If you like your internet access, now is the time to say so!

We are very interested in library advocacy here at CMLE HQ, and we know that not everyone feels comfortable speaking up to their stakeholders, legislators, or community members about the great work you do in libraries.

But: this is important.

The FCC is getting ready to vote on whether to end net neutrality.


Yeah, that’s right. Some guy who used to work for Verizon is now going to get to decide whether you have to pay Verizon to access the internet. Let that sink in for a moment – then absolutely return to freaking the heck out!

Network neutrality symbol

You’ve heard these words before – they are all over the news and social media. It sounds like one of those complicated issues that would be okay to just nod and say “Oh, yeah, sure – that stuff” and go on with your day.


In a very brief nutshell, net neutrality means that we can access the Internet any way we want. We can zip around and look at stuff we like. We can choose what sites we look at, and what we do there. While speed is not always perfect, at least it does chug along pretty quickly. Remember accessing the Internet back in the 90s? When an image would load a pixel or a line at a time on your screen?? I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO THE DARK AGES!!!

Ending net neutrality means that Verizon or AT&T or Spectrum (or a similar company) now owns your access to the Internet.

I have a Verizon phone. It’s fine. I use it to look at Google several dozen times a day. But!! Verizon owns Yahoo. If Verizon owns my access to the Internet, they can easily (oh, so easily) announce that everyone on Verizon’s cell coverage is now using Yahoo.

  • You want Google? Neat. That costs extra.
  • And of course, Google also owns YouTube; so you want to watch a YouTube video? That costs extra.
  • Does your school use Google Classroom or Google Docs? You aren’t getting to that on a Verizon connection!
  • Maybe your school works out a deal with Google (who doesn’t currently provide Internet service) to provide Internet service to you at work. Great. But are you at home and need to do some work? Not on a Spectrum connection – without an extra fee.

This is just one teeny example of what will happen if companies suddenly own your ability to access the Internet.

Take a moment to think how much further this will go – and then absolutely freak out. Because it’s worse than whatever you are thinking.

Remember life 20 years ago? We didn’t have constant Internet access. But life has changed! How many of us bank online – and may have to pay AT&T to get access to our money or to pay our bills? How many of us download books to listen to in the car? How many people stream really fun podcasts? Who depends on Amazon to deliver great stuff to you? Or Spotify to bring great music to you? How many of you email your family? Update your Facebook page with photos of kids and pets so your friends can keep up? Anyone play games on your phone? Have Google reading you turn by turn directions when you drive someplace new? Get access to the latest research for academic papers? Read your news online? Anyone using Duolingo to learn a new language? Anyone slightly addicted to the 24/7 live stream of the Kitten Academy?? (it’s not just me, right??) Maybe you want to watch Netflix or Hulu – but Spectrum owns your access to the Internet, and they have no economic interest in you leaving their cable channels. You might be able to get to Netflix, but it may t a k e a r e a l l y l o o o o o n g t i m e t o g e t s o m e t h i n g.

Think about the work you do every day. What do patrons do in your library? How much of it involves being able to access the internet?

This is not fantasy. This is already happening in other countries. Today. Now.

You need net neutrality for yourself.

You need net neutrality for your library.

You need net neutrality for your community.

But, you ask:

It’s shockingly simple.

You go tell the FCC how much this will damage you, your library, your patrons, and your community. Or, just pick one of those things. The important thing is to GO SAY SOMETHING!!

Where do you do this shocking simple thing??

WEBSITE: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express

Open that link on a computer, not a mobile device.

I’m there! Now what???

  • They ask for a proceedings number. This is: 17-108.
  • Type your name. (All government forms ask for this; hopefully it keeps down the spam bots.)
  • Type your address (I used my work address. I had to look it up, and that was the toughest part of the whole process)

I’m in the groove! What do I say??

Speak from your heart. Identify yourself as a library employee, if you want to. Tell them about a patron who used the internet today to find a wonderful book, to access their veteran’s benefits, to talk with their grand-kids who live across the country. Tell them about the training you do to help people use the Internet. Tell them how much you love accessing any site that makes you happy.

Remember to ask for the specific thing you want: Free and fast access to the Internet!!

ACK!!! I got scared!! It sounded hard!!! I didn’t do anything!! NOW WHAT??

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

Just go back and follow the directions. Share your voice. Be heard! Speak for your community.

What is at stake here???

Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum – these companies depend on us getting scared, or assuming someone else will handle it so that everything turns out okay.

They have lots of high priced lobbyists who cheerfully offer to write regulations that make them rich. It’s their jobs. Neat in some situations; but here that just means one thing: “Give us money or you get nothing. Enjoy your blocked and throttled Internet libraries!! You guys don’t have big budgets to pay us, so good luck with whatever scraps we throw to you!”

(I’m paraphrasing. But that is the message, if not the exact wording.)

You don’t have high priced lobbyists. You just have us. We just have you.

No pressure here, but…the fate of library service as you know it depends on a free access to the Internet.

So, yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you contact legislators and stakeholders all the time: excellent. Tell them about your feelings on net neutrality.

If you have never contacted a legislator, or never wanted to raise your voice, or to get involved – this is not the time to be shy or neutral. We need you. You need the Internet. (How else are you going to read these fun blog posts? Or download our Books and Beverages book group podcast???)

Why are you still here????


(Then, forward this post to every single person you know!!!)


Award yourself one Official Superhero point for helping to save the Internet for us all!



Office Hours Wednesday! (Come visit us and Lady Grey)

Lady Grey is filled with anticipation for your visit!!

Come visit Lady Grey, check out our holiday decorations, and chat with Mary and Angie about library topics! If you have any concerns or great ideas, definitely come talk with us.

Office hours are held from 11am – 1pm at our location:
570 1st St. SE St. Cloud MN 56304. Can’t make it in person? Send us an email at admin@cmle.org and we’ll set up a time to talk!

We have one more Office Hours time this year: Wednesday, December 20th! (Of course, we are always happy to talk with you; but these are the days you can be sure to also see Lady Grey!)

Episode 109: Graphic Novels

Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This week we are discussing Graphic Novels!

Check our full information page for more information!

We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we support all types of libraries. This is our book group podcast, where we discuss different genres of books each week, while we all sit in our comfy chairs and drink our beverages. And you are, of course, an important part of this book group. So if you do not already have a nice beverage please go get one, so you can join the experience.

This week our Guest Hosts are Kate Buechler and Dezra Rittmann, both from Great River Library System!

Graphic novels are one of the fastest growing categories in publishing and bookselling. Today’s graphic novels are far more sophisticated and varied in content than the comics that preceded them and enjoy a level of respect previously denied to this form of popular entertainment: they are the subject of reviews, book-length surveys, museum exhibits and academic study, as well as recipients of prestigious literary awards.

Graphic Novels can be an important part of both educational and leisure reading for students of all ages. Graphic novels are astoundingly popular with kids and young adults, and can be as simple or complex as any other literature.


Spotlight Program: Innovative Book Displays!

At CMLE, we so enjoy all our different types of libraries, archives, and other members! Seeing all the work you are doing is so inspiring; and we want to return the favor by helping you to find some of the great programming going on around the profession.

Each week we will share an interesting program we find. It may inspire you to do exactly the same thing; or to try something related; or just to try out some different programming ideas. (Check out our podcast episode on Library Programming; you can tune in here! Or, of course, subscribe or stream to enjoy any of the episodes!)

This week we are thinking about  great book displays! You can sign into Pinterest and see all kinds of great pictures to give you some other fun ideas to try in your library or archive.

I just love this photo from the Lacey Timberland Library! As a librarian, of course I have very low tolerance for banning books – especially for completely ridiculous reasons. This sign brings into the light some of these calls, so people can see them and think about the importance of freely accessible books and information. If you browse around Pinterest for other photos from this library, you will find all kinds of great displays!

Want more inspiration? Angie collected a bunch of great resources for you! Book displays are fun, because there is no “bad” way to do it. You just want materials to get into the hands of someone who wants to enjoy it – try something today, and see what happens!

You know that putting together book displays takes time and creativity. Some days, you are just not feeling it! When that happens, it’s handy to have some guidelines to help stimulate good ideas. Here is an article you can use to make your displays fun, useful, and to get those materials flying off the shelves: Twenty Rules for Better Book Displays by Susan Brown.

You want to use displays to help you fulfill your basic mission: Connecting your materials to your community.

We would absolutely love to see your displays! If you have a really small one, if you have a massive one, if your display is somewhere in between those – take a picture and send it to us! We want to feature some of our members in an upcoming article, so help us out.

Book Suggestions: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

We love to read books, and to talk about books. Check out our entire series here! Need more book chatting and suggestions in your life? Listen to our Books and Beverages podcast!

I love retellings of fairy tales, so when I heard about this book being marketed as a “feminist fantasy reimagining of Snow White” of course I was interested!

So far I’m really enjoying the book (hurrying to finish so I avoid an overdue fine!) and the setting of a chilly castle trapped in the season of winter fits perfectly with our Minnesota weather. The two main characters are strong and determined to discover their own identities despite lots of obstacles, some of them magic-related. There’s definitely a sense of something ominous coming and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
“Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.”




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