All posts by Mary Wilkins-Jordan

Vacation Library Visit: Evanston Public Library

We all know that visiting libraries is one of the best parts of being on a vacation, right? (It definitely is!) When employees of CMLE HQ travel, of course we visit libraries along the way!

I recently visited the Evanston Public Library, in Evanston, IL. (It’s north of Chicago, and also the home of Northwestern University.) This is a really nice library, with a ton of great programming (we featured them in an early Linking Our Libraries podcast episode).


The Book Sale room is nice and prominent! I love to visit libraries – but it’s hard to find books I love, and cannot check out. So I do always enjoy library book sales. As it’s obviously out of the question for me to leave any library without books in my hands, this gives me a way to support the library, and also have fun vacation books!

When you take a left, after coming in the front door, you enter a fantastic Children’s area! You can see the thought and effort that has been put into making this a welcoming and fun place for kids and their adults to visit. I always love to see libraries making this effort to bring people to the library! One of our important functions is to serve as places for all members of the community to gather, to enjoy themselves, and to have fun connecting with others – and it’s clear this space makes that happen!! (Yes, there are also tons of fun books; and yes – it was hard to tear myself away from them too!!)

As you enter the Children’s section, there was a special display set up. Librarian Betsy Bird (you may know her from School Library Journal, or her book podcast, or the books she writes!) made her annual section of 101 Great Books for Kids – and the books were right there to be grabbed by kids!

You can see this tree in the above photos, but it’s worth a closer look. Doesn’t it make you want to curl up and read books?? (I maintained a little dignity, and did NOT crawl into the tree to check it out…but it was a close thing!)



Continue reading Vacation Library Visit: Evanston Public Library

Season Two: Bonus Episode on Stress Management

The calm after the storm - Port Lincoln - South Australia (Explored)

Just in time for the holidays, we are here with a bonus episode to our Season Two series. It’s a topic we all need now: Stress Management. Whether you are struggling with finals, trying to wrap up paperwork before the end of the year, or just working to get that darn snow shoveled – we understand! (We’re in Minnesota; we really understand the snow!) So this podcast will help us all to just take a break, to have a moment to relax, and to gather some tools for you to work on your own stress management skills.

Check out our full information page for all the ideas!

We have talked about stress management in prior episodes. So check out our Season One episode 12 Stress in Libraries, and Season Two episode 206 on Conflict Management.

We are talking about this now, because stress happens all the time, from all kinds of reasons; but the combination of end of semester and all the holidays at this time of the year can really make stress worse. Even when you are enjoying your work – it can get stressful! (We love working at CMLE, but vividly remember last December, when we rebuilt our website despite having no website experience. There was a totally dejected trip to Starbucks for revitalizing beverages at one point, just to keep it all moving forward. Things got better after that!)

Stress happens in the workplace. It does not matter how great things are, work is stressful. But we do not have to be passive victims of the stress-fest that happens at the end of the year! Instead, today let’s think about some strategies you can use to reduce the bad effects stress can have on you. (Sorry – we can’t fix everything! Stress will still happen after this episode. But you will be better equipped to handle it.)

Stress is a common problem in many LIS workplaces. It seems disloyal to admit this, to confess that there are parts of our jobs that are less than shiny and happy, that we get stressed and unhappy and burned out. But I will tell you now: stress is part of work. Stress can be hard to discuss. Nobody wants to look weak or incompetent. And nobody wants point out problems that may make them or the organization look bad. It’s okay to acknowledge that you are stressed and unhappy. It’s okay to not want to go to work some days. It’s okay for you to wish you had a job where you could huddle in a backroom without any patrons asking for things, or managers who tell you to do dumb or contradictory things, or all the other things that make your job hard.

It’s okay.

Just acknowledge that you are stressed, that your co-workers are stressed, your staff – everyone.

Think about addressing stress on an individual level, and on an organizational level.

Want to listen to an episode?

  1. You can download an app, subscribe to “Linking Our Libraries” and all episodes will appear on your phone – it’s so easy!
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    • Download any of these, search for “Linking Our Libraries” and hit Subscribe.
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Whatever tool you use, we hope you enjoy it! Thanks for listening, and sharing ideas on libraries!

Want to talk with us about this topic? Do you, your staff, or your organization need training in this topic? Want to write a policy, or develop a program?  We are here for you!
Click here to get started!

Book Suggestion Series: A Curious Beginning

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’m kicking myself over this book.

I bought a copy of this book nearly two years ago, when it was on sale at It sounded good (British historical fiction is one of my genres!), but I had a bunch of books on my To Be Read (TBR) pile, and it got shuffled down the list until I kind of forgot about it.

But then I was going through my Audible library to find a good book, and this was just sitting there – unread. I downloaded it, started it, and was immediately hooked! As soon as I finished it, I went to the site and used a full credit to buy the next one – because I so wanted to know what happened next!

Don’t make my mistake! If smart, independent women who kick ass, and who find equally smart, independent men to work with to solve mysteries in 1887 London is your thing – grab this! (If you are a butterfly collector, or a fan of science – that’s only going to help.)

A Curious Beginning (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery) “London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth. “

Spotlight Program: Classic Colorado Ski Descents

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!)

Freestyle skiing jump2

Last week we looked at a summer program, dreaming about warm weather; this week we embrace the winter with an author talk about downhill skiing!

Minnesota is filled with all kinds of great outdoor activities, and people who love to be outside in the winter – consider bringing one of them to your library to have a good time for everyone!

LONGMONT, Colo. – You might say that Jon Kedrowski, PhD., has an affinity for mountains. He has summited all 55 of Colorado’s Fourteeners, 20 Cascade volcanoes, including Mount Rainier, and, of course, Mount Everest. But Dr. Kedrowski doesn’t just climb mountains; he skis them, too. His latest book, Classic Colorado Ski Descents, recounts Dr. Kedrowski’s achievement as the first person – according to the Denver Post – to climb and ski each of Colorado’s 14,000’ peaks in one winter and spring ski season.  In his upcoming return to the Longmont Public Library on Wednesday, December 13, from 7 to 8 pm, he’ll share those experiences, stories, and lessons learned with Longmont readers.

Dr. Kedrowski’s new guidebook, Classic Colorado Ski Descents, showcases 70 ski options on Fourteeners and Thirteeners, as well as easily accessible mountain passes and locales, with routes that range from peaks with gentle terrain, to tree glades, endless powder, ridgelines, steep faces, and couloirs. In addition to discussing preparation, gear selection, planning and weather/snowpack for skiing in the backcountry, Dr. Kedrowski will summarize the best of the 300 different ski routes and ski descents showcased in his book. Each peak description includes skiable vertical, elevation gain, and roundtrip mileage, as well as easy-to-follow directions to the trailhead.

Born and raised in Vail, Dr. Kedrowski cut his teeth early on some big mountains, which prepared him for some of the more extreme outcomes of his adventures.  In 2012, Dr. Kedrowski summited Mount Everest on May 26, just six days after one of the deadliest days in Everest history, when four climbers died near the summit.  Dr. Kedrowski’s summit was featured on the DatelineNBC documentary, “Into the Death Zone,” which won a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award. Later, in April 2015, he was at the Everest basecamp again when the Nepal earthquake struck, causing avalanches on the mountain and injuring nearly 100 people.  Dr. Kedrowski was not injured and was able to help with recovery efforts as well as gather data for the USGS about the earthquake.

Join Dr. Kedrowski at the Library as he shares stories from his adventures skiing Colorado’s classic backcountry terrain and some of his favorites from his new guidebook published by the Colorado Mountain Club Press/Mountaineers Books. The goal is to send each aspiring ski mountaineer in the audience home with new backcountry skiing objectives and stoke for a new season approaching!”

Episode 108: Humor

Want to listen to an episode?

  • You can download an app, search for “Books and Beverages Podcast from CMLE” hit subscribe, and all episodes will appear on your phone – it’s so easy!
    • Apps we like include Pocket Casts, iTunes, and Stitcher.
    • Download any of these, search for “Books and Beverages Podcast” and hit Subscribe.
    • If it is not readily available, just enter this RSS feed:
  • Or, you can stream an episode right now on your computer by going to our streaming page, by clicking here.

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

Check out our full information page for recipes, drink pictures, and all the books from this episode.

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 Host is Kelly Groth, from Great River Public Library System!

This genre is a tough one because it’s hard to know what is funny. What makes me roll on the floor laughing may leave you mildly amused. So when we find books many of us think are funny, it’s worth grabbing onto that book! We have several lists of suggestions on our website; so if you need more suggestions, check them out!

This is another genre that overlaps easily in many other areas. You can find humor books in graphic novels. Humor can be fiction or non-fiction; and a lot of books labeled as humor are biographies of funny people. It can be scifi (think John Scalzi), thrillers, history, romance, and even literary fiction. As long as it makes you laugh, you have a winner on your hands!