Visiting the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Library!

Visiting our CMLE member libraries is always fun! I have never been in a library that did not have some interesting things to see – and this one was no exception! This is the Cambridge campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, with another library at the Coon Rapids campus.

Usability in libraries means making things usable for their patrons, and providing this kind of comfortable seating near popular periodicals is a great way to do this. And the view outside that window is lovely; it would be hard to focus on school work, but I’m sure the students persevere!

Although not in the library, this lovely patio area is just outside the library entrance. Look at that view! There are all kinds of trails here, for lunchtime hiking or trail running practice. It is always so nice to see a school that is thinking about the interests of their students this way.

Juliana and Martha were there to show me around the library, talk about all the neat things they are doing, and to answer my innumerable questions – thanks so much! One of the important parts of making these visits is to give our members a chance to talk with us about the work they are doing, so we can figure out strategies to help them and we can help to make some connections between our members. This really is one of the most fun things we do at CMLE HQ, and it’s always great to see what our members are doing in libraries!

Remember when I said every library has interesting and unique things? This was definitely one of those! This is the Russel Johnson Herbarium – the first time I have seen one in a library! “The herbarium serves students as a plant reference collection from which they can learn botanical classification, plant relationships and experience examples of the magnitude of botanical diversity.  Students can also learn plant preservation, storage techniques and shelving models.” You can visit the collections; just call or email first to set up an appointment to see these rare and fragile items.

And the interesting materials continue! (We like unique materials in libraries; check out our podcast Episode Two to hear more!) In the next room the library houses these very useful (and cool-looking) models for the biology students, and those needing to work on their anatomy and physiology skills. And how adorable is the skeleton, or “Bones” as his very official name tag tells us! (He’s customer-service oriented: his name tag asks “How Can I Help You Rise To the Challenge?” and lists his occupation as Library Assistant. You have to admire that in a skeleton!)

The library also has several paintings, including a few by Minnesota artist Maria T. Arrazola. They are all bright and colorful, really bringing some life to the walls! You can read this article about her first place win at the Minnesota State Fair, and some of her history as a painter (and former dentist!). At CMLE, we love to see art in libraries, and an upcoming podcast features all sorts of art in libraries around the country.


More evidence here of the thought put into serving the needs of students, especially in a smaller space (as is common in many academic libraries), this room serves different functions as needed. This is a school that serves adult community members, so thinking about the needs of those adults makes the library more relevant in their time at school. Organizing a room that is a quiet spot for meditation and prayer speaks to the needs of many students, as does providing a quiet space for lactation. It is always a good idea to look around your library’s community and to figure out what needs they have that you can be meeting!

Many libraries are reporting decreased usage of their periodicals; and in an academic library it is a hard decision to know when to keep issues for reference by community members, or when to weed them to provide space for other things patrons might want or need more. I did love seeing the colored tape set across the spines at an angle – it would make reshelving so much faster! This is not a system they currently use; but it could be a model for you to try in your library if you have a lot of periodicals.

Check out that room, with all the nice chairs and tables! It is perfect for studying quietly, or for spending time working with your group – an important consideration in an academic library. In addition, see those windows? The patio above is outside them, and there is a beautiful view out there! This multipurpose room is also used for other events, such as the college’s staff book group.

There is more art in this area. Check out that gorgeous box; it was a gift from their sister campus in Orsa, Sweden! There were several other pieces of Swedish art around this room; a great sign that the culture of the college favors looking out at the world and ensuring a good experience for their community.

As you can tell, we always love to visit our member libraries! We collect our reports here, so you also can check them out.

Have we been to YOUR library yet?? We want to come visit you too, so we can ooohhh and aaahhh over your library. It is good for all our members to see what each other are doing in different libraries; we can support each other in our work, make connections, and help to spark some new ideas! Let us know a good day and time, and we will be there to chat with you about your library work, and strategies we can use to support you.