Friday, December 28, 2007

It's New Year's Resolution Time!

With the New Year fast approaching, we’re all thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us will go on a diet, some will decide to exercise more, some will tackle classic literature, and others will pledge to do something to make a difference in the world. (Some of us just might attempt to do all of the above!)

Every year I pledge to do something that will change lives…that will make our world a better place. One year I bought a goat through World Vision for an African family. Another year I sent some of my textbooks to Africa to support students there. This past year I gave my time and political voice to a variety of worthwhile projects through involvement with the ONE Campaign and DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa).

Though all of those acts have been fulfilling and worthwhile, I’ve come to realize that not all of us can be like Bono and have the dedication, determination, and influence to single-handedly save the world…or even a mere continent. Besides, this year, I am looking to do some good a little bit closer to home. As I was brainstorming ideas for ways to do so, I had one of those Homer Simpson “DOH!” moments. Hello! I work at a library....why not become a paying member of my library’s Friends of the Library group!

Joining a local Friends of the Library group is a fabulous way to give back to the community and to support the library. Friends groups, like the one here at the Chisago Lakes Area Library, are vital to the success of the library. Think about the many things that these groups do: They purchase new library materials for their libraries; they fund library programs; they raise money for the library through book sales and other wonderful activities; and their members often volunteer at the library. Whether you become an active Friends member who helps set up programs or a dues-paying “inactive” member, your support effects every single library user who comes through the doors. And, you know, you might just benefit, too…think of all the local contacts you will make by becoming involved in this community group! Plus, there is that whole Pay It Forward concept to keep in mind…

Needless to say, I’m excited about the opportunity to make a difference in my library and in the local community. So come on! Join me! Call or stop by your local library to find out how to join your community’s Friends of the Library group!


Chisago Lakes Area Library Branch Librarian

How to Use MnLINK Like a Pro

With MnLINK, you can request books, music, and videos from any library in the state. You'll be surprised what you can find, for free.

Basic Use

To request materials with MnLINK:

  1. Search the ECRL Catalog first, to see if we have the item in our own collection.

  2. If not, visit MnLINK.

  3. Type in your search keywords. For example: Wuthering Heights or Le Rouge et le Noir or Toy Story. Use quotes if you want to search for a specific phrase, for example "Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology". Then click the Search button.

  4. MnLINK will take a minute to show your results. Scroll the results until you see the item you want. Click Details.

  5. At the bottom of the Details page, check if one of the copies is available. If all copies say something like "Date Due: ____", go back to your search results and find another copy of the item, and click Details.

  6. If a copy is available on the Details page, click Get It.

  7. Sign in with your library barcode, then click Request via ILL.

  8. On the next screen, choose your Pickup Location. Then click Submit.

  9. That's all! ECRL will contact you when the item is ready for pickup. You can now do another search if you want.

7 Cool MnLINK Tricks

But that's not all MnLINK can do. Here are a few more tips:

  1. View and cancel requests.

    When signed in (click Sign In on the left of the MnLINK page), click My Requests under My Account. Change Records per page to 20, then click Search. This is a list of your current MnLINK requests. Click Cancel to cancel any request.

  2. Use advanced search.

    Sometimes a basic MnLINK search returns too many results. To narrow your search, click Advanced Search. Here, you can search for a specific author, title, publisher, ISBN, or other field. You can also specify a publishing date ("nothing older than 1995"), a format ("only DVDs"), a language ("nothing but English or Spanish"), and a reading level ("juvenile only"). Select your options, then click Search.

  3. Search libraries in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, too!

    Did you know we get some free item loans from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin? You can search their databases from MnLINK, too. On the basic search page, change Current profile from All Catalogs for MnLINK Gateway [shared] to ELM - WorldCat [shared].

    Here are some titles I've found in out-of-state libraries but not in Minnesota:

    Getting Rich in Your Underwear by Peter Hupalo

    Self Help Stuff That Works by Adam Khan

    Lifemaps: a step-by step method for simplifying 101 of life's most overwhelming projects by Michael Antoniak

    Maybe right, maybe wrong by Dan Barker

    Searching all Minnesota libraries greatly expands the resources that are freely available to you. Searching 3 more states expands your resources even more!

    Of course, there are limitations. Libraries in other states restrict what they do and don't share.

    Also, searching WorldCat shows results from OCLC libraries. But since ECRL is not an OCLC library if you make a request from an OCLC library outside Minnesota, there will be a service charge.

    In fact, getting free loans from outside the state is somewhat unusual, and depends on the good graces of the lending libraroes.

    But it might be worth a try.

  4. Save items for later.

    You may want to save an item you find to request it later. Or maybe you've reached your limit (20 requests) and have to wait to request it. When you find an item you want to request later, just click Save. You can pull up your list of saved items by clicking Saved List under My Account.

    You can also save a particular search. On any search results page, click Save Search in the upper-right of the screen. View them later by clicking Saved Searches under My Account.

  5. Change how search results are sorted.

    On any search results page, click Sort Options under Results. To choose what you want to sort by, click next to Index. Type in a number next to Number of records to Sort, and click the Sort button.

  6. Filter search results.

    If you get to many search results, you can filter out what you don't want. From the search results page, click Filter Options under Results. Now you can choose to filter by publishing date, format, language, or reading level.

  7. Get help.

    On any page, click Help under My Account to get instructions for using the page you're on. You can also browse the help pages to learn about other features of MnLINK.

Summing Up

MnLINK is a great resource available to ECRL patrons. You can often find rare and expensive items, and request them for free from almost any library in the 4-state region. Enjoy!

If you like MnLINK, be sure to thank MINITEX for providing it.

Luke Muehlhauser, Computer Technical Aide

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Visiting County Boards

This past Monday was the three-month anniversary of my first day at East Central Regional Library. The last three months have been good ones and how quickly they have flown by!

One of my initial goals was to go to a meeting of the the County Board of Commissioners in each of our six counties. Of course, at the outset, this was a pretty daunting undertaking, but I've enjoyed it, and it's gone well. As of today, I've got five down and one to go. I'll be traveling to Aitkin County on January 8th for the sixth county board visit.

This morning I visited Isanti County and this afternoon I was in Pine County. Two questions have come up (in various forms) repeatedly. Both of them are excellent questions, and I've pondered both of them for a long time. I wish I had a crystal ball. The questions as they were asked today are: (1)How do I see library services changing? and (2)Do I see library funding requests continuing with percentages of increase in double digits?

My initial response is that in my experience, our customers want all the services they traditionally have received and more. They especially want information access anywhere at any time delivered through technology. And they expect library staff members to be expert information guides for any and all formats.

As we review the ECRL strategic plan, I will be seeking help in answering these questions. The answer to #1 will drive #2. What do our customers expect of us? What needs in our communities do libraries answer?

Thanks to ECRL Board Members for accompanying me to meetings today -- Ron Drude this morning in Isanti County and Bayliss and wife Margery Swanson this afternoon in Pine County.

The Swansons took the opportunity to visit the Sandstone Library while they were in town for the Board meeting. Left to right: Margery, Sandstone Librarian Jeanne Coffey, and Bayliss.
Sandstone Library

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Rush City Grand Re-Opening

On Saturday, with kids in tow, I attended the Grand Re-Opening of the Rush City library. The coffee was strong, the cookies were chocolate chip, the library was crisp and gorgeous, and all attendees were excited about their "new" library. What more could one ask for? Jeanette and Jane and assorted volunteers did an outstanding job planning and executing this remodeling project. Hats off!

Moreover, I heard from several there, as I have in the past from RC patrons, that, more than the physical structure, it is the personal care and attention that Jeanette gives to her patrons that is that branch's real treasure. Her focus on the kids of the community has been particularly praised and appreciated. Students from the local school, where research resources are limited, rely heavily on its public library, and thus its staff. To me, that's what Saturday's celebration was really about.

I took pictures and, with the help of my 11-year-old daughter, uploaded them to ECRL's flickr site. I had hoped to postpone until her teen years the looks of "Dad, you are so uncool" but when I admitted I hadn't downloaded/uploaded pictures before, I think I glimpsed my declining stature. Check out the pictures.

Nick Dimassis, Assistant Director, ECRL

Friday, December 14, 2007

I lub my new libary

The newly renovated Rush City Library opened this week. The first person to come in was a blond haired little girl, who promply sat down in front the bright window in the children's section and read a book. She told Rush City Librarian, Jeanette Monthye, "I lub my new libary."

The East Central Minnesota Post Review has a great story about the renovation which was funded by Chisago County. Check it out online.

Congratulations to the residents of Rush City on your new library. Thank you to Jeanette and Jane for all your hard work. And thank you to Chisago County for your support!

Rush City Renovation Click on the photo for my pictures of the Rush City Library

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I hope everyone is enjoying ECRL’s foray into the world of blogging. I, myself, absolutely love blogs: I have a bloglines account that I check religiously, I’ve been known to blog about the brilliant books I’ve been reading, and I think that blogs can be a wonderful mix of function and fun. Hopefully my contributions to our blog will run the gamut between the two.

For this, my first post, I want to take a minute to highlight some of the blogs that I take time out of my crazy life to read. They rarely ever disappoint and are definitely worth your time:

The Annoyed Librarian

I’m starting off with a BANG! This one is a bit controversial, as the Annoyed Librarian (AL) isn’t afraid to speak her mind and often tackles topics near and dear to the hearts of many librarians. Lovers of wit and wisdom (and a healthy dose of sarcasm and irony) will appreciate the AL.

Pop Goes the Library!

A group of fabulous ‘pop culture mavens’ blogs about libraries, literacy, and, you guessed it, pop culture!

Reading Rants: Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists

This is my absolute favorite site focusing on young adult literature. Jennifer Hubert Swan reviews fabulous teen books in an accessible blog format. This chick knows her stuff….and even teens like to check out her site for suggested reads!

Sanders Says

Sanders Says, put out by Yahoo’s Tim Sanders, is a wonderful blog focusing on business, culture, and spirit.

Shake Your Beauty

Author of urban chicklit books for teens and adults, Tia Williams blogs about fashion, pop culture, and literature.

The Shifted Librarian

Jenny, information maven extraordinaire, talks technology and libraries. Lately there has been a focus on gaming in the library, which is, as we all know, one really cool way to get teens into our libraries.

Tame the Web

If you work in a library and don’t know who Michael Stephens is, I strongly suggest adding his blog to your bloglines account! Michael (and, when he is too busy, his merry band of co-writers) covers everything under the sun related to libraries, technology, training, Web 2.0, and anything else that strikes his fancy.

There are many more wonderful blogs out there that I read and love, but these are the core blogs that I take the time to keep up. Perhaps some of you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Chisago Lakes Area Library Branch Librarian

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Tea at Aitkin Public Library

It was a festive afternoon at the Aitkin Public Library on Sunday, Dec. 2. Library patrons celebrated the coming Christmas season by reading a variety of Christmas prose and poetry. Afterwards, Christmas tea and elegant goodies were enjoyed by all in the beautifully trimmed library. Many remark that this event is the beginning of their Christmas celebration and even their favorite Christmas event—very relaxing and charming. This was the 13th annual Friends of the Library Christmas Tea.

Mary Beth Woodrow, Aitkin Library Branch Manager

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Gift Ideas for Teens

In my family, everyone looks forward to two gifts under the Christmas tree -- pajamas and a new book. (For a peak at my family opening their books, check out my blog post from 2 years ago.)

The Cambridge Library has teamed up with Isanti County Family Services and generous library folks to give kids and teens new Christmas books through the Gift of Reading tree.
Give the Gift of Reading Tree

A bookmark is available in the library with suggestions for teen reads. If you want to give the teens in your life a new book, check out these book list suggestions -- thanks to Chisago Lakes Branch Manager Angela Smith and Community Services Coordinator Vickie Sorn.

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas for Teens
Ages 14 & up!

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by S. Limb
13 Little Blue Envelopes by M. Johnson
Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Anne Brashares
Princess Diary Series by Meg Cabot
Jingle Boy by Scott Kiernan
Any Gossip Girl OR It Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Stormbreaker by Alex Horowitz (or any Alex Rider books)
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Godless (or Invisible) by Pete Hautman
Nailed by Patrick Jones
Holes by Louis Sachar
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Feed by M. T. Anderson
Crackback by John Coy
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
Nonfiction bks (sports, rockstars, cars)
Graphic Novels (Bone Series, any DC or Marvel superheros)
Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kurt Daudt and Bob Boese Receive MLA Awards

The Minnesota Library Association held its annual meeting recently in Mankato. Two local residents were presented awards at the MLA Awards banquet held on Thursday, October 25 on the Minnesota Sate University-Mankato campus.

Kurt Daudt, Isanti County Commissioner, was presented with a Certificate of Merit by MLA. The Certificate of Merit is presented to one citizen, or an entire Board of Trustees or Friends group that has made a noteworthy contribution to library services in the State of Minnesota.

Heidi Hoks, current MLA president, presented the award to Kurt with the following introduction. “Kurt has been a library supporter throughout his career in public service. He has served as President of the East Central Regional Library Board in 2006 and 2007. Commissioner Daudt was instrumental in the creation and promotion of the county resolutions in support of increasing Regional Library Basic System Support. Isanti County was the first to pass this important resolution in the fall of 2006. Kurt’s work on this project resulted in more than 70 Minnesota Counties approving resolutions in support of this legislative initiative. His ongoing advocacy on behalf of libraries and library funding has been one of the catalysts that resulted in this year’s passage of a bill that increased Regional Library Basic System Support for the first time in 16 years.”


Also that evening, former director of East Central Regional Library, Bob Boese, was presented with the Minnesota Library Association 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award. The Distinguished Achievement Award is presented in recognition of distinguished service to the profession and for active and innovative leadership in the development of libraries and the improvement of library services. Nine leaders in the library community nominated Bob for the award.

Nominators spoke of his professionalism, dedication, and active participation in MLA. “Whenever making decisions, he has always looked at what is fair and right.” “His knowledge of, and passion for, libraries has benefited all.”

Bob was also a true mentor for those in the library profession. “He gives freely of his time no matter how busy things are at the office.” Many mentioned his interest in collaboration and innovation. “Bob thinks in terms of what will benefit libraries across the state…..Bob has never been unwilling to be the first to try a new idea.” Plus one regional library director noted, “I think of Bob as Minnesota’s ‘Library Historian.’ He can recall a monumental amount of library history and facts.”

Bob and Heidi

Congratulations to Kurt and Bob! We thank you for your dedication and service to East Central Regional Library, its staff and the patrons it serves.

Vickie Sorn, Community Services Coordinator

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cambridge Friend of Library Becomes State Board Member

Recently at the Fall 2007 Minnesota Library Association convention in Mankato, local resident, Lorie Fetzik, was named as a board member on the Minnesota Association of Library Friends. Lorie is currently co-president of the Cambridge Friends of the Library organization and is an avid library user and supporter.

The mission of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends is to promote excellence in library services by working with and through Friends of the Library organizations and the libraries they represent. They assist in legislative efforts, sponsor programs and workshops, help new Friends groups get started, and serve as a clearinghouse for advice and information.

The MALF board meets 4-5 times throughout the year and is made up of individuals from various communities throughout Minnesota. Lorie says, “This will be a worthwhile learning experience and I hope to bring lots of ideas and enthusiasm back to our local Cambridge Friends of the Library organization.”

Vickie Sorn, Community Services Coordinator

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sandstone patrons crafty

Crafters if all kinds are invited to the Sandstone Public Library every Tuesday evening from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m.. Knitters, spinners and weavers gather with other handy crafters to share projects and accumulate new ideas. It’s a great time and a great place to meet.

One of our patrons made the positive comment that “Libraries have really changed in the past few years”, and he was right. Now, we like to consider ourselves the gathering place for the town, a place to feel comfortable and to share thoughts and ideas. Each month we host the Sandstone Book Club, the Friends of the Library meetings and any other group who wants to meet here. Everyone is welcome at the Sandstone Public Library.

Photos from craft night:
Sandstone Library's crafters
Some examples of beading Instructor Mary Reynold’s bead work

Sandstone Library's crafters
Beginning beading was taught one night. More classes will follow

Sandstone Library's crafters
Tuesday evenings at the Sandstone Library are open to crafters of all ages

Jeanne Coffey, Sandstone Library Branch Manager

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Visitors brighten the day

I wanted to share a day brightener that we just had:

A small family group just came in to see the library. They are in from all over the U.S. to visit their aunt. The only thing the aunt insisted they do is to come to see the new library! Aren't we just the cat's pajamas!

(They were SO impressed - and they all bought tote bags!)

Sharon Strack, Milaca Library Branch Manager

Friday, October 19, 2007

Progress - the Web Catalog

I've been here just over a month (Wednesday was my one-month anniversary). Wow, so much has happened. I told Marilyn that I wish we had kept a daily log. We've not celebrated each step in the implementation of our new ILS (integrated library system), but there have been plenty.

Today is a huge milestone -- the unveiling of the online patron access catalog. In library terminology, that's an OPAC. Let's not call it that. It's just simply the Catalog. It seems pretty straightforward to use. The biggest thing that I think the public may need to remember is that they should select their library on the initial search screen -- it comes up searching "All".

As staff has tried the catalog out in its implementation phase, they've found several things they've like, several more not so much. Carla told me that she's been here through Classic Dynix, Horizon 8.0, and now Unicorn. She says that there are certain things that she likes in each one and she wishes she could combine all her favorite tools. I suspect that will be the case with a lot of us (this will be the sixth automation system I've worked on).

Give it a try. And then post in the comments section what you like - or not. (be specific, please)

ECRL Catalog
ECRL new online catalog
Barbara Misselt, Director

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Minnesota gourmands

Last week I received an invitation from Christy Koch and the Pine City Library Board, Foundation, and staff to a Hot Dish Buffet. So, I stopped in Pine City (north) on my way to Rochester (south) Friday evening to check it out. OK, so I'm a little directionally challenged, but I had to see a hotdish buffet.

Hotdishes are fundamental to Minnesota cuisine. They are made up of 2 or more main ingredients, combining meats, vegetables, starches, and some kind of sauce (like soup or cheese) into a one-dish meal with a combined taste that is different from any of its individual elements. Imagine what a feast you have for sight, smell and taste, when you have a large assortment of hotdishes made up of multiples of ingredients. Throw in all the side salads, desserts, and even pickles and it's a feast.

The buffet is an annual event to raise money for a new library in Pine City. It's turned into quite the event and even the mayor showed up to sell tickets. Christy says that last Friday they raised $1,200. Way to go, Pine City!

Even more . . . I saw many tangential benefits besides the raising of cold hard cash. I saw people gathering together on a chilly fall evening to eat. Sure, Minnesota churches have such suppers all the time, but this was a true community gathering of people from all walks. The library, at the heart of the community was the catalyst to bring the community residents together. When they came to the city building that houses the library, many came in the library and were reminded of its importance as part of the community. The good feelings that will remain as memories of a pleasant evening will carry forward as good feelings for the library as Pine City continues to raise funds for a new library home.
Pine City LibraryClick for more photos from Pine City Library

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Monday, October 15, 2007

The first post

This marks a new venture for East Central Regional Library - the launch of our Blog, East Central Libraries, which will be a collaborative of staff members. Through the Blog, we will share news of what's going on in our libraries, and hope to engage the library community in discussion about libraries.