About The Friends
Started in 1945, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is a nonprofit, community membership organization dedicated to supporting the Saint Paul Public Library. Our members are advocates for a strong Library. We believe that ours is the best and most-used Library system of its size in the country, and that it deserves an engaged organization that represents the community’s interests on Library issues.
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has an active board of directors, vital civic and corporate partners, more than 3,000 members, and we’re growing our numbers each year. We are proud that our group has been honored as one of the nation’s premier Friends organizations.
Your membership helps to strengthen the Saint Paul Public Library and ensure the continued growth and improvement of Library services. The Friends support a variety of Library initiatives, including:
• Purchase of thousands of new books and materials for the Library’s collection
• Innovative children’s reading programs
• Award-winning literary and cultural events
• Effective advocacy for strong public support of the Library
- To increase the use of the Library through public awareness and cultural programming;
- To advocate for strong public funding of the Library; and
- To provide private funding to enhance Library services.
The Friends is guided in its work by:
- Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to challenging issues;
- Inclusivity and integrity in all its activities;
- Responsible stewardship of its resources in perpetuity.
Revised and approved March 2002
A Nationally Recognized, Award-Winning Organization
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has been honored with numerous awards for its innovative work. In recent years, The Friends is proud to have received the following awards and recognition:
U.S. Local Business Association
Best of St. Paul Award - Libraries Category
For enhancing the positive image of small business through service to the community
Library Public Relations Council
LPeRCy Award - Winner - Division I
Special Event/Project: Opus&Olives
Friends of Libraries USA
Best Friends Award
Planned Giving, Large Public Library, Winner
Program Publicity, Large Public Library, Winner
Newsletter, Large Public Library, Winner
Larry Wilson Award at the University of Minnesota
Awarded to a graduate of the University of Minnesota who is making significant community contributions in a non-school setting. Recipient: Friends President, Peter D. Pearson
American Library Association/American Library Trustees and Advocates National Advocacy Honor Roll
inducted Friends President, Peter D. Pearson
Library Public Relations Council
Certificate of Merit for the Love Your Library? Membership Brochure
L. Percy Public Relations Award for best annual report in the large library category, from the Library Public Relations Council
John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award for activities promoting the reopening of Central Library, from the Library Administration and Management Association of the American Library Association (shared with the Saint Paul Public Library)
John Sessions Memorial Award honoring significant work with the labor community for the Untold Stories series, from the Reference and Users Service Association of the American Library Association
Baker & Taylor/Friends of Libraries USA Award for Best Friends Organization in the Nation in the Large Public Library Category
Finalist for the Evy Nordley Award for Best Project for the Native Words series from the Minnesota Association of Library Friends
Award for Program Announcement and Certificate of Merit for the Healing Spirits series from the Library Public Relations Council
Marshall Cavendish/American Library Association Award for Excellence in Library Programming
Harriet Barlow Award for Library Advocacy from Libraries for the Future, presented to Friends' President Peter D. Pearson
Certificate of Merit from the Minnesota Library Association for Noteworthy Contribution to Library Services in the State of Minnesota
Certificate of Merit for the Fireside Literary Series flyer from the Library Public Relations Council
Certificate of Merit for the Untold Stories brochure from the Library Public Relations Council
Certificate of Merit for the Threshold calendar from the Library Public Relations Council
"Best Of Show" Award for Excellence in Library Public Relations for Diversity Materials for the Fabric of Our Neighborhoods poster, presented by the Library Administration and Management Association of the American Library Association.
Governor's Certificate of Commendation for Service to the Hispanic Community of Minnesota for the Chicano and Latino Writers Festival
Honorable Mention for Excellence in Library Public Relations for Special Programs/Events presented by the Library Administration and Management Association of the American Library Association
The Friends is a proud member of, or affiliated with, the following organizations:
American Library Association
Americans for Libraries Council/Libraries for the Future
The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF)
The Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA)
Minnesota Association of Library Friends
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Minnesota Library Association
Saint Paul Arts & Cultural Partnership (ACP) and Saint Paul Scene
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
A Timeline of Major Events & Activities:
- Records indicate the existence of a “Friends of the St. Paul Public Library,” but little is known about the group and it seems to have faded quickly from existence.
- Library Director Perrie Jones launched The Friends organization on September 25th as an official support organization for the Saint Paul Public Library.
- The first Trustees of The Friends chosen: Harold Wood (1st Friends president – and owner of an investment firm), Theodore C. Blegen (dean of the University of Minnesota Graduate School and director of the Minnesota Historical Society), Anna Furness (granddaughter of Alexander Ramsey, the 1st governor of Minnesota Territory and a founder of the Saint Paul Public Library), Annie Ginsberg, Mrs. Wallace H. Cole, Judge Kenneth G. Brill, Mrs. Harry B. Zimmerman, A. F. Lockhart, and Floyd W. Schrankler.
- Initial membership fee is $1; sustaining membership $5; and life membership $100. Friends funds were to be used for Library staff scholarships/training; speakers and programs; and to buy works of art or special equipment, such as film projectors.
- Launched the "Great Books" program at the Library, which remained a popular program for more than a decade.
- Successfully lobbied to raise the Library Director’s salary from $4,500 annually to $6,000.
- Files of magazines sent by The Friends to war-torn libraries in England.
- Friends member Mrs. Arthur S. Savage provided a gift to have the Children’s Room at Central Library remodeled in memory of her parents, Thomas and Emilie Belden Cochrane.
- Dr. Charles Turck, president of Macalester College, presented a talk on “Palestine and the Prospects of Peace.”
- The family of William W. Skinner (long-standing Friends members) commissioned a sculpture of owls for the teen room at Central Library in memory of William W. Skinner, Jr., who died during World War II.
- Helped purchase a bookmobile for the Library.
- The Friends held community discussions on television, reading and teenagers.
- The first outdoor book return in the Saint Paul system was installed at Central Library, thanks to Friends funding.
- $2,000 granted to the Library to purchase films for a new film-lending program.
- Between 1945 and 1952, The Friends provided over $60,000 in funding to the Library for the purchase of books and new materials (resulting in more than 25,000 new volumes in the Library collection), and the remodeling of three library rooms.
- The Friends co-sponsored a show, “The Carnival of Books,” on KUOM, the radio station of the University of Minnesota.
- With the Library, the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art, and the Jaycee Wives, The Friends held a “Spring Book Fair,” attended by 5,000 people, including more than 2,400 schoolchildren.
- Friends founder, Perrie Jones, retires as director of the Library.
- Initiated discussions on renovating Central Library (built in 1917, Central Library was projected to be used for 20-25 years). The following year, The Friends supported a proposal to create a one story addition to Central Library along Kellogg Boulevard to include a drive-up window (never built).
- The Library’s citywide Summer Reading Program began, thanks to the support of The Friends. The theme the first year was “Team Up With Books” with children reading 15 or more books receiving a ticket to a baseball game or concert. The Friends have supported the Summer Reading Program every year since 1960.
- Advocated for higher library staff salaries.
- The Laura and Anna E. R. Furness Fund was created at The Friends to support the Library following the deaths of Laura (in 1959) and Anna (in 1964). Granddaughters of Alexander Ramsey, both of the Furness sisters were strong Friends and Library supporters.
- Perrie Jones died and left a substantial bequest to the Minnesota Foundation for annual support of staff training activities. The Friends was later asked by the Minnesota Foundation to serve as the administrator of the Perrie Jones Fund (which continues today).
- John and Myrtle Briggs left their entire estate ($1.6 million) to The Friends, with former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger serving as the Briggs Trust administrator. The Briggs' gift was the largest ever received by The Friends and has provided a strong base for The Friends' annual support of the Library each year since.
- Hosted a photography exhibit on the “Children of Man.”
- Gerald Steenberg welcomed as the new Library Director at a Friends reception in the Landmark Center.
- Facing a serious fiscal crisis in Library funding, Warren Burger asked The Saint Paul Foundation to re-energize The Friends. Paul Verret, president of the Foundation, and Nancy Harris, a program officer at the Foundation, spearheaded efforts for Friends revitalization.
- Book Bag lunches instituted at Central Library, bringing together authors, celebrities and noon-time brown baggers over many years. Presenters at Book Bag lunches included Allan Gurganus, Jonis Agee, Jon Hassler, Judith Guest, Craig and Nadine Blacklock, and Lou Bellamy.
- The Saint Paul Foundation dramatically expanded and reorganized The Friends, with Truman Porter as the first Friends president under the new restructuring.
- Initiated a Task Force and financed a comprehensive study to look at the Library, its services and how it could provide better access to Library resources for Saint Paul citizens. The completed 189-page report became a template for the future direction of the Library.
- Marking the centennial of the Public Library, The Friends launched a $1.8 million fund drive to help the Library fulfill recommendations in the Task Force’s 1981 report. Garrison Keillor served as honorary chair of the campaign. The drive included a major celebration and party in Rice Park. By March 1983, the campaign had received more than 3,000 contributions totaling over $2.2 million in support of the Library. The campaign contributions helped fund purchase of the Library’s first automation system.
- The West Seventh Branch Library opened following a Friends Task Force recommendation.
- At the Merriam Park Branch, The Friends helped create the “Raising Readers” program designed to teach parents how get children to want to read.
- The Library shifted to a new bar code and computerized catalog system, thanks to $286,000 in funding from The Friends.
- With $250,000 in Friends support, the Library opened the innovative Town Square (later Skyway) Branch Library. The Branch operated until 2002, when it closed following the extensive renovations of Central Library.
- Two new funds, the Book Endowment and General Endowment, were set up by The Friends to support annual book and collections purchases and general operating support for the Library.
- Organized the statewide Festival of the Book, in collaboration with approximately 100 other organizations. Held in Rice Park, Central Library and the Landmark Center, the Festival attracted thousands of participants. The Festival also launched the Minnesota Book Awards (now in its 21st year and led by The Friends).
- The Festival of the Book repeated as a one-day event. The last full-fledged Festival, it attracted approximately 15,000 people.
- $80,000 raised by The Friends helped replace the Library’s 11-year-old bookmobile.
- Friends funding helped create the “Launch a Young Reader” program at the Lexington Branch, designed to develop a reading appetite in young children through story hours, story kits, workshops and other focused activities for parents and childcare providers. The program expanded to 5 other sites in 1995.
- Cleveland Amory, Saturday Review columnist, spoke at The Friends 45th birthday party.
- A Friends series on architecture and architectural history was presented in the libraries.
- Mary Ida Thomson left The Friends board after 13 years of service, including 6 years as Chair.
- $20,000 was donated to the Library to purchase non-English language materials.
- The Friends organized a campaign against extensive City cuts to the Library budget. More than 5,000 people signed a petition against the proposed cuts, resulting in the restoration of about $100,000 by the City Council to the Library’s budget. Following the success of this effort, The Friends organized an advocacy committee which annually tracks and makes recommendations on the City’s Library budget.
- Hired its first full-time executive director – Peter D. Pearson.
- Provided assistance to the Library for purchase of books-on-tape.
- Featured programs included a talk on the JFK assassination to an overflow crowd, and a series of free writing classes co-sponsored by the Loft Literary Center.
- Sponsored a Library of Congress exhibit, “A Nation of Readers,” in downtown Saint Paul.
- In its first year of operation, The Friends advocacy committee helped reduce cuts to library hours and the collections budget
- Friends membership grew from 370 in 1991 to over 700 in 1992.
- The Dorothy V. Jefferson Memorial Book Fund was established to provide funds for the annual purchase of books primarily by Minnesota authors.
- Committed to the annual granting of funds to the Library for the purchase of new books and materials - $50,000 in 1992.
- Co-hosted the opening ceremonies of the Winter Carnival. Friends members David and B.J. Fesler commissioned a painting of the ice palace for Central Library’s children’s room and had it reproduced as a poster for sale during the festivities.
- Began a series of free author readings featuring Minnesota Book Award winners – the first presenters were Marjorie Dorner and Michael Dennis Browne.
- Hosted a variety of free programs, including events with Vikings coach Dennis Green, Penumbra Theatre director Lou Bellamy, and acclaimed author Michael Dorris
- Launched a new logo and look for The Friends
- Advocacy efforts resulted in an additional $80,000 for purchase of new technology at the Library
- Created the Donor Society with 60 founding members
- Granted $50,000 for new book purchases, over $29,000 to support the Summer Reading Program, $15,000 for books-on-cassette, and $10,000 for non-English language materials.
- The Friends became an entirely freestanding organization, separate from The Saint Paul Foundation. In its first year of independent operation, The Friends provided $272,000 in overall support to the Library.
- The advocacy committee convinced the City Council to provide $80,000 for upgraded computer technology, and The Friends matched that with $40,000 in private support.
- Co-sponsored a national exhibit, "The Bonfire of Liberties, Censorship of the Humanities," in the downtown skyway.
- Inaugurated a new program series, "Gathering at the River," celebrating the ethnic musical traditions of the Twin Cities.
- Featured free author readings with Garrison Keillor, Patricia Hampl, Dave Nimmer, Harold Adams and Christopher Cerf.
- Provided grants to the Library for book purchases, world language materials, science materials, and a pilot project with Saturn School.
- New endowment funds created in honor of Eleanor Herrmann and Clara M. Claussen; and Clara V. Hoffmann. Both funds provide ongoing support to the Library.
- The advocacy committee expanded and saw great success: lobbying efforts eliminated proposed cuts to staffing and added $170,000 to the Library’s budget to restore evening hours at 10 branches.
- Celebrated our 50th anniversary with "A Night of Literary Feasts" event. Ramsey County History journal published a lengthy article by Virginia Martin on the history of The Friends.
- Provided support for "Roots and Wings," a family program on learning and family history, between the Lexington Branch and the Benjamin E. Mayes School.
- Initiated the "Fireside Literary Series" at the Hamline-Midway Branch Library with authors David Haynes, Alexs Pate, Ellen Hart and Barton Sutter. Now in its 15th year, the Fireside Series has presented the best of Minnesota’s authors reading in front of the library’s fireplace on cold, winter evenings.
- With funding from The Saint Paul Foundation, helped the Library hire a technology consultant to advise the Library on new directions.
- The Friends advocacy efforts helped to assure no Library staff positions were cut, and increased City funding for materials and Sunday hours at two branches.
- Friends funding restored Saturday morning children’s programs at Central Library after an absence of 4 years.
- Was one of a select group of library organizations nationwide selected to host a poet discussion series developed by the Modern Poetry Association and the American Library Association and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Secured a $35,000 federal grant for joint literacy projects between the Lexington Branch and the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning.
- Jean and Leonard Wilkening Fund created to provide annual support to the Library and The Friends.
- Assisted with funding and development to enable the Hamline Branch to become the first Twin Cities public library to offer free public Internet access.
- Advocacy efforts helped increase 1997 Library budget by 2%, increased materials purchases by $100,000, and added hours at 3 branches.
- Staffing and oversight of the Perrie Jones Library Fund – which provides funds for Library staff training and development – is transferred from The Saint Paul Foundation to The Friends. The Fund was created in 1968 by the estate of Perrie Jones, the former Library director and Friends founder.
- Collaborated with the City to open the new Skyway Branch & Saint Paul Store
- Friends annual financial assistance to the Library topped $500,000 for the first time.
- Working with 4 community partners, initiated a 3-year project with the Norwest Foundation to create a small business resource center at the Lexington Branch.
- Launched a 3-year community outreach project at the Riverview Branch in partnership with the national organization, Libraries for the Future. Secured a grant from Microsoft for new computer workstations at the branch.
- Thanks to a gift to The Friends from Ruby and Richard Hunt, two new bronze Ramona Quimby sculptures were installed in the children’s room at Central Library.
- Over 450 people attended a free Friends sponsored program with poet Sharon Olds.
- Friends’ annual financial assistance to the Library, including City funding resulting from advocacy efforts, exceeded $1 million for the first time - $1,167,964.
- Advocacy efforts helped increase branch hours and materials funding. The Friends matched the increase in materials budget support with $100,000 in private funding.
- Launched the Chicano & Latino Writers Festival, with headliners Ana Castillo and Gary Soto. The Festival received the Minnesota Hispanic Leadership Award.
- Presented over 30 free programs throughout the Library system, including author readings, Penumbra Theatre discussions, music, baseball literature, textiles and quilting.
- Launched the Public Awareness Committee to increase the visibility of the Library in the community.
- Through a gift from Mrs. Elizabeth Guenzel, major improvements were made to the Skinner teen room at Central Library.
- Received $150,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support Friends’ humanities programming in the Library.
- Provided matching funds and served as the fiscal agent for the Saint Anthony Park Branch renovation project.
- Programming efforts reached new highs, with over 60 free public programs for adults and attendance of nearly 6,000. Highlights included programs with Alice Walker and Gordon Parks.
- The Friends’ commissioned quilt, "Many Neighborhoods, One City," made from fabrics donated by community members and designed by Seitu Jones, toured all of the library branches. The quilt now resides at Rondo Community Outreach Library.
- The Summer Reading Program, supported annually by The Friends, reached new records, attracting nearly 31,000 children to the library and the active participation of 13,000 in reading activities.
- Friends fundraising activities helped expand the small business resources at Lexington, install a job search workstation at Arlington Hills, and purchase 8 personal magnifying readers for vision-impaired individuals.
- Due to The Friends’ Advocacy Committee efforts, City Council approved $227,540 in new or restored Library funding. The Friends matched the City funding with $83,000 in private support.
- Launched the public phase of The Renewal Campaign for the Saint Paul Public Library, with a goal of raising $5 million in private funds to match $14.9 million in City funds. PBS journalist Bill Moyers kicked off the campaign with a major event in May. Renovation of Central Library and total overhaul of the Library’s computer system were major projects to be funded by the Campaign. By year’s end, The Friends had received pledges or contributions of $4.7 million toward the $5 million goal.
- In addition to the capital campaign, The Friends’ annual financial assistance to the Library topped $1.5 million for the first time - $1,533,119.
- The Chicano & Latino Writers Festival presented internationally acclaimed authors, Isabel Allende and Luis Rodriguez, to huge crowds. The Festival also sponsored an exhibit on Chicano literature at Neighborhood House.
- Program highlights included a talk by NPR’s Ray Suarez and a presentation on The Tulip by Anna Pavord at the Como Park Conservatory.
- In partnership with the Library, introduced Threshold, a monthly program calendar listing all Friends and Library events. Distributed free at all Library facilities and mailed to Friends members, Threshold was edited and produced by Friends staff, with The Friends providing 75% of the cash costs.
- The Untold Stories labor history series, featuring local and national presentations, was launched with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Saint Paul Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
- Annual financial assistance to the Library topped $2 million for the first time.
- The Friends guaranteed bond sales for Central Library renovations, saving the City $1.4 million in costs and cutting construction time from 4 to 2 years.
- Honored with a statewide award from the Minnesota Library Association for contributions to the library community.
- Reinstated more than $300,000 to the Library’s budget through City advocacy campaign.
- Sponsored the Library’s "Snoopy on Parade" sculpture, Renaissance Dog, designed by Lowertown artists, Barb & Ken Friberg.
- Oversaw the creation of a new $1 million endowment created by the estate of Ortha Robbins.
- Upgraded the Library’s computer system, including 230 new computers, funded by The Friends.
- Jeanne Fischer, Friends Trustee Emeritus and longtime supporter, honored with the Kay Sexton Award at the Minnesota Book Awards, for her contributions to Minnesota’s book community.
- Almost $230,000 granted to the Library for new book purchases.
- Fifty new members joined the Donor Society pushing membership to nearly 200.
- Friends’ program presenters included former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen, Vice-Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke, Harry Potter illustrator Mary GrandPre, and writers Bill Bryson, Wendell Berry, and Susan Orlean.
- Capital campaign raised $5.8 million for the Library – more than $800,000 over goal. Campaign funds used to overhaul the Library’s computer systems, assist with Central Library renovations, improve community outreach and public awareness of the Library, increase funding for programming, and numerous other efforts and activities.
- Restored or supplemented the Library budget by over $680,000 through advocacy efforts.
- Established an endowment fund for the Summer Reading Program with a grant from the H.B. Fuller Company Foundation.
- Through The Friends, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided $213,000 to update computer hardware at every branch in the Saint Paul system.
- Received the Marshall Cavendish Award for Excellence in Library Programming from the American Library Association (ALA) – The ALA’s highest honor for programming activities.
- Coordinated funding from The Saint Paul Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation and the Mardag Foundation to open Saint Paul’s first Homework Center at the Lexington Branch.
- Increased Library accessibility for deaf and hearing-impaired children through a grant from the Nevin Huested Foundation.
- Provided more than a quarter million dollars for book purchases and other collection enhancements.
- Native American author series (featuring Louise Erdrich, Diane Glancy and 7 other writers) and eight events on food and agriculture (featuring Eric Schlosser, Ruth Reichl, and Michael Pollan), highlight a banner year in programming.
- Innovative cultural programs continued with activities such as “Poetry at the Zoo” with local writers giving literary tours at the Como Park Zoo and conducting animal poetry workshops, and a session on “How to Chant Like a Monk” with The Rose Ensemble.
- Friends President Peter Pearson honored with the first annual Harriet Barlow Library Advocacy Award, presented by Libraries for the Future, a national organization based in New York City.
- Launched a task force, headed by former Mayor George Latimer, to study the feasibility of a separate Library tax levy in Saint Paul.
- Celebrated the reopening of Central Library on October 5 after two years of complete renovations. Friends celebrations included the "Shout It Out!" community event (attended by more than 6,000 people) and the "Many Happy Returns" gala, hosted by Garrison Keillor and attended by 450 dedicated supporters.
- Received award for the best large library Friends group in the country by Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA).
- Created a $1 million endowment to support Central Library services through the generosity of Richard and Nancy Nicholson.
- Raised funds for the state-of-the-art computer lab at the new Rice Street Branch Library.
- Supported the creation of a new logo, identity, website and numerous informational brochures and guides for the Library.
- Set records for adult programming efforts with 6,339 people attending more than 120 free events.
- Launched the Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul book project to write a book with four writers (Nora Murphy, Joanna Rawson, Julia Klatt Singer and Diego Vazquez, Jr.) collecting stories in each library branch and then transforming the stories into fictional short stories capturing the flavor of Saint Paul neighborhoods.
- The "Native Words" series, showcasing the work of Native American writers, expanded with a grant from the American Library Association and a collaboration with the Duluth Public Library.
- Initiated new programming partnerships with the Twin Cities Jewish Book Festival, the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas and their annual O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish poetry, and Saint Paul’s Park Square Theatre.
- For the sixth year in a row, The Friends provided more than $1 million in financial assistance to the Library.
- Through a generous bequest from the estate of David Fesler, a new endowment was created to provide annual support to the Library and The Friends.
- Helped pass Enabling Legislation in the State of Minnesota allowing for the creation of a new Library tax levy in Saint Paul.
- Advocacy efforts paid off with the passage and creation of a new Library levy and Library Board structure.
- Provided funding for two new Homework Centers.
- Published Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul in partnership with Coffee House Press. The book went on to be a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award in the anthology category.
- Helped secure a $500,000 federal grant for the Library and the College of St. Catherine for the Urban Library Program which will recruit and educate more diverse library staff for the 21st century.
- Library circulation topped 3 million; Library visitation exceeded 2 million.
- Saturday Live! at Central Library expanded, thanks to a City Cultural STAR grant secured by The Friends.
- Memberships and individual contributions increased 22% over 2002. Donor Society membership exceeded 200 for the first time ever.
- Program efforts included a series on cross-cultural healing; teen discussions and writing workshops; events with the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Opera, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art; and readings by Kate DiCamillo, Sherman Alexie, and Erin Hart.
- Received two major national awards: the John Cotton Dana Award for outstanding library public relations; and the John Sessions Memorial Award, for support to the labor community.
- Provided a variety of funding for collections and the Homework Center at the new Dayton’s Bluff Branch Library – a joint facility with the Metropolitan State University Library. Over 1,000 people attended the openings for the facilities.
- Commenced fundraising efforts for the Rondo Community Outreach Library.
- Initiated the Opus & Olives fundraising event, in partnership with the Pioneer Press, featuring four nationally prominent authors (Robert Kurson, Lewis Lapham, Laura Lippmann and John Sandford – and hosted by Lorna Landvik). The inaugural gala attracted 450 friends and supporters and raised over $75,000.
- Homework Center program expands to four sites.
- Advocacy efforts marked huge success with 6.3% increase for the 2005 budget.
- Coordinated or funded over 350 free cultural events in Saint Paul, serving nearly 21,000 children and 8,000 adults.
- Celebrated Saint Paul’s native son, F. Scott Fitzgerald, by designating his birthplace as a national literary landmark, publishing a walking tour of Fitzgerald sites, assisting with the creation of a Fitzgerald alcove at Central Library, and hosting “birthday party” events attended by more than 500 people.
- New endowments and donations helped to support small business resources, materials for new Americans, and overall operations of the Library and The Friends, thanks to the estate of former library director Carole Williams, a pledge from the Hubbs family, an endowment honoring Bruce Vento and Paul Wellstone, and a gift from the E. M. Pearson Foundation.
- Central Library programming expanded with the return of noontime book chats during the school year and outdoor movies in the summer.
- Celebrate 60th anniversary in September.
- Helped to open the fifth Homework Center.
- Worked with the Pioneer Press to sponsor and launch the Library’s new bookmobile. Simultaneously, supported efforts to donate the former bookmobile to Manzanillo, Mexico – Saint Paul’s sister city.
- Provided support to the Library for a new 5-year strategic planning effort.
- Continued fundraising efforts for the new Rondo Library.
- Assisted Library Board chair Pat Harris and Laura Offerdahl in creating a website to celebrate their wedding. On the website, wedding guests purchased gifts of Library books in honor of the couple’s wedding. More than $5,500 was raised to purchase new books at the Library.
- Received a major gift, including more than 15 pieces of fine art, from the estate of Judith “Connie” Green to support the new Rondo Library
- Adult programming efforts hit new highs with more than 135 events attended by over 8,000 people.
- City and federal grants received for outreach to new immigrant communities, and to create public art at the Rondo Library.
- Urban Library Program, designed to recruit diverse, new library staff, proves big success. First class graduated and second class recruited.
- Friends President, Peter D. Pearson inducted into the American Library Association/American Library Trustees and Advocates National Advocacy Honor Roll
- Celebrated the highly successful grand opening of the new Rondo Community Outreach Library, drawing over 5,000 neighborhood residents, new Americans, public officials, families, artists, and movers and shakers to welcome this new model of public and private investment in neighborhood resources and housing.
- Welcomed an energetic and innovative new Library Director who is passionate about the Library’s role in youth development, Melanie Huggins, former youth and outreach library services director from Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Received stewardship of the Minnesota Book Awards and, working with the Library and the Mayor’s Office, began to run an engaging and well-respected, year-round program, promoting Minnesota books and writers statewide.
- Watched with pride as the Saint Paul Public Library was honored with the National Award for Library Service at the White House.
- Introduced a new Friends-funded service at the Library: Live Homework Help™ from Tutor.com. The popular and effective online service is available free to Saint Paul Public Library cardholders—both at the libraries and remotely via the internet—complementing the already robust Homework Help Centers.
- Through a generous donation by Friends members Steve and Linda Kantner, began offering free online service, Rosetta Stone Language Learning software, to all Library users.
- Bid adios to the retired bookmobile which was given to Manzanillo, Saint Paul’s sister city in Mexico—its departure and trip south garnering significant publicity for both the Library and The Friends, and its arrival and operation in their community helping more than 30,000 children nurture a love of reading and learning;
- Mapped out a plan to develop a national library consulting group, Library Strategies, capitalizing on the increasing demand for qualified professional assistance from libraries and library organizations.
- After exhaustive research and consultation, launched a dynamic new brand for The Friends—a fresh identity that is more reflective of our mission and activities, and one that positions us for growth and success.
- Celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Saint Paul Public Library with a year-long celebration of special events—both large and small—at each neighborhood branch library in the system, and downtown at Central Library. The Friends provided significant financial, as well as planning and promotional support.
- Received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for our ability to efficiently manage and grow our finances. Less than 25% of the charities evaluated receive this “exceptional” designation, a classification that differentiates The Friends from its peers, and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.
- Provided more than $1.3 million to the Library for book purchases and other collection enhancements.
- Financially supported the publication of a carefully researched and beautifully illustrated book about the history of the Saint Paul Public Library: A Noble Task: The Saint Paul Public Library Celebrates 125! written by Biloine W. “Billie” Young—a Friends Trustee—and published by Afton Historical Society Press. The Friends provided important background information and many historical photos that were used throughout its pages, as well.
- Offered 180 dynamic adult cultural programs (a 20% increase over 2006), which more than 9,000 people attended.
- Launched Library Strategies Consulting Group, with a percentage of all income fees returned to support the mission of The Friends. Library Strategies offers the services of dozens of nationally recognized experts in libraries, strategic planning, leadership development, fundraising, advocacy, capital campaigns, security, and other areas vital to libraries’ health and future.
- Membership rose to one of the highest levels in our history, with more than 1,400 households comprising over 3,000 individuals now holding Friends membership cards. Donations increased at all levels of support.
- Supported the Library’s new Workforce Development initiative with grants from Allianz Life Foundation, Thomson West Foundation, Trillium Family Foundation, and a grant from the MN Department of Education - Office of State Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act.
- In close collaboration with the Library, The Friends conducted public relations and awareness activities so that the Saint Paul Public Library is better known and understood as a resource in the community.
- The Friends successfully conducted its annual grassroots advocacy effort to maintain strong public support for the library.
- The Friends responded quickly to cuts at the State level which had an immediate impact on local budgets by planning and executing a city-wide fund raising campaign called Stock the Stacks, enabling a one-time, additional materials grant of $25,230 to the Library.
- The Friends coordinated most of the arts and cultural programs for adults in the Library, attracting attendance of 7,156 people at 103 programs system-wide.
- Through The Friends’ funding of the Library’s youth services programming, the annual Summer Reading Program served 10,000 participants and Homework Help Centers had 19,145 student visits. In all, youth programming served over 90,000 attendees in 2009.
- The Friends held the annual author event, “Opus & Olives” to provide the opportunity for 800 community members, business leaders and VIPs to interact with well known authors, raising awareness and funds for support of the Saint Paul Public Library.
- The Friends presented the 21st annual Minnesota Book Awards, honoring 32 finalists and 10 Award winners, to a sold-out crowd of 700. The activities of the Minnesota Book Awards extend statewide and year-round as The Friends help MN libraries plan Award-winning author visits and secure public funding for Minnesota Book Award-related programs. Public relations and publicity about the program grew additional attention and literary significance for the Awards and Award-winners nationally.
- In total, The Friends secured and provided $955,176 of restricted and unrestricted financial support to the Saint Paul Public Library system for operational, programmatic and capital needs.