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