Tag Archive: Evanston Public Library Friends


Love libraries? Vote in the Pepsi Refresh Project!

As you might know, I have a soft spot for libraries. After hearing about a dip in Illinois public library funding, I attended city council budget meetings in Evanston and helped support fundraising efforts through blogging and getting other writers involved. The Evanston Public Library Friends have seen victories and setbacks. But through thick and thin they’ve persisted, and they’ve got a lot to show for it. Namely, they’ve opened The Mighty Twig – a volunteer-run, storefront library established to help replace Evanston’s shuttered South Branch.

How successful have they been?

In the Mighty Twig’s first six months:

  • 18,017 people visited
  • 509 children checked out 6,062 books
  • Volunteers distributed 15,297 free books across Evanston
  • They’ve built up a long wait-list of volunteers ages 10 to 89

They want to do even more – but they need your help.

Vote NOW for The Mighty Twig!Vote for Mighty Twig on Pepsi Refresh!
Help underserved areas get books.

The Mighty Twig’s newest project, “Right Book. Right Place. Right Person needs your vote in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. Cheryl Chamberlain, Twig Advisory Board member (who’s also on EPLF’s Board of Directors) says,

With our project, we’ll buy books by African-American authors and books in Spanish and distribute them to 10 book centers in public areas throughout west Evanston. These areas have zero library services. We also have another three reading rooms beyond The Mighty Twig, and yesterday we began work on our fourth.

How to Vote

The top 15 candidates will get a grant, but The Mighty Twig’s standing is in the mid-20’s. So please vote once per day until the contest ends on November 30, 2011.
Vote online here: http://www.refresheverything.com/themightytwig

Vote via text:
Send the code 109325 in a text message to PEPSI (73774).

Don’t forget:

You can vote every day both online and via text.
Thanks for your support!

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Library-loving challenge: My results

Better late than never – it’s my library-loving blog challenge results! Led again by the awesome Jenn Hubbard, the overall challenge rallied 16 participants in its third year.

My challenge began on March 28, when I pledged to donate $1 to Evanston’s The Mighty Twig for every comment on this post and every new @margorowder follower. I extended my challenge until 4/5. On that last day, I upped the ante: $5 for every comment and new twitter follower. 

In the end, thanks to you and a few fellow library-huggers, I’ve donated $174 to The Mighty Twig. I’m happy to say that’s more than enough to run the alterna-branch for one day. (If you’d like to support The Mighty Twig on your own, click here.)

Overall, Jenn’s challenge raised $1821 for local libraries. Let’s hear it for library love!

Update: My challenge ends today, 4/5/11. I’ll donate $5 for new comments and followers!

I’m taking part in this year’s library-loving blog challenge. Last year’s was so much fun and successful, I had to sign up again! For every unique commenter on this post between now and April 5, 2011 at 11:59pm CST, I will donate $1.00 to Evanston Public Library Friends – up to $150. How easy is that? You comment, I cough up the money, and the EPLF gets a gift!

This year’s challenge adds a new component – Twitter followers. For every new follower I get and keep between now and April 5, 2011 at 11:59pm CST, I will donate an additional $1 – up to $100. So if you haven’t already, follow @margorowder for a good cause.

This year, helping the EPLF is more important than ever. Because the city didn’t renew its South Branch library lease, just last Saturday the Friends opened The Mighty Twig, an experimental outpost with books, computers, internet services, and a variety of programming and events. The Mighty Twig runs on a completely honor-based circulation system and it’s managed entirely by volunteers.

Lori Keenan, Evanston Library Board member and Twig enthusiast, says:

The Mighty Twig saw 500+ people check out 300+ books at our Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday. To the Friends, this seems to validate the need and citizen support of our efforts to provide this important community space. We hope this experimental concept can lead to bigger and better things for EPL system as the Library Board continues its Visioning process. The need, energy, and momentum for bringing more library services to various neighborhoods throughout Evanston is alive and well in the Evanston community.

The EPLF needs $150 per day to run The Mighty Twig, so please add your comment below to support this amazing effort.

You can also help this year’s challenge by spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, or your own blog – AND by commenting on other participating blogs in the blog challenge master list. If you’d like to start your own challenge or donate to your own library, please include the amount and the name of your library system in your comment.

Libraries mean so much more than books. And books mean the world!
Add your comment and follow @margorowder today.

Thanks, library-huggers. I’ll post a follow up soon.

My Dinner with Audrey Niffenegger

On Wednesday night, I had dinner at Russian Tea Time, sharing a table with Audrey Niffenegger.

Audrey Niffenegger's The Night Bookmobile

Audrey signed my copy of The Night Bookmobile

I’d bid on and won the seat through Evanston Public Library FriendsArmchair Auction. The 11 other lucky bidders came from varied backgrounds, covering an age range from college student to retiree.

Blink and you may not have noticed Audrey’s entrance – because contrary to popular belief, bestselling authors put one foot in front of the other just like the rest of us. They also sit at tables, introduce themselves, and seek fellow guests’ names just like we do. When the introductions reached me, I shook her hand and said my name.

But this wasn’t the first time I’d met Audrey.

In July 2007, Ms. Niffenegger gave an illuminating discussion and Q&A on THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE at the Chicago History Museum. Afterwards, she signed my limited-run first edition, complete with her own jacket illustration: a beautiful sea of flowing red hair. And I got up some sort of gumption. I told her about a short story I planned to develop into a book, and could she take a peek? (I’d like to imagine I was very charming.)

Audrey has a flair for creating real, flawed characters, so I’d probably mentioned that and a few other nervous blubberings. Out of an outsized kindness, she invited me to send her the story. Wow, was I ever excited, and so lucky – the chances of this happening have to be slim, given Audrey’s multiple, established, and busy careers as a writer, artist, and teacher.

I sent her the short story that same night.

Less than two weeks later, I received several paragraphs of questions, comments, and notes from Audrey. Totally unexpected, wonderful food for the mind. She also said I was an “interesting writer” and she’d be glad to see the next stage of the story.

More than three years passed. Audrey’s email and her recommendations to read “The Lottery” and re-read THE HANDMAID’S TALE helped shape the novel-length version of THIRTY DECIBELS. (Back then it was named FIFTEEN, until the Boring Police called.) I outlined, wrote a few chapters, stalled a bit, completed draft one, and hurtled through many months of revisions.

So when Audrey shook my hand on Wednesday night, I expected to be a new face.
Instead, her head tilted the tiniest bit.

“We’ve met.”

“Yes.”

“I read your story.”

Oh. My. God.
“I’m so impressed you remember!”

I guess that was the best reply I could come up with. I’d like to imagine I was very charming.

The evening couldn’t have been more engaging. Nearly all of us had fine arts backgrounds. We discussed the merits of rye bread. We laughed about silly things, and reflected on sad things. Technically we were strangers, but for at least that night, we were good friends.

And someone – let alone an incredible writer – remembered reading my story, three years later.

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