hour long but it has some really interesting and useful information for anyone interested in Library advocacy.

10 Quick and Painless Steps to Effective Advocacy for Libraries from ALA Washington on Vimeo.

Governor Signs HF844 Bill (May)

Posted by jim on September 2, 2011



Front row, left to right:
Andru Peters, SELCO/SELS Board of Directors, Lake City City Council, and Lake City Library Board
Ann Hutton, SELCO executive director
Senator Carla Nelson, R-Rochester
Representative Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake
Susan Nemitz, Ramsey County library director
Back row, left to right:
Michael Scott, Southeastern Libraries Cooperating assistant director
Jon Nelson, son of Senator Carla Nelson
Carol Walsh, MALF board, Friends of the St. Paul Public Library advocacy committee
Kit Hadley, St. Paul Public Library director
Elaine Keefe, MLA lobbyist


On May 24, 2011 Governor Dayton signed 32 bills that received strong bi-partisan support.  Among them was HF 844, our bill providing for the appointment of a public library representative to serve as an adviser to the Governor's Workforce Development Council.  Please take a moment to send a note of thanks to our authors:

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