Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NOVELIST - Your Guide to Fiction !

As we move into the chilly, dark days and nights of January, there's nothing more rewarding than relaxing with a good book.

Many people come to the library to request the latest bestsellers or to browse the new books recently added to the collection. Others like to discuss their favorite authors with library staff and make recommendations.

Did you know that the NOVELIST database is available to all East Central Regional Library cardholders? It is your complete guide to fiction and can be used in the library, at home, or wherever you have access to a computer!

With NoveList you can search for books by author, title, or series. You may also limit your results to adults, teens, or children.

On the left side of the home page, you'll find links to "Author Read-alikes", "Award Winners", and "Recommended Reads". Are you interested in books similar to "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown"? Locate his entry under "Author Read-alikes". Who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction? You'll find the answer under "Award Winners". Would you like a list of historical fiction novels? Check "Recommended Reads"!

To access NoveList go to the ECRL homepage:
---Click on "Magazines & Databases" on the left
---Scroll down and click on the "NoveList" link.
You're in and can begin looking for that perfect novel!

Please feel free to contact your nearest ECRL branch library if you have questions or comments about NoveList. Staff are happy to assist!

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gift of Reading

I love children’s books. One of my many favorites is called, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. It’s the story of a tree and a little boy she loved with all her heart. She gave the little boy a place to play when he was little and shade when he was tired. As he grew he wanted to make money and so she gave him the apples from her tree to sell hoping that that would make him happy. As an adult he wanted a house and the tree gave her branches so that he could have lumber. He grew older and wished a boat to sail away; the tree gave her trunk to make him happy. When he came back once more, she thought she had nothing left to give; but she did. He could sit on her stump as an old man and rest.

December is a time of giving. Depending on your tradition, it may be for any number of reasons. In the Christian tradition, the Magi brought gifts to the Christ Child and many give gifts on that basis. The more secular celebration of this holy day/holiday includes Santa Claus. Kwanzaa is celebrated by the African American community in recognition of the African harvest. In many families, small gifts are given in the seven day period from December 26 – January 1. Each of the days is centered on one of the seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Each day is marked by the lighting of a candle in the kinara or candleholder. Hanukkah is celebrated by the Jewish community as the Festival of Lights. This celebration marks the rededication of the temple that had been desecrated. For eight days candles are lit in the menorah remembering the miracle of the oil lamp in the temple.

Residents of the Wyoming area were invited to give new children’s books or cash for the purchase of books for families with children in need. This project, “The Giving Tree”, was in partnership with the Chisago County Health and Human Service, a replica of what is done in Isanti County at the Cambridge Library. On December 17th, Heidi Neff, a Social Worker from Chisago County Health and Human Services, stopped to pick up books donated at the Giese Memorial Library of Wyoming. Rebecca Hostetler, Branch Librarian, said many people gave the gift of reading to children of families in need. Thirty-nine books were donated; $183.00 was collected for books to be purchased. Scout and Morgan Bookstore, an independent bookseller in Cambridge, offered a discount and thirty-three more books were purchased making a total of seventy-two books for children, infants through early teens. What a great response! Thanks to all who contributed! We’ll be doing it again next year!

Rebecca Hostetler
Wyoming Branch Librarian

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tweens & Teens Gaming Night at the Cambridge Library

Tweens and teens flooded into the Cambridge Library last Thursday evening, December 3rd to play video games, online games, board games, and card games. Guitar Hero tunes, Wii gaming tunes, and the din of engaged 11-16 year-olds was the backdrop for the evening. Pizza, pop, and prizes were enjoyed by over 60 participants.

The evening was sponsored by the Cambridge Friends of the Library.

Nancy Dunbar, Cambridge Branch Librarian

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cambridge Library Friends Awarded $1000

The Cambridge Friends of the Library received a $1000 cash award for the best Friends of the Library project in the State of Minnesota at the Minnesota Library Association convention in St. Cloud this past October. Lorie Fetzik, 2009 Cambridge Friends of the Library co-president, accepted the Evie Nordley Award on behalf of the Friends.

The Evy Nordley Award was presented by the Minnesota Association of Library Friends. The award recognizes the importance of Friends of the Library projects and the impact they have on their local libraries. Second and third place winners went to the Friends of the Lake City and Pelican Rapids Public Libraries.

The Cambridge Friends won the award for their 2009 Community Wide Read program which featured the Night Birds by Thomas Maltman, a book about the Sioux Uprising of 1876. The Community Wide Read Program included book discussion groups, a documentary and a hoop dance presentation by Dallas Chief Eagle. A companion children’s book about the Sioux Uprising, Battle Cry by Jan Neubert Schultz, was also part of the program. The award was judged on the impact of the project, the objectives, cost effectiveness, collaboration, planning, the target audience and funding sources.

Along with the $1000 cash award, the Friends were given a beautiful plaque representing their accomplishments. The award is on display at the Cambridge Public Library. Congratulations Cambridge Friends of the Library!

Vickie Sorn

Youth & Community Services Librarian

Monday, November 30, 2009

THE ROAD to Cormac McCarthy

When No Country For Old Men won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2007 I told myself, "I must read Cormac McCarthy."
I didn't get around to it, however, until recently. I knew that All the Pretty Horses, volume one of "The Border Trilogy", had received both the 1992 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then The Road was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Last week I picked up The Road, thumbed through it, and noted the absence of quotation marks to indicate dialogue. Finding this somewhat distracting, I laid the book aside and turned to a different novel. Yesterday I picked up McCarthy's book again----and finished it this morning.
A man and his son, both unnamed, struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Possessed of meager provisions and a pistol with two bullets, the man convinces the boy that some kind of salvation exists near the sea. Through a blighted landscape of gray ash, dead trees, and chilling temperatures, the reader joins them on the road, encountering harrowing instances of debased humanity, cannibalism, and despair. The boy, who has never known any other life, seems, at times, touched by God, for he is ever aware of the fact that he and his father are the "good guys" who "carry the fire". Eventually the man succumbs to disease, starvation, and exposure---yet remains convinced that "Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again."
The Road has been called both "a masterpiece" by Booklist and "a novel of horrific beauty" by Kirkus Reviews. I agree. The book, deceptively simple and straightforward, is devastating and reminds us that the world teeters on the edge of the abyss.
On June 5, 2007, McCarthy sat down with Oprah Winfrey for his first and only television interview. When asked about his writing, McCarthy said he prefers simple, direct sentences and refuses to muddy up his text with "weird little marks" (quotation marks). The video can viewed on Oprah's site: Just enter his name in the "Search" field on the upper right of the screen.
Directed by John Hillcoat, the film adaptation has just been released in theatres and is receiving generally favorable reviews. Viggo Mortensen, whom many will remember as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays the man.
East Central Regional Library owns all of McCarthy's works in various formats: regular print, large print, audio, VHS, and DVD. Access our homepage at and click on "ECRL Catalog" if you'd like to request a specific item. Remember that library staff are a quick phone call away if you need assistance.

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ECRL College Sweepstakes Winner

Six year old Danielle Cavallin of Pine City was selected as a winner in this summer’s “Get Creative @ Saving for College” sweepstakes, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services and the Minnesota College Savings Plan. Jeff and Jaclyn Cavallin, parents of Danielle, were awarded a $1,000 cash prize that can be invested in a Minnesota College Savings Plan account for the benefit of Danielle. The sweepstakes, which received over 4,000 entries statewide this summer, was a component of this year’s Minnesota Library Summer Reading Program, held at public libraries throughout the state. The Pine City Public Library branch of ECRL where Danielle participated in the Summer Reading Program, also won a $500 cash prize. In total, 15 $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to summer reading program participants in Minnesota. The 15 libraries where the winners participated in the summer reading program also won $500 towards future reading programs.

Danielle received her "big" check at the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Pine City Public Library on Thursday, November 19. Danielle's entire family was there to help her celebrate.

The Minnesota Library summer reading program is offered through local libraries to encourage children to read during the summer and has over 60,000 children participating every year. “This is the first time that we’ve offered a college savings sweepstakes through the annual Summer Reading Program,” said Suzanne Miller, Director of Minnesota’s State Library Services. “We are pleased with our partnership with the Minnesota College Savings Plan and the response from the children, their parents and the libraries. It was a good opportunity to encourage children to read while school was out for the summer, and to emphasize saving for college with Minnesota’s 529 College Savings Plan.”

The Minnesota College Savings Plan (the “Plan”) is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan to help parents and grandparents invest in a child’s future college education. The Plan is implemented and administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.

Vickie Sorn, ECRL Youth & Community Services Librarian

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day, November 11th

Today is Veterans Day, and the East Central Regional Library Headquarters and branches are all closed. Veterans Day is a national holiday, first proclaimed as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 with the following words: To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Armistice Day commemorated the end of World War I – known at the time as “The Great War.” The War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Armistice Day became a legal holiday through congressional action on May 13, 1938. (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a). Armistice Day was a day dedicated to world peace and to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954 the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by changing the word "Armistice" to "Veterans" following World War II and the Korean Conflict. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The observance of Veterans Day moved to Monday, along with Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day, when the Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968. This was unpopular with many states, who continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11th, and ignored the legislation. In response to the desires of the the majority of state legislatures, all veterans service organizations, and the American people, Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) on September 20, 1975, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Veterans Day Salute Source of information, Department of Veterans Affairs
See also,

Barbara Misselt, Director

Monday, November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For over 25 years a city existed within the confines of a wall that encircled it, keeping its residents in and everyone else out. Travel to and from West Berlin was only permitted through applications and documents. The Wall was a symbol of the Cold War

Following World War II, the defeated country of Germany was divided into four sections and governed by the Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, the Alliierter Kontrollrat, a military governing authority. The members were the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. France was later added with one vote, but no duties. As was the country divided, so too was the capitol city, Berlin. Berlin was well within the Soviet controlled section known later as East Germany.

When the Soviets and East Germans erected a wall around the portions of Berlin governed by the Americans, Brits, and French, West Berlin was isolated from West Germany. Armed guards patrolled the wall and the checkpoints going in and out of West Berlin.

I lived in West Berlin from 1983 to 1987, while my husband served with the Air Force. While we lived a relatively normal lifestyle there, getting "Flag Orders" every time we wanted to travel outside the city was an inconvenience. While I lived there, the political climate was relatively calm and we traveled back and forth into East Berlin fairly often. One very tragic incident in 1985 affected us personally, when Major Arthur Nicholson was killed in the line of duty. His daughter Jennifer was in my son's class. We were also there when President Reagan cried "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" at the Brandenburg Gate.

The cold gray wall served as a grim reminder of the differences in lifestyle from East to West. Bus drivers who drove through Checkpoint Charlie often played "God Bless the USA" or "Born in the USA" -- with the windows open.
Shortly after we moved from Berlin to Maine, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched throngs of East Berliners pour through the torn down wall. I feel that way yet.

This website about the Berlin Wall has some good information:

Also, check for books about the Berlin Wall under the number 943.155
Barbara Misselt, Director

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Department of Interior waives fees November 11th

Here's a low-cost way to enjoy the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday.

From the National Park Service website:

To honor America’s service men and women, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that areas managed by the department will not charge entrance fees on Wednesday, November 11th.

Visitors to public recreation lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation are invited to take a day to honor and reflect on what our service men and women have done to maintain our freedom and keep peace around the world, Salazar said.

“The Department of the Interior is honored to offer this fee free day to thank our nation’s service men and women,” said Salazar said “The sacrifices and achievements of the brave men and women of our armed forces can never be understated. We invite all of our visitors to enjoy this fee free day and take time out on this national holiday to remember our service men and women who are currently serving overseas in harm's way. ”

The Department of Agriculture also is waiving entrance fees at its national forests.

Barbara Misselt, Director

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Minnesota Dept. of Human Rights -- Investigates charges of illegal discrimination under the Human Rights Act

EEOC ( -- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigates charges pertaining to employment discrimination

American Civil Liberties Union ( National organization advocating individual rights, by litigating, legislating, and educating the public

The library has other sites of interest pertaining to legal issues and employment discrimination on our "Reference Links" page:

---Access the library homepage:

---Click on "Reference Desk" on the left, then "Web Links"

---Click on the "Legal Resources" link

If you need assistance, please feel free to contact your nearest ECRL branch library.

Although staff cannot offer legal advice or assistance, they can refer you to appropriate literature, reference books, websites, and other resources.

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Friday, September 18, 2009


It's still possible to find that "perfect job", even in this economy. The library can help!

Check out the following books:

"Knock 'em Dead 2009: The Ultimate Job Search Guide" by Martin John Yate
"The Job Search Solution" by Tony Beshara
"60 Seconds & You're Hired" by Robin Ryan

Need help polishing up your resume or interview skills? Take a look at these:

"301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions" by Vicky Oliver
"Resumes for Dummies" by Joyce Kennedy
"No-Nonsense Resumes" by Wendy Enelow

There are many others. Search the ECRL catalog or ask your librarian for assistance. ECRL staff can also point out our "Web Links" page and the "LearningExpress Library" database.

There are many excellent internet sites that can help you in your job search.

---Go to the library homepage:
---Click on the "Reference Desk" link on the left
---Click on "Web Links", then "Employment"

Minnesota residents may want to pay particular attention to the following sites:

---"Minnesota Jobs"
---"Minnesota's Job Bank"
---"Workforce Centers"

The library also has access to a very helpful database: "LearningExpress Library".

With LearningExpress you can polish up your basic math, reading, writing, and grammar skills, take tests geared toward specific careers (military, nursing, civil service, teaching, law enforcement, and more), as well as get tips on effective interview techniques, job search strategies, and writing resumes.

---Go to the ECRL homepage:
---Click on "Magazines & Databases" on the left
---Scroll down to "Learning Express Library" and click on the blue "Learn A Test" link
---New users must click on "register". You can then create your own, confidential, account and add tests and courses to "My Center". You can use the database wherever you have access to a computer - home, work, school, or in the library.

Stop by your local ECRL branch library for an introduction to "Learning Express Library". We have a helpful brochure that will guide you through account setup and taking the online tests. Staff are happy to answer any questions you may have!

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Maroon and White Bus

The small maroon and white bus pulled into the parking lot. Ebenezer Meadows Campus was painted on the side. The driver got out and opened the doors that made the bus handicap accessible with a lift. Slowly the lift was lowered and one by one the occupants were out of the bus and ready to come into the library. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, independently; one-by-one they made their way into the building.

Three of them needed library cards; two came for the ride. They looked over different parts of the library. Then they checked out a few books and were on their way.

This will become part of their routine; every two weeks they will be able to visit our branch and see the world with different eyes. I’m excited about this opportunity for them and for us. They get a “road trip” and we have a new occasion to serve area residents. Hopefully, more campus residents will become eager at the prospect of visiting the library.

The facility program coordinator will be ordering Bi-Folkal Kits for them and other people at the campus to remember the old days…remember farm days, remember the Depression, remember school days, and remember work life. These and many other topics are covered with individual kits. Each kit includes an extensive program manual, a media presentation, sing along booklets, things to touch and a carrying case. Some have even more.

These kits are multi-media and multi-sensory to prompt memories and discussion. They are the perfect choice for programs and activities for older adults and mixed age groups in senior centers, retirement communities, nursing homes and other settings. If you are interested in finding out more about the Bi-Folkal Kits, stop in at your local East Central Regional Library branch or contact Vicki at 763-689-7390 x13.

I’m looking forward to seeing that maroon and white bus. Once it’s part of the routine, I’ll be planning some inter-generational activities.

Rebecca J. Hostetler, Branch Librarian
Giese Memorial Library, Wyoming

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gearing Up for Fall

Now that summer is beginning to wind down and "back to school" is beginning to wind up, it's time to once more think about preschool storytime at the library. Our most excellent volunteer, Karen Breach, is anxious to get the fall sessions started. Storytimes will be every Friday at 10:30am starting Friday, Sept ll. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your preschool youngster involved in a pre-literacy experience while having a great time socializing and doing projects. Please mark your calendars for this free and valuable childhood learning adventure.

For adults, ECRL is once again offering classes in the exploration of your family history. You will be able to learn about our new AncestryPlus genealogical database and much more from ECRL's reference coordinator, Bob Gray, who will be in Hinckley at 10:30am on Thursday, September 10. Class size is limited to 13, so pre-registration is necessary by calling 320-384-6351 at least 3 days prior to the date of the workshop. Basic computer skills are mandatory.

ECRL will soon be celebrating 50 years of public library service and in honor of that achievement will be hosting celebrations in each of the 14 branches throughout the 6 county region. We are eagerly seeking historical trivia and information about early library use and development. If you have a story or a clipping, please stop in to share it. More details will be forthcoming as they develop.

Ceci Cross-Maser, Hinckley Branch Librarian

Summer Reading a Hit

Eight weeks sure can fly by in a fast flurry when they are as busy as they've been for the 2009 summer reading program. In spite of the shaky start when the roof leaked and the library became flooded, "Be Creative @ Your Library" turned out to be a really fun and successful reading promotion for 121 kids pre-school through 6th grade, and "Express Yourself @ Your Library" was a hit with the teens.

The closing program was held on Wednesday, August 5 with a show called "Imagineering" presented by Robert and Lynn Halbrook of Cloquet. He entertained with clever sleight of hand, audience participation, creative theater, and a strong emphasis on books. Parents and kids alike expressed their delight and hopes that he could come back next year.

As usual, following the entertainment was the much anticipated ticket drawing and contest winners. The 56 kids who completed their reading logs were eligible for an additional prize in the drawing and after all the ticket earners had made their choices, the names of those present were all put back and one more name was drawn to receive a pair of donated Twin's tickets. The winner of those was Killeen Prater.

All summer, the scavenger hunts are a huge favorite. The creative mascot was a musical Beethoven doll who was hidden in a different location each week, so kids had lots of chances to search for him and enter the drawing to win him. Dylan Miller was the lucky winner who got to take him home. The "major art theft" scavenger hunt was a little more difficult than in other years, but there were plenty of kids (with some parental help) who succeeded and then entered the drawing for a Dairy Queen gift card. Vinnie Brackenbury got to take that one home. The guessing contest was for crayons in a jar. The closest guesser, Holly Sybrant, was just one off so she won the whole jar.

A new contest this year was a photo competition with 6 kids submitting their creative efforts. There were winners in three age catagories: for ages 5-7 the winner was Luke Knudson, for ages 8-10 it was Ryan Rabe, and for ages 11-12 the winner was Jared Knudson. This may be a contest that is repeated next year, since many families felt the time limit was too short and they were unable to prepare an entry.

Some of the ticket drawing winners were not present for the drawing, but a prize was selected for each one and those can be picked up at the library.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the 2009 program so great. These include Laura Eyre, Carol Carney, and Alyssa Prater. And a big thank you to all the parents and grandparents who made the extra effort to encourage their youngsters to read and get them to the library to record their progress, pick up their prizes, and attend wouldn't have happened without your participation! Thanks also to the Hinckley Lions Club for their generous sponsorship of the traveling storyteller, to the City Council for their budgetary support which paid for incentives, the Arboretum programs, and the Halbrook performance, and to Hardees for the drink mix served after the closing program.

The Teen level promotion inspired 41 teens to sign up, and 26 to actively participate with a total of 194 books having been read in the eight weeks. Weekly winners were: week 1, Colleen Christian, Sierra Sorgaard, & Angel White; week 2, Daniel Christian, Tyler Fish, & Lauren Rabe; week3, Nikki Mans, Jonathan Nelson, & Lindsay Rootkie; week 4, Trent Doyle, Adam Finke, & Natalie Peel; week 5, Jessica Nelson, Sierra Sorgaard, & Lauren Worlickey; week 6, Brianna Grinsteinner, Lanae Nelson, & Paige Hodena; week 7, Colleen Christian, Nikki Mans, & Trent Doyle; and week 8, Daniell Christian, Lauren Rabe, & Erika Winter. By far the favorite prize selection for these weekly winners was the free movie pass. Many thanks are extended to Grand Cinema for their donation of these passes and their generous support of reading, creativity, and libraries. Those teens who have not yet stopped in to pick up their prizes are encouraged to still do so.

Thanks to a generous donation given by Marge Lehman, cash prizes were awarded to the top three readers. $25 went to 1st place reader, Lauren Rabe who read 38 books, and $12.50 went to tied 2nd place readers, Trent Doyle amd Sierra Sorgaard who each read 20 books. Congratulations to all the teens who participated and won prizes....keep on reading!

Next year's theme will be "Make a Splash @ Your Library" and plans are already being discussed for yet another great summer.

Ceci Cross-Maser, Hinckley Branch Librarian

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Arts and Culture in the Library

Libraries are at the center of their communities in providing information and recreation. Now, thanks to funds provided through the Legacy Amendment, we will be providing arts and cultural experiences in our libraries. The Legacy Amendment was approved by 56% of Minnesota voters in November 2008. This Amendment raised the state sales tax 3/8 of 1% (starting July 1, 2009 and lasting 25 years) to generate money for four funds: Clean Water, Outdoor Heritage, Parks and Trails, and Arts and Cultural Heritage.

Libraries were included in the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the legislation*, which will receive 19.75% of the sales tax generated each year. This Fund will be divided among many recipients, including the following:

  • Board of Arts (with opportunities for partnerships with libraries and schools)
  • Regional Public Library funding for arts and arts education programs (will receive $4.25 million in FY 2010 and $4.25 in FY 2011)
  • Minnesota Digital Library (will receive $500,000 in FY 2010)
Public Library funding for arts and arts education programs will be allocated to the 12 regional public library systems according to the current regional library basic system support (RLBSS) grant formula. The Department of Education will administer this funding. In addition to our local programming, ECRL will participate along with the other regional public library systems to fund a state project to bring arts and culture into libraries.

The funding from the Legacy Amendment must be used to supplement, not supplant, traditional sources of funding. Recipients of the funding will need to prove that their use of the money was “supplemental” in nature—not a supplanting of current funding.

At its August 10th meeting, the ECRL Board of Directors authorized a committee to oversee the use of ECRL's portion of the Legacy Funds. We will also be participating in a statewide project of arts in libraries.

*Minnesota Session Laws 2009, Chapter 172, Article 4, Section Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Subdivision 3

Barbara Misselt, Director

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Letter from Japan

This E-mail came from John Becker, a Milaca branch patron who has moved to Japan. He tells us about the library in Japan.

I GOT MY LIBRARY CARD!!!! 4 years ago the library here was small, but I didn't know that from last year they have a new library. It is nice, I have my choice of 18 computers if I get here at opening time, and a view of the green mountains.But no nice red-haired librarian. Or Betty. Instead, there are about a dozen young women in a kind of uniform vest over nice shirt and slacks. They hustle around with such energy, arms pumping and pony tails bobbing up and down, finding material, answering questions, laughing at my bad jokes, bringing the hot towel to relieve weary shoulders. BUT, instead of the few books in English, now they have thousands, including recent Vince Flynn. I was surprised. Regretably, and when I get more known here I will mention this to them, the periodical selection is poor. Although there are about 30 Japanese papers, in
English, the newspapers are the JAPAN TIMES (quite good, except for Americans continuing to snipe at each other in the letters section) and USA TODAY. Non-technical magazines in English are limited to News and World Report, Sports Ill., Elle, Cosmo, Glamour, Good Housekeeping. But the DVD/CD selection is excellent.

Some differences: Checkout is for 2 weeks only for up to 15 books and only 2 CDs or DVDs at a time. But there is no late fee! I asked why and they said "Why should you not be responsible? If you are human, why would you want to shame yourself with thoughtless irresponsibility? And why would we shame ourselves by not trusting you, Bekka-san?"

Also computer time is a choice of 30 min or 1 hour. And they mean it. When they swipe your card, time begins and when it reaches 1 minute countdown, I know that in one minute the screen will blank, and I'd better not be in the middle of something or poof, it's gone.

The library is a nice place to spend a day. There are 4 restaurants and a coffeeshop in the building. And the toilets have those $1500 toilet seats that wash and dry and eliminate the need for toilet paper. Someday I must ask them how this is all funded.

John (Bekka Jion) has written a book, The Touch of Our Sleeves and we are acquiring a copy of it.

Sharon Strack, Branch Librarian, Milaca

Monday, July 13, 2009

Minnesota Video Vault

Sharing with you this announcement about an unbelievable new online resource:
From Keith Ewing, Saint Cloud State University and the Minnesota Digital Library:
Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) has released the Minnesota Video Vault. The vault provides access to hundreds of videos and TPT productions, from short clips to lengthy shows. The "Educators" button allows you to sort by very broad K12 areas (e.g., Social Science, Science, or Language Arts), then focus by "grade level," then "strand" (e.g., Minnesota History or US History), and then by "sub strand" (e.g., under the Minnesota History "strand" you can select "sub strands" like the "Civil War and Dakota War" or "Contact and Fur Trade"). The "Interest Areas" button provides a more immediate breakdown by history, people, places, MN issues, arts & entertainment, and special collections, with further topical subdivisions beneath that. This is a terrific resource, of special value to schools and educators, but also for everyone interested in Minnesota and regional history (although the content goes far beyond Minnesota).
Online at
I'm amazed at all the quality viewing available. Here's a sample of my favorites:
  • Dakota Conflict (the film shown for the Cambridge Reads event)
  • Tales of the Road: Highway 61, Almanac with Cathy Wurzer
  • American Experience Series
  • Antiques Roadshow
  • Great Performances
  • America at War
  • Nova
Barbara Misselt, Director

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Minnesota College Savings Plan Offers ECRL Summer Reading Participants a Chance to Win $1,000 Toward College

Encouraging a child to read this summer could lead to $1,000 toward his or her college savings. The Minnesota 529 College Savings Plan and Minnesota libraries today announced the launch of a Saving For College Sweepstakes as part of the 2009 Be Creative at Your Library Summer Reading Program at libraries across Minnesota.

“The Summer Reading program is a good opportunity to encourage children to read and to emphasize saving for college with Minnesota’s 529 college savings plan,” said David Metzen, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the agency responsible for administering the Minnesota College Savings Plan.

The Get Creative @ Saving For College Sweepstakes, which runs through August 21, will award fifteen $1,000 prizes to individuals statewide that can be used toward a child’s future college education. In addition, each individual winner’s local library will receive $500 toward future reading programs. “This is a great opportunity,” says Vickie Sorn, ECRL Youth & Community Services Librarian. “One individual from an ECRL branch will win a $1000 prize and one ECRL branch library will win the $500 prize.” Parents can enter to win by filling out an entry form at any ECRL branch when their children sign up for the Summer Reading Program.

For more information on the Minnesota College Savings Plan and the Get Creative @ Saving For College Sweepstakes, visit or visit your local East Central Regional Library branch in Aitkin, Cambridge, Chisago Lakes, Hinckley, McGregor, Milaca, Mille Lacs Lake (Isle), Mora, North Branch, Pine City, Princeton, Rush City, Sandstone, or Wyoming.

ECRL Press Release - July 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Stop Asking Questions!

The Oklahoma College Saving Plan is proudly sponsoring free admission for dads to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History on Father’s Day, June 17, from 1:00 p

At my recent visit to the Sandstone Public Library, branch librarian Jeanne Coffey, and I were talking about how her summer reading program was going. She told me about what happened at one of their special programs.

The Sandstone Public Library held a program called Meet a Musician for kids of all ages on Tuesday, June 16. The program fit perfectly with the Be Creative @ Your Library summer reading program. Peter McGuire, first violinist and John Snow, Principal Oboe from the Minnesota Orchestra visited the library for a demonstration followed by questions.

A small but enthusiastic crowd attended the program. Mr. McGuire and Mr. Snow played their instruments for a while and then paused for questions from the audience. Generally not too many young children fall in love with classical music. But after a few questions, a 4 year old boy spoke up and said, “Stop asking questions….play some more!”

How wonderful that this 4 year old appreciated the talents of these gentlemen. He knew why he had come to the program – to hear the music!

Vickie Sorn, Youth & Community Services Librarian

Photo courtesy of the Pine County Courier

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Needed more than ever

Governor Pawlenty, like it or not, has just done what he feels is best for the state of Minnesota. There is no doubt that something needed to be done; we cannot continue to live beyond our budget. But it's painful and it's scary. Our libraries will no doubt be affected, as will other agencies that exist to serve the public. The problem is that we are already busier than ever and needed more than ever. People who have lost their jobs are coming in to the libraries to look for work and to file for unemployment. They are looking for classes or assistance to update their work skills in order to better prepare themselves for the workforce. They need resources on writing resumes; they need computers to produce these documents, and many need someone to show them how to use that computer.

Tighter personal budgets necessitate looking for free entertainment. We are the best bargain in town, offering all the free reading materials, movies, and Internet use one could want. We also offer many educational and leisure events in our buildings. Attendance at these events, as well as general traffic in our libraries has skyrocketed. We do our best to keep up with this increasing demand for our services. Now we face the possibility of cuts to our operating budget. I know that we will do our best to keep up with our service to the public, but to do so with budget cuts will be extremely difficult. It's a good problem to have when you are needed, but it is still a problem.

Sharon Strack
Branch Manager
Milaca Public Library

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day Anniversary

Today is the 65th anniversary of D-Day: the day 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. Landings on Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword Beaches enabled the march across Europe to eventually defeat Hitler. The History Channel had some excellent programming on today, including interviews with a number of D-Day veterans.

To find information about D-Day, check out the following:

Barbara Misselt, Director

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Kill A Watt Monitors Donated to Library

Press Release

Back in February four Kill A Watt monitors were donated to East Central Regional Library for circulation to its patrons by East Central Energy. Almost immediately we had a waiting list for the monitors. With the demand so high, Mille Lacs Energy in Aitkin, donated two more Kill A Watt monitors to the library. Mille Lacs Energy services customers in Aitkin, Crow Wing and Mille Lacs counties. Any registered patron of East Central Regional Library may check out and use the monitor.

Winter may be over, but often times we use even more energy in the summer months. Everyone wants to save money and A Kill A Watt can do just that. It is a device that can help you identify what appliances in your home are the biggest energy abusers. Simply plug Kill A Watt into any appliance (refrigerator, fan, computer, etc.) and it will assess how efficiently it runs. It has a large LCD display that counts the number of kilowatts per hour used by an appliance just like your local electric utility company.

Is it time to replace that window air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier? Are they the reason that your utility bill is so high? A Kill A Watt monitor can help you make that decision by giving you the information you need.

How do I borrow a Kill A Watt device to use? Simply visit your local East Central Regional Library branch or visit the library’s website at and place a hold on a Kill A Watt device. You will be notified when one becomes available. Then simply drop by your nearest ECRL branch to pick it up.

Thank you to Mille Lacs Energy and East Central Energy for their invaluable donations. These monitors will help consumers in the region make informed decisions on their energy usage. So why not take advantage of the Kill A Watt device and use the information you discover to help you save money? Plug it in and find “watts” killing you. Contact your local ECRL branch for more information.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Organic Puppet Theater at the Cambridge Library

Maryauna, Aaron, Brandon, and Carson learned how to lead happy and healthy lives at the Cambridge Public Library on Saturday, May 9 when Linda Sorenson and her Organic Puppet Theater were here. The children made lung puppets and then presented a puppet show donning healthy organ props and costumes.
Nancy Dunbar, Cambridge Branch Librarian

Thursday, April 30, 2009

MedLinePlus for flu (and other) health information

Many of us are watchful of the potential for a flu pandemic - specifically the H1N1 flu, popularly known as "swine flu." Panic can reign when the public is uninformed, but for those who are armed with reliable information, preparation and common sense will contribute to peace of mind. I suggest MedLinePlus as a good place to look for timely and accurate medical information. MedLinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. They're doing a good job of gathering together credible information and news about the spread of this new flu. Link to swine flu resources on MedLinePlus.

Another source for information about swine flu is on the Centers for Disease Control site which is also a credible source for health information.

Use MedLinePlus or CDC whenever you need current health and medical information. There is an encyclopedia, a dictionary, and an alphabetized list of health topics. You can even look up names of drugs (both prescription and over the counter) and supplements to find extensive information about them.

If you need help finding information on MedLinePlus, CDC, or other sources, ask your local librarian!

Barbara Misselt, Director


The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has announced the results of the 21st annual Minnesota Book Awards! A panel of judges selected winners in eight categories, and over 2000 online voters from across Minnesota selected the winner of the Readers’ Choice Award. The awards were presented on the evening of April 25, 2009, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul.

It was my pleasure to serve on the panel that selected The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich as the winner in the Novel & Short Story category. This remarkable novel was also a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Here’s the complete list of the winners:

Children's Literature: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

General Non-fiction: The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend

Genre Fiction: Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

Memoir & Creative Non-fiction: The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

Minnesota: Hard Work and a Good Deal by Barbara W. Sommer

Novel & Short Story: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

Poetry: National Monuments by Heid E. Erdrich

Young Adult Literature: Twelve Long Months by Brian Malloy

The Latehomecomer also won the Readers’ Choice Award!

Please check the library catalog or contact your ECRL librarian if you’re interested in reading any of these books.


Bob Gray, Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Aitkin Volunteer Earns President's Volunteer Service Award

Recently, Ardith Kane received a letter from former President George W. Bush thanking her for her 4000 hours of volunteer service. This service earned Ardith the 2008 President’s Volunteer Service Award. The letter stated, “By volunteering, you have joined a remarkable team that includes millions of Americans whose everyday acts of kindness and decency make our country a better place.” In January 2002, President Bush called on all Americans to dedicate at least two years, or 4000 hours over the course of their lives to serve others.

(Pictured right to left) Roseann Johnson, Ardith Kane, Mary Beth Woodrow, Elaine Haberkorn, Shirley Pick...all Aitkin Public Library staff.

Ardith volunteers through Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, or RSVP. She has volunteered since September, 2005 at the Aitkin Public Library, where she works 5 days/week. Ardith, a volunteer, is a valued and integral part of the library staff. On Monday, April 20, 2009 the library staff at the Aitkin Public Library celebrated this milestone with Ardith. Ardith has also volunteered for many years at First Lutheran Church, Aitkin.

Through Ardith’s service to others, she demonstrates the outstanding character of America and is helping to strengthen our country. Thank you Ardith!

By Mary Beth Woodrow, Aitkin Public Library Branch Librarian

New Wyoming Branch Librarian Named

By Vickie Sorn

The new Wyoming Area Branch Librarian “loves the challenge of meeting the patron’s needs.” “It’s sometimes like being a detective trying to figure it out,” says Rebecca Hostetler, new branch librarian. “Many times you don’t know where the search will take you.” Rebecca was chosen for the branch librarian position when former librarian, Maria Gruener, took a new library position as Watertown Regional Library Assistant Director in her native South Dakota.

Rebecca moved to Pine City five years ago and began working for ECRL in January 2007 as a reference assistant at the Cambridge branch. During her time at Cambridge she has become knowledgeable in electronic databases, reader’s advisory and interlibrary loan resources. Rebecca has a Masters of Divinity degree and is currently enrolled in the Minnesota Voluntary Certification Program for librarians.

From visiting her school and public library growing up in South Bend, Indiana, to the Carnegie Library in Barron, Wisconsin, where she worked as a public librarian, libraries have always been an important part of Rebecca’s life. “Libraries educate, re-create, gather, motivate and challenge members of a community,” believes Rebecca. They are an important part of the community because they can “open worlds for users by providing them with information in a variety of forms.”

Teaching is Rebecca’s passion and she would like to empower everyone that visits the Wyoming Area Library with the skills they need to use the library to its fullest. Rebecca sees one of the biggest challenges to be “to connect individuals, families, groups and the community with their library so that they use it to its fullest potential for their own benefit.” It’s important that the community realize what their “free” Wyoming Library card has to offer.

To get people in the door of the Wyoming Library to utilize all its services, Rebecca says we need “education, education and more education and satisfied customers will bring more users.” From quiet libraries with books with cards and pockets to bustling libraries with online databases and teens playing Wii , libraries have come a long way. Rebecca asks, “When was the last time you entered the doors of endless knowledge?” Stop by and meet the new Wyoming Area Branch Librarian, Rebecca Hostetler. Her enthusiasm for libraries is contagious, so be careful….

you might just catch it, too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank you letter we received

April 23, 2009

East Central Regional Library Staff,

There are eight book-club members in Milaca that are in awe of the precious right to borrow books from our very own community library. Our April book selection was one of your book-club kits. Just like that we were on the same page at the same time reading with communal pleasure and nary a nickel spent. What a privilege!

With gratitude we thank you for the library's range of reading opportunities.

Respectfully yours,

Eight Avid Readers

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday morning humor

Frazz, by Jef Mallett (Sep 18, 2004)

Thanks to Stephen Abrams at Stephen's Lighthouse for digging up this old gem (with lots of truth)

Barbara Misselt, Director

Friday, April 17, 2009

When did it happen?

History books will document the period we're living in, although I'm not sure what they'll call it. My grandparents endlessly recounted the horrors of the 30s. My husband and I took it pretty hard in the 80s. What will our descendents say about the first decade of the 21st century? As recently as October 2008, news journalists and even economists were debating whether we were in a recession (and I wrote a post on my personal blog I know it when I see it.) The official benchmark for a depression is defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” A simpler definition is that recession occurs when real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is negative for two or more consecutive quarters.

Well the official depression marker has been reached, and no one had to tell us in libraries that it's official. Our branches are busier than ever from open to close. Folks are waiting in line to use our computers to find unemployment and job search information. By everything we count, library use in East Central Minnesota is up 20% or more. People are using our resources and services -at no cost - and are using our collections to find ways to save money. East Central Energy donated 5 Kill a Watt electricity usage meters to check the amount of efficiency of household devices. The devices circulate just like books and there are currently 157 people on a waiting list to check one out.

An old story goes: A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. Over the last months fewer and fewer people are working. As a result, tax receipts are going down and government is less able to fund services.

To see a gut-wrenching graphic depiction of the spread of unemployment, check out When Did Your County's Jobs Disappear, on Slate (an online magazine published by the Washington Post.) Using the Labor Department's local area unemployment statistics, Slate presents the recession as told by unemployment numbers for each county in America. In January 2007, many blue dots represented areas of net job gains. Moving through month by month, red dots representing job losses take over the map. Check it out. Link to online article.

Barbara Misselt, Director

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sandstone Classics Corner Open House

With Friends Like These…the Sky’s the Limit!

The Sandstone Friends of the Library recently celebrated their new CLASSICS CORNER with an open house. Having purchased over 175 volumes from the Library of America series, the Sandstone library now has an outstanding collection of the best literature America has produced over the centuries. The Library of America books are beautifully produced and there’s something for every interest.

For example, for early-American history buffs, check out the Writings of our Founders: Washington; Jefferson; Franklin; Madison; Hamilton; and Paine each have a volume in the series. Or tackle the monumental history by Henry Adams on the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison. (By the way, when’s the volume of Henry's great-grandfather--our second president--coming out?) Perhaps you wish to go back further with Captain John Smith’s Writings, with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America. Francis Parkman’s history, France and England in North America, is a must-read ending with (spoiler alert!) England's victory in the French-Indian War.

Picking up the story from there, The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence, gathers the literature surrounding the birth of our nation. Of course, it’s one thing to “dissolve the political bands” between peoples and quite another to have to establish one’s own. For that attempt, see: The Debate on the Constitution (Vols. 1 & 2).

With an outsider’s perspective, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America offers a portrait of our country’s social and political character that is still considered one of the best. Then back to Parkman for The Oregon Trail, a chronicle of his 1846 trip West, his encounters with the Plains Indians, and a vanishing frontier. The two volumes of Lincoln’s Speeches and Writings, which begin in 1832, are excellent accompaniment to the many outstanding books currently being published to celebrate the bicentennial of his birth.

Above: Ray Marcotte (l), Maker of the "Classics Corner" sign and Art Olstead, Maker of the Bookshelves! Many, many Thanks!

Area Lions Club members, left to right: Branch Librarian Jeanne Coffey, Carrie Olstead, Irma Faulkner, Carol Nelson, Sandy Snadwick, Chester (behind) and Janice (front) Gustafson, Tony Nelson, Judy Loken, Art Olstead, Ken Sample.

Below: Never letting a fundraising opportunity pass, the Friends held a silent auction. A few elbows were thrown as the clock ticked down but no injuries were reported. Below Left: Silent Auction items and (front to back) Carrie Olstead, Judy Loken, Sylvia Marcotte, JoAnn Alexander. Middle: Irene Sandell plans her strategy. Right: JoAnn Alexander (below left) reveals her talent for accessorizing by putting a quilted Christmas tree skirt to use as a cape.

I could go on and on. So I will!

(L-R) Judy Loken, Elsie Lundorff, Irene Sandell
Perhaps fictionalized accounts of these times are more your style. Then take a look at James Fenimore Cooper’s The Leatherstocking Tales, which includes the novel “The Last of the Mohicans.” Washington Irving’s and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stories also present windows through which to view our nation’s early years. The Writings and Drawings of John James Audubon capture the natural landscape, as does the work of environmentalist William Bartram (1739-1823), described as “the most significant American writer before Thoreau and a nature artist who rivals Audubon.”

Explore other aspects of the cuture with American Poetry: The Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century (2 vols.); American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King; American Sea Writing: A Literary Anthology; or American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War. Civil War? Read on!

Right: (L-R) Merlin and JoAnn Alexander, Patti Hapke, Branch Librarian Jeanne Coffey, Branch Aide Carol Nelson

Below: Friends of the Library (L-R), JoAnn Alexander, Melissa Grabau, Patti Hapke (back), Sylvia Marcotte (front), Jeanne Coffey.

There’s the Memoirs of Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant, The Autobiographies of Frederick Douglass, and the anthology of Slave Narratives. Post war? How about little-known Lafcadio Hearns’ American Writings, “the master of a gaudy and sometimes self-consciously decadent literary style…a tough-minded and keenly observant reporter, with an eye for the offbeat, the sensual, and occasionally the gruesome”?

And I've only described one avenue through this collection!

Talk to Jeanne or Carol about what's available--or, better yet--come on in and browse through these wonderful books and discover on your own.

Also, go to the Library of America website for their description of each volume.

(Become a Friend of the Library today!)
Posted by Nick Dimassis, Assistant Director