Category Archives: CMLE

Need a scholarship for ITEM or MLA?

During this busy fall season, don’t forget that there are some excellent library conferences approaching! And CMLE has scholarships available to help with some of the cost of attendance! Read more about our scholarships on our page. New this year is the ability to apply for up to $300 worth of scholarships to help cover your expenses!

The Minnesota Library Association has their annual conference coming up on Oct. 5-6th in Rochester. The theme this year is Radical Librarianship which they describe as “the power of libraries to provide access to the truth, strengthen our community voices, create opportunity for exploration and innovation, and assist our patrons to build a better future.” Learn more about the conference and register here.

The Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) also has their fall conference in early October! From October 5-7th in Brooklyn Park learn how to be “Future Ready for the 21st Century!” Keynote speakers at the conference will be Duchess Harris on Friday morning and Kelly Barnhill on Saturday morning. Access the schedule and register here.

Plus, if you make it to either conference you can connect with Mary (who will be at MLA) or Angie (who will be at ITEM) and we would love to see you there! Let us know if you’ll be there and would like to get together!

And don’t be shy – apply for a scholarship! We really do want to assist our members in their continuing education and professional networking, and attending conferences can be a great start! Apply today!

Weekly holiday: World Gratitude Day!

All of us at CMLE are fans of celebrating – you should see our office with our seasonally changing decorations! So each week we look at anther fun holiday we can celebrate.

This week we are ready to celebrate World Gratitude Day! Thursday, Sept.  21 is this exciting day, celebrated around the world.

So what are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for the waterfalls, hiking trails, and lovely state parks all over Minnesota!

At CMLE HQ, we are grateful for many things – but of course, a lot of them of them revolve around libraries! We are grateful for our members. We are grateful for our library visits. We are grateful for our assorted friends and supporters. We are grateful for Orville, our Official Office Bear, our plants, and decorations. We are grateful for our podcasts, our social gatherings with members, and all the fun library things we get to do!

I’m thankful for nice doggies, especially wearing life jackets!

So look around your library. What are you grateful for this week? Patrons? Co-workers? The neat books you have?? Take a few moments to ponder this for yourself, and to remember that even in the annoying days that happen in any library job – we have a lot of good things to be grateful for here in this generally good profession! Feel free to leave grateful comments below!

If you have not had one of these doughnuts in Grand Marais, you have missed a wonderful experience – one to be grateful for in any event!


Vacation Library Visit Series: Grand Marais Public Library

We all know that visiting libraries is one of the best parts of being on a vacation, right? (It definitely is!) Whenever I travel, I visit libraries along the way – and it’s always a great way to meet interesting people (library people are ALWAYS interesting!), and to see some great things (there are ALWAYS great things in libraries!).

I was recently in Grand Marais, MN, enjoying the incredible beauty of the area, the abundant state parks, lovely hiking trails, and spending quality time in my tent with all my library books. (Yes, this is pretty much my definition of a perfect vacation!)

I was planning to visit the library in Grand Marais anyway, but the eye-catching art installation outside alerted me to the library before I even had a chance to Google it. I love the bright colors! When I went inside to chat with Director Steve Harsin, he had a small model on his desk – fantastic!

You can immediately see this is a library designed for its users, and to bring in the community.  While we in the profession understand the value of Dewey and Library of  Congress (LC) and other cataloging systems, our patrons find them confusing. So I am always so very happy to see libraries taking that extra step to make their collections accessible!! See those signs? They are identifying the areas of the collection, so everyone can easily see where to look for their favorite topics. At this point, I had been in the library less than five minutes and I was in love.


In any library, you want to reach out to all of your community members, and in a public library that includes the very young members. I love to see these kinds of Children’s sections, with size-appropriate furniture and shelving! The bright colors, the toys, and the big selection of books all make this seem like a comfy place to visit – and would encourage a lot of kids to take more books home!


Again, this library shows how they are thinking of their community members. The Parenting shelf, filled with good material, is right there in the Children’s section. And they point out there are other resources for finding material in the main collection – these are just easily available and ready to circulate!


I did a big research project a few years ago, to find out what poeple want from their public libraries. “Comfortable seating” was one of the biggies! This is not a big surprise, of course: encouraging patrons to sit, relax, and enjoy some reading can help them to not only have a good experience in the library  – but also encourage them to take home the great stuff they find on your shelves!

Even in the lobby area, the seating looks great – and I did test it out, so can affirm that it was indeed comfy! (Library research work never ends!!)


There are assorted library workstations across the area – very important in any rural area where internet access at home may not exist. Libraries have such an important role to play in communities by providing this kind of access to information. Yes, I’m biased (still!) – but we are just wonderful!

Just another example of the library serving the needs of all their different customers here! The whole library does not need to be silent – all that great information is just too exciting to keep quiet! But we have community members who want to come in, sit down, and just have some quiet time with their books and materials. This library is providing that experience.


I love seeing Reference desks in libraries! Their names may change, but their functions never do: This is where you go to get help from an information expert. If you need assistance finding just the right book, or working on your resume, or uncovering a complicated question – the people at the Reference desk are here to help!

At CMLE, we are big fans of libraries – and of our supporters: library Friends and volunteers! (Check out our podcast on this topic!) It is always so fun to see the things Friends do to  support their libraries; and it looks like the Friends here are working to help their library!


Again, this library is showing how they work to connect with their community members. I love seeing this book, and took a quick photo show their entries – look at that beautiful handwriting!!!

I was so entranced by everything else in the library that I didn’t even see this until I went back outside to relax in a chair and enjoy the free WiFi (thanks!!): a ping pong table!! The sign encourages people to go inside and check out the equipment to play. I absolutely love to see this kind of fun stuff in a library. We are awesome places, filled with great things – and fun is always a part of that!!

Thank you to everyone on the staff here who patiently put up with my questions, and my general library joy! This library was impressive – and that has been recognized by the Library Journal. Grand Marais Public Library has received the only  Minnesota library five-star rating in this journal’s annual ratings! Pretty exciting for them, and well deserved!! If you are visiting the area, be sure to stop in and admire their work!

Leadership Training Bites: What are your BHAGs?

CMLE is here to help you with all kinds of information and ideas!  This series provides weekly small bits of training on leadership, management, and supervision skills. We have heard from our members that this is an issue they would like to have more training to meet. And I have been a researcher and trainer for many years, focusing on library management, leadership, and administration.

Follow this series using our tag (see end of the article!); and if you want to talk about your own leadership development, or to set up some training in your library, we are here for you!

This week we are looking at BHAGs!

ChupacabrasWhat are your BHAGs? How are your tracking them? Do you have regular BHAG meetings?

If this is not a term you are using regularly – don’t worry! You don’t need to visit a doctor with a BHAG (though, I guess you can? if that’s part of yours??), and it’s much less scary than it sounds. (Few, if any, actual monsters are involved!)

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

You know when you start making plans for the future, and make those plans that are maybe juuuuusssstttt slightly out of reach? Those are BHAGs! This is dreaming big, having exciting goals for yourself and your library! It’s the big time!

We just had our Fall planning meeting this week here at CMLE HQ, and we are filled with BHAGs!! We love setting scary-level goals, and then trying to hit them. Things do not always work out perfectly, but it’s good to try! We are starting an online training series, a daily book newsletter, and a second, book-themed/Reader’s Advisory podcast. I’m terrified! Will we be able to actually do these things? Will they turn out great (or at least useful/fun)? Will our members like them?? I don’t know! And that is the excitement of BHAGs!

BHAGs let you push beyond the ideas people expect from you. They give you permission to try new things, to go a new way, or to radically ramp up what you are already doing. Failure is an option – but it’s not fatal. BHAGs are, by their nature, tough to achieve. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination.

Making the effort to dream big, to do great things – this is what gives you the chance for huge successes!!

It’s okay to play it safe sometimes – but if you want to improve, and to become better than you are today, a BHAG may be just the thing!

Fall, and back-to-school time in general, is a  good time to set some goals for your library.  If you have not yet had a chance to think about your goals – for yourself, for your department, or for your whole organization – now is the time. And if you want to throw in a few audacious goals, CMLE supports you!

Here are a few readings, if you want to explore a little more:

Go dream big this week!

Do you have BHAGs to share? Tell us below!

Linking Our Libraries Episode 206 Conflict Management

Usually we talk about how wonderful libraries are – and they are! And we talk about cheery, happy, fun things in libraries – and there are tons of them! But today we are talking about a much more uncomfortable topic, but important in libraries: Conflict.

We are all about Minnesota Nice here, and it would be wonderful if everyone was nice, everyone agreed on library issues, and everyone agreed on everything. But we all know that when you work with other people, and when you work with members of the public, things do not always turn out so well. Conflict is inevitable and dealing with it can be hard.

But: like so many things, there is a process you can follow to make conflict situations better! We are going to walk through some ideas here to help reduce conflict situations, and hopefully to make things better. We are not going to fix everything – nothing will. But “better” is a good step in the right direction! Check out our podcast on Stress in the Workplace from Season One to get some good strategies for handling stress that may be a part of conflict.

So everyone take a deep, yoga breath, sit in a nice comfy chair or be engaged in a happy activity, and let’s talk about some skills for reducing conflict in your library.

We have material on our site for this episode; and we also have material on this skill, along with many others, available in our Skills Toolbox section of our site.

Contents on our full information page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Strategies
    • Conflict with patrons
    • Conflict between staff
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion


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