Library Closes the Book on Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards

Apr 29, 2021

2020 brought many changes for businesses, organizations, and individuals. The Kathryn A. Martin Library at University of Minnesota Duluth was no exception.

The Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA) marked its 32nd year in 2020, and while COVID-19 prevented an in-person event, winners were selected and celebrated. NEMBA has honored authors, publishers, poets, photographers, and illustrators for over three decades.  

“We really love the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards because our NEMBA team in the library really values the authors who celebrate this region. Those authors have included big names like Gary Paulsen and Linda Legarde Grover, but NEMBA has also celebrated people who published their first work and gave them a showcase and a spotlight. We’re really proud of the history of this award and have been so proud to offer this award.” said Library Director Matt Rosendahl

Like so many other businesses and organizations, the pandemic has also affected NEMBA’s primary organizer and host, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kathryn A. Martin Library.  The university offered a retirement incentive in 2020 and also implemented a hiring freeze, resulting in a 40% decrease in library staffing.  

Under these conditions, the Library has focused on core aspects of its mission - support for teaching, learning, and research at UMD. The Library has made the very difficult decision to step away from NEMBA and will no longer host or facilitate the event. Additionally, this also means that the Library will not be conducting the 33rd Annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards. 

The Lake Superior Writers organization, a long-time financial supporter of NEMBA, is considering resuming the awards in the future. If you are interested in learning more or participating in the Lake Superior Writers’ investigation into their potential host role, please contact [email protected].

NEMBA has placed books about this region - and their authors, illustrators, poets, and photographers - in the spotlight. It also provided a special and unique annual gathering for literary artists and readers. Kathryn A. Martin Library Library staff members involved in NEMBA share their deep gratitude to the community partners and participants for all of their support over more than 30 years. 

Important Update: For more information about the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA), including nominations, please visit: