We’re hiring!

We’d love to work with you. Currently we’re hiring for the position of:

Development Operations and Database Coordinator

Organization Overview

The mission of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is “stronger libraries for stronger communities.”  Established in 1945, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the work of the Saint Paul Public Library (a department of the City of Saint Paul) through a series of activities: fundraising, advocacy, and programming. In addition to our work locally, we are a state and national resource for libraries, readers, and writers through two additional program areas: the Center for the Book (which includes the Minnesota Book Awards) and Library Strategies Consulting Group. The Friends invests in The Library because we believe libraries strengthen communities by connecting individuals with resources that enrich and improve lives. The Friends has an annual operating budget of $3+ million, a staff of 17 full- and part-time professionals, with offices in the Highland / West 7th neighborhood of Saint Paul.

Position Summary

Reporting to the Vice President of Development and Community Engagement, the Development Operations and Database Coordinator is responsible for the accurate, timely processing of individual solicitations, contributions, acknowledgments, and all aspects of gift accounting. This position coordinates the The Friends’ Annual Fund as well as ticketing for Friends’ events and programs. The Friends’ utilizes Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge as its database of record; this position is the organization’s Raiser’s Edge Power User and database administrator. This position supports the overall achievement of The Friends’ fundraising goals and contributes directly to the fulfillment of The Friends’ mission.

Raiser’s Edge Responsibilities

  • Daily management of the Raiser’s Edge donor database, including maintenance, user accounts, gift entry, data integrity, tracking, and reporting. Daily gift entry will include check, credit card, bank draft, stock gifts, recurring gifts, sponsorships, and in-kind donations.
  • Produce mailing lists, pledge reminders, and invoices in a timely, accurate manner.
  • Identify query and reporting needs; produce reports, as requested.
  • Reconcile and close monthly development financials on time and with consistent accuracy.
  • Create and adhere to data integrity and style standards to create and maintain consistent, comprehensive donor profiles and records. Clean and update data regularly.
  • Create Web Donation Forms as needed, to support appeals and event activities.
  • Perform NCOA updates for direct mail campaigns.
  • Train other Friends staff in Raiser’s Edge proficiency as needed.
  • Participate in local Raiser’s Edge user group meetings to maintain current understanding of software and best practices.

Annual Fund Responsibilities

  • With strategic direction from the Vice President of Development and Community Engagement, develop an annual donor calendar for solicitations, reminders and stewardship mailings to ensure the growth and continuity of The Friends Annual Fund.
  • In partnership with the Community Engagement team, manage content process for all appeals (e.g. solicitation key messages, verbiage, and design).
  • Coordinate and implement the annual operating fund appeals to individual donors, including acquisition, recapture and renewals.
  • Using data and analytics, recommend segmentation for solicitation lists.
  • Generate up-to-date mailing lists as needed for all direct mail appeals, event, and program invitations, and track effectiveness of solicitations and invitations.
  • Create and implement the gift solicitation and acknowledgment mailing activities, with support from the Administrative Assistant.

Event and Community Programs Responsibilities

  • Create online registration forms and supporting Raiser’s Edge event records for more than two dozen annual programs and events.
  • Monitor registration for events and generate requested reports and attendee lists.
  • Oversee acknowledgment process for tax-deductible registrations and sponsorships.
  • Assist the Special Events Director for and at all ticketed events with all guest registration and accommodations.

Community Engagement Team Member Responsibilities

  • Actively participate in Community Engagement Team activities to support the achievement of all fundraising goals.
  • Seek opportunities to elevate the quality and effectiveness of Friends’ programs, events, and fundraising initiatives through strategic and smart use of customer relationship management best practices.
  • Support Friends’ programs and events through onsite participation.
  • Serve as a liaison to the organization’s Finance team.
  • Other duties as requested.


This is a great opportunity for a Raiser’s Edge Power User with at least three years’ active RE experience to engage in the broad activities of an effective, fun, and meaningful fundraising program.  The ideal candidate for this position is seeking to join a team of creative, committed individuals who highly-value personal integrity and professionalism, and regularly achieve high standards of excellence in their work.

  • Minimum three years’ experience (with demonstrable success) working with Raiser’s Edge, preferably as an organization’s administrator or power user.
  • Strong ability and commitment to accuracy and data integrity.
  • A proactive, hands-on operational thinker who will own, in partnership with the President and Vice President of Development and Community Engagement, responsibility for the achievement of the organization’s annual fundraising goals.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and exercise independent action, while also demonstrating interest and ability to work as a member of a team.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • College degree is required; five years’ or more of direct Raiser’s Edge experience will be considered in lieu of a college degree.
  • Keen analytic and problem-solving skills which allows for strategic data interpretation.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Strong writing skills.
  • Experience handling confidential information in an appropriate, professional manner.
  • Prior experience working with a nonprofit Annual Fund campaign is highly desired.

Physical Requirements

This position works in an administrative office environment that is ADA compliant. Qualified candidates must be able to remain in a stationary position at least 50% of the time; the person in this position must be able to operate a computer and other office machinery, such as a copy machine, printer, and telephone. The person in this position frequently communicates with staff and external partners and must be able to exchange accurate information verbally, in writing, and by telephone.


The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library offers a competitive salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include paid vacation and sick leave, medical and dental coverage, short and long term disability insurance, and access to the organization’s retirement plan.

Application Process

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume outlining qualifications, experience, and achievements to greg@thefriends.org by June 2, 2017. Applicants must specifically address their Raiser’s Edge experience in detail for consideration. No phone calls, please.

Equal Opportunity Employer

It is the policy of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library to provide an equal employment opportunity to all individuals. We are committed to a diverse workforce. We value all employees’ talents and support an environment that is inclusive and respectful. We are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the law. It is the policy of The Friends to comply with all applicable laws that provide equal opportunity to all employees or applicants for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, status with respect to public assistance, disability, age, military status, genetic information, familial status or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal or state law.

2017 Letters About Literature Winners Announced

SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA, April 25, 2017The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the home of the Minnesota Center for the Book, is pleased to announce the state-level winners of the 2017 Letters About Literature Essay Contest, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English and Common Good Books.

More than 40,000 adolescent and young adult readers nationwide in grades four through twelve participated in this year’s Letters About Literature program, which encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author who has somehow changed their view of the world or themselves. The number of entries from Minnesota’s students was 1,122, and 130 student letters made it through to the state round of judging in the three levels of competition. For more information about the contest, national winners, and free teaching resources to guide students through the reader response and writing process, visit www.read.gov/letters/.

The winners of the Letters About Literature essay competition were selected on three levels: Level I – for grades four through six, Level II – for grades seven and eight, and Level III – for grades nine through twelve.

The winners are:

Level I

Level II

Level III

About The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library:

The Friends, with a staff of 18 and an operating budget of $3 million, produces 70 events per year and provides over $1.5 million in support annually to the library, resulting in the Saint Paul Public Library being recognized as a national leader in serving its community. In recognition of its statewide programs and services, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has been recognized by the Library of Congress as the state’s designated Center for the Book. With a mission of stronger libraries for stronger communities, The Friends supports not only the Saint Paul system, but also libraries and library organizations across the country and internationally through its consulting services, Library Strategies. For more information, contact The Friends at 651-222-3242 or visit thefriends.org.

2017 Minnesota Book Awards Winners Announced

April 10, 2017, SAINT PAUL, MN – The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 29th annual Minnesota Book Awards. In addition to winners in nine categories, The Friends presented the Book Artist and the Kay Sexton Awards to previously announced honorees—respectively, Steven McCarthy and Lou Bellamy. The Minnesota Book Awards are presented this year by sponsor Education Minnesota.

Close to 900 people attended the award ceremony at InterContinental Hotel on Saturday, April 8, emceed by Tom Weber, host of “MPR News with Tom Weber” and author of 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die. Announced at the ceremony, the winners of the 2017 Minnesota Book Awards are:

Award for Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
J.J. Austrian – Worm Loves Worm – illustrated by Mike Curato, published by Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next. They get married! This irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms. J.J. Austrian is a graduate of Hamline University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults program. This is his first picture book.

Award for General Nonfiction, sponsored by the College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute and Saint John’s University:
Shawn Otto – The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It published by Milkweed Editions*

Otto’s provocative book investigates the reasons for why and how evidence-based politics are in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise, and offers a vision, an argument, and compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses, before it’s too late. Otto is an award-winning science advocate, educator, and speaker, and a previous Minnesota Book Award winner.

Award for Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Allen Eskens – The Heavens May Fall – published by Seventh Street Books/Prometheus Books

Eskens revisits characters from The Life We Bury in a mystery full of twists and turns, vividly told from two opposing perspectives. Eskens is also the author of The Life We Bury, a Minnesota Book Award finalist, and The Guise of Another. He was a practicing criminal defense attorney for 25 years.

Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels:
Kao Kalia Yang – The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father – published by Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company

Yang retells the life of her father, Bee Yang, the song poet – a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by America’s Secret War. Yang is also the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, which was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and the Asian American Literary Award, and received the 2009 Minnesota Book Award.

Award for Middle Grade Literature, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Brian Farrey – The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse – published by Algonquin Young Readers/Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

In this thrilling modern fairytale, Farrey has created an exciting new world where friendship is more powerful than fate and the most important thing is to question everything. Brian Farrey is the author of The Vengekeep Prophecies series and the Stonewall Honor Book and Minnesota Book Award-winner With or Without You.

Award for Minnesota Nonfiction, sponsored by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Cheri Register – The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape – published by Minnesota Historical Society Press*

After stumbling upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining of southern Minnesota wetlands, Register uncovers the stories of life on the Big Marsh and of the “connivers” who plotted its end: the Minneapolis land developer, his local fixer, an Illinois banker, and the lovelorn local lawyer who did their footwork. Register is also the author of Packinghouse Daughter, which won a Minnesota Book Award and an American Book Award.

Award for Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Fitzgerald in Saint Paul:
Peter Geye – Wintering – published by Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House

When elderly, demented Harry Eide escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the forbidding, northernmost wilderness that surrounds the town of Gunflint, Minnesota, he instantly changes the Eide family, and many other lives, forever. Geye has created an epic tale – a love story spanning 60 years, generations’ worth of feuds, and secrets withheld and revealed. Geye is also the author of the novels Safe from the Sea and Lighthouse Road.

Award for Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Sun Yung Shin – Unbearable Splendor – published by Coffee House Press*

Who is guest, and who is host? Adoption, Antigone, zombies, clones, and minotaurs – all are building blocks, forming and reforming our ideas in Shin’s groundbreaking new collection. Shin is also the author of poetry collections Rough, and Savage and Skirt Full of Black, which won an Asian American Literary Award and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. She is the editor of the anthology A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.

Award for Young Adult Literature, sponsored by Brainfuse:
Lara Avery – The Memory Book
– published by Poppy/Little, Brown and Company

Told in letters to herself, the Future Sam, this heartfelt, funny, and bittersweet novel chronicles both the path of a high school valedictorian’s degenerative disease and the major events and little details of her life over the summer that was supposed to be pre-college. Avery is the author of A Million Miles Away and Anything But Ordinary. She lives in Minneapolis, where she is a contributor at Revolver, and at work on her next novel.

Also at the Book Awards ceremony, the tenth annual Book Artist Award was presented to Steven McCarthy, for his “Wee Go Library” project – a mobile collection of 22 altered books found in Little Free Libraries throughout the Twin Cities. The award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group and presented with the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), recognizes book artists for excellence of a new artistic work and demonstrated proficiency and quality in the book arts, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community. McCarthy is a professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota.

Lou Bellamy received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award. For more than four decades, Lou Bellamy has been a champion of African American literature, bringing to light works by African American playwrights, enabling artists to find their voice, and inspiring understanding of the vital role these stories play in our community and history. The Award is sponsored by St. Catherine University.

Books written by a Minnesotan and first published in 2016 were eligible for the 29th annual Minnesota Book Awards. A total of 242 books were submitted this year, and 36 books were selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by panels of judges from around the state. Submissions for next year’s awards will open in August, 2017. For more information on the Book Awards process, and a list of finalists and winners since 1988, visit www.thefriends.org/mnba.

The Book Awards ceremony will be broadcast in the weeks to come on Saint Paul Neighborhood Network and TPT-MN Channel. Watch the website for updates on air dates.

The 29th annual Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long outreach program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Major funding for the Book Awards was provided by Education Minnesota, the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. Statewide outreach partners include The Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Minnesota State Arts Board. Media sponsors include Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune.

*Indicates a Minnesota-based publisher

36 Books in 36 Days: Rise of the Spring Tide

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Genre Fiction finalist:


Rise of the Spring Tide, by James StittRise of the Spring Tide by James Stitt
Category Sponsor: Macalester College

Shikha lives a lonely life, but not quite solitary. Inside her, something slumbers, while her sister Faria, half a world away, can hear her thoughts and feel her emotions. As a vagabond geneticist who has bounced from institution to institution, she sits on the cusp of discovering the mystery of her own DNA. Her sister has traversed the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent collating local myths and researching ancient cultures. Their quest, spanning 400 years, has led them on a trail that has both been intentionally obscured, yet seemingly left for them to discover. Loosely structured along the lines of a diary, Rise of the Spring Tide moves from past to present and back again, building to its final crescendo.


James Stitt, Rise of the Spring TideAbout the Author:

James Stitt has lived on the right, left and middle of the U.S. but he and his family found home in Saint Paul, where they have dwelled for over a decade. Trained as a scientist, his educational background is in Physics and Biology, with minor departures into History and Archeology. His works seek to explore the intuitive and unconscious knowledge of the ancients, who for millennia, embedded their observations of the celestial movements, the seasons, the cycles of birth, death and rebirth into myth and story. James hopes to reintroduce these myths and their connective relationships across cultures to a broader audience – within the context of engaging, approachable fiction. He is also the author of several articles in atmospheric science and remote sensing. James rails against nature itself to keep his 1968 Land Rover free of rust, desperately misses the ocean, blogs on WordPress, and can be found @stittwords.


36 Books in 36 Days: Original Fake

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Young Adult Literature finalist:


Original FakeOriginal Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, art by E. Eero Johnson
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House
Category Sponsor: Brainfuse

Introvert Frankie Neumann hates his life, and understandably so. He’s got a weird, tutu-wearing sister, Lou, and even weirder parents. He’s just the guy who makes pizza at Pizza Vendetta. After his shift one night, Frankie meets David and Rory, cousins and errand runners for the mysterious Uncle Epic, a legendary anonymous street artist and Frankie’s absolute idol. Little could Frankie dream that his new adventures with Uncle Epic would lead to the perfect opportunity to strike back at his insufferable sister. When things go haywire quicker than you can say “street art kicks righteous ass,” the lines are suddenly blurred between art and Frankie’s real life.


Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Original Fake and LGBTQAbout the Author:

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is a self-proclaimed word nerd who secretly wants to be a street artist. Her first YA novel, The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don’t Mind, was a Minnesota Book award finalist in 2010. Her second novel, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, won the 2014 Stonewall Award from the American Library Association. She writes a lot, reads as much as she can, and goofs around with her husband and son in North Mankato, Minnesota.

E. Eero Johnson is a Minneapolis-based illustrator, graphic designer, and comic book artist. His illustrations have appeared in GQ, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Wired, and The New York Times, and on several book jackets. Original Fake is his first fully illustrated book. His longtime comic book project, The Outliers, is being expanded into a graphic novel for 2018. Johnson lives and draws with the support of his wife, two sons, and an elderly Boston terrier. Follow Erik on Twitter and Facebook.


Rave Reviews:

“Johnson’s bold black and orange illustrations spotlight key plot points and emotions, emphasizing Frankie’s view of the world and his budding affections for David. Cronn-Mills’s consideration of the intersections between art and family is striking and heartfelt.” ─ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“At the crux, this story of statement-making art and a love affair with creativity is all about the power of blurring lines and altering perceptions of acceptability…The book is also a balance between text and art. Johnson’s bright orange, black, and white illustrations replace what might have been Cronn-Mills’ text on the pages, continuing the narrative intermittently through visuals rather than type. The melding of these two métiers speaks to the significance of fine art as a valid voice and means of expression, a timeless tool for storytelling.” ─ Lambda Literary


Beyond the Book:

Video: Meet the authors, Minnesota State University – Mankato

Article: Cover reveal, School Library Journal website


36 Books in 36 Days: Yes Thorn

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Poetry finalist:


YesThorn06Yes Thorn by Amy Munson
Published by: Tupelo Press
Category Sponsor: Wellington Management, Inc.

Yes Thorn abides with mysteries—mortality, spirituality, sexuality, nature, divinity, love—and interrogates them without necessarily pressing toward or expecting explanation. Its diction is sometimes ornate, but language and images that dwell in more classically lyric places are often undercut or mixed with tougher, blunter elements.


Amy Munson, Yes ThornAbout the Author:

Amy Munson lives in Minneapolis. Her work has received grants and support from the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board and has appeared in journals such as the Kenyon Review, the Gettysburg Review, West Branch, and Image. She received her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers, and she teaches at the University of Northwestern–St. Paul.


Rave Reviews:

Yes Thorn uses language in new and exciting ways. And I admire how this poet asks the critical questions: What connects us, to each other and to belief? Can we be connected — to ideas, to lovers, to religious belief, to family — without also being inscribed by these connections? Can we be moved by desire and longing without becoming subject to them?” — Paisley Rekdal

“[W]hatever the origin and inspiration, this wonderful book of poems will prick you and infect your imagination long after you have read it. I truly look forward to reading more of Munson’s work in the future.” —Daniel Klawitter, NewPages

“The poems were striking: we could not forget the effect of her language, words that were perhaps familiar, but not usually found together pounding emotion onto the page, delving into both interpersonal relationships, the self and our relationship to the divine.” – Minnesota Book Awards judge


Beyond the Book:

Profile on Amy (McCann) Munson for Northwestern Examiner



36 Books in 36 Days: Wintering

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Novel & Short Story finalist:


Wintering, by Peter GeyeWintering by Peter Geye
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House
Category Sponsor: Fitzgerald in Saint Paul

Wintering spans thirty-some years in the lives of the Eide family in northern Minnesota. Berit Lovig has for decades been a fixture in the town of Gunflint, first as the postmistress, then as the lover of Harry Eide. As the book opens, Harry, now an old man suffering dementia, has just escaped his sickbed and disappeared into the great wilderness that surrounds the town. Given up for dead after a thorough search, Berit takes comfort and consolation in visits from Harry’s son, Gus, who tells her the story of the fated winter of 1963, when Gus and Harry ventured into what would later become the Boundary Waters/Quetico Wilderness Areas. Harry had pitched the notion as an adventure, but he had more sinister reasons for seeking the expanse of that wilderness. What greets father and son will pit them not only against the forces of that season and wilderness, but also against each other and their enemies.


Peter Geye, WinteringAbout the Author:

Peter Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and lives there still. He is the author of the multiple award-winning novels Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road.


Rave Reviews:

“A book about love and revenge, families and small towns, history and secrets…a deftly layered and beautifully written novel that owes as much to William Faulkner and it does to Jack London…Make no mistake: Geye is a skillful, daring writer with talent to burn. Simultaneously epic in scope and deeply personal, Wintering is a remarkable portrait of the role that one’s environment—and neighbors—can play in shaping character and destiny.” —Skip Horack, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Geye’s powerful third novel journeys to the frozen places in the American landscape and the human heart…Capturing the strength and mystery of characters who seem inextricable from the landscape, Geye’s novel is an unsentimental testament to the healing that’s possible when we confront our bleakest places.” —Publishers Weekly

“Geye masterfully creates both scene and story in this haunting book about reluctantly interdependent characters and life in the borderlands. In Wintering, the borderlands are familiar, but also omnipotent, merciless and ever changing. The tone, mood and quiet power of the book remained long after the story is finished.” – Minnesota Book Awards judge


Beyond the Book:

Audio: Peter Geye speaks with MPR’s Kerri Miller

Article: “Minneapolis author Peter Geye soars in a new way with his latest novel, Wintering,” Kim Ode, Star Tribune


36 Books in 36 Days: Women of Mayo Clinic

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Minnesota Nonfiction finalist:


Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation by Virginia M. Wright-Peterson
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Category Sponsor: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Women of Mayo Clinic, by Virginia Wright-PetersonThe story of how the Mayo brothers and their father established an internationally renowned medical center in the middle of the prairies of Minnesota has become almost legend, but few people know the untold stories of the capable, intrepid women who contributed to Mayo Clinic’s founding and success. Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation tells the fascinating stories of more than 40 indelible women – physicians, nurses, librarians, social workers, secretaries, a janitress, an interpreter, artists, mothers, sisters, wives, and others – who were instrumental in establishing the medical center despite disease, war, and the hardships of pioneer life encountered in the remote Midwest from the 1850s to 1943. Mayo Clinic would not be the medical center that it is today without the contributions of these women.


Virginia Wright-Peterson, Women of Mayo ClinicAbout the Author:

Virginia Wright-Peterson, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, worked in administrative capacities for Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Arizona for 17 years and has taught English and humanities for 14 years, including as a Fulbright Scholar in Algeria. She also deployed with the American Red Cross and served on a military base in Iraq. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and is currently on the writing faculty at University of Minnesota Rochester. Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation is her first book. She is currently researching contributions made by women in the Midwest during World War II for a possible second book.


Rave Reviews:

“A thoroughly researched exploration of a previously unexamined area of Minnesota’s history, Women of Mayo Clinic successfully integrates the lives of the women staffers – everyone from janitors to department heads – into the larger history of the clinic. Detailed enough to serve as a scholarly reference, yet accessible and engaging for the general reader.” – Dr. Peter Kernahan, University of Minnesota

“Extremely well-written and exhaustively researched. It brings to life forgotten names and stories and fluently integrates sweeping trends at Mayo.” – Minnesota Book Awards judge


Beyond the Book:

Audio: Interview on  KUMD of Duluth

Audio: Interview on North Shore Community Radio

36 Books in 36 Days: Sticks and Stones

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Middle Grade Literature finalist:


Sticks and Stones, by Abby CooperSticks and Stones by Abby Cooper
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan
Category Sponsor: Education Minnesota

Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.


Abby Cooper, Sticks and StonesAbout the Author:

Abby Cooper lives in Saint Paul with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. She attended Indiana University – Bloomington, where she received her bachelors in education, and Illinois State University, where she studied library/information science. A former teacher and school librarian, her favorite things in the world (besides writing) are getting and giving book recommendations and sharing her love of reading with others. Sticks & Stones is her first novel.


Rave Reviews:

“The unsteady emotions of middle school are palpable in Cooper’s debut, from trying on identities to believing moments that pass like a blush will last forever; even teachers learn to grow. Elyse’s struggles toward self-confidence will resonate with…all readers learning how to be comfortable in their own skins.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Self-acceptance is the key in Cooper’s debut, but Elyse’s struggle to get there is painfully realistic. Her interior thoughts and monthly letters to herself reveal a healthy sense of humor …but it’s Elyse’s kindness, perseverance, and smarts that help her rebuild her self-esteem. Cooper’s stance on bullying is clear: words can—and do—hurt, but their power over you is only as strong as you allow them to be.” – Publishers Weekly

“Cooper’s book explores a unique twist on the “stick and stones” saying. It has mystery, internal and external conflict, and fortitude, all suitably written in the point of a view of Elyse, a not-always-typical, present-day middle schooler.” – Minnesota Book Awards judge


Beyond the Book:

Interview: Armstrong graduate writes children’s book about the power of words,” Robbinsdale Area Schools


36 Books in 36 Days: The Thunder Before the Storm

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Memoir & Creative Nonfiction finalist:


ThunderCover_FINAL_HiResThe Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt by Clyde Bellecourt, as told to Jon Lurie
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Category Sponsor: Faegre Baker Daniels

The American Indian Movement burst onto the scene in the late 1960s as indigenous people across the country began to demand what is rightfully theirs. Clyde Bellecourt, whose Ojibwe name translates as “The Thunder Before the Storm,” is one of its cofounders and iconic leaders. This powerful autobiography provides an intimate narrative of his childhood on the White Earth Reservation, his long journey through the prison system, and his embodiment of “confrontation politics” in waging war against entrenched racism.

Bellecourt is up-front and unapologetic when discussing his battles with drug addiction, his clashes with other AIM leaders, his experiences on the Trail of Broken Treaties and at Wounded Knee, and the cases of Leonard Peltier and murdered AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash. This gritty, as-told-to memoir also uncovers the humanity behind Bellecourt’s militant image, revealing a sensitive spirit whose wounds motivated him to confront injustice and to help others gain a sense of pride by knowing their culture. The Thunder Before the Storm offers an invaluable inside look at the birth of a national movement—the big personalities, the creativity, and the perseverance that were necessary to alter the course of Native and American history.


About the Authors:

Clyde BellecourtClyde Bellecourt cofounded the American Indian Movement, a group which organized and led historic protest activities including the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, S.D.



Jon LurieJon Lurie, educator and journalist, has worked in the Minneapolis Native American community for many years. He is a staff writer for The Circle and has written for numerous other publications.


Rave Reviews:

“Over the past 48 years, one of the principal figures in the national movement to end discrimination and right centuries of injustices against American Indians has been an Ojibwe man from Minneapolis…Bellecourt details the fights and feuds of the Indian struggle, which paralleled the rise of other social movements in the 1960s.” – Star Tribune

“An essential memoir. Only Bellecourt can give these key insights into important moments in history…The removal of Indian children from their families was a terrible part of the history of this continent, and Bellecourt captures how heartbreaking and life altering it was. His leadership through the attempts to reclaim power and status through the BIA takeover, the Stand at Wounded Knee, the conversion of Little Earth, and the Longest Walk all comprise a compelling part of our heritage and captures a sovereign truth that needs be told.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge


Beyond the Book:

Audio: “No sign of slowing down: Activist marches on for Indian rights,” MPR

Review: “American Indian Movement’s Bellecourt tells his story” by Mary Ann Grossman, Pioneer Press