Category Archives: Books

Episode 105: British Fiction

J. K. Rowling 2010Want to listen to an episode?

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Check out our full information page here, for all the good information we covered!

This week we look at another incredibly broad genre: British fiction!

Our guest host is Susan Schleper, from Centra Care Health hospital library in St. Cloud. (You can find Susan on another podcast episode, including a great discussion of Open Access and the institutional repository she is building!)

We ended up talking about a bunch of different kinds of books – from Jane Austen to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! We touch on steampunk, Lord of the Rings, and the Bertie and Jeeves books. Did we look at Sherlock Holmes? Sure! Also Mycroft Holmes, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Mary Russell series written by Laurie R. King, all about the life of Holmes and Mary – his wife – after his retirement.  (Note: Mary Russell is an awesome character, and the books are told from her perspective – definitely check the out!)

Do we have British-themed beverages? Heck yes, we do! Recipes and pictures are available on our full information page. We also have a bunch of links to other information about resources you might want to use to explore and recommend other British material. We even have links to edX’s book groups talking about some great British books!



New AASL Standards: What Do They Mean for You?


It is seldom that a new rollout of an intiative does not turn into the dreaded “One More Thing” situation. Honestly, the AASL National School Library Standards that have been unveiled at the AASL 2017 National Convention is anything but. They are written in such a way that will help school librarians everywhere celebrate the learning that is happening right now in your schools and libraries. Or, perhaps, give directions to those of us who need a plan.Who shouts out “I need a hot drink!” when you are smack in the middle of a fire? (i.e. Twenty-eight things going on simultaneously such as parent nights, meetings, book fairs, holiday concerts, spirit weeks and the list goes on.) Well, not me. I am looking for a cool drink with ice. Or, in this case, I.I.C.C.E.E. Inquire. Include. Collaborate. Curate. Explore. Engage.

The six core values that serve as the foundation for the new standards allow for easy integration of library standards to all curriculums. Gone is the jargon that can sidetrack even the best intentions and in its place are words that every educator uses in their lesson planning and delivery.

We have the opportunity to establish ourselves as the bridge over the curriculum current and really, the current curriculum—no matter how often it changes or doesn’t. The new standards empower each one of us to pick a place that works best for our stakeholders and incorporate this fresh way of thinking about best practices. Student-centered learning is key for success in education, whether your student is 2 or 92 or somewhere in between.  Opportunities to engage in meaningful and authentic learning experiences are threaded throughout each of the standards. As we spend time unpacking each of them, I am almost giddy to think about where we will be as a profession as the shift to the new standards begin.

So. What does this mean for you? It means that you now have a document and loads of resources to support you as you strive to make—or keep—your library indispensable to your school. It means that you have research readily available for your administrator that will prove how you should be at the table when it comes to planning for curriculum support. It means that you have to step up, step out of the library doors, and make the effort to connect with teachers and prove that you want to support their instruction with instruction of your own. It means that you have to push yourselves before you can expect others to push themselves. It means you have to make a safe space to fail as you learn because after all failure is really just a more in-depth path to success. Most importantly, it means that you are living in an exciting time to be in the library.

Now get out there and do what you do best: facilitate the learning! Drink the Kool-Aid (with I.I.C.C.E.E) and get on board for the grandest ride of all. It is implementation time, folks! *glitter throw* ”

From the ALA:

Designed to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning, the new “National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries” from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), published by ALA Editions, reflect an evolution of AASL Standards. The standards and guidelines found in three previously separate publications—”AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner,” “Standards in Action,” and “Empowering Learners”—have been integrated, remodeled, and framed within a single text. Featuring a new streamlined AASL Standards Integrated Framework for learners, school librarians, and school libraries, these standards emphasize the importance of all three standards sets while ensuring that standards-related activities are mutually reinforcing.

Also available is the AASL Standards Framework for Learners pamphlet, the ideal collaborative and advocacy piece to introduce stakeholders to this student-focused segment at the heart of AASL’s standards. In addition to the framework for learners, this convenient pamphlet includes Common Beliefs reflecting current learning environments and professional best practices that form the foundation of the standards and a summary of the essential elements in the standards framework structure. The pamphlet is sold in full-color glossy packs of 10. It’s the perfect piece to share and present at district school board meetings, PTA/PTO meetings, and teacher in-service days.

CMLE Reads Across MN: Locally Laid

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

I am an egg fan. This is probably not a controversial stand – eggs are pretty popular foods, filled with all kinds of happy nutrition, especially when you get nice pasture-raised eggs. This past summer I was part of the Common Ground CSA at St. Ben’s (Community Supported Agriculture). We got all kinds of great veggies, local meat, and some of the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever seen! Every morning, when I made scrambled eggs they were so pretty – bright orange and yellow – that they enhanced anything else I added to them and started my day off really well!

Reading about eggs is nearly as fun as eating them – especially when it is all about the fun and foibles of some Minnesotans who decide to go all in on creating an chicken farm!

If you want to learn more about the farm, you can check out their website here! And if you see the brand Locally Laid eggs in your store – you can remember they are not only Minnesotan eggs and a family -owned business, but also have a fun book to go with them! (Yes, it’s perfectly fine to read this book while you are eating your breakfast/lunch/dinner eggs!)

Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm – from Scratch, by Lucie B. AmundsenHow a Midwestern family with no agriculture experience went from a few backyard chickens to a full-fledged farm—and discovered why local chicks are better.

When Lucie Amundsen had a rare night out with her husband, she never imagined what he’d tell her over dinner—that his dream was to quit his office job (with benefits!) and start a commercial-scale pasture-raised egg farm. His entire agricultural experience consisted of raising five backyard hens, none of whom had yet laid a single egg.

To create this pastured poultry ranch, the couple scrambles to acquire nearly two thousand chickens—all named Lola. These hens, purchased commercially, arrive bereft of basic chicken-y instincts, such as the evening urge to roost. The newbie farmers also deal with their own shortcomings, making for a failed inspection and intense struggles to keep livestock alive (much less laying) during a brutal winter. But with a heavy dose of humor, they learn to negotiate the highly stressed no-man’s-land known as Middle Agriculture. Amundsen sees firsthand how these midsized farms, situated between small-scale operations and mammoth factory farms, are vital to rebuilding America’s local food system.

With an unexpected passion for this dubious enterprise, Amundsen shares a messy, wry, and entirely educational story of the unforeseen payoffs (and frequent pitfalls) of one couple’s ag adventure—and many, many hours spent wrangling chickens.”

(Quick note: We include links here for your ease in finding more info, but receive no eggs or other benefit from the Locally Laid company, or Common Ground, in compensation. If you click on the book link to Amazon, and happen to buy something while you are there, we do get a small percentage of Amazon’s profits in return.)

Unexpected Member Event: John Scalzi at St. John’s!

It’s no secret that all of us at CMLE HQ love to read books – we have a whole podcast book group about it after all! And we have a lot of book fans around the system, who cheerfully tell us how much they like the book recommendations in our Linking Our Libraries podcast, the book suggestion series on our blog, and the series CMLE Reads Across Minnesota (complete with Google mapping!)

So, yeah. We are fans of reading. You are fans of reading. It’s pretty much a professional requirement to be a fan of reading – and we are all doing it well.

And when one of my favorite authors is announced as a speaker at a wonderful member library – am I pleased? Reader: Yes.  There may possibly have been joyous dancing around the office as I celebrated that news!

Kathy Parker, the head of the libraries at St. John’s and St. Ben’s, was a Guest Host on our Books and Beverages book group podcast the week we discussed SciFi.  She broke the exciting news – and thankfully she told us in advance, or I would have hijacked the entire discussion to talk about nothing else! (We had fun in this episode – definitely go listen to it!)

So I was excited to go! I dug out my Red Shirts paper book (I own all his other books in audio format – great to listen to, but awkward to have signed) and trudged out to St. John’s.

Not only was it a very fun presentation on technology, and the not-always-apparent impacts it has on us, but this turned into an impromptu CMLE member event! We had a bunch of people there from Great River’s St. Cloud library, and from St. John’s and St. Ben’s.  We even had unofficial “members” we adopted right into the group. Thanks so much to Gerri Moeller from the Viking Library System (and her husband), and to Chris (with the excellent Glacier hat!), who joined in the fun!

There were books available for sale at the end, and John was signing books. Did I make a fool of myself in my overflowing excitement at getting to talk to one of my favorite authors? Yes. Yes I did. But, who cares? We all had fun, it turned out to be a good CMLE member event, and I was very happy! (Ariel got her book addressed to “My favorite Shakespearean mermaid” – so obviously he’s cool!)

Thank you so much to all the CMLE members (and adopted members!) who came to the event. It is always wonderful to see you!!

Thank you to Kathy Parker for alerting us, and organizing the event. And for being such a great podcast guest!! Check her out on the Strategic Planning episode, as well as the SciFi episode.

Thank you to St. John’s for making this event open to the public, so we could all enjoy it!This was my first time in this auditorium, and it was very nice.

And, of course, thank you to John Scalzi (@scalzi on Twitter) for providing us with interesting entertainment, and for all the books!! (And for not getting distressed at an overly-excited librarian who gushed maybe a little much; but is a much calmer fan most of the time! And who really does take your books camping; they are wonderful to listen to when alone in the dark woods!)

Book Suggestion Series: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Empty book

If you have been listening to our book group podcast, Books and Beverages Podcast, you have already heard the recommendation for this week’s book: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by  Lauren Willig.

This is a fun book for historical fiction fans, as well as for fans of romance stories. This is the first book in a series about a group of English spies working in France after the monarchy has been toppled. Each book looks at a different flower – and in this one spends a lot of time looking at the adventures of the Purple Gentian.

Come for the historical mystery, stay for the romance!

“Nothing goes right for Eloise. The one day she wears her new suede boots, it rains cats and dogs. When the subway stops short, she’s always the one thrown into some stranger’s lap. Plus, she’s had more than her share of misfortune in the way of love. In fact, ever since she realized romantic heroes are a thing of the past, she’s decided it’s time for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on that dashing pair of spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation—the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise stumbles across answers to all kinds of questions. Like how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero all her own?”