The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library Welcomes Beth Burns as New President

Burns will officially begin leadership of the organization January 1, 2017.

Beth Pic for PRSAINT PAUL,MN, November 10, 2016 —The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library announced that, after a national search, its board has selected Beth Burns as the organization’s new president. Beth, who most recently served as Vice Pesident for External Relations at the Minnesota Zoo, will join the staff in early December and officially assume the role on January 1, 2017.

Beth comes to The Friends with a deep understanding of nonprofits and public engagement. In her role at the Zoo, she oversaw a division that included the zoo’s marketing, sales, public relations, membership, guest relations, government affairs, and education programs. As part of that role Beth was responsible for engaging 1.3 million annual visitors, 43,000 member households, and more than 500,000 education program participants.

Beth brings not only a proven track record of effective leadership, but also extensive knowledge of fundraising and advocacy. Prior to joining the zoo, she served as the Executive Director for Lutheran Music Program, where she was the lead fundraiser and led the planning and implementation of the annual fund. She also facilitated the repayment of more than $600,000 in debt while simultaneously growing the annual fund by 28% during the depths of the recession.

She has also held various leadership roles in touring, public affairs and education at the Guthrie Theater and has worked for MacPhail Center for Music, the University of St. Thomas, and the Children’s Theatre Company.

Beth’s commitment to the good of the community goes beyond her professional career to her volunteer engagement. She is a founding board member and officer for the St. Paul-based Minnesota Music Coalition; she served for 17 years on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and is also a former trustee of 15 Head Theatre Lab and the Minnesota Association for Arts Educators.

Beth received her undergraduate degree in creative writing and theater communications from St. Olaf College and attended graduate school at the University of St. Thomas. She has lived in St. Paul with her husband, Bob, for more than 22 years.

“I know the role that libraries have played in my own life. Reading has provided me with profound moments of education and inspiration throughout my life,” says Beth. “I am excited to share my passion for the written word and serve an organization that is so deeply and organically embedded in every corner of the city I love.”

“We were impressed by Beth’s leadership record and her extensive experience with fundraising and advocacy. She has the combination of skills the board was looking for, and we are confident that she is the right person to guide The Friends into the future,” says Board Chair Joe Bagnoli.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to get to know Beth.

 

The Friends Hires New Director of Marketing and Communications

SAINT PAUL, MN, October 11, 2016 – The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library welcomes a new Director of Marketing and Communications to the dynamic organization. Kim Horton will join The Friends’ team this October.

Kim has worked as a brand strategist and communications consultant for the past seven years, partnering with nonprofits like the Minnesota Literacy Council, the Ordway, and even The Friends’ own Library Strategies Consulting Group. She worked with the organizations to articulate their unique messages, create and execute marketing campaigns, and present workshops about effective marketing. Horton holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Advertising from the University of Illinois.

“I’ve always been fascinated by how a great story can capture an audience,” says Horton “and I’m thrilled to be able to help tell the powerful story of The Friends.”

Beyond crafting communications, Kim has a passion for literacy and education which she’s put to good use as a volunteer GED writing teacher. She knows The Friends’ mission directly aligns with this passion and, in her mind, makes the role a perfect fit.

Kim will take the reigns from current Director of Marketing and Communications Ann McKinnon, who is leaving the organization after 11 years and who helped build The Friends into the national model for library support it is today.

“Ann moved our marketing and communications from 0-60 in her tenure. She has firmly embedded marketing and communications into every aspect of The Friends work and we all do better as a result,” says Peter Pearson, president of The Friends.

Sue Hall, Director of Library Strategies Consulting Group, echoes Peter’s sentiments. “Ann changed the way The Friends did business when she joined our staff. The Friends became more visible and more effective in supporting the Library – and has had a greater impact on Saint Paul.”

The position change comes at a time that is already one of transition for The Friends. The organization’s 25-year president, Peter Pearson, is preparing to retire at the end of the year.

With a mission of stronger libraries for stronger communities, Peter’s leadership has made The Friends essential in ensuring that the Saint Paul Public Library and its partner and client libraries are vital centers of engaged, educated and diverse communities.

Horton and The Friends staff, under the direction of a new, yet-to-be-named leader, will be charged with ensuring this mission continues and growing awareness and support for The Friends and the Saint Paul Public Library.

Advocacy Committee Announces its 2017 Platform

Library Supporters Work to Expand Collections, Update Rondo Library, Continue Digitization, Support “ConnectED” Presidential Initiative

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library have called on elected officials to reinvest in the city’s busiest library and address a one-time need for planning and implementing a citywide, all-students library card initiative. The advocates also struck familiar notes on support for collections and digitization. Representatives acknowledged retiring Friends President, Peter Pearson.

Connect-ED studentThe Advocacy Committee of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has outlined its position platform for the 2017 Saint Paul Public Library budget. Each year, The Friends calls on City of Saint Paul elected officials to address critical needs at the Library. This year the priorities are collections, e-learning platforms, and an integrated website and catalog; improvements to Rondo Library; continued support for digitization; and one-half of the cost of a project manager for ConnectED, a local and Presidential Initiative to ensure all students get electronic public library cards. The other half of the cost of that temporary position will be matched by Saint Paul Public Schools—a partner in implementing the initiative.

After close collaboration with library leadership and with input from supporters, staff and Board members, The Friends’ advocacy committee has developed an official platform and position paper on next year’s library budget. Constituents from neighborhoods across the city have been meeting throughout the summer with their City Council representatives to present their case. They have generally been met with warm receptions and genuine, earnest interest.

Strong public investment in the city’s beloved library system was confirmed, in part, when Mayor Chris Coleman recently included support for Rondo Library in his proposed budget. “Ten years ago we opened the new Rondo Library. At the time it was an innovative facility that combined housing, community meeting space and library services. It remains the most visited library in the city’s system.” Indeed, Rondo has the most visitors among all Saint Paul Public Library locations—twenty percent more than Highland Park, the next busiest. In fact, it boasts an astonishing 17% of total SPPL visits.

In order to keep up with current demand by library patrons, Coleman announced a $500,000 one-time investment in “the jewel of the Rondo Community” to redesign the space for improved flow, to better support the Homework Help Center and workforce programs, and to create a designated area for teens.

Both Library Board Chair Chris Tolbert and Mayor Coleman took some time before the mayor’s library budget address to publicly acknowledge retiring Friends President Peter Pearson for his 25 years of leadership and commitment to the library and the City of Saint Paul. Tolbert called Pearson’s legacy “invaluable,” and the mayor further elaborated: “This is an incredible community that is anchored by the love and passion that people have for their libraries,” telling Pearson directly, “Part of that passion has been fostered by your commitment to making this one of the best library systems in the country. It’s drawing out that community support to invest in the facilities, making sure we have spaces for all our kids to learn, to be a part of… I just want to thank you for that.”

Pearson has announced his retirement as president of The Friends, effective December 31, 2016. During his tenure, The Friends conducted three successful capital campaigns, took on leadership of the Minnesota Book Awards, created the country’s premier book and author event, and developed a nationally-recognized library consulting company, Library Strategies. A national search is currently underway, spearheaded by Ballinger|Leafblad.

In his annual budget address, the Mayor focused on job creation—particularly in areas of Saint Paul with low income residents and people of color, in an effort to close the racial unemployment gap. “According to a Pew Research study released earlier this year, between 2000 and 2014, our middle class actually shrank, with some in our community tumbling out of the middle class,” said Mayor Coleman. “When we layer this widening income gap over the racial disparities that plague the Twin Cities, we understand that the capital city’s response to strengthening the middle class must be to continue to put racial equity at the center of our work.”

At the library budget address, Coleman acknowledged the role libraries can play in this crucial effort. “Libraries can bring people together to have the important conversations we need to have about race, and really begin to understand each other,” he said. “We have more in common than we know, and we need to have dialogues with people in our own community about the toughest issues we face, our shared fears and hopes. The library is a welcoming space for all, if we’re willing to have those conversations.”

The advocates will continue to meet with elected officials throughout the fall to lobby on behalf of the library and the investment needed to meet the needs of learners of all ages while playing a successful role in the city’s racial equity and educational initiatives. The City Council typically finalizes the budget in December. For more information on The Friends’ advocacy platform, please contact Peter Pearson at 651-222-3242 or by email: peterp@thefriends.org.

Click here to see the 2017 Advocacy Platform explained.

 

The Minnesota Book Awards Celebrates 29 Years

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library kicks off the 29th season of the Minnesota Book Awards.

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the launch of the 29th season of the Minnesota Book Awards with the opening of submissions for books published in 2016. The year-round Book Awards program celebrates the best in Minnesota literature with nine book categories, two special awards, statewide author programming, and a stunning annual Awards Ceremony which draws an average of 900 attendees to Saint Paul each April.

The Friends has been proud to lead the Book Awards during the last 10 years and, to celebrate a decade at the helm of the program, one long-awaited category change is being announced—the division of Young People’s Literature into Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature. Prior to this shift, books for all young readers—ranging in age from elementary students to high school seniors—were judged together as part of one single category. This new split reflects the vibrant community of youth authors and readers in the state and will bring more exceptional books for young audiences to the forefront in Minnesota and beyond.

The nine categories for the 29th annual Book Awards include: Children’s Literature, General Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, Middle Grade Literature, Minnesota Nonfiction, Novel & Short Story, Poetry, and Young Adult Literature. To be eligible, all books must be the work of a Minnesota author or primary artistic creator and must have a 2016 copyright. Authors, publishers, and agents are eligible to submit a book by completing the online form, submitting five copies of the book, and paying a $45 entry fee. Eligibility and entry guidelines are available at thefriends.org/submit. Submissions close at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2016.

Finalists in all nine categories will be announced on January 28, 2017. Winners will be announced at the 29th annual Minnesota Books Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Saint Paul.

Nominations are also being accepted for two special awards: the Minnesota Book Artist Award, recognizing an outstanding new work in the book arts created during the last year; and the Kay Sexton Award, presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of longstanding dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading, and literary activity in Minnesota.

For additional information, contact Bailey Veesenmeyer, Program Coordinator, at 651-366-6497 or bailey@thefriends.org

Announcing Upcoming Retirement of Friends President Peter Pearson

Pearson is retiring at the end of 2016, leaving a strong and growing organization. A national search is underway for a new president. 

SAINT PAUL, MN, June 28, 2016 — After twenty-five years of service and growing the organization more than tenfold, Peter Pearson has announced his retirement as president of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, effective December 31, 2016. The Friends is one of the oldest and strongest library support organizations in the country, with a mission of stronger libraries for stronger communities.

Under Pearson’s leadership, the organization has grown from a staff of two, with an annual budget of $200,000 and a seven-member Board of Trustees, to the organization it is today—sophisticated and entrepreneurial, with a staff of 19, an annual budget of over $3 million, and a dynamic Board of 50 active and well-connected business, education and civic leaders.

During his tenure, The Friends conducted three successful capital campaigns, took on leadership of the Minnesota Book Awards, created the country’s premier book and author event, and developed a nationally-recognized library consulting company, Library Strategies.

Peter Pearson“The timing is right,” said Pearson. “Our most recent capital campaign has been successfully completed,” he said, noting that new leadership has been added in the last year to strengthen the organization’s fundraising capabilities and financial and administrative oversight into the future.

As an influential voice for libraries, The Friends ensures the Saint Paul Public Library and its partner and client libraries are vital centers of engaged, educated and diverse communities. Beyond retirement, Pearson plans to continue working with Library Strategies, in whatever consulting capacity he may be needed, but he also plans to spend more time with his family at his home in Florida.

“I have enjoyed every one of my 25 years at The Friends. I feel blessed to have had a career that is personally fulfilling and also of service to this great city and library that we all love.” The City of Saint Paul has come to depend on the organization’s tenacious and steadfast support of the library.

“The Friends of the Library is irreplaceable and a key partner in everything we do with our libraries,” said St. Paul City Council member and Library Board chair Chris Tolbert. “They are highly respected and their opinion really matters. There’s no other group that backs up their advocacy like they do, with their own dollars.”

Former Saint Paul Mayor George Latimer concurred, but notes that strong support of the library doesn’t happen in a vacuum. “The Friends have got it made,” said Latimer, with a laugh,” because there are so many people in St. Paul who love libraries.”

The Friends recently completed a four-year, $7.4 million capital campaign to support major renovations at the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Libraries.The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million to the projects, for a total of $14.4 million. “Peter’s leadership within The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will be deeply missed,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “The support and partnership he fostered has allowed our libraries to become places of 21st century learning.”

The Friends will be conducting a national search to identify the next president. The Board of Trustees has contracted with Ballinger|Leafblad to facilitate the process. Details of the search process will be posted online at www.thefriends.org. Inquiries about the position can be sent to lars@ballingerleafblad.com.

Great Lakes Reads: A Center for the Book Collaboration

Get to know the Great Lakes states through a selected reading list.

Long Shining Waters – a Great Lakes ReadThe Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, is pleased to announce “Great Lakes Reads,” a collaborative project of the Great Lakes State Centers for the Book: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with participation by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Created in 1977, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress promotes books, reading, literacy, and libraries.

Books for the “Great Lakes Reads” list were selected by each state, and province, that borders a Great Lake. The chosen works, all by authors either from or residing in each location, highlight the state’s relationship with its lake and the communities surrounding it. Minnesota’s selected book is The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin, published by Milkweed Editions.

The Long-Shining Waters won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and was chosen as the One Book South Dakota 2013. It was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, as well as The Midwest Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award. Sosin’s first book, Garden Primitives, a collection of short stories, was published by Coffee House Press in 2000. The author has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, and the Loft Literary Center. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

The books selected by each participating state (and province) for “Great Lakes Reads” are:

Illinois: Maritime Chicago by Theodore J. Karamanski and Deane Tank, Sr.
Maritime Chicago tells the story of this important transportation and trading hub situated on a great “inland sea” and the city’s maritime past bears witness to much triumph and tragedy, victory and defeat.

Indiana: Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist by Edwin Way Teale
This classic tale explores the childhood of a young boy growing up surrounded by Indiana’s scenic lakeshore dunes. It was distributed to over 100,000 soldiers during WWII.

Michigan: The Waters of Michigan by Dave Lubbers and Dave Dempsey
This collection presents a truly unique view and understanding of the waters of Michigan. Water as vast as the Great Lakes, as serene as the inland lakes, and as long and lazy or sleek and fast as the numerous byways that run between and among them.

Minnesota: The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin
Frigid, lethal, and wildly beautiful, Lake Superior is as alluring as it is dangerous. Featuring three women living on its shores in three different centuries, Danielle Sosin’s novel illuminates the mysterious powers of the greatest of the Great Lakes.

New York: City of Light by Lauren Belfer
The year is 1901. As headmistress of Buffalo, New York’s most prestigious school, Louisa Barrett is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But in this city of seething intrigue and dazzling progress, a battle rages among politicians, power brokers, and industrialists for control of Niagara.

Ohio: The Lake Effect by Les Roberts (#5 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series)
Every Clevelander understands the lake effect, a weather condition that brings plenty of snow, especially in November when election time rolls around. Milan Jacovich, the genial Cleveland private eye, has never been a political animal, but soon he’s in for a lot rougher time of it than simply poll-watching.

Pennsylvania: Reflections of Presque Isle: A Visual Journey by The Erie Times-News and Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200 acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie, offering a beautiful coastline and a variety of recreational activities. Filled with a number of unique habitats, it features many migrating birds and contains many of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species.

Wisconsin: Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories by Jennifer Morales
Set in one of the nation’s most highly segregated cities, Meet Me Halfway tells stories of a community with a tumultuous and divided past, and captures a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish common ground and a collective vision of the future.

Ontario: The Greatest Lake: Stories from Lake Superior’s North Shore by Conor Mihell
By exploring the connection between people and place on the rugged coastline of Lake Superior, Mihell weaves first-hand experiences as an outdoor adventurer with compelling character studies of cottagers and entrepreneurs, personal essays, and environmental reporting.

Library Wins Environmental Initiative Award for Nature-Smart Partnership

Renovated in 2014, Sun Ray Library is changing the way the community thinks about literacy, environmental stewardship, and youth leadership

The Saint Paul Public Library was honored on May 26 at the 2016 Environmental Initiative Awards Ceremony for its unique partnership with the Children & Nature Network making Sun Ray Library a community hub of nature learning and recreation. Completely renovated in 2014 in a public/private partnership with funds from The Friends’ capital campaign, A New Legacy of Learning, Sun Ray Library transformed both its physical environment and programming to serve as a place for families to learn and engage with nature.

“Collaboration isn’t always easy. This project is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished for our environment, for our youth, and for Minnesota families when we choose to work together,” said Environmental Initiative’s Executive Director, Mike Harley.

To realize the goals of the project—to increase the community’s engagement with nature—the library worked with the Children & Nature Network to convene more than 60 civic, business, education and youth leaders, as well as residents of the library’s Conway Park neighborhood, for a series of community meetings. The purpose of these meetings was to generate ideas for transforming the Sun Ray Library and adjacent Conway Park into a nature-rich community hub. The resulting community environmental action plan produced several notable outcomes for the community:

  • The library now has 18 Nature Adventure Backpacks on different themes with a variety of environmental tools, activities, fiction and non-fiction books, being checked out by children and families for nature-based education and engagement
  • Library staff now run 48 environmental activities for youth that address 12 themes
  • “Story Walks” (story pages on stakes throughout the park) are inspiring families to read from the library doors along the park trail to further develop the connection between outdoor and indoor spaces.
  • Ten volunteers from the Young Mentors Group attended a 2-day leadership training program to develop a plan for a Natural Leaders Legacy Camp where 50 regional youth will be trained as Twin Cities Natural Leaders
  • A pollinator garden was installed and is being maintained on library land in partnership with the University of Saint Thomas, Wells Fargo Bank, and Urban Roots

“We’re used to thinking of reading and learning as something we do inside,” said Rebecca Ryan, library manager. “Our natural library is connecting young people and families to the outdoors in a really unique way by pairing the imagination of reading with exploration in nature.”

Through the project, local elected officials have become more aware of the importance of green space to the community, Conway Park has increased its tree canopy, the library grounds now boast a thriving pollinator garden, and the Sun Ray Library has outreach tools for environmental education and engagement with youth and families. Because of community involvement in this project, there is a continuing commitment by city and community organizations to tree planting and pollinator garden support, as well as momentum toward an overall master plan for Conway Park. Beyond its local impact, the project has proven to be a viable national model for engaging diverse urban communities in library-based greening and educational efforts.

Project Partners

  • City of Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Children & Nature Network
  • Urban Roots
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Wells Fargo
  • National Geographic
  • Lawal Scott Erickson Architects Inc.
  • Plum Landing: WGBH/PBS Kids
  • Sun Ray Young Mentor’s Group
  • St. Thomas University

The Environmental Initiative Awards are presented by the Environmental Initiative, nonprofit organization that builds partnerships among leaders from business, nonprofits, government, academia and more, to share ideas and diverse perspectives on pressing environmental issues, and develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. Started in 1994, the Awards annually honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership.

A New Legacy of Learning was launched in 2011, and successfully completed in 2015.  The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million in public funds and The Friends raised $7.4 million in private funds, for a total of $14.4 million for the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Library renovations.

Trotskyists on Trial with Donna Haverty-Stacke (2016 Untold Stories)

Seventy-five years ago, 29 unionists and working-class socialists were prosecuted and labeled as dangerous revolutionaries by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Justice Department under the newly passed anti-radical Smith Act. Most were members and officers of the militant Minneapolis Teamsters Union that lead the historic 1934 truckers strikes. In Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution Since the Age of FDR, Donna Haverty-Stacke tells the story of how these strikers were imprisoned, and how the Smith Act was later invalidated by the Supreme Court. Haverty-Stacke is an Associate Professor of History at Hunter College, New York.

The Iron Range: Past, Present & Future (2016 Untold Stories)

Recorded on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Iron Range has always held a special place in Minnesota’s labor history and lore. Now the future of the Range seems uncertain. The authors of two recent books give us a great opportunity to grapple with the connections between past, present, and future. Megan Marsnik is the author of the novel Under Ground, which centers around the roles of women in the miners’ strike of 1916. She teaches high school in Minneapolis. Marsnik is joined by Jeffrey Manuel, Associate Professor of Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and author of Taconite Dreams: The Struggle to Sustain Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, 1915-2000. The authors will participate in a conversation and reading moderated by Peter Rachleff of the East Side Freedom Library.

 

Elmer Smith and the Wobblies with Tom Copeland (Untold Stories 2016)

In his book, The Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and the Wobblies, Tom Copeland, Macalester graduate and lawyer, tells the tale of Elmer Smith, also a Macalester graduate and lawyer. At the end of the Armistice Day Parade of 1919 in Centralia, Washington, Legionnaires, veterans, and others hostile to the Industrial Workers of the World, marched on the IWW union hall intending, again, to run the radicals out of town. The Wobblies knew of the plan and, on the advice of Elmer Smith, defended themselves and their hall. The attack began, the Wobblies fought back, four Legionnaires died, and three others were seriously injured. Later the Legionnaires lynched one of Wobblies. Twelve Fellow Workers and Elmer Smith were indicted for murder for one of the Legionnaire deaths. The jury acquitted Smith, but most of the others went to prison. Elmer Smith spent the rest of his life fighting, both in and out of court, for workers’ rights and for the freedom of his codefendants. Despite being jailed, ostracized, and disbarred, Elmer Smith never gave up the struggle. This is a story not often told but it needs to be heard by all those interested in the struggle to secure the rights of workers.