All posts by Mary Wilkins-Jordan

Save the Dates! Library Legislative Day

Pflheart-logoI love to talk about libraries!

Libraries stand alone in the service we provide. We give books to people. We give them research articles. We give them access to computers and other technology. We give them our expertise in working with information. We give them programs. We give them training. We get them ready for college. We teach them how to do research. We train them to know the real meaning of “fake news.”

The value of libraries can be calculated qualitatively: the quality of the materials and services we provide is phenomenal. The “how does this feel?” test will generally blow the positive end off the charts: libraries “feel” great, most people like us, and even just hearing about the assorted stuff we do is enough to impress most people.

But our quantitative value is also pretty darn impressive! There have been a bunch of studies calculating the ROI (Return On Investment) of libraries. These are most frequently done on public libraries, but my moderately-expert opinion on this is that the general results would likely carry over to all types of libraries. These public library studies show that for every $1 invested in public libraries, value returned varies from a “mere” $2.97 in Suffolk County, New York, to $10.18 in Florida public libraries.

CMLE is working to develop a broad-spectrum advocacy program, to help our libraries tell their story,  and to let their funders know about the amazing value. I love to brag about the great things going on in our libraries – and it’s not just Central Minnesota, libraries all over the place are just so impressive!

And of course, I am not alone in wanting to talk about libraries!

The Minnesota Library Association (MLA) organizes Library Legislative Day each year. This year, it is Tuesday, March 6.

Want more info about this? Check out this MLA/ITEM Legislative Legwork Commitee site – new this year with a TON of great info!! If you have ever wanted to know even the smallest detail of what it’s like to go to Legislative Day (spoiler: it’s fun!), it is here!

We have had a great turnout from public libraries, and their board members, attending and advocating with our legislators for libraries across the state. Thanks, everyone who helps libraries!!!

This year, I want to see if additional other library people can come and talk about your libraries.

If there is interest across CMLE, we can organize a group visit for members.  I would make appointments with our legislators, and we would all go as a group. Generally, these are pretty quick – maybe 15 minutes, so there is not a lot of time to get our message out. But it might be fun, and it might be helpful to legislators to see all these different library people coming to advocate for library support and funding.

Let us know if you might be interested in coming to St. Paul on Mar. 6 to talk about libraries! And of course, we also suggest you mail postcards to legislators and stakeholders, or send quick emails to tell them how valuable their support is and the great things your library is doing with that support. Don’t hesitate to give any legislator a quick phone call, and just say thanks for the support and tell them about a service you provide or  a patron you helped.


Here is the info from the MLA Legislative Committee:

Plan to attend Library Legislative Day to tell your legislators about the importance of libraries! This is a great year to attend if you have always wanted to go, but haven’t made the leap! More info to follow! But, in the meantime, mark your calendars:
March 5, 2018
Library Legislative Day Briefing
Roseville Library
Registration opens in January.
  • 5-6pm-Briefing
  • 6pm Optional dinner groups. Watch for more info & registration.
March 6, 2018
Library Legislative Day
L’Etoile du Nord (Room B-15, State Capitol)
Registration opens in January.
  • Detailed agenda available soon
  • Legislative Day Briefing (same as March 5)
  • Schedule your legislative visits
  • Library Info Fair (10-3pm)

And, if you want to plan far ahead:

August 8, 2018
Annual Legislative Forum
Brookdale Library
Registration opens in June 2018.

Updates from State Library Services

Here is our state library services newsletter from January 9! Stay tuned for all kinds of good info.

Get Ready for the 2017 Minnesota Public Library Annual Report

Library directors and annual report filers are invited to participate in a webinar on Wednesday, January 10, 1:30-2:30 p.m., to learn about proposed indicators and modifications to current indicators and definitions and how to enter data into the online survey tool. This webinar will be useful for both experienced and new report filers. When it’s time, join the 2017 Minnesota Public Library Annual Report meeting via WebEx. Registration is not required.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Joe Manion (651-582-8640).

Order Your Library’s 2018 Tax Season Outreach Materials

Tax time is important in the lives of low- and moderate-income individuals and families. That’s why every year, Prepare + Prosper works with libraries across Minnesota to distribute outreach materials about free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Order your free materials soon in order to receive them for tax time.

Libraries in the 9-county metro area: order your materials through the online Prepare + Prosper order form.

Libraries in Greater Minnesota: order your materials through the Prepare + Prosper online order form.

For more information, please contact Emily Kissane (651-582-8508).

webex meeting

Connect Your Community with Affordable PCs and Internet Access

You can connect members of your community with affordable personal computers, computer repair, and internet access. Learn how your library can partner with PCs for People, an organization that works with businesses, government agencies, and residents to recycle and refurbish computers. Those computers are provided to low-income people, along with support for getting online.

Madeline Tate, PCs for People’s director of Partnerships and Programming, will give an overview of the organization, then describe how you can partner with them to benefit residents of your community. She also will tell us about an exciting pilot program with several rural libraries in Oklahoma. We’ll have plenty of time for your questions, too.

The webinar will be on Tuesday, January 30, from 11 a.m. to noon. You may join the webinar without registering, however if you do register, we can provide follow-up information and continue the conversation.

For further information, please contact Emily Kissane (651-582-8508).

90-Second Newbery Film Festival Screening in February

You’re invited to the fourth annual Minnesota screening of the year’s best student-made 90-Second Newbery Film Festival entries on Saturday, February 10, 2018, 3-4:30 p.m., at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central. The event is co-hosted by 90-Second Newbery founder James Kennedy and Minnesota author Pete Hautman. Help us promote the event by downloading and sharing the screening poster.

Don’t forget—the deadline to submit films for the screening is January 12, 2018. Learn more about how to submit on the 90-Second Newbery website. For more information, please contact Jen Verbrugge (651-582-8356).

Updates from our Partners

Letters About Literature Essay Contest Readers Needed

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, seeks qualified first round readers for Letters About Literature, a national Library of Congress reading-writing promotion program for school-aged youth, grades 4-12. Students are asked to write a letter to an author, living or dead, about how the author’s work changed the reader’s view of the world or self. Letters are accepted for three levels: Level 1 is grades 4-6, Level 2 is grades 7-8, and Level 3 is grades 9-12. Readers are asked to review up to 50 letters (most are one to two pages) with a rubric for guidelines and submit a form indicating whether each letter is recommended for the next round or not. All letters and forms would be included in a Dropbox file. The reading period is from January 26 to February 16.

If you are interested in helping to support this program by volunteering your time, please email Alayne Hopkins before January 19 with your contact information, including mailing address, occupation, and Level preference. Last year, nearly 50,000 students participated nationally and Minnesota is proud to partner on this valuable student program.

ALA Teen Tech Week

Start Planning for Teen Tech Week

Find resources on the American Library Association website to plan great Teen Tech Week activities for March 4-10. Celebrate the many ways teens can leverage technology to effect positive change in their lives and communities with the “Libraries are for Creating” theme. Please share with State Library Services what you plan to do or what you did. We love to collect and share your stories! Send your anecdotes (and photos if you have them) to Leah Larson.

News to Know

America's Star Libraries (Library Journal)

Minnesota’s Star Libraries

Congratulations to the state’s top-rated public libraries. Five Minnesota libraries are among the 259 Star Libraries on the Library Journal Index of Public Library Services. Ramsey County, Grand Marais, and Edgerton public libraries are repeat Star Libraries for 2017. Baudette and Ely public libraries are new to the index this year. Grand Marais received the highest rating of five stars. The other libraries earned three stars each.

The index compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on per capita loans, visits, program attendance, and public computer use. The scores are based on data reported annually by public libraries to their state library agencies. The 2017 ratings are based on 2015 data compiled nationally by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To be eligible for Star status, be sure to complete the Minnesota Public Library Survey which opens in February.

About Us

State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), partners with libraries to achieve equity and excellence in our collective work for Minnesotans. Division staff are consultants who help libraries plan, develop and implement high-quality services that address community needs. State Library Services administers federal grant, state aid, and state grant programs that benefit all types of libraries.

State Library Services wishes you and yours a happy and fulfilling 2018!

Do you want to read some great books? Let’s do this!

Come on  – that headline was a complete gimme. Of course you want to read more great books! You also need some suggestions for some fun books that you can recommend to your patrons. We are here for you!!

check out this reader! he’s on top of his TBR pile of books! great work Carson!!

We love to read books!

You love to read books!

Let’s all read books this year!!

Building on people’s interest in the books we suggest in our Books And Beverages podcast, we have started two book challenges for everyone in 2018.

Here are a few FAQs you might ask:

Are these high-pressure, high-volume challenges?? NO!

  • One challenge will read 25 books (50 if you get ambitious); the other reads 30. If you don’t get them all? *shrug* Read what you enjoy!

Will everyone point and laugh at me if I read books about vampires or YA books instead of The Important Classics?? NO!

  • Actually – we’ll look forward to your recommendations! We like fun books here, and that can include anything that sounds fun to you, including important classics AND vampires.

I never know what to read next. Can I get some recommendations? YES!

  • We want this to be easy, so one book challenge actually follows our book group podcast topics; you can listen to the suggestions everyone gives, then read a fun book for yourself.

I’m pumped up and ready to read!! Where do I find these so-fun book challenges?

  • CMLE Reading Challenge: Read through our 25 reading prompts for an interesting year in discovery of ideas; read two of each for 50 chances to try more new things and to hear what people have to say in different ways.
  • CMLE Book Group Podcast Reading Challenge: We have a book group podcast, Books And Beverages, and each week we talk about a different genre. For this challenge, you can read a book from each of the first 30 genres we are discussing. If you need book suggestions, you can listen to the handy podcast episode for all kinds of ideas! Join our book group podcast here.


We are so glad you asked!

For our group CMLE Librarian Professionals, we will be inspired to create positive change in the workplace and the world when we read Ellen Pao’s Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change.

“Ellen K. Pao’s Reset is a rallying cry–the story of a whistleblower who aims to empower everyone struggling to be heard, in Silicon Valley and beyond. In her book, Pao shines a light on troubling issues that plague today’s workplace and lays out practical, inspiring, and achievable goals for a better future.”


For our group CMLE Librarians Enjoying Books we will be exploring the mysterious fantasy of The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins.

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling—and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.”

We hope you find these books useful and enjoyable as you begin 2018! Thanks for reading with us!

Book Suggestions: Spontaneous

Check out Spontaneous, by Aaron Starmer!

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 like to read YA books- but they have to be interesting. This book fulfilled that qualification, without a single doubt! I read this over two days – the second evening I stayed up way too late to finish it because I couldn’t put it down. Like some of the other commenters, I did not love the ending – but I’d still read it again because it was so interesting.

Mara, the main character, is a senior in high school. She’s smart and sarcastic – always good things for a protagonist. A kid in her math class suddenly explodes one day – a big shock to everyone. The second kid exploding was also a shock. So was the third kid. By the time a dozen have exploded, the FBI are involved along with all kinds of other individuals and organizations who are trying to figure out how these kids are spontaneously exploding.

From Amazon:

TIME magazine Top 10 YA & Children’s Book of 2016!
An ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection

With all the perfectly lovely young adult novels out there, you decided to check this one out? It’s got spontaneously combusting teenagers in it, dude. Not the slow burning type either. We’re talking the randomly exploding variety. Seniors in high school just walking along, heading to class, whistling Beyoncé, when—WA-BAM!— they’re suddenly dripping off the lockers.

Is that really something you’re into?

Confession: I’m actually kinda into that too. So, now that we’ve established we’re both thoroughly weird and, I assume, thoroughly open-minded, we can give it shot, right? Let’s at least read the opening chapters of this bad-boy and see if it features some of the more intriguing elements such as…

–       Exploding teenagers (obviously).
–       Hallucinogenic mushrooms.
–       Pyromaniacal boyfriends.
–       Triplet toddlers in powder blue suits.
–       Amur leopards and doomsday preppers.
–       A foul-mouthed female POTUS.
–       Ashtanga yoga.
–       ­Youtube sensations.
–       Self-driving Priuses.
–       Rogue FBI agents.
–       Mad scientists.
–       Homecoming.
–       Spring break.
–       Prom.
–       And … Jennifer Lawrence.

Notice how I put Jennifer Lawrence last. She’s in the book, so it’s not cheating. And hey, if it takes America’s most beloved movie star to sell this thing, then that’s what it takes.

So, in closing: Jennifer Lawrence.”

Episode 114: Historical Fiction

The Strand Magazine (cover), vol. 65, no. 321, September 1917

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Our full information page can be found here! (Check out all the drink recipes!)

Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This week we are discussing Historical Fiction books!

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.

Who is joining our reading group this week? This week we welcome back book group guest Lydia, from the Great River Library System!

The Historical Fiction genre is such a fun one! You have license to go anywhere in history, to become anyone, and to explore all sorts of exciting new places. It’s like magic – and sometimes it is – but good historical fiction transports you to a place in history and helps you to feel the experience of being there.

This is a great genre for book groups to read, as the books can be discussed in so many ways: pure history, character development, any anachronisms, whether it’s all back in time or your main character is living in our time and traveling back with you. This genre can, like so many broad categories, cover all sorts of other genres: science, mystery, literary fiction, YA, and so much more. We have a lot of suggestions for historical fiction you might enjoy, or that you might want to share with patrons or friends, all on our podcast website – so check it out!

Thank you so much for joining us for this discussion! We will be back next Tuesday with another genre, more book group hosts, and all kinds of books to share and discuss. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a single episode! And if you want to hear more about the work we do in libraries – which is surprisingly fun! – subscribe to our podcast Linking Our Libraries.

Bring your book ideas, bring your beverages, and join us back here for more book discussion next Tuesday!