All posts by Mary Wilkins-Jordan

We Want You!


Blog with CMLE!


At CMLE, we want to provide our members with information on all kinds of issues that they may encounter in their library workplaces. And we want to be sure we have a wide variety of voices here to pass on information, experiences (good and bad!), suggestions, tips, and just general information that others could find helpful. Everyone has a story to share, experience to pass on, and ideas to contribute to make us all stronger!

We are actively soliciting for members to share their stories with us! We want to get all our CMLE members to share with each other here on our blog.

What could you write about?

  • a program that was fantastic, everything went smoothly, and you think other libraries could adopt
  • a program that was a disaster from start to finish, and you have a cautionary tale to terrify other libraries (Halloween is coming up, after all)
  • a program that fell somewhere between these two extremes
  • a database your users really like
  • a new technology you tried
  • some collection development or cataloging strategies you have developed over the years, that could make things easier/faster/more efficient for other people
  • a problem you are facing, where you could really use some advice from other people who have also been there
  • your library’s garden
  • your library’s pet
  • your library’s pet rock
  • quick tips to make scheduling easier
  • the cutest thing that happened last week
  • the scariest think that happened last week
  • the marketing plan you just wrote
  • your special, patented, never-fail strategy for ensuring your printers never jam! (okay – if you have this one, we DEFINITELY want it!)

Are we worried about perfection in writing up these stories? Nope!

Are we looking only for people who are amazing, perfect writers? No way!

Are we available to brainstorm with you, help with writing, and do the formatting and such to get your work posted and shared with CMLE? You bet!!

You can contribute a paragraph, a page, or longer! Not all information to be shared needs the same amount of discussion, so things are flexible here for you.

In addition to being open to almost anything you guys want to share and discuss, we are putting out a call for some specific topics. CMLE will be offering Monthly Topic themes, with blog posts and training focused all in an area that should be helpful to our members. We really want to hear from you and to share your stories, ideas, suggestions, and whatever else you have to share on our monthly topics. You can get your material ready any time, and we will hold onto it until the topical month comes up.

Our upcoming Monthly Topic schedule:

  • October: Hiring (including recruiting, writing job ads, interviewing, succession planning, and more)
  • November: Advocacy (including strategies for finding your stakeholders, templates for emailing legislators, practicing your elevator speech, and more)
  • December: Stress Management (including relaxation tips, work/life balance ideas, strategies for avoiding burnout, and more)
  • January: Grants (finding them, writing the application, managing programs, and more)

We will keep announcing topics before the month in question, so you can have time to think about your contributions.

Do you have an idea you might want to share? Call or email Mary or Angie, and we will work with you to get it created, scheduled, and shared!

2015 Frequently challenged books (Banned Book Week series #2)

Celebrate Banned Books Week

This is always a difficult count to make, because what gets challenged and/or banned may not get mentioned in the media or reported to the ALA for inclusion. Libraries may be embarrassed at getting a book challenge, or uncertain of a procedure they could follow to respond in a professional way. Ideally, this is a time to connect with community members, to talk about intellectual freedom, and supporting a parent’s right to individual choice – not choice for all. Tomorrow we will talk about strategies for writing your policy to handle challenges; today we will look at some of the most challenged material, to start thinking about conversations to have both within the library with our colleagues and also with the communities we serve.

From the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom:

Over this recent past decade, 5,099* challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

  • 1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 619 challenged due to “violence”‘ and
  • 361 challenges due to “homosexuality.”

Further, 274 materials were challenged due to “occult” or “Satanic” themes, an additional 291 were challenged due to their “religious viewpoint,” and 119 because they were “anti-family.”

Please note that the number of challenges and the number of reasons for those challenges do not match, because works are often challenged on more than one ground.

1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries; 1,811 were in classrooms; 1,217 took place in public libraries. There were 114 challenges to materials used in college classes; and 30 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to library materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and students. The vast majority of challenges were initiated by parents (2,535), with patrons and administrators to follow (516 and 489 respectively).

From the OIF’s page for Banned Book Week, here is a list of the ten most frequently challenged books of 2015: (links go to GoodReads, for more information about the book itself; go the the OIF page for specifics of the challenges for each title)

  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. I Am Jazz by  Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  6. The Holy Bible (there are many different versions of this book; this is just one example)
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by  Jeanette Winter
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan


Thinking through your own strategies for responding to challenges, or in thinking about material that might be challenged, can be difficult. Know that there are resources available to help you as you write your library’s policy, and in handling challenges and collection development complexities. The ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is available to help you with challenges. CMLE is available to help you with policy creation and strategies for working through your ideas for challenges and effective collection development.

Freedom to Read: Getting Involved! (Banned Book Week Series #1)

Today the library profession begins Banned Book Week! CMLE will provide information to you each day this week, from September 25 − October 1, 2016.

This is the week we band together to draw attention to the issue of books and information being banned from our patrons. As a profession devoted to distributing information, and connecting great materials with our patrons, any sort of censoring of that process is troublesome to us. We support the freedom to read, and intellectual freedom, across genres, platforms, and formats.

Support the freedom to read!


Today we are looking at the resources the American Library Association’s website provides to us.

Do you have questions about this topic? A handy Q&A has been provided for you. Talking about censorship, banning books, and restricting freedom to read for some or all patrons can be tough. It can be hard to bring it up in your library with your colleagues, and hard to discuss with patrons. ALA provides you with some content to share and discuss, and some suggestions about spreading ideas of intellectual freedom. You can also follow the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom on Twitter. It is filled with facts and information, as well as fun displays and activities libraries around the country are doing!

How can you get involved in publicizing banned books? Check out this information about making your own videos for the Virtual Read Out! Your library can participate, and you can bring in your patrons if they want to share in the video making experience.

Many libraries are doing interesting programming for this week, and there is a lot of great information being shared in advance. You can look at the things libraries and librarians are contributing here. And you can share the contributions from your library here.

Sadly, book challenges happen all the time, so we need to be aware of banned book information the other 51 weeks of the year. You can get involved, and learn more about the issue – before you have professional problems in your library.

Does all of this make you want to have Banned Book Week swag in your library or for yourself? The ALA has you covered! Check out all the material available, and see what you might want now, or get started planning out next year’s displays!

Intellectual freedom is a continuing struggle, and libraries of all sorts are on the front lines. You need support and information to help you in providing the best possible resources to your community, and CMLE and the ALA are here to help you!

Continuing Education from CMLE!

Learn new things!

At CMLE we take our commitment to providing our members with information and continuing professional training opportunities very seriously. We will continue to build on the courses and seminars we have offered, and hope to expand things for you. The library field is fast-moving and ever-changing; and we are here to help our members to keep their skills sharp, and to be able to better serve patrons’ needs.

We have set up a Continuing Education page on our site, with a Google calendar of all kinds of events that might be interesting to you. Most of these are offered as webinars, or online classes; and a few are in person seminars or conferences. Many are free, and some require payment. We will also include professional conferences, so you can keep up with the ideas being shared in your area of the library world. No individual person, or library, will be interested in all of these; but we will have a broad range of topics, to be sure you have all kinds of possibilities for building new skills and making yourself more valuable! And, seeing some of the things other libraries are discussing – even if you do not want to participate in the class – may give you some ideas about new things to try, or new people to contact to talk further about a topic.

We will also be offering regular continuing education programs through CMLE. We want to be sure our members have a chance to talk about topics of specific interest, or frustration; and to be able to gather and connect with their local colleagues. So, we will offer monthly training at the CMLE Headquarters, as well as streaming it through Go To Meeting for members to attend virtually.

To build on the training we will offer each month, we will offer additional material on our blog posts on the same topic. In October, our Topic Of The Month will be the broad subject of Hiring, including recruiting plans, succession plans, writing successful job ads, and motivating staff once they have been hired. In November, we will cover Advocacy. In that month, we will look at connecting with your funders, identifying stakeholders, writing an advocacy plan for your library, and provide templates for you to use to contact people to share your good library news. And in December, our monthly topic will be Stress Management. By the end of the year, and in such a busy season, we know everyone will need some tips on stress and relaxation, avoiding burnout at work, and ways to increase your professional satisfaction in your workplace.

Take a look around the calendar, and feel add it to your own Google calendar for easy viewing any time! (Just click the blue plus sign in the bottom right corner of the calendar.)

Do you have other suggestions for training? Email us! We always want to hear from our members!

Minnesota State Library Services updates

MDE logo retrieved online 12/17/13..

One of the great things about being part of a profession is knowing you are never alone! Even if you are a solo librarian, you are part of a regional system (hello to all our CMLE members!); you are part of the services offered by our state, and you are part of a larger national network of libraries. All of these networks exist to help libraries to provide services and information – so take advantage of their offerings whenever possible. (Maybe a new slogan could be: Make Your Library Life Easier – Rely On Your Network!)

If you have not browsed through the offerings from the State Library Services lately, this is a great opportunity to check on the things they do, programs offered, and services that may be helpful to you and your library work!

Below are the updates, from their newsletter. You can subscribe yourself; or just stay tuned to our CMLE site, and we will continue to bring you this information.

LSTA Grant Awards Announced
As a result of our most recent LSTA grant round, we awarded twelve grants for innovative projects with diverse beneficiaries. The grant-funded projects are wide-ranging and include the creation of programs and resources to strengthen families affected by incarceration, the expansion of a science fair initiative that connects third- and fourth-graders with area STEM professionals, and the development of creative in- and out-of-school-time digital learning opportunities. The grant abstracts are located on the LSTA web page. Please contact Jackie Blagsvedt (651-582-8805) for more information.

Provide a Shortcut to Social Security Services – Webinar
State Library Services and the Social Security Administration’s St. Paul office are presenting a webinar introducing libraries to SSA Express. This program gives people easy access to their most requested services, such as replacement SSN cards and estimating retirement benefits. The webinar will cover how to install a secure shortcut on public computers and also how to provide access via your library’s website. We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, October 4 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Register today, and then attend the webinar on October 4. For more information, please contactEmily Kissane (651-582-8508).

Announcing Playdates for Educators (Of All Sorts)
The Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas is hosting monthly, free playdates for educators, artists, and makers who want to discuss, share, and try out new ways of bringing joy and playful learning to students. Fall playdates will be held on Wednesday, September 21, October 26, November 30 and December 14 from 7-9 p.m. in the makerspace on the first floor of the University of St. Thomas Anderson Student Center at 2115 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul. Each session will include a hands-on project led by Playful Learning Lab students, as well as ample time for discussion and networking. Please email Annmarie Thomas to RSVP.

Is Your Library Retro Chic?
We thought library due-date stamps like catalog cards and book pockets were a thing of the past. But if your library is retro by design or necessity, the Humboldt County Library in Winnemucca, Nevada, is interested in learning if you are stamping materials with the due date at check out. If you would like to add your historical or progressive practices to their data collection, please submit this very short, four-question survey.

Connect with State Library Services at the MLA Conference
We’ll be at the MLA Conference right alongside you—presenting sessions, attending section meetings and conference sessions, and looking forward to chatting with you. Please check out the following sessions our talented staff is presenting. We hope to see you at the conference!

Partnerships to Improve Digital Equity in Tribal Communities
Thursday, September 29, 10:55-11:55 a.m.
Co-presented by Jen Nelson and Hannah Buckland
Whether offering iPad workshops to local middle schoolers, planning a community-wide workforce development project, or coordinating opportunities for adult learners, libraries are active in improving digital equity across Minnesota. Tribal libraries in particular provide broadband connections and technology services to communities deeply impacted by Minnesota’s digital divide. Tribal libraries are well poised to bring about positive change even though limited budgets, staffing constraints, and geographic isolation often hinder the services these libraries can provide. To help bridge this resource gap, partnerships between tribal libraries and like-minded organizations like State Library Services, Adult Basic Education, and local governments are necessary. Join us to learn more about partnering to reduce access disparities and help us move digital equity in tribal communities forward.

Tax Resources for Minnesota Libraries
Thursday, September 29, 10:55-11:55 a.m.
Co-presented by Emily Kissane, Sarah Bjorklund and Chris Anning
The 2017 tax season will be upon us before we know it! This session will give libraries the latest department updates and important tax information so they can point patrons to the best information and resources available. The session will be facilitated by State Library Services and will feature presenters from the Minnesota Department of Revenue. The session will cover:
– Minnesota Department of Revenue updates
– Common Minnesota credits
– Important tax dates
– Free tax preparation sites
– Helpful resources
– Tax Research Library
…and plenty of time for questions and answers.

Believe It. Build It. This Book Can Help You Offer Amazing Programs for Youth at Your Library
Thursday, September 29, 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Co-presented by Jen Verbrugge and Eric Billiet
Out-of-school time programming is growing in libraries by leaps and bounds! At last, Minnesota has a blueprint to help you offer more effective afterschool and summer programs for youth. Believe It. Build It. is a guidebook that brings together librarians, youth workers and afterschool care providers around a common language and research-based practices. Learn about building quality into your programs from the out-of-school time experts who are part of Ignite Afterschool, Minnesota’s afterschool network.

State Library Services On-Demand!
Friday, September 30, 8:50-9:50 a.m.
Co-presented by all available State Library Services staff
Are you interested in getting one-on-one answers about LSTA and Construction grants, running customized reports using public library annual survey data, services offered from the Braille and Talking Book Library, or statewide youth services initiatives from the State Library staff? If so, come to this walk-in “reference” desk and consult with the librarians from State Library Services. We will answer your questions on the spot or get back to you–whatever it takes to answer your queries.

Begin Your Love Affair with Data: Evaluating Programs = Finding Success
Friday, September 30, 8:50-9:50 a.m.
Co-presented by Jen Verbrugge and Eric Billiet
Are you offering awesome programs for tweens and teens, but ending up with empty meeting rooms? Believe it or not, looking at the types of data you collect and why you collect it can help you meaningfully connect with more kids through your library programs. This session will help you begin an evolution from simply doing evaluation to being evaluative–and reaping the benefits through improved relationships with young people and increased youth program attendance.

State Library Services: Moving Ahead to 2022
Friday, September 30, 10:55-11:55 a.m.
Presented by Jen Nelson
In 2017, State Library Services is looking ahead to a new Library Services and Technology Act Five Year plan. The plan will support the ongoing efforts of Minnesota’s libraries to positively impact their communities from 2018 through 2022. Please join us and share your thoughts on trends and directions for library services in the coming years. Come prepared for a wide-ranging conversation about programs that expand services through partnerships for learning and access to information and educational resources for individuals of all ages, circumstances and abilities. Together we will share ideas for statewide initiatives to build networks to support research, education and innovation, improve staff skills, and build the capacity of libraries to serve their patrons.

LSTA Grantee Panel: Meeting Emerging Community Needs through LSTA
Friday, September 30, 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Co-presented by Jackie Blagsvedt, Kelly Stade, Mary Lukkarila and Paul Ericsson
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants are available through State Library Services to assist many types of libraries from across Minnesota in addressing emerging community needs. In this session, recent LSTA recipients will share how they recognized a need in their community and developed a project to respond to the need. Panelists will also share their experiences with administering their grant projects and highlight project milestones from conception through completion. Learn best practices for identifying and demonstrating a need in your community, and crafting a plan that meets both the organizational and primary audience needs. The session will also include an overview of Minnesota’s LSTA plan and World’s Best Workforce legislation, which shape the types of projects we are able to support.

ConnectED Library Challenge in Minnesota
Friday, September 30, 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Co-presented by Jen Nelson, Katherine Debertin, Marcus Lowry and Marika Staloch
Putting library cards in the hands of kids pays dividends to public libraries, schools and students. Over the last year, three of Minnesota’s public libraries accepted the White House ConnectEd Library Challenge to give every student a library card. ConnectEd supports student learning by providing with wide access to library programs and resources, including rich, digital content, through school partnerships with libraries. At the same time, a 2015 change in Minnesota statutes created a new opportunity for libraries and schools to share information to ease the process. Join colleagues from Ramsey County, Hennepin County and Saint Paul public libraries and learn about their successful projects as part of the challenge. State Library Services staff will also be on hand to provide information about working with schools around student data. Together, we can help to close the academic achievement gap by providing ready access to library resources to all students.