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Friends of the St Paul Public Library

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Education, Fund Raising & Fund Distribution, Libraries

Mission: Stronger libraries for stronger communities.

Results: Currently celebrating its 71st year, The Friends is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is stronger libraries for stronger communities. The Friends has a nonprofit consulting group, Library Strategies, that provides services to libraries and library organizations across the country and internationally. As an influential voice for libraries, we will ensure the Saint Paul Public Library and our partner libraries are vital centers of engaged, educated and diverse communities. The Friends also leads the Minnesota Book Awards and serves as the Minnesota Center for the Book – the state affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. For more information, contact The Friends at 651-222-3242 or visit www.thefriends.org.

Programs: In addition to conducting funding activities to support new initiatives and special activities of the saint paul public library, the friends focused its attention on nine major activity areas:the friends secured and provided $3,754,352 of restricted and unrestricted financial support to the saint paul public library system for operational, programmatic and capital needs. In close collaboration with the library, the friends conducted cultural programs, public relations and public awareness activities (which often featured informational graphic signage) so that the saint paul public library is better known as a technologically relevant community resource. The friends assisted the library with arts and cultural programming, administering the funding, managing the promotion, and preparing the required reports for minnesota's arts & cultural heritage fund-supported activities. The friends continued to add representatives of diverse cultural backgrounds to its board and working committees, and successfully conducted grassroots advocacy to maintain strong public support for the library. The resulting $1 million added to the library's budget was split: $500,000 for books and electronic materials, and $500,000 for expanded evening hours. Through the friends' support of the library's youth services programming, the annual summer reading program served 12,810 program attendees, and awarded a free, new book to 3,790 youth and teens who successfully met their reading goals. Library homework help centers had 14,014 student visits. Year-round, programs for children and teens served 100,800 attendees in total. The friends presented the 27th annual minnesota book awards, honoring 32 finalists and 11 award winners, to a sold-out crowd. The activities of the minnesota book awards extend statewide and year-round as the friends help minnesota libraries plan author visits and secure funding for minnesota book award-related programs. Public relations and publicity about the program increases national attention and prestige for the awards program and winners. As the library of congress-designated minnesota center for the book, the friends administers "letters about literature," a national essay contest which encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author who has changed their view of the world or themselves. Minnesota students entered 1,179 letters and 148 went on to the next level of competition. The friends of the saint paul public library is the only library support organization to be designated as a state affiliate of the national center for the book. The friends presented its annual author event, opus & olives, providing the opportunity for 1,100 community members, business leaders and vips to interact with each other and with internationally acclaimed authors, raising awareness and funds, and increasing support of the saint paul public library. The annual event has been called "the best book event in the country" by national and international publishers. The friends expanded "l3: the rural libraries and literacy leadership institute" to north dakota. The institute is a capacity-building and training program for libraries and literacy organizations around the region, supported by the otto bremer foundation. Intensive training and mentoring address the unique needs of rural communities. The program is coordinated by library strategies, a nonprofit library consulting group working to support libraries throughout the united states & internationally, whose proceeds support the mission of the friends.

Community Stories

7 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've participated in programming of the Friends for many years, and continue to be so impressed by the variety and quality of their offerings, most of which are free. Programs are spread throughout the St. Paul area, including at all the branch libraries. I'm also a fan of their very effective communications with members. Happy to support them!

Donor

Rating: 5

As a regular donor to The Friends, I continue to be impressed at the many creative and engaging programs they produce. I would give them 100 stars if that were possible!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I don't have the means to be a big donor but I am very careful with my charitable giving. That's one reason I feel good about giving to The Friends. Whether it's a puppet show or business materials and training for underrepresented people, or something as large in scope as remodeling the libraries, I know that The Friends will use my dollars, and those of all its donors, wisely and well.

In addition, The Friends orchestrate amazing programs that bring authors out to libraries and other public venues -- often at little or no cost to attendees. One of my favorite Friends programs is the Minnesota Book Awards, which floundered and almost went under until The Friends took it over. I make it a point to read many of the nominees and award winners. In fact I have one waiting for me at my favorite St. Paul Public Library!

I can't think of one negative thing to say about this amazing organization. When I give to other organizations, I measure their effectiveness against The Friends!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

The Friends is a truly remarkable organization. It is such an effective steward of private funds. It accomplishes so much on so little. It is one of the most highly respected organizations in Saint Paul. Everyone I know feels the same. I have never heard one bit of criticism about them.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm so impressed with the Friends of the Saint Paul Library. They raise significant funds for the Saint Paul Libraries (with low overhead) to support wonderful programs and facilities. I bring my kids to the Saturday programs at Central (the puppet theater is fantastic!) and enjoy the music and movies throughout the year.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been a member of The Friends for over ten years. I've found it to be one of the most effective, entrepreneurial nonprofits I've come in contact with. It provides millions of dollars to the Saint Paul Public Library through its successful public advocacy and through comprehensive fundraising efforts. It's a true model of a highly functional, effective nonprofit.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a member of The Friends and an advocate for the Saint Paul Public Library for 20 years. The annual advocacy process is thoughtful, strategic, and effective. We've been successful at getting the Mayor and City Council to restore cuts to library funding or increase the budget for hours, books and materials year after year because The Friends works so well with library leadership, community volunteers and their elected officials, often leveraging its appeal by offering matching private funds for library enhancements. Never outrageous in its request.

The Friends are committed and innovative; they're savvy achievers, and with the weight of their supporters, a powerful support organization for one of the best libraries in the country.