This post was written by a CMLE Guest Blogger: Connie Laing is a Patron Services Librarian with Great River Regional Library.
A few weeks ago at the Long Prairie Public Library, I was part of a unique collaboration of teachers, students and librarians. We had a common goal of sharing information about using Great River Regional Library services with a class of English language learners, but we spoke three different languages. How did this work, you ask? Here are the highlights:
The environment was noisy and chaotic.
Many voices were talking at once.
My agenda did not go according to plan.
I did not cover all the material I brought.
It was about the most inspiring class I have been a part of!
Background: The Library Services Coordinator in Long Prairie, Nancy Potter, has developed a relationship with the local instructor of Adult Basic Education classes in her area, which includes this class of English Language Learners. Amy, the instructor, is determined to get her students out of the classroom and into the community, and the first place she thought of to visit was the local library! After she contacted Nancy Potter in Long Prairie, Nancy contacted me for reinforcement, since one of the duties of the three Patron Services Librarians at GRRL is to assist at any of our 32 branches with class visits and information presentations. I was charged with creating a presentation on GRRL services for the adult ELL students.
Are you looking for a fun library activity to engage youngsters at your library or media center? Last week, CMLE’s own Office Bear Orville was able to participate in a fantastic event at the St. Cloud Public Library – the Stuffed Animal Sleepover!
Mary was able to represent CMLE at the event, and accompanied Orville as he got to meet the other stuffed friends and their chaperones, heard a story, then had some fun with crafting superhero capes and necklaces. Then it was time to say goodnight to the stuffed animals and leave them for the night, with instructions to “be good!” Library staff then got to work documenting all the mischief the stuffed animals created in the library!
While we have several fun pictures to share with you here, we also have some exciting printed ones at CMLE HQ. Some of these include Orville riding Wally, the huge book sorting machine that is behind the scenes at the library, and also a picture of Orville and assorted friends working together to break into the Executive Director’s office! The printed photos of library shenanigans were distributed to each child when they arrived the next morning to pick up their stuffed friend. The kids got to enjoy a snack while they heard all about the adventures of the previous night, while admiring the picture display set up in the Children’s Department of all the stuffed animals and their troublemaking!
For the past four years, Dezra Rittmann has brought this awesome event to life, and works very hard to make sure kids and stuffed animals enjoy themselves! She describes it as a very popular program, and it’s easy to see why. In fact, it is so popular that registration is required!
CMLE had so much fun taking part in this event, and we think that it could be a great program for your library, too! Especially with school libraries or media centers – kids would love to see what mischief their stuffed animals get into after the school is closed! Let us know if you need more information, and we can connect you with the right people!
A huge thank-you to Dezra and everyone at the St. Cloud Public Library for letting us participate in your program!
Last week, Angie and I visited the St. Cloud Public Library. As you could guess, this library is filled with all kinds of great things for their patrons, and for patrons across the Great River Library System! We have a few things below, but as is true with any library, we encourage you to go visit for yourself to really appreciate everything our CMLE libraries have to offer. We will be setting up some group visits for members to visit other CMLE libraries, so we can have time to connect and to see some of these great things in person!
This was a very exciting part of our behind-the-scenes tour! I love the automated systems in libraries that can free up some staff time from the repetitive tasks, and let them spend more time helping patrons more directly. In the back of the picture, to the right, you can see where books come in from the return slot at the Circ desk. Books can also be returned outside from a car, and travel underground to pop up here where they are sorted by area into these bins.
This is just one corner of one “backstage” areas in this library, which should give you some perspective on just how huge the whole operation is here! Books are sorted for processing to various departments and destinations, including sending to other branches, to libraries around the state, to the Friends of the Library sale, or weeding. Great River is a net library lender in the state of Minnesota, second only to the Hennepin County Library while not having nearly the budget or population size. The busy staff here who are doing all this work behind the scenes to serve patrons are an great example of the work that needs to happen to make libraries successful, but that patrons rarely even know is part of our service!
You can see that commitment to good service continuing in the staff area of the Children’s department, with decals from prior summer reading programs. They are re-purposed back here after they are done out front for the patrons – just another way to keep the idea of service at the forefront of everything that happens here! And it makes the staff areas feel more fun, which is always good in a workplace.
This is a picture of the original Carnegie library in St Cloud! It’s always so great to see these, as it is something else that connects communities across the country (and the world) with the libraries all from the same person’s funding, and looking very similar no matter where you go. You can look through a list of all the Carnegie libraries built in Minnesota: 66 were built here, and 25 are still working as libraries. This kind of communal history is part of the glue that binds us together as a profession; we are more than just nice people who hand out books and computers (though we also are that!), we are part of a heritage of providing information and serving our community. Yes, this means we are awesome!
Even the shelves of books in this library speak to the time spent thinking about usability for patrons. The thousands of books on the second floor of the library, where adult fiction and nonfiction are found, are neatly arranged on these nice shelves. They are not too tall to reach the top shelf, and there are not any books down on the floor where it is also hard to reach. And it is tough to see in this photo, but the endcaps of the shelves are just lovely! They have words all over them, making them perfect for a library!They are also translucent, so let in even more light to the aisles. And the bright open feeling is enhanced by the long lines of sight here, so you never feel crowded. Thinking about this kind of space planning really makes a big different to your patrons, and encourages them to use and enjoy their library!
Yet another accessibility feature of this library is the computer available to people with impaired vision. Patrons can sign up for this computer at the Reference desk, just behind this computer, and can easily access everything they need! As we are all planning for serving our communities, it is important to remember that making materials accessible to everyone matters. You can also see a fun feature here, with the giant crossword hanging on the wall outside the computer lab! Community members have been stopping by to fill in answers, so everyone can have fun together.
This is one of the special areas set up on the first floor for kids to have fun on their library visits! (Okay, not just kids – I had fun here too!) This is Pat’s Place, named for Pat Christianson, a former deputy director of the library. Setting up these memorial areas can have many benefits, including giving the kids an excellent place to enjoy their library, and in providing a way to physically represent the service someone gave to the library.The rest of the children’s area is filled with interesting books, some great art and other specific play areas, and has more of that great open feel that makes it welcoming to patrons -and easy for parents and guardians to keep an eye on kids as they rocket around the area having fun!
This is a really large meeting room, able to fit 300 or so people! There are two other meeting rooms for community members, smaller so there is something sized to fit the needs of any type of gathering. The US flag up front was donated to the library by the Sunrise Kiwanis club of St. Cloud – some great community connection building! In more rural areas around the country, there many not be other places for community members to meet if they did not have access to a public library’s meeting room. St Cloud is demonstrating what a library could be providing to meet the needs of community members in all sorts of ways!
As always, we encourage you to reach out to your colleagues in other libraries, to talk about ideas and experiences, and to support each other as we work together to provide some great service to our communities!
Genealogy Research Workshop
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Bremer Room, St. Cloud Public Library
4 – 6 pm
CMLE is pleased to partner with GRRL and genealogy expert, Wendy Sykes, to host this free workshop in early February. Come and learn the basics of genealogy research both for your own personal enrichment, but to better help others too. Come right after school or work; there will be food and drink at this fun and interactive event. Wendy will be highlighting how to use library and free internet resources to search for genealogy records. She will also demonstrate tips and techniques that make the searching easier. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops or tablets to amp up personal learning. No device? GRRL has got you covered. We will have use of ten GRRL laptops during this event! Genealogy is a perfect topic to make all types of librarians shine! Amaze your friends and family with your newfound knowledge and skills. We hope you will join us.
We’ve Learned… is designed to keep our readers informed about news concerning personnel in CMLE libraries/media centers. Please keep us informed of any “happenings” regarding staff members in your area so that we can include them in the next write-up! Happenings can include: changes in staffing, awards, honors… you get the idea!
Pine City – Heidi Anderson-Ferdinand, Branch Librarian
Outreach at Isanti – Tim Olson, Outreach Librarian (former part-time Outreach and Interlibrary Loan assistant)
Wyoming – Melody Baker, Library Assistant
ECRL vacancies for Branch Assistants* still remain in Aitkin, Mille Lacs Lake Community Library in Isle, Princeton, and Cambridge. Get more detail about these positions here. *Position was formerly titled “Branch Library Aide” (prior to July 2015)
Great River Regional Library (GRRL) Personnel Updates
Lisa Pelkey, former Library Services Coordinator of Albany, has joined the Upsala staff as a Library Assistant
Kara Gibford-Markman joined the Sauk Centre library staff in November as a library aide.
Over the summer GRRL had a few resignations in the St. Cloud Circulation department. These openings
allowed for adjustments to be made to existing staff schedules which resulted in five (5) Circulation
Assistants and two (2) Circulation Aides receiving additional hours. The remaining hours were posted as job
openings that have been filled, and the St. Cloud Circulation department is now fully staffed. Welcome to
all of our new Great River Regional Library staff, and congratulations to our recently promoted staff! Below
is a list of St. Cloud Circulation staff with their new role and effective date:
Heather Peterson, Circulation Aide – September
Margie Nalezny, Circulation Aide – October
Sara Kirk, Circulation Assistant – October
Jan Juetten, Circulation Assistant Substitute – October
Kelly Groth, Circulation Aide – October
Joe Godfrey, Circulation Assistant – October
Victoria Welle, Circulation Assistant – October
Susan Vail, Circulation Aide – November
Maxim Kroll, Circulation Aide Substitute – November