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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Webinar Recap: 'Marketing Tune-Up Clinic'

Posted by jim on April 25, 2022

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!

Posted by jim on April 21, 2022

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

Posted by jim on April 15, 2022

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bargains around, our contributions to library work these days are much more diverse, creative, and crucial than the outdated stereotype suggests.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.

“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

Posted by jim on March 17, 2022

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.)

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

Posted by jim on February 10, 2022

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

Posted by jim on February 7, 2022

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.

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