Lou Bellamy-imageSAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA, February 26, 2017The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce Lou Bellamy, founder of Penumbra Theatre, teacher, mentor, and tireless promoter of African American literature, as the winner of the 2017 Kay Sexton Award. 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 and is part of the 29th Annual Minnesota Book Awards, presented this year by sponsor Education Minnesota.

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. Bellamy founded Penumbra Theatre in 1976, which for 40 years has provided a platform for the promotion of African American dramatic literature, honoring and telling the stories of the African American experience. In the words of Neal Cuthbert, former Vice President of Programs at the McKnight Foundation, Penumbra has, through its acclaimed stage productions, educational programming, and new play development efforts, “had an impact on the creative lives of generations of African American and other writers and has frankly altered the course of artistic expression and development in this community and across the country.” In addition to promoting works on stage at Penumbra, Bellamy has inspired and touched the lives of thousands of youth, cultivating the production of new dramatic literature, poetry, and spoken word. Bellamy’s work has consistently provided a community for new writers, ensuring they have valuable resources and support.

For 38 years, Bellamy was an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, fostering appreciation for and understanding of African American dramatic literature and its context within historical civil rights initiatives. His commitment to connecting students and the larger public with the many voices in African American literature inspired the founding of the Lou Bellamy Rare Book Collection in 2011, a premier collection in the Givens Collection of African American Literature donated anonymously in Bellamy’s honor. This is a growing collection of more than 850 rare volumes, some of which pre-date the Emancipation Proclamation. This collection, combined with the Penumbra Theatre Archives, entrusted to the Givens Collection in 2006, are evidence of Bellamy’s impact in the world of literature, history, and archives. “The archive of Penumbra Theatre presents an enduring record of hundreds of voices, perspectives, and experiences that are critical to our collective understanding of what American life and literature is – what it sounds like, and who gets to tell it,” states Cecily Marcus, Curator of the Givens Collection of African American Literature.

Bellamy is an OBIE Award-winning director and accomplished actor, and under his leadership, Penumbra has grown to be the largest theater of its kind in America and has produced 39 world premieres, including August Wilson’s first professional production. Penumbra also has the distinction of having produced more of Wilson’s plays than any other theater in the world.

Lou Bellamy will be honored on Saturday, April 8, at the 29th annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony at InterContinental Hotel Saint Paul Riverfront. Awards will be presented in nine book categories, as well as the annual Book Artist Award. Tickets are on sale now and are available by visiting www.thefriends.org/ceremony or calling 651-222-3242.

Originally created in 1988, the Minnesota Book Awards is now a year-long program that fosters our statewide literary arts community. The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony. Woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state. In recognition of this and its other statewide programs and services, the Library of Congress has recognized The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as the state’s designated Center for the Book.

For additional information on the 29th Annual Minnesota Book Awards, the Awards Ceremony, or the Minnesota Center for the Book, please visit www.thefriends.org or call 651-222-3242. 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 Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts; The Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation; and The McKnight Foundation. Media sponsors include Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune. Outreach partners and supporting organizations include Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Augsburg College, The Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Twin Cities Public Television.

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SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA, January 28, 2017The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce finalists in all nine categories for the 29th Annual Minnesota Book Awards, presented this year by sponsor Education Minnesota. Chosen on Saturday, January 28, by 27 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:
- Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Chronicle Books)

- This Is Not a Cat! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Sterling Children’s Books/Sterling Publishing)

- Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers)

- Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster)

General Nonfiction:

- Canoes: A Natural History in North America by Mark Neuzil and Norman Sims (University of Minnesota Press)*

- Designing Our Way to a Better World by Thomas Fisher (University of Minnesota Press)*

-Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press)*

- The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto (Milkweed Editions)*

Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College: 

- The Born and the Made by Robert Spande (self-published)

- The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books/Prometheus Books)

- Rise of the Spring Tide by James Stitt (self-published)

- Stealing the Countess by David Housewright (Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press)

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels:

- I Live Inside: Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland by Michelle Leon (Minnesota Historical Society Press) *

- The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company)

-This Is Where I Am: A Memoir by Zeke Caligiuri (University of Minnesota Press)*

- The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt by Clyde Bellecourt, as told to Jon Lurie (Minnesota Historical Society Press)*

Middle Grade Literature, sponsored by Education Minnesota:

- Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

- Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson (Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group)*

-The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey (Algonquin Young Readers/Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)

-Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper (Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan)

Minnesota Nonfiction, sponsored by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota:

- The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape by Cheri Register (Minnesota Historical Society Press)*

-The Ford Century in Minnesota by Brian McMahon (University of Minnesota Press)*

-Richard F. Lack: Catalogue Raisonné 1943-1998 by Gary B. Christensen, biography by Stephen A. Gjertson (Afton Historical Society Press)*

- Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation by Virginia M. Wright-Peterson (Minnesota Historical Society Press)*

Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Fitzgerald in Saint Paul:

-The Annie Year by Stephanie Wilbur Ash (Unnamed Press)

- Do Not Find Me by Kathleen Novak (The Permanent Press)

- LaRose by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins Publishers)

- Wintering by Peter Geye (Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House)

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
- May Day by Gretchen Marquette (Graywolf Press)*

- Tula by Chris Santiago (Milkweed Editions)*

- Unbearable Splendor by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press)*

- Yes Thorn by Amy Munson (Tupelo Press) 

Young Adult Literature, sponsored by Brainfuse:

- Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers (HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers)

- LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner Publishing Group)*

- The Memory Book by Lara Avery (Poppy/Little, Brown and Company)

-Original Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, art by E. Eero Johnson (G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House)

*Indicates a Minnesota-based publisher.

Award winners will be announced at the 29th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 8, at InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront. The Preface Reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Awards Ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are from $40 – $55 and are available by visiting www.thefriends.org or calling 651-222-3242. The official hashtag for social media is #mnbookawards. All are encouraged to use it when posting comments, status updates, or sharing information about any of the authors or their books.

Originally created in 1988, the Minnesota Book Awards is now a year-long program that fosters the literary arts community in our state with the ultimate goal of creating stronger communities. The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter and into spring with two rounds of judging. Also woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the entire world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state. Hosting the Book Awards program led to The Friends’ designation as the Minnesota Center for the Book, which is the state affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

For additional information on the 29th Annual Minnesota Book Awards, the Awards Ceremony, or the Minnesota Center for the Book, please visit www.thefriends.org or call 651-222-3242. 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 Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts; The Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation; and The McKnight Foundation. Media sponsors include Minnesota Public Radio; the Star Tribune; and Twin Cities Public Television. Outreach partners and supporting organizations include: Augsburg College; The Loft Literary Center; Minnesota Center for Book Arts; and the Minnesota State Arts Board.

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. 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.

Tell us about your cBeth Burnsareer path prior to coming to The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

I majored in creative writing and theater (or, as my friends say, writing and talking) at St. Olaf College. While in school, I was thrilled to learn that ‘cultural administration’ was a job and I’ve stayed in that field pretty much my entire career. My past employers include the Minnesota Zoo, Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre, MacPhail Center for Music, University of St. Thomas and the National Endowment for the Arts.

What interested you about The Friends?

I love the arts, and my first love is literature. I am always reading a book, and I believe so strongly in the power of literature to cultivate empathy, inspire creativity, and promote learning. Libraries help level the playing field by opening the door to language and literacy for everyone. The Friends is such an important organization because it serves as the voice and advocate for all the great work being undertaken by the Saint Paul Public Library.

What are you most excited for in this new chapter?

I am a lifelong learner, and I am excited to dive into the evolving role of libraries amidst a world of digitization and technology, increasing cultural diversity, economic disparity, aging infrastructures, and many more factors. I am also looking forward to meeting all of the individuals who have been such generous and loyal supporters of The Friends.  I love hearing peoples’ stories about the role that libraries have had in their own lives, and what compels them personally to support this important mission and work.

How do you see your role at The Friends?

I see my role in a couple ways: first, as an advocate and ambassador for the needs of Saint Paul’s libraries. Second, it’s very clear that The Friends is a healthy organization with a talented staff, committed board, and loyal group of supporters. In that respect, my role will be to steward and support all of these individuals in their own work to ensure that libraries have the resources necessary to thrive in Saint Paul.

How do you see the role of the library in the next 20 years?

I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that question so early in my tenure, as I have yet to meet many of the creative and enormously talented leaders in this field. That said, I do believe that libraries can, should and will be at the heart of their communities in 20 years.  We will continue to need places to gather, to learn, and to be inspired – as individuals and as communities. Libraries are already so responsive to the needs of their constituents that I’m confident they will continue to evolve in a way that supports the changing needs and aspirations for our communities.

Name a book that changed your life.

Only one? “Little Women” was a powerful book in my childhood. I was inspired by Jo’s independence (and that she wanted to be a writer), but I also adored Beth, my namesake, who was so kind and loved music. I received a hardbound copy with illustrations for Christmas in third grade, and I read and reread that book throughout my childhood. I’m sure it influenced my attitudes about loyalty, charity, and every girl’s uniqueness and potential.

If you could be any literary character who would you be?

I’m not sure I would want to be any literary character, but I sure would like to meet a few of them! I love reading biographies for the same reason. I would love to work in Sylvia Beach’s Paris bookstore (Shakespeare & Co.), attend a meeting with Winston Churchill, or follow Katherine Graham around Washington D.C. for a few days.

Quick Facts about Beth:

Hometown: Austin, MN
Resides in: Mac-Groveland neighborhood, Saint Paul
Favorite season: Autumn
Favorite holiday: The whole month of December
Favorite performing artist: Too many to choose and it changes all the time! Musicians: Prince, Beck, Chrissie Hynde; Theater: Mark Rylance, Kevin Kling
Favorite food: My mom’s cardamom bread
Favorite book: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Currently reading: Cherry by Mary Karr
Favorite place in St. Paul: My backyard

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S.McCarthyGraphic design professor Steven McCarthy receives the 2017 Minnesota Book Artist Award for his Wee Go Library project – a mobile collection of 22 altered books found in Little Free Libraries throughout the Twin Cities.

December 9, 2016, SAINT PAUL, MN – The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce Steven McCarthy as the winner of the 2017 Minnesota Book Artist Award for his Wee Go Library project. Sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group, this annual award is presented by the Minnesota Book Awards and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), 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 pieces of supporting previous work, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community.

McCarthy’s award-winning piece is a mobile display unit for 22 altered books selected from Little Free Libraries throughout the Twin Cities. Using various techniques – collage, rebinding, cutting, folding, tearing, gluing – the artist altered the books to create a collection in which used items are reborn as a part of the larger library narrative. Each book is sourced to its donor library with a small pamphlet that has a pin-pointed map and photos of the library structure and sponsoring house. The entire collection is beautifully housed in a custom-built oak and pine display case with felt-lined drawers to hold each of McCarthy’s whimsical creations.

Members of the award committee praised the project as “a play on books, narratives, and libraries,” saying that it “transforms existing text for an experience that is at once random and intentional.”

Another committee member said that McCarthy “creates a personal connection through carefully curated collections of texts; …the cabinetry, layout, and variation of the treatment all fit together to provide the viewer/reader with a unique journey that reveals the true potential of each book itself.”

McCarthy is a professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. His long-standing interest in theories of design authorship – as both scholar and practitioner – has led to lectures, exhibits, publications and grant-funded research on six continents. His book on the topic, The Designer As… Author, Producer, Activist, Entrepreneur, Curator and Collaborator: New Models for Communicating was published in 2013 by BIS, Amsterdam. McCarthy has been in more than 125 juried and invitational exhibitions and his artist’s books are in prestigious collections. He serves on the board of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Visit his website: http://faculty.design.umn.edu/mccarthy.

A retrospective exhibition celebrating McCarthy’s work will be on display January 20 – March 26 in the Cowles Literary Commons on the second floor of the Open Book building (1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis). A reception and artist presentation will take place Friday, February 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. McCarthy will also receive special recognition and an award at the 29th annual Minnesota Book Awards Celebration on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Saint Paul.

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 nine 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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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.

Saint Paul Public Library is the only organization in Minnesota among 40 recipients nationally of grants funding maker activities, STEM education for students.

library makerspaceCognizant, a leader in global business & technology services, recently announced it is awarding 40 grants to expand afterschool, in-school, and summer programs across more than 60 sites in 25 states through its Making the Future education initiative. Minnesota received a single grant—to the Saint Paul Public Library—which will support summer Maker Camps at five library locations. Designed to promote creativity and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among young learners, the Making the Future initiative supports fun, hands-on “making” programs for students from grade school through high school.

Last year, the Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) and the University of Saint Thomas (UST) collaborated to provide Science, Technology, and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camps for teens at the Createch Studio at Arlington Hills Community Center on Saint Paul’s East Side, and Maker Camps at Sun Ray and Highland Park Libraries. They will expand the Maker Camps this summer using Cognizant funding to create additional learning curricula and offer programming at five library locations. The Making the Future grant was awarded as a result of funding proposals prepared and submitted on behalf of SPPL by The Friends.

College students at UST’s Center for Engineering Education will develop curriculum for each of the drop-in camps. At least eight additional maker activities will be developed. In 2015, Maker Camp activities included Cameo Silhouette/vinyl sticker creations, circuit boards, LED greeting cards, 3D pens, and more. Photos from those programs are available on Flickr. Library staff anticipate some of last year’s activities will be replicated, while new opportunities are also developed.

At each location, a library staffer currently working less than full time in the youth services area will have their hours increased (thanks to grant funding) to oversee the maker camps. These staff members will be responsible for recruiting participants, liaising with UST staff and students, leading camp sessions, coordinating volunteers, collaborating to ensure equal distribution of materials, and presenting a participant showcase.

“Our hope is that the drop-in Maker Camps will introduce youth in low-resource neighborhoods to the enjoyment of tinkering and making through play,” said SPPL Youth Services Coordinator Marika Staloch, adding, “We’ll encourage older students to attend the more demanding STEPS camp where they’ll be introduced to the field of engineering and visit the college campus.”

Each camp offers four-to-six different maker activities, so families can attend for ten minutes or the full three hours, depending on the time they’re able to invest. “Based on the success of the 2015 maker camps, we plan to keep the drop-in camps for ages 8-12,” promised Staloch. “We learned to have interactive activities, like Legos, for younger siblings—away from the camp activities.” The library also plans to engage volunteers to assist with more time-intensive activities, keeping programs moving smoothly.

2016 Maker Camp Locations:
Arlington Hills Library, 1200 Payne Avenue, Saint Paul, 55130
Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Parkway, Saint Paul, 55116
Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice Street, Saint Paul, 55117
Rondo Library, 461 North Dale Street, Saint Paul, 55103
Sun Ray Library, 2105 Wilson Avenue, Saint Paul, 55119

The 2016 Maker Camps will be led by library staff who will provide templates and examples of the activities, guide students and engage parents. Activities for younger siblings assure that it will be a family-friendly environment.

Cognizant’s Making the Future initiative, part of the company’s overall effort to promote skills that help ensure a competitive American workforce, was launched in 2011. Through annual grants and other programs, Making the Future has introduced more than 260,000 children nationwide to over 1.9 million hours of making activities focused on STEM disciplines.

“Numerous studies show that in addition to developing their creativity, confidence and motivation, making is an excellent way for children to gain exposure to the STEM disciplines and gain experience with the types of workforce skills required to succeed in our evolving digital economy,” said Steven Schwartz, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Cognizant. “The talent shortage in the STEM fields is real. Through Making the Future, Cognizant is giving young learners an avenue for developing interest and passion for STEM subjects across socioeconomic barriers and stereotypical gender divides. Cognizant is committed to developing and supporting education initiatives that promote skills for the 21st century knowledge economy, helping American workers thrive today and in the future, and preparing our youth to capitalize on STEM career opportunities going forward.”

About Saint Paul Public Library:
Saint Paul Public Library connects people in Saint Paul with the imperative and the joy of learning through a lifetime. Saint Paul residents can enjoy free access to technology, books, movies, music, classes, and more. We’re located in 12 neighborhood libraries, George Latimer Central Library, and the Bookmobile. Visit us in your neighborhood or online at sppl.org. Cognizant’s “Making the Future” Initiative Awards STEM Grant to Saint Paul Public Library for Summer Maker Camps

Augsburg history professor William D. Green wins the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912.

We are pleased to announce William D. Green as the winner of the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912, published in 2015 by University of Minnesota Press. This biennial award, supported by the Hognander Family Foundation, recognizes and celebrates the most outstanding scholarly work published in the previous two years on a topic of Minnesota history. The award was last presented to Gwen Westerman and Bruce White in 2014 for Mni Sota Makoce, The Land of the Dakota. Mary Lethert Wingerd won the inaugural award in 2012 for North Country: The Making of Minnesota.

Spanning the half-century after the Civil War, Degrees of Freedom draws a rare picture of black experience in a northern state and of the nature of black discontent and action within a predominantly white, ostensibly progressive society. Green reveals little-known historical characters among the black men and women who moved to Minnesota following the Fifteenth Amendment and delves into the delicate balance of power between black activists and our progressive white society. Within this absorbing, often surprising, narrative we meet “ordinary” citizens, like former slave and early settler Jim Thompson and black barbers catering to a white clientele, but also personages of national stature, such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois, all of whom championed civil rights in Minnesota. And we see how, in a state where racial prejudice and oppression wore a liberal mask, black settlers and entrepreneurs, politicians, and activists maneuvered within a restricted political arena to bring about real and lasting change.

A professor of history at Augsburg College and the former superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, William D. Green is also the author of A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837-1869. He has published many pieces on history and law, including work in Minnesota History and The Journal of Law and Politics, as well as editorials in the Star Tribune.

The Hognander Minnesota History Award stems from the Hognander family’s belief in the importance of studying and preserving history. As Joe Hognander notes, “We established this award because of our relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society. Its commitment to excellence is noteworthy in promoting scholarly research and writing. We hope this award will inspire more such activity by recognizing and rewarding the finest work in this field.”

Green 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 Kay Sexton Award. Tickets are on sale now.

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 statewide, year-round program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library that supports readers and writers statewide, moving beyond the book, into the community. The program was created in 1988 by The Friends and other organizations as a part of the Festival of the Book. In 2012, The Friends was designated the Minnesota Center for the Book—the state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To learn more about the Minnesota Book Awards and the Center for the Book, please visit www.thefriends.org/mnbookawards.

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.

 

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