28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Finalists Announced

SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA, January 30, 2016The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the finalists in all eight categories for the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards. Chosen on Saturday, January 30, by 24 judges from around the state – writers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and others from the literary community – the finalists for each category are:

Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books For Africa:

Behold! A Baby by Stephanie Watson, illustrated by Joy Ang (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers)

Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure by Derek Anderson (Orchard Books/Scholastic)

General Nonfiction, sponsored by The Waterbury Group at Morgan Stanley:

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding (Da Capo Press/Perseus Books Group)

John H. Howe, Architect: From Taliesin Apprentice to Master of Organic Design by Jane King Hession and Tim Quigley (University of Minnesota Press)*

No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg (Nation Books/Perseus Books Group)

Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann (HarperWave/HarperCollins Publishers)

Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
The Devereaux Decision by Steve McEllistrem (Calumet Editions)*

The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart (Minotaur Books)

He’s Either Dead or in St. Paul by D.B. Moon (Three Waters Publishing, LLC)*

Season of Fear by Brian Freeman (Quercus)

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction:

In Winter’s Kitchen by Beth Dooley (Milkweed Editions)*

The War Came Home with Him: A Daughter’s Memoir by Catherine Madison (University of Minnesota Press)*

Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life by Karen Babine (University of Minnesota Press)*

We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying by Bruce Kramer, with Cathy Wurzer (University of Minnesota Press)*

Minnesota, sponsored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota:

Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury by Larry Millett, photographs by Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari (University of Minnesota Press)*

Minnesota State of Wonders by Brian Peterson, stories by Kerri Westenberg (Mark Hirsch Publishing)

North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast by Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer (University of Minnesota Press)*

Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe by Anton Treuer (Minnesota Historical Society Press)*

Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota:

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group)

The Patron Saint of Lost Comfort Lake by Rachel Coyne (New Rivers Press)*

Prudence by David Treuer (Riverhead Books/Penguin)

There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter (Pantheon Books/Random House)

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:

Beautiful Wall by Ray Gonzalez (BOA Editions, Ltd.)

Borrowed Wave by Rachel Moritz (Kore Press)

Home Studies by Julie Gard (New Rivers Press)*

Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen (Red Dragonfly Press)*

Young People’s Literature, sponsored by The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University:

The Bamboo Sword by Margi Preus (Amulet Books/Abrams)

The Firebug of Balrog County by David Oppegaard (Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.)*

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony (University of Minnesota Press)*

See No Color by Shannon Gibney (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group)*

*Indicates a Minnesota Publisher

Award winners will be announced at the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 16, at St. Paul’s historic Union Depot, 214 Fourth Street East. The Preface reception begins at 7 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 and available by visiting www.thefriends.org or calling 651-222-3242. The official hashtag for social media is #MNBA16. All are encouraged to use it when posting comments, status updates or tweeting about any of the authors or their books.

Three special awards for contributions to Minnesota’s literary and artistic community will be presented on April 16, as well. Wendy Fernstrum will receive the ninth annual Book Artist Award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group and presented with the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). Fernstrum has been making artist’s books for more than 20 years under the press name of Fernwerks. An exhibit of her work will run February 19 – April 11 at Open Book (1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis), with an opening reception on Friday, February 19.

The 2016 Kay Sexton Award, sponsored by St. Catherine University’s Masters of Library Information & Science Program, honors Jim Sitter for his contributions to the literary community through national and local advocacy for literary non-profits, and as the founding Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The Award, named for Kay Sexton, a book buyer for many years at Dayton’s and B. Dalton Bookstores in the Twin Cities, is presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading and literary activity in Minnesota.

The third biennial Hognander Minnesota History Award, sponsored by the Hognander Family Foundation will be awarded, as well. The Award honors the best scholarly research and writing related to Minnesota history published during the preceding two years.

For additional information on the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards or the Awards Ceremony, explore this website or call 651-366-6497. The Minnesota Book Awards is a program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Generous support for the Book Awards has been provided by the Huss Foundation; The Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation; and the Pohlad Family Foundation. Media sponsors include Minnesota Public Radio; the Star Tribune; and Twin Cities Public Television. Outreach partners and supporting organizations include: Augsburg College, the Council of Regional Public Library Systems Administrators; The Loft Literary Center; Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA); and Minnesota Center for Book Arts.


Faith Sullivan (2016 Fireside Reading Series)

Faith Sullivan returns to kick off the 22nd annual Fireside series with a reading from her new novel, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, which celebrates the strength and resourcefulness of independent women, the importance of community, and the transformative power of reading.

Nell Stillman’s road is not easy. When her boorish husband dies soon after they move to the small town of Harvester, Minnesota, Nell is alone, penniless yet responsible for her beloved baby boy, Hillyard. In the face of nearly insurmountable odds, Nell finds strength in lasting friendships, and in the rich inner life awakened by the novels she loves.

Sullivan is the author of seven award-winning novels, including Good Night, Mr. WodehouseGardeniasThe Empress of One, and The Cape Ann. A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” she is also an indefatigable champion of literary culture and her fellow writers, and has visited with hundreds of book clubs. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Faith Sullivan lives in Minneapolis with her husband.

Jim Sitter Named 2016 Kay Sexton Award Recipient

A driving force behind the growth and depth of Minnesota’s literary community for more than three decades, the advocate, organizer, and activist will be honored Saturday, April 16, at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony.

Jim Sitter - news iconJanuary 22, 2016, SAINT PAUL, MN The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and the Minnesota Book Awards are pleased to announce Jim Sitter, advocate for literary nonprofit organizations and Founding Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, as the winner of the 2016 Kay Sexton Award. Sponsored by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program, the award is presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading, and literary activity in Minnesota.

For more than thirty years, Jim Sitter has been one of the most prolific and effective arts leaders in the state. He embodies the spirit of the Kay Sexton Award with an extraordinary array of accomplishments, helping to make the literary and book arts community in Minnesota what it is today. As David Unowksy, founder of Hungry Mind Bookstore and fellow Kay Sexton Award recipient says, “Jim’s work has benefitted every aspect of our literary culture: writers, publishers, booksellers and other non-profits.”

After attending Macalester College and working at the Hungry Mind Bookstore (where he initiated the Hungry Mind Reading Series), Sitter acquired Truck Distribution in 1979 and renamed it Bookslinger. He refocused the company and turned it into a national distribution service aimed at providing more visibility to books from independent literary presses, thereby beginning the process of fostering a national audience and appreciation for Minnesota’s great presses.

During this time, Sitter developed an appreciation for the craft of bookmaking and conceived a vision for creating the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). He assembled a board of highly influential arts and civic leaders, including former Governor Elmer L. Andersen, and served as the founding executive director of MCBA until 1989. Early in his tenure, Sitter invited Allan Kornblum – then head of Toothpaste Press – to move to Minnesota and become the organization’s first press-in-residence. In addition to motivating Kornblum’s move and the creation of Coffee House Press, Sitter played a crucial role in the press’ development as a nonprofit organization and influenced the decision to begin publishing full-length trade editions. He was also responsible for persuading Scott Walker, founder and Executive Director of Graywolf Press, to relocate from Washington State, further cementing his integral role in the creation of what has become a vital literary community.

Sitter’s expertise led him to New York, where he became the executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), expanding the funding opportunities for small presses across the country. He advocated for support from national foundations, raising $9 million dollars in grants to nonprofit literary presses – of which Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, and Milkweed Press were three major beneficiaries.

He also helped to form LitNet, a coalition of nonprofit literary organizations from throughout the United States that supports freedom of expression and promotes funding for the literary arts. As its chief lobbyist, Sitter was instrumental in saving the National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for writers and helping to ensure that agency’s survival in the 1990s. Longtime friends, Page and Jay Cowles call Sitter “a natural entrepreneur, committed to the highest standards of literary publishing as well as the book arts.” They laud his leadership, his knowledge of the field, and his deep empathy for the artists and supporters with whom he has worked, adding, “It generated confidence and sophistication in the literary and book arts fields.”

Sitter will be honored on Saturday, April 16, at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony at Saint Paul’s Union Depot. Awards will also be presented in eight book categories, as well as the annual Book Artist Award and the biennial Hognander Minnesota History Award. Tickets go on sale in February.

For more information on the Minnesota Book Awards, visit www.mnbookawards.org, or call 651-222-3242.

About the Minnesota Book Awards:

The Minnesota Book Awards is a project of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, with the Saint Paul Public Library and City of Saint Paul. The program was created in 1988 by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and other organizations as a part of the Festival of the Book. Awards are presented each year to books in eight categories by Minnesota writers or illustrators, as well as the Kay Sexton Award, Book Artist Award, and the biennial Hognander Minnesota History Award. Through its work with the Book Awards, The Friends was designated the Minnesota Center for the Book, a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To find out more about the Minnesota Book Awards and the Center for the Book, please visit www.thefriends.org/mnbookawards.


Bailey Veesenmeyer, Program Coordinator
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library


Legacy and Cultural STAR Grants Bring Funding for Digitization Technology

Saint Paul Public Library has received two new sources of funding to support the digitization of select materials held in the library’s Saint Paul Collection. The library received a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant in the amount of $85,035 through the Minnesota Historical Society for the “Digitizing Saint Paul City Directories” project. The library also received $100,000 from the City of Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR Program to support digitization.

Securing support for digitization technology was one of the centerpieces of the 2016 advocacy platform of The Friends. While the advocates were successful in achieving ongoing funding to maintain the increased evening hours which were won last year, the City was unable to honor the committee’s request for the funds for equipment, training, hosting and initial staffing required to kick off the new initiative.

The “Digitizing Saint Paul City Directories” project, funded by the Minnesota Historical Society grant, will preserve and improve access to of one of the library’s most frequently-used and fragile holdings in the Saint Paul Collection. City directories listing Saint Paul residents and businesses dating back to 1856 are held at the George Latimer Central Library. Many of the volumes are in danger of degrading beyond the point of use.

The library will contract with a firm to digitize the city directories and will make them available to customers in late 2016 in the form of new, facsimile volumes and as digital files. The library will continue to hold the original directories in its collections. Volumes after 1923 that are still under copyright restrictions will be available for use in digital and print formats only at the George Latimer Central Library.

With new funds from the City’s Cultural STAR Program, the library is developing plans to digitize additional materials held in the Saint Paul Collection. This collection includes historical documents, images, scrapbooks and other materials related to the city of Saint Paul.

St. Paul Library Publishes Karen Language Children’s Books

Mayor Coleman announces Saint Paul Public Library’s publishing of two children’s books in Karen language

Saint Paul is home to largest Karen population in the U.S.

December 17, 2015, SAINT PAUL, MN – Mayor Chris Coleman today announced that the Saint Paul Public Library has curated and published two Karen language children’s books, the first to be published by a public library in the state. The Mayor will be distributing a limited number of the children’s books at Arlington Hills Community Center’s Karen Storytime on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at noon. The two books will also be read at the Storytime, which is free and open to the public.

“This incredible project shows the Library’s strong commitment to being 21st-century centers of learning, as well as leaders in equity across the city,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “Saint Paul has a long history of welcoming immigrants and promoting equity, and these storybooks are so much more than words on a page – they’re an opportunity for children in our community to learn and have bright, successful futures.”


WHO: Mayor Chris Coleman
WHAT: Handing out of SPPL-published children’s books* at Karen Storytime (the books will also be read for the first time in Karen by library staff)
WHEN: Saturday, December 19, 2015, 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave, Saint Paul
*A limited supply of books will be distributed at the event.

Huggy ElephantThe Hen and the BadgerThe library commissioned original texts from Saint Paul authors Win World and Saw Powder, as well as original color illustrations from children’s book illustrators Betsy LePlatt and Jingo de la Rosa, to create the books Elephant Huggy and The Hen and the Badger. With the support of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as well as long-time Friends member and library supporter Sandra Schloff, the authors and illustrators teamed up with librarians, educators and Karen community members to produce the two books in both Karen and English.

“Saint Paul is home to the largest and fastest-growing Karen population in the U.S., and before this project, we greatly lacked early-literacy resources in the Karen language,” said Saint Paul Public Library Director Jane Eastwood. “We produced these books with the goal of creating an environment of learning and discovery for all residents that access our libraries.”

The Saint Paul Public Library will distribute the books to Karen organizations and school libraries, and will circulate them as print and e-books. In addition, the books will be available digitally through the Minnesota Reflections collection of the Minnesota Digital Library. In early 2016, they will be available for purchase on Amazon.com.

“Saint Paul values reading in all languages,” said City Councilmember and Library Board Chair Chris Tolbert. “This is one of the many ways we can support reading, while also supporting the Karen community.”

The Karen is an ethnic group from the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Thailand. They have long been subject to government persecution. Many lived in refugee camps before resettling in Minnesota, where there are approximately 6,500 Karen currently residing.

Wendy Fernstrum Announced as 2016 Minnesota Book Artist Award Winner

Writer and visual artist Wendy Fernstrum wins the 2016 Minnesota Book Artist Award for her new work entitled One Is the Holiest Number (#2)

Wendy FernstrumThe Friends and the Minnesota Book Awards are pleased to announce Wendy Fernstrum as the winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book Artist Award for her new work, One Is the Holiest Number (#2), which was completed in 2015. Sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group, this annual award is presented by Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) and the Minnesota Book Awards, and recognizes a Minnesota book artist or book artist collaborative group for excellence of a new artistic work. Winners also show demonstrated proficiency and quality in the book arts through three supporting pieces of previous work, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community.

1 - One is the Holiest NumberOne is the Holiest Number (#2) is a meditation on the paradox of one: how each of us as an individual is distinctly one, yet simultaneously part of a unified whole, as one. Fernstrum has investigated this theme for several years, creating work that explores the “in-between space” where identity is constantly shifting and certainties lose form. Work in the series has included monoprints, sculptural works, and installations. One is the Holiest Number (#2) is a traditional multi-signature codex incorporating relief, intaglio and letterpress printing. Text is minimal, allowing a variety of shapes, patterns, and textures to communicate content. Innovative page designs that hide and reveal imagery – a characteristic found in many of Fernstrum’s book works – prompt viewers/readers to slow their pace and provide opportunities for personal reflection. Quiet and unassuming, One is the Holiest Number (#2) isa wonderful combination of material form and narrative content.

Wendy Fernstrum has been making artist’s books for more than 20 years and writes, designs, prints, and binds her work under the press name of Fernwerks. An exhibit celebrating her long career in book arts will be on display February 19 – April 11 in the Cowles Literary Commons, on the second floor of the Open Book building (1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis), with an opening reception on Friday, February 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fernstrum will also receive special recognition and an award at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards Celebration on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Saint Paul Union Depot. Tickets will go on sale in February.

The Minnesota Book Awards is a statewide, year-round outreach program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library in partnership with the Saint Paul Public Library and City of Saint Paul. Explore more at www.thefriends.org or call 651/366-6497 for more information about the Minnesota Book Awards. Visit www.mnbookarts.org or call 612-215-2527 for more information about Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

Striving for Equality: Mexican Women in Minnesota History (2015 Women’s History Lecture Series)

Mexican women helped shape their expatriate communities in Minnesota from the mid-20th century onward. Discover the important ways they fought for respect and equal treatment in the Twin Cities and in outstate Minnesota.

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Kit Hadley Receives 2015 Women in Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award

In 2012, the Hamline University public administration programs and Center for Public Administration and Leadership (CPAL) announced the creation of the “Women in Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award.” This annual award is designed to recognize women who have made a lifetime commitment to serving the public good.

Kit HadleyKit Hadley recently retired as director of the Saint Paul Public Library. During her six-year tenure, she strengthened learning initiatives, expanded multi-language and community-based services, and completed renovations at several libraries.

She was the executive director of Heading Home Minnesota, a statewide campaign to end homelessness and director of the Minneapolis Public Library from 2003 to 2007.

At the Minneapolis Public Library, she led initiatives to strengthen literacy efforts, complete the construction of the new Central Library, and secure approval to merge the Minneapolis Public and Hennepin County Libraries.

Prior to joining the library, she was appointed as the commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency from 1994 to 2002.

She has served on the boards of the Saint Paul Public Housing Agency, Minneapolis Foundation, Hearth Connection, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Youthprise, and St. Paul Youth Services. She is currently on the Legal Services Advisory Committee.

Women in Public Service Conference a Success

Hamline University Creative Writing ProgramsHamline School of Business’ 4th annual Women in Public Service (WIPS) Conference was a huge success on Friday, November 13. Hundreds of women attended the sold-out conference developed by the Center for Public Administration and Leadership and titled “Awaken the Force: Unleash Your Full Potential in Public Service.” The full-day of sessions explored how to support and encourage women in public service and featured major names in the industry speaking on timely topics and working to inspire their fellow public servants.

“Keep your expectations high for yourself and for one another,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said via video.

Other speakers included Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation Sandra Vargas, United States Marshal Sharon Lubinski, and keynote speaker Lori Sturdevant, columnist for the Star Tribune.

“What started four years ago as an experiment has become an amazing, energy-filled day that has grown each year,” Professor Kris Norman-Major, director of Hamline’s Public Administration Programs, said. “The conference brings together people who are committed to serving the public good and want to enhance their skills and build their support networks. A highlight of the day for me is giving out the Rising Star and Lifetime Achievement awards. It is so inspiring to see so many people dedicated to serving the common good.”

Since 2012, Hamline University’s Center for Public Administration and Leadership has annually awarded the Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award to a woman who has made a lifetime commitment to serving the public good. In addition, since 2013, the WIPS planning committee has presented the Public Service Rising Star Award to women with ten or fewer years in public service who are already making a measurable difference in working toward the public good. This year’s Rising Stars were Kari Xiong, English language cultural liaison in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, attorney Kristi Fox and Alyssa Bryan, executive director for the Minnesota Federal Executive Board. Read more about these award winners on the WIPS Rising Star Award winners web page.


Sisterhood is (Again) Powerful (2015 Women’s History Lecture Series)

Fifty years after women won the vote, feminism once again grabbed public attention in the 1970s.  A wide diversity of women began to advocate for equality under the law, in public and private life. Initially ridiculed, “women’s lib” ended up remaking America. 

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Battle for the Ballot (2015 Women’s History Lecture Series)

Minnesota suffragists were a civilized contrast to the discord which marked the American suffrage movement. We will discuss how women like Colvin and Ueland found ways to work together to win the vote and contribute to the national suffrage victory.

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