Tag Archives: Guest Blogger

CMLE Scholarship: MLA 2017

This guest post was written by Violet Fox, Metadata Librarian at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.

The theme for the 2017 Minnesota Library Association’s Annual Conference was “Radical Librarianship,” and I couldn’t have been more excited! I was excited to hear from library workers not only about the great things that libraries do for our users, but also how we as a profession should strive to recognize and address our shortcomings.

I was delighted to be able to present alongside some of my favorite library folks: Hannah Buckland (Leech Lake Tribal College), Tina Gross (St. Cloud State University), and Jessica Schomberg (Minnesota State University, Mankato). In our session, we talked about how centralization in cataloging often prevents libraries from responding flexibly to the needs of their users, and encouraged all librarians to argue for the value of local control in our standards and vocabularies in order to provide respectful and responsive metadata.

A number of MLA 2017 presentations gave me ample material to reflect on. Standouts included Safiya Umoja Noble’s session on how increasing reliance on opaque algorithms results in upholding societal inequity and oppression, as well as an interesting session from librarians at Dakota County Library (Christie Schultz and Lori Veldhuis) on their valuable project to make their world language collection more accessible and attractive to patrons.

Alhough I don’t do usability testing or user surveying in my job, the most exciting session I attended was “UX is Social Change: the Feminist Impact of User Experience Work” by librarians at Metropolitan State University (Christine Larson, Jennifer DeJonghe) and Hennepin County Library (Amy Luedtke, Tony Hirt). The presenters talked about how they use feminist principles within their work, in part by centering patron experiences and recognizing that patrons have knowledge and experience that we don’t. They also discussed their efforts to recruit UX participants intentionally, and acknowledged that it can be uncomfortable to have one’s design ideas critiqued. I very much appreciated the presenters’ unapologetic embrace of “disciplined empathy” in their work, and their presentation encouraged me to find ways to do the same in my own day-to-day work.

I’m grateful for CMLE’s support to attend MLA 2017 and I’d like to encourage Minnesota library colleagues to attend and present at next year’s conference!

Do you want to attend a conference or take part in some other professional development? Apply for a scholarship from CMLE today!

Guest Blogger: Teen Lit Con 2017 Recap!

This is a guest post from Bethany Kauffman, Media Specialist at Rogers High School, about attending Twin Cities Teen Lit Con 2017.

There is something special about finding “your people” in the world.  As book lovers, we seem to find our kindred spirits almost organically at work, church and in our neighborhoods.  Finding “your people” is such an important part of life that I relish any chance to help my students meet and connect with other teen book lovers like them.  CMLE made that happen for Rogers and Sauk Rapids – Rice high school students this past spring.

On Saturday, May 6 2017 at Henry Sibley High School, Minnesota’s metro public libraries brought one of the most popular and controversial authors of the moment to Twin Cities teens.  Sauk Rapids – Rice and Rogers High Schools were able to load up teenagers and get them to St. Paul for the big event through the support of CMLE.  What made the day so hype-worthy was that we saw, wait for it… Jay Asher!  Yes, that Jay Asher, whose books had suddenly become the topic of controversy and passion with the airing of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix.

Adults had suddenly become aware of Jay Asher and his writing, his honest conversations about hard subjects and the power that words and ideas can have in a teenager’s life.  Those of us who work with teens, read YA and love the awkward eagerness of all things before age 25 already knew all about Jay Asher.  We spend our days talking to young adults about serious and not so serious topics.  Sometimes hair color and friend drama is as deep as it gets but that’s what makes this age so great.  They are thinking, growing, learning, observing, trying on different personas nearly every week and they aren’t shocked when a YA book tackles a tough topic like suicide.  Young adults welcome stories that push the edges and make them think deeply about life.

As a result, I wasn’t surprised when we were packed into the auditorium at Henry Sibley High and the atmosphere was what I can only describe as electric.  It was the first session of what was going to be a day filled with book-loving kindred spirits galore.  When Jay Asher, Jeff Zentner, Box Brown and Meg Medina walked onto the stage for the first author panel of the day the auditorium exploded with the kinds of screams and roars and clapping that is usually only heard at a rock concert.  I am not kidding.  The teenagers shook the roof!  Let that soak in.  Teenagers screaming their heads off, nearly fainting over authors not athletes, millionaires, movie stars or music icons.  They were with their people and they were screaming at the top of their lungs for what they loved – ideas, emotions and creativity in books.

The rest of the day went well.  It followed a typical conference schedule with a variety of sessions and activities.  The teens had opportunities to be a part of several writing workshops, meet Minnesota authors, buy books, get autographs, try out Book Speed Dating, discuss creative nonfiction, find out about the behind-the-scenes work of creating graphic novels and meet real book editors.  One of the most highly attended sessions dealt with mental health issues in YA lit.  You literally could not get in the door of that session it was so full.  There were also t-shirts and concessions and an exhibit hall and temporary tattoos.  All good events have temporary tattoos.

When the afternoon came to an end, my 11 students from Rogers High School and the 25 students from Sauk Rapids – Rice High School piled into the bus and started home.  I was so grateful that we joined the teens from another high school for the long ride.  There were plenty of awkward introductions and graphic novel discussions and shy exchanges of artwork and books between students who had never met before.  Book lovers find common ground quickly and everyone headed home happy.  CMLE was the impetus behind this amazing day.  They encouraged us to coordinate between our schools, facilitated our communication and awarded us a grant to cover the cost of the bus.  As a result, this day was free to our students and for several of them, I’m sure, that made attending Teen Lit Con possible.

The new school year is here and it’s once again time to bring teens and books together.  It’s time to start fostering relationships that drifted over the summer, get the book clubs up and running, unpack the first book order of the year AND it’s time to talk to our teens about Twin Cities Teen Lit Con 2018.  Why not join us?  Rogers High School is going to make sure we are at the next convention.  We’d love to connect with your teens and share the love of all things authors, illustrators, writers and YA lit with you.  Start thinking now about giving your teens the opportunity to find “their people” at Twin Cities Teen Lit Con in the spring.


Bethany Kauffman
Media Specialist
Book Club Advisory
Rogers High School
Rogers, MN

Creative Commons Part 2: Five Creative Commons Resources

Creative Commons

CMLE Guest Blogger: Carli Spina If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter where I’m @CarliSpina.

In my last post, I explained what Creative Commons licenses are. But how can you make use of these licenses and incorporate items that are licensed under them in your library? Perhaps not surprisingly, an array of resources have emerged to make it approachable to use Creative Commons licenses and to aggregate Creative Commons-licensed items. The resources suggested below are not the only ones available on this topic, but hopefully they will help to get you started with a variety of Creative Commons resources.

Continue reading Creative Commons Part 2: Five Creative Commons Resources

Creative Commons Part 1: What does “Creative Commons” mean?

Creative Commons

CMLE Guest Blogger: Carli Spina If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter where I’m @CarliSpina.

Creative Commons Part 1: What does “Creative Commons” mean?

Copyright is an important but often intimidating topic. As library staff, we may know that copyright protections exist, but knowing their exact parameters or how to get permission to use a copyrighted work can be complex and time consuming.

Recognizing this problem, a group of experts developed the concept of the Creative Commons (often abbreviated CC) and the associated licenses to make sharing, reusing, and remixing works easier for everyone. Using this approach, the creator of an item offers the item under a license (or legal agreement) that explicitly provides for the types of use that are permitted free of charge. Continue reading Creative Commons Part 1: What does “Creative Commons” mean?

Four Resources To Improve Your Library’s Accessibility

Accessible is not Optional!


CMLE Guest Blogger: Carli Spina

Accessibility for individuals with disabilities is an important topic for any library. Not only is this a legal requirement for virtually all libraries, but it is also important to ensure that our libraries are welcoming and inclusive for all members of the community. This is particularly important when considering the way you offer your online materials. The four resources below make accessibility improvements approachable, no matter the staffing level of your library or the level of technical experience that you have.

  1. ARL’s Web Accessibility Toolkit – Though created and maintained by the Association of Research Libraries, this toolkit has resources that will be useful to those working in any kind of library. The toolkit includes definitions and background information as well as best practices and a step-by-step process for fostering accessibility at your library. In addition, it has a resources section that includes a detailed page on best practices and resources for adding captions to your library’s video content.
  2. WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool) – WebAIM offers a wide array of web accessibility tools, information, and resources, but if I had to pick just one to recommend, it would be WAVE. This tool makes it simple to do a quick accessibility test of any website for which you have the URL. The resulting report provides detailed information in a way that is easy to read. While this tool might not catch every single potential problem on your site, it is an excellent way to find particularly troublesome issues.
  3. Contrast Checker – One frequently overlooked aspect of accessibility is color contrast. This is important not only to those who are colorblind, but also for users who have low vision or are reading in low light. But, despite the fact that contrast is important to a large number of users, it is frequently ignored in the name of design aesthetics. This tool will not only allow you to check specific colors to ensure that they meet accessibility standards but will also let you save and share color pairs that work well (or poorly).
  4. The Principles of Universal Design poster by NC State University College of Design – This resource moves a bit beyond basic accessibility to the concept of Universal Design, which is design that is “usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialized design.” The poster sets forth the seven principles that are central to Universal Design and offers multiple examples for each principle. Implementing these principles will not only help to make your library more accessible, but will also make it welcoming for the widest possible range of users from those who are in a rush or have their hands full to those for whom English is not their first language and beyond. This poster is a great crash course on the topic and will almost certainly spark ideas for ways to make your library more inclusive.

I hope these resources will help you to improve your library’s accessibility and introduce you to new tools that will streamline your processes. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter where I’m @CarliSpina.