Category Archives: Visits

Sartell Community Center

The Sartell Community Center has opened an unofficial library, staffed by volunteers. And they have partnered with Great River libraries to provide a locker system to provide locals with an easy way to pick up books from the system.

People can also drop off their books for Great River libraries here at the community center. And take a moment to admire the art wraps around both of these devices – they really add to the cool factor!




It’s always fun to see art in any type of library – and these book statues are so neat! Giant stacks of books can just put you right into the mood to read a bunch of actual books.

Shelves of books are always nice to view – and it’s great to see volunteers who have clearly worked so hard to provide a nice resource for their community!


And when you combine lots of books with comfy seating, you really have a great place! Community members can check in with the volunteers to take home books. And there are plans for computers and maker-spaces and potentially other fun activities!

  So Sartell residents, you can check out your new community center, with all kinds of activities for you to enjoy. And while you are there, take advantage of the partnership with Great River and the also the resources available in this library room!

CMLE Resources: Library Visits

CMLE is here for you with all kinds of resources and information. Each week we will share a look at another piece of that information, to help draw some attention to resources that may help you as you serve your community.

Interior view of Stockholm Public LibraryWe love to visit our member libraries! Our whole purpose is to help to connect and communicate across our system of 300+ libraries of all types, and to share information. Going out to visit our members is one of the best ways we have to find out all the great things you are doing, and to work on new strategies to figure out what we can do to help you in the work you are doing.

And okay, yes: it is really one of the most fun parts of our jobs!

We are not the only ones who like to hear about everything in your library – all your colleagues across CMLE want to know what you are doing too! This is part of forming more connections between our members: getting to see what is going on in other libraries helps you to get some ideas to try in your own location.

Have we been to your library lately?? You know we want to come visit – so send us an email at to let us know what library you are in and give us a couple of dates we can come visit you!

Vacation Library Visit Series: Libraries of Quebec City!

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 was lucky enough to spend several days in Quebec City last spring, and got to visit two of the city’s libraries! (If you’re interested in international libraries, make sure to check out our podcast episode on the subject!)

Our first stop was to the Maison de la littérature 

There was lots of construction happening outside so I was excited to get inside and check things out!

I was so impressed! The space is beautiful and housed in the former Wesley Temple, but has a very modern feel with lots of natural light.

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The library had several levels but was open concept so I was able to get a good view as I climbed higher. Lots of places to read, work on computers, or learn from a variety of computerized displays.

It was so fun to see separate work spaces, browse the shelves (even though it was all in French!) and admire displays.

To learn more about the Maison de la littérature, check out their website, which states, “Open to all, Maison de la littérature is a place for writing, creating, meeting, and participating—bringing literature to life in a lively, warm, and inviting setting. It is a space for the spoken and written word and for the creation and dissemination of the literary arts. It offers residents, authors, and literary professionals an inspiring space with a range of collections, services, activities, and events.”

Next on our agenda was to visit the English language library, the Morrin Center, which houses a library with English materials as well as the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec.

This building has a very interesting history and “reflects four major periods of Quebec City history and bears witness to the French- and English-language communities that contributed to its heritage and made it what it is today. ” For much of the building’s history it was used as a public prison, until it became Quebec City’s first English-language college.

Today the library definitely has a cozy vintage feel, with a wonderful smell of old books and creaky hardwood floors. I had so much fun exploring their collections!

When you first walk in, seeing all the books is pretty exciting! I loved that the second story of books was visible behind the intricate balcony.






There were lots of seating options, although I had to be careful around certain pieces of fragile furniture, like this couch. The sign reads (in both English and French): “This sofa is probably older than your grandmother. Please sit down gently, as you would on her knees.”

I enjoyed wandering around the library and admiring all their books and the beautiful building. We weren’t able to go on one of the guided tours of the building, but they look like fun!

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These visits to Quebec City’s libraries were definitely a fun (and free!) way to learn more about the city and see how residents utilize their library services!

CMLE Visits: Pine Meadow Elementary School

It is always so fun to visit our members! One of the great things about being part of a multitype system is the opportunity to see the work being done across all kinds of libraries – a lot of similarities, but everyone has some distinctions.

This visit was to the Pine Meadows Elementary School in Sartell. You can see the welcoming atmosphere right away in the cute colors and signage around the library.

One of the first distinctive things you notice when visiting an elementary school library, as opposed to any other CMLE member, is that they focus on usability for their community members with furniture! Everything is designed for smaller sized people, as usability is key for any kind of library.

In this library, the furniture and shelving is not only size-appropriate for the audience they are trying to serve, but cute and colorful! (I love the way these round chairs look – enticing to kids!)


Colorful items are a key component in any cheerful library, especially in one serving younger patrons. These cute and colorful drawers are separated for different age groups, filled with activities to do after the students have finished their work.  Puzzles, games, and things to color are part of the offerings – all easily sorted and accessible.


Shelves filled with nice-looking books make their contents enticing! The books are carefully labeled, to show patrons the different qualities of the books they may want to read.  Books left on the shelves are not doing patrons any good, so this kind of marketing is great to see! (See that collection of blue Hardy Boys books? My brother and I read all of them, and seeing them in any library always makes me happy!)

Installing seating right at the point of material availability is a great idea! Give patrons the chance to be so entranced by the books they are finding, that they sink into a chair to look through them.  Displaying popular or interesting books at eye level is another great way to be sure they are easily found by patrons.

  Again, thinking about usability is key for patrons of any age. The descriptions of the Dewey numbers make a system that is incomprehensible to our patrons more understandable. I love to see these kinds of signs! If patrons understand the groupings of our materials, and know where to find things, they are more likely to take materials home with them – which is our goal! (Libraries do not collect items for ourselves – they are for our patrons to use.)

In addition to the cute (and useful!) furniture in this library, they have a regular display spotlighting authors! The books were flying off the shelves here – always great to see. Displaying materials draws the interest of patrons this way is always valuable for patrons – and the more they use materials, the better everyone does!

And of course, libraries are so much more than just books now! We are information centers, with all kinds of information literacy and resources for our patrons to use as they learn! Makerspaces of all sorts are increasingly popular in libraries, and this one is no exception. In this section of the makerspace you can see the crayons neatly sorted, and all kinds of great material to draw, color, and work with.  Again, color is always eye-catching, and the really cute signs on the walls help draw your attention to the fun you can have here, learning about graphics!

In a small room attached to the main library room there are other treasures to find! On the left you can see more makerspace material of all sorts – a great array of projects to try. And on the right you can see a green screen and some of the material used in video creation! This kind of information literacy building is great to see – kids need to know how to both use and create digital materials to be fully literate people in today’s world. More technology skills learned at a young age just help to put them farther down the road toward success later!

I love this feature that I’m seeing in more libraries: a self-check system. In this library, patrons can return books themselves. This frees up staff time to focus on providing more in-person service to patrons; and it gives patrons a better understanding of one aspect of library operations, and another opportunity to practice their technology skills! When they go to a public library, they are likely to have a chance to self-check books; so this practice will be valuable.

 And fundamentally libraries are here to provide instruction and assistance for their communities! We are information professionals, and here to  help our communities access materials of all types. So this dedicated instructional location is not only really cute – but so important in providing quality service!

If you want to reach out and make connections, Amy is in her first year in this library – and has some great energy and ideas to share! Contact her here: Amy Moe, Instructional Technology Specialist, PME-Sartell Schools

Have we been to your library yet? We are visiting all 300+ CMLE members to see the great things everyone is doing  – and we want to see you! Send us an email TODAY, and give us three different days/times that work for you. (Email:  Let’s get this visit underway, and share your information with the rest of the community!

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!