AASL Recommended Apps: Content Creation: Toontastic 3D

Last summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.

The app Toontastic 3D lets your students create cartoons that are animated and narrated. Pick from their existing characters and settings or draw your own. Add some background music to your story, then export your creation as a video to a mobile device. For answers to common questions about the app, check out their Tips page.

Level: Elementary +
Platform: iOS | Android
Cost: FREE

This review of the app from Common Sense Education gives the app four out of five stars and includes some lesson and activity ideas. Tech Crunch has this article about the app which includes an interview with one of Toontastic 3D’s product managers.

Watch this quick video demo to see all the fun you can have with this app:

Guest Post for CMLE Reads Across MN: Minnesota 13: Stearns County’s Wet Wild Prohibition Days

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

This is a guest post from CMLE member Violet Fox. Want to write a book review for us? Let us know

I’m always looking for a way to feel more connected with the history of central Minnesota, and I was delighted to stumble upon a very interesting part of our history—the illicit history of moonshine!

The 2016 documentary “Minnesota 13: From Grain to Glass” (directed by Kelly Nathe and Norah Shapiro) and the 2007 book Minnesota 13: Stearns County’s Wet Wild Prohibition Days (written by Elaine Davis) both tell the story of an apparently excellent version of moonshine known as Minnesota 13. This clear distilled whiskey, made with a variety of corn developed by the University of Minnesota for a shorter growing season, was well-known throughout Minnesota and beyond. One of the old timers in the documentary tells a joke about a sailor at a bar in Hong Kong who sees a sign that reads, “If we don’t have the liquor you ask for, your drinks are free all evening”; the sailor asks for Minnesota 13, and the bartender replies, “Do you want Bowlus or Holdingford?”

The documentary highlighted many historical organizations in the area, including the archives of the Stearns History Museum, the Holdingford Area Historical Society, and the Dassel History Center. Local archivists and historians told fascinating stories of people struggling through the Depression who saw distilling moonshine during Prohibition as a way to feed their families and keep their farms. Both the book and the movie take care to place the illicit liquor trade in its historical context. Central Minnesota is an island of German Catholics, and while many Minnesotan Lutherans were teetotalers, the German Catholics saw drinking (especially beer) as an integral part of their culture. Religious leaders in the area looked the other way as their parishioners broke the law; distilling moonshine may have been illegal, but it wasn’t immoral. In fact, the documentary claims that the monks of Saint John’s Abbey ran and owned one of the biggest stills in Stearns County!

The documentary goes on to tell the story of a modern micro-distillery (11wells, based in St. Paul) dedicated to bringing the original flavor back, from growing Minnesota 13 corn from heritage seeds to distilling a whiskey inspired by the moonshine (though they use oats, wheat, and barley in addition to the original corn mash). This book and film shine light on the bootlegging stories of this supposedly sleepy part of Minnesota; if you live in this area, you’ll enjoy knowing more about its fascinating history.

Learning About Library Associations: Association of Jewish Libraries

Library science is an enormous field, home to every interest you could imagine! This means that there are many organizations out there for you to join, in order to connect with other people who share your professional interests.

So even if you work alone in your library, there are other people out there doing work similar to yours! Each week we will highlight a different library association for you to learn more about, and depending on your work, potentially join! You can also check out our page dedicated to Library Associations.

This week we are looking at the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). This organization was established in 1966 and “promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.”

Membership to AJL is open to individuals, libraries, library workers, and library supporters. AJL has two divisions which are RAS (Research Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections) and SSC (Schools, Synagogues, and Centers). Learn more about their mission and goals here.

AJL members are able to access many of the organization’s resources online. Members can check out their News and Reviews or listen to podcasts and read handouts from past conferences. They are currently working on a series of webinars.

Their website also has several Knowledgebases, which include Bibliography Banka collection of bibliographies compiled by AJL members and Jewish ValuesFindera searchable database that identifies quality Jewish children’s books. Check out their digital and print publications or apply for an award.

Want to become a member of AJL? Learn more about membership on their website page.

Successful group member visit to the library at SCSU!

Last Thursday CMLE took a group of our members to tour the library at St. Cloud State University, and to meet the new library Dean, Rhonda Huisman! Rhonda and her staff were so welcoming and it was so exciting to discover all the great things happening at this academic library!



Right away we knew that this library was a fun place, from the welcoming banners on each floor to the happy snowman in an office space.

After everyone had arrived and we made introductions, we were ready to explore! Even though I attended SCSU for a few years, I knew that there were parts of the library that I didn’t know about, and was excited to discover them!

Outside the Dean’s office area is the main computer area, with lots of spacious areas for students to spread out. We heard about students who would set themselves up to work at a computer and stay so long they went through multiple meals! Whatever it takes to get those assignments finished!


It was great to see a library providing access to vending machines and a microwave for students to use. It was a busy area and hard to take a picture without including students!

Also on this floor was a great book display all about career readiness for after college. Preparing for job hunting and the workforce is an important part of college, so it was great to see some recommended reading.

We were also able to tour some of the classrooms the library has available for both librarians and faculty to use. This room is the favorite because the design allows for more collaboration. It’s easier to have discussions sitting at a circular table, plus the many whiteboards and giant screen on the wall allows for ideas to be shared easily.

The design of this library is very open and airy, and these high ceilings definitely help that feeling. We admired the architecture while students busily worked together at the long tables.

Next, we were very excited to descend into the basement, especially since we heard the rumor that it may be haunted, which always adds to the excitement.

As you can tell from the sign below, the basement is an area for quiet study. We were in awe of all the materials available down here, from microfilm, to extra large books, to rows and rows of books in compact shelving. The library very helpfully has directions for how to use the compact shelving, but they also have the Husky Fetch service that will bring students the books they request if they are unable to locate them.

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After the basement, we went up to the third floor which is also an area for quiet work. The windows are lovely, and you can look down on a lot of the library from here. It’s pretty cool!




We turned the corner to discover the archives! They had a bunch of books on display that were written by faculty, and of course I recognized a favorite former professor, so I had to take a picture. There were also very cool artifacts on display from the William M. Lindgren East Asian Art Collection.


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We continued across the third floor into the children’s area. The Education building also has children’s materials. This area was cheerful with lots of stuffed animal friends adorning the shelves.

And believe it or not, the fun didn’t end there! Check out more fun pictures from the tour below:


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Thank you so much to Rhonda for a wonderful tour, and thank you to our members that were able to attend, we always appreciate a chance to see you in person! Don’t worry if you missed this group visit, we will be setting up another one soon!


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