Library on wheels

The Bookmobile is back on the road. After over a month in the repair shop getting a new engine, the Bookmobile is serving its patrons. It’s plain to see how much this mobile library service is loved by the people who wait for its arrival as they lamented over how much they missed it while it was off the road.

I had my first experience on the Bookmobile on Saturday. Not only has the Bookmobile been laid up, its primary driver and main back-up have also been sidelined due to surgery. When we got the call on Friday that the substitute driver was also sick, I knew that we couldn’t cancel the Saturday stop in Onamia. So I took a big gulp and volunteered to drive the behemoth to Onamia — as long as Jackie (who is 50% back) was able to come along with me to navigate.

So it was at 8:00 on Saturday morning that Jackie and I headed north. Jackie’s calm voice coaching me over those first few miles — “now turn when your wheels are here . . . watch the fish-eye mirrors” etc. made the trip relatively easy and we rolled along without incident. First stop was the gas station. I was so proud that we pulled up to the pump just the right distance from the nozzle. I filled the tank and got back on the road, and then Jackie said, “That was really good. ______ hit the gas pump.” (named former staff member to remain anonymous). Oh boy, now she tells me.

The first few miles west on 95, I admit I piled up a little bit of traffic behind me. 45 MPH seemed awfully fast, and frankly I decided that it didn’t hurt anyone to slow down a bit and enjoy the beautiful spring morning. Fairly soon the road was rolling by more quickly and we were up to traveling speed.

We arrived in Onamia on time. I informed Jackie that I didn’t intend to include backing the beast up as part of my first-day training, so if we weren’t able to pull straight up to the expected stopping point I would keep right on going and drive straight back to Cambridge. At that, Jackie broke into gales of laughter. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary, and we parked without incident. Good thing too, because people were waiting for us. I had to waive them back in order to swing the door open and bring the steps down.

For 2 and a half hours people came on the Bookmobile almost steady. At one point, there were so many people in the library that I feared that we’d soon have a line out the door. They good-naturedly jostled past each other, greeting their community friends with pleasure. People of all ages, they all checked out stacks of stuff. Some received items they’d requested from other libraries and were thrilled. When we told them that next weekend the Bookmobile was taking a rest for the Memorial Day weekend they all went back and found additional items to fill an extra week.

It hardly seemed possible when 12:00 came and it was time to pull in the steps and head for home. The drive back started out uneventfully until we came into a sudden shower. Jackie said “turn on the wipers.” I said “I can’t, I don’t know where they are.” (who knew in the earlier sunshine that we’d need them.) Jackie, still calm, said reach to the left and forward, and sure enough, there was the switch under my fingers and engaged without taking my eyes from the road.

What a good morning it was. If I had any doubts about the importance of our mobile service they are gone. Visit our Bookmobile — your library card is accepted there the same as at any bricks and mortar library.

Click for more photos from our Saturday Bookmobile adventure
Bookmobile in Onamia

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Banner ends its journey

For the last year, Minnesota public libraries, in partnership with the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission,have provided residents the opportunity to touch Minnesota history, be part of the Sesquicentennial, and journal their memories about the State of Minnesota in observance of the 150th statehood anniversary. The partnership was announced on May 11, 2007 at the 10th annual Rural Minnesota Summit, sponsored by Minnesota Rural partners. Two banners were launched, and through the coordination of the Minnesota Regional Library Systems have made their way through public libraries throughout the state.

Here at ECRL we received our banner and began the roving party on March 13th. Each of the 14 branch libraries in the East Central Regional Library System hosted the banner, giving the celebration its own local flavor. We collected many of the photos and posted them on our Flickr site. You can see them all by clicking on any photo in this post.

Sunday, May 11th the banners and journals were returned – one came from the north, the other from the south. East Central Regional Library Assistant Director Nick Dimassis presented the banner and journal to Governor Tim Pawlenty, who in turn presented the items to Nina Archabal, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Historical Society for archiving. Nick was accompanied by his daughters Emma and Alice. The southern banner was presented to Governor Pawlenty by Southeastern Libraries Cooperating Executive Director Ann Hutton, who was accompanied by several SELCO staff members. SELCO’s Flickr photos of the day are online here.

It’s been fun to be part of Minesota history. Happy 150th birthday, Minnesota!

Launching the banner (May 11, 2007)
Banner journey began May 11, 2007

Governor Pawlenty accepts well-traveled banners from ECRL and SELCO (May 11, 2008)
Banner Day at the Capitol

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

A North Branch Story

Shared by Maureen . . .

We have a ‘Mom’ using our public access computers to communicate with her son who is serving on the carrier The U.S.S. Roosevelt. She is e-mailing her son one question at a time from the pamphlet, “Minnesota Sesquicentennial: 150 Years of Statehood” that ECRL prepared for us. When he e-mails back with the answer she sends him another question.

What a wonderful use of the libraries resources! It is amazing the unique ways in which some of our patrons make use of their libraries!

Sue Monroe, Branch Librarian, North Branch

Learning new technologies

My favorite thing about summer is fair season (must go back to my years as a 4-H kid). My favorite part of the fair is the food, and the world-famous Minnesota State Fair’s everything-edible-on-a-stick is just about as good as it gets. So it was not surprising that the Minnesota multitype regions chose 23 Things on a Stick as the name to promote their project for indulging in 23 library 2.0 activities.

The project is a self-guided experiential tour of interactive technologies that are part of the social computing scene. Most have potential use for enhanced interaction with our library customers. All 23 Things are based on free utilities available on the Internet. Over 1,000 library staff and board members across Minnesota signed up for the project and followed the 23 Things step by step as prescribed by the 23thingsonastick blog. Participants documented their progress on their own blogs. Those who finished all 23 things by April 16th received a flashstick as a prize.

Lots of people in ECRL signed up and have completed some of the Things (including yours truly). The program remains open for us to plod along in our own time. I have heard that there will be another round of the program and possible addition of even more Things.

6 ECRL super-achievers finished all 23 Things by April 16th and deserve congratulations. The 6 ECRL folks who have finished the 23 Things on a Stick are:
Katherine Morrow, Mille Lacs Lake
Maria Gruener, Wyoming
Penny Olson, McGregor
Robin Suhsen, Princeton
Wendy Prokosch, Mora

The real prize is the knowledge gained by everyone who has been digging into new technologies through the Things program. I’m proud of everyone who’s trying, and looking to them as ECRL’s emerging technologies leaders in our branches and communities.

The 23 Things are:
1. Setting up a blog and adding an avatar.
2. What is Web 2.0 and why should I care? Reading and writing about the perspectives.
3. Setting up an RSS aggregator account.
4. Photosharing and editing.
5. Using Flickr tools (mashups, etc.).
6. Using an online image generator.
7. Using Web 2.0 tools for library communication.
8. Sharing slide decks, photos, and presentation slides.
9. Collaborating with others with Web 2.0 tools.
10. Contributing to a wiki.
11. Tagging and using
12. Social media sites and rating and recommending articles.
13. Using online productivity tools.
14. Using LibraryThing and cataloging collections.
15. Exploring online games.
16. Using Assignment Calculator and Research Project Calculator.
17. Implementing ELM productivity tools.
18. Using YouTube.
19. Producing and listing to Podcasts.
20. Participating in Facebook and MySpace.
21. Finding and joining other social networks.
22. Keeping on learning.
23. Evaluating and blogging the overall 23 Things experience.

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director


Bookmaking Tons of Fun……

A “book” is not necessarily the latest bestseller on the New York Times Bestseller list or your child’s favorite picture book. Nor is a “book” always published or “made” by a big name publisher such as Scholastic or Random House.

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts presented a bookmaking workshop for families on Saturday, April 12. The event was part of the One Book, Cambridge Community wide reading program. “As the largest and most comprehensive center of its kind in the nation, Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) celebrates the book as a vibrant contemporary art form that takes many shapes. From the traditional crafts of papermaking, letterpress printing and bookbinding to experimental art making and self-publishing techniques, MCBA supports the limitless creative evolution of book arts.” The event was made possible by funds received from the East Central Regional Development Commission – East Central Arts Council.

Those attending the workshop had a blast making a simple petal fold book. Holly, the representative from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, showed those that attended how to make numerous varieties of the petal-fold book and came with supplies for each person to make “tons.” Even though the workshop said “come and spend 15-30 minutes” making your own book, many chose to stay for almost 2 hours working on their own creations. And of course, the children caught on way sooner than us “adults.” The 6 year old and the 60 year old were just as proud of their creations. Although attendance wasn’t as big as we had hoped (there was a snowstorm the day before), those that took the time to attend the workshop celebrated the traditional art of bookmaking and made it their very own.

Vickie Sorn, Community Services Coordinator