Coloring books for grown-ups

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CrayolaWhether you want to color for some plain-old-fun, or do it to relieve stress; whether you use markers, crayons, or colored pencils, you might be feeling like you need a new coloring book.  You’re bound to find a book on this list that suits you!  And if you want more, just browse!

Image credit:, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

EdCampMidMN: be a part of the conversation

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7407206_origJoin the learning fun at the central Minnesota EdCamp on June 10, 2015. The EdCampMidMN event will be at the ISELF building on the St. Cloud State University Campus (St. Cloud, Minnesota). EdCamp follows the unconference process and is:

  • Completely free. Yes, you read that right. There is NO cost to attend.
  • You design the schedule. We give you the framework, you pick the topics.
  • Have conversations that matter to you. This event is about having rich conversations, not being lectured by experts.

Registration is open so sign up now!

Best of the Best: Organization & Management Apps

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This year, we highlighted apps recommended by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).  AASL considers these to be some of the Best Apps for Teaching & Learning.  As a recap, we’ve resorted them into their five categories and will feature one list per week for the next five weeks. 

This week, we focus on the Organization & Management apps:

Subtext icon


Subtext encourages students to connect learning material to real life experiences.

Pocket icon


Pocket allows users to save online material so that they can view it later!



GoodReader creates a place for users to organize and annotate their various files, from PDF to PowerPoint!



instaGrok is an interactive, personalized, search engine app.

Easy Portfolio


Easy Portfolio provides users with a portfolio to save multiple forms of media to.

More Best of the Best Apps: STEM, Social Science, and Books.

MN Library Legislative Update

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Capital SunsetThe following legislative update was written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information Technology Educators of MN (ITEM).


Received Tuesday April 21, 2015 at 5:35pm

House Legacy Bill:  Yesterday the House Legacy Committee competed work on its omnibus bill and passed it out of committee.  Rep. Dean Urdahl, chair of the committee, made it very clear in his opening remarks that no group was entitled to any particular amount of Legacy funding, regardless of what they had received in the past.  As such, there is no such thing as a “cut” in Legacy funds.  We all start out at zero for the biennium, and the amounts we receive will fluctuate – sometimes they will be higher and sometimes they will be lower than in the past.  He said that some groups needed an “attitude adjustment.”

I spoke with Rep. Urdahl today and he expressed annoyance at the number of e-mails he had received about the level of library funding in the bill.  I assured him that his message was loud and clear and that I would convey it to the library community.  I also thanked him for including funding for libraries in his bill, acknowledging that he has long been a strong library supporter.

So, thank you to those of you who contacted your legislators and members of the House Legacy Committee.  However, we need to stop complaining about the level of funding provided in the House Legacy bill.

Broadband:   I reported last Thursday that the House was providing no new funding for broadband grants, while the Senate had $17 million in its budget and the Governor had $30 million in his budget proposal.   However, on Friday when the omnibus jobs and energy bill was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee, $8 million was added for broadband grants.  Funding for the Office of Broadband, which had been eliminated in the bill, was partially restored.

Library Construction Grants:  Today I met with Rep. Jeff Howe (R – Rockville), a member of the House Capital Investment Committee.  He agreed to introduce our bill to provide $10 million for Library Construction Grants.  The bill is intended to put Library Construction Grants under consideration for inclusion in the 2016 bonding bill.  We need to have it introduced this session so that it is on the radar of the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees as they tour the state this fall to look at proposed capital projects.

House Omnibus Tax Bill:  Today the House Tax Committee passed its omnibus tax bill.  Yesterday the committee took public testimony.  The bill makes deep cuts in local government aid for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, but not for any other cities.  Among the witnesses in opposition to these cuts were Kit Hadley, director of the St. Paul Public Library, and two branch managers. They spoke very eloquently about the impact these cuts would have on library services in St. Paul.

Other provisions of interest in the bill are as follows:

A sales tax exemption for building materials purchased by a contractor under a lump sum contract for buildings used by local governments.  This was strongly supported by cities and counties.

An expansion of the current K-12 education expense subtraction to include pre-K expenses and private school tuition.  The inclusion of private school tuition was strongly opposed by various school organizations.

A Property Tax Payers’ Empowerment Act, which allows a reverse referendum if a city or county increases its property tax levy over the previous year. The referendum is triggered if a petition signed by 10% of the voters in the last general election is filed by June 30. The referendum must be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  This was opposed by cities and counties.

A working group to make recommendations on revising the county program aid distribution formula.

Repeal of library debt service aid for Minneapolis.

Data Practices Training for Local Units of Government:  The Senate omnibus state government funding bill passed on the Senate floor yesterday.  It includes $100,000 in each year of the biennium for the Department of Administration’s Information and Policy Analysis Division, commonly known as IPAD, to conduct training for local units of government on data practices laws.  This was initiated by the League of Minnesota Cities.  The funding is not included in the House omnibus state government funding bill.

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 310
St. Paul, MN 55103
(cell) 612-590-1244

Image credit:, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Your Peek at the Data: A Few Survey Results

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Recently, staff in CMLE member libraries had almost one month to respond to an online CMLE Needs Assessment (survey). We sincerely thank the 152 people (20%) who took the time to share their thoughts, feedback, and dreams for library support services in Central Minnesota. CMLE serves 320 libraries in 12 counties, and one of the biggest challenges is understanding your specific needs while also trying to spot opportunities to convene academic, public, special and school librarians when a topic cuts across library type. In the next few weeks, we will highlight a few questions/responses  in order to provide manageable bites of data.

This week we highlight data about who participated, and
how they engage with various tools including social media!

Makeup of the Needs Assessment Respondents

na_1* Of K-12 respondents, 50% were in elementary schools; no surprise as there are more elementary schools overall.


The following chart shows tools that are blocked for use at work. Tip: Sometimes, these tools can be used in the  workplace by requesting special access for the specialized work you do!



Social Media Use by Respondents: Professional and Personal Use


Other interesting, notable facts!

  • 85% of respondents currently receive the Weekly Review email every Thursday from CMLE
  • The Tech Bits and Ideas, and Resources You Can Use categories of weekly blog posts, are the two highest ranked categories in the Weekly Review lineup
  • 44/46%  of respondents felt either there would be value, or there might be value in having a place online with others in Central MN for asking questions and getting answers.
  • Read the From the Director post to get my commentary on these results!

Do any of these results surprise you? How so? We would love to know….shoot us a quick email!

Watch for a new set of Needs Assessment results next week!

From the Director

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PPphotoI cannot believe we are once again staring down the end of another academic year!  My social media world reminds me that many of you are pushing through grueling testing in the K-12 schools, enduring exhausting budgeting exercises when there simply isn’t enough money, and yes, some of you are defending your jobs too. Welcome to spring in library land. Oh wait, I forgot pending legislation!

Legislatively, it doesn’t help that although the state has a wonderful budget surplus of $1.8 billion for the first time in years,  funding to K-12 education AND libraries will probably not happen in any meaningful way this year (I don’t equate the current 1% increase for K-12 education meaningful). There are many opinions about why this might be. Last year,  the heavy price tag to the state for all-day kindergarten did us no favors. And, the Governor’s push for statewide Pre-K this year, may have pushed too far, and fueled the legislator’s need to block the Governor on yet another pricey education improvement. Personally, I am not sure we were quite ready for another budget item of this size, and I am not sure the schools were ready for it either. Unfortunately, all education related funding (including libraries and multitype systems) get punished when all of our requests are included in a big old education omnibus bill. When things get adversarial, unfortunately we all lose! And, let’s not forget the students, what price will they pay?

On a positive note, I also see good things this time of year!

  • Summer reading lists and hammock plans are growing,
  • We only see snow showers occasionally each week, and
  • Great summer events like the MidMN EdCamp in St. Cloud are taking on an exciting life of their own. CMLE is a sponsor of this event, and we are hoping to see you there!
  • And, I see that 152 people in Central MN took time out of busy schedules to participate in our 2015 CMLE Needs Assessment. To those people, thank you; we are prepared to suit up and serve the expressed needs of the majority of respondents!

Doing a Needs Assessment is an emotional roller coaster much like a legislative session!  As you can imagine, trying to determine and/or serve the needs of almost 800 people in 320 locations is a tall order, and you can only ask for the information if you are brave enough to face it! We are happy to see that 85% of our audience is receiving our weekly email that acts as a launching pad for important library information. Help us discover who we might be missing. We saw few surprises in your use of social media, but still think Twitter is underutilized as a collaboration tool  with colleagues. Our Tech Bits and Ideas category of information was rated highest which fulfilled our hunch this year when we added it to the Weekly Review lineup. The open ended questions are the hardest….we hear worried, isolated, and exhausted voices in some of those responses. CMLE will continue to listen, support you,  and respond! Thank you for the important work you do in Minnesota libraryland and watch for the next installment of Needs Assessment data next week. Did you miss this weeks results?

Not receiving our CMLE communications? Send email, and we will get you subscribed.

Help students transistion to college

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graduateKent State’s “Transitioning to College” resource is here just in time for spring graduation! This wonderful website can help get those college-bound seniors ready for that jump to college. With sections on “what to expect at college” and “tips for college research”, the guide goes beyond simple information literacy with practical topics to ease the nervous future college student.

From the site: “This guide provides information about the changes you will face during the transition from high school to college.  You will find general information about college and how college differs from high school, but the focus of this guide is on college libraries as an academic support service, college level research expectations, and the research process.”

Check out the whole guide now!

Image credit:, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0