Category Archives: CMLE

Visiting St. Cloud State’s Library!

You already know this, but visiting our members is our favorite part of the job! It is always great to see the things different libraries have, or things they try. Every library truly does have something special to see.

St Cloud State University’s library has all kinds of great things to see! I would like to set up a member group visit here, to admire the library and also to meet the new University Library Dean, Rhonda Huisman. We will have an upcoming poll on a good day and time, so start flipping through your calendars now!

For those who have been reading all about our visits to member libraries, you know that I’m such a fan of customer service – so this made me extremely happy to see! It is not always possible for a Dean, or a Director, to be accessible to the community all the time – but making it easy to at least find SOMEONE who can answer questions or help with problems can go a long way toward making patrons feel positive about the library.

Being beautiful is not a requirement for a successful library – but of course a nice setting with an open and airy feeling makes everyone feel good. This library has deliberately added art throughout the library, for sharing information in a visual way, and providing patrons with art to admire.  I love this large textile sculpture, called Sunshine Rain created in 1976 by Merle H. Sykora.

You can see a different angle on the artwork in this shot – as well as the up and down staircases you can traverse on that end of the library. (Of course, it’s good for everyone to get up and walk around more often; providing some extra steps for people moving from one end of the second floor to the other also gives patrons the chance to take some time to admire this lovely space!)


See those cardboard squares on the shelves? Those, for the kids today, are called records. It’s exciting to have all these records available for fans of vinyl or for people who need the experience of this format. As I said earlier, it’s always exciting to see what you will uncover in a library – and there is always something unique in every library!

I will always be won over with good seating – and check out these tables! People sitting down to work need more space than just a computer – they need to have space for books and other materials right there. These tables provide patrons with not only computer access, but good space to work and even a little privacy from neighbors. Great!

Continue reading Visiting St. Cloud State’s Library!

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!)

CMLE Reads Across MN: War for the Oaks

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but 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!

There are all kinds of fun stories happening across Minnesota. If you have had any dreams of an exciting rock and roll life – one that involves fairies and other exciting aspects – this could be the book for you!

“Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point. By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that’s as much about this world as about the other one. It’s about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.”

Come visit us at CMLE Office Hours!

Do you want to chat with us about general library stuff?

Do you want to hang out with Lady Grey?

Of course you do!

We’ll even throw in the opportunity to help us eat leftover Halloween candy! Truly an awesome deal. (Okay, the chance to hang out with Lady Grey is probably the highlight.)

On all the even-numbered dates landing on Wednesdays, we hold open office hours from 11:00 to 1:00. During this time members can drop in, chat, see our resources, check out the plants and the full-spectrum bulbs, see our “windows” with the beach/Venice/mountain views, and just enjoy hanging out with us! There is no schedule, and no need to make an appointment – we are just happy to see everyone who drops by to visit.

What if you can’t come by during that time, but still want to chat about libraries, see Orville The Official Office Bear, or browse our vendor books? We will, of course, be happy to see you at any point. You might want to let us know when you are dropping by, just to be sure we are in the office and not dashing around to member libraries (or visiting our next door neighbor: Target).

We are here to support our members! And holding these regular office hours gives us an easy way to chat with you in person. (Lady Grey is just a nicely pattable bonus!)

Visiting Sartell Middle School!

It is always so fun to visit our member libraries – and the Sartell Middle School was definitely a great time!

The library and tech center are currently in different locations, but still work as a team and are looking forward to being back together in their next building. In the meantime, things are looking pretty good!

Just look at those smiley books – I love to see cheery art in libraries! It really does help to attract people to a library when the environment is welcoming. Usability in design is a key factor in driving use of the materials we have to share with our communities; so making it fun is always going to be the right choice!


The library was filled with patrons, who we always avoid photographing (privacy is important!), but this quick shot across the room shows not only the cute art that is all over the library – but also the nice display and the sturdy furniture! Creating a space is just the first step in an effective library; building a collection that is connected to patron needs and wants  – and in a school that means connecting it to the curriculum – is another important aspect. You can see how nicely everything is set up here, to encourage use of the collection! (Books that just sit and look cute are a waste – making it cute to encourage circulation is the way to go!!)

We trudged down the hall to the tech area, and things were lovely here too!

I know this table and chair set is supposed to be good for kids, to help them fidget around so they can pay attention; and the whiteboard tabletop encourages creativity. I get that it’s supposed to be one of those “kid”perks – but I really want this for my office!!! I can fidget and be productive with markers too – I’m just sure!! (Feel free to bring these cool accessories over to our office for the holidays!)


This is a big room, with plenty of space to try out some cool things!

The big shelves filled with projects and activities were definitely exciting looking – I wanted to go try out some things, so I’m sure kids would be excited too! (Note: They really were! The place was definitely hopping before school, with kids trying out all kinds of great things!)



Look at this cool Jenga set! The very excellent wooden blocks were stacked really high – so it was satisfyingly dramatic when a misplaced block was removed and the entire thing crashed to the floor! (Yes it was also very cool to watch it be built – but everyone loves a good crash!)




  3d printers are increasingly popular in  all libraries, because you can do so many neat things with them! Of course it’s fun to make cute plastic items; but the plans for these printers is much grander. Kids need to know all kinds of technology skills, and these printers will be used to teach kids how to manipulate objects digitally then to create them in the physical world – great!

When I visit libraries, of course I’m a guest – so it wouldn’t be polite to just grab things away from the patrons. But: Reader, I was tempted here! These are round robots, each being driven by a separate person as they race around this track! The students could use apps to direct their robots to zoom all around the course, banging into each other and having a great time. Later, the tools they use will be adjusted so the students will have to do their own coding to make the robots go – an excellent idea!! Coding skills are important in being an information literate member of society, and it’s great to see that happening in such a fun environment!

      This photo of the little drones is slightly blurry, as I was excitedly talking with a student about these and the other tech devices. Listening to the kids themselves explaining what they were doing, and what kinds of cool things they could develop, was fantastic!


Have we been to your library yet?? You know we want to visit, so we are inviting ourselves over! Just give me a day and time, and we will be happy to come gush with library-joy over your stuff!!