Regional library system offers a template for cooperation

From the Star Tribune, January 19, 2009
by Mark Ranum, Minneapolis; Legislative Chair, Minnesota Library Association

Letter of the day: Regional library system offers a template for cooperation

Gov. Tim Pawlenty believes in sharing resources to create efficiency. So do I. He wants to create 15 new “regional enterprises” to manage and run human-services programs. If he wants a successful, working model for these regional enterprises, he should look to the tremendous 50-year history of Minnesota’s 12 regional public libraries. The system was created by the Legislature in 1959 when three counties in east-central Minnesota decided they could save money by working cooperatively to share materials, staffing and services. Over the next 20 years, the rest of the state followed suit. Librarians have created shared collections and services, use new technology wisely, and effectively manage our committed human resources. Librarians and library workers have a terrific track record of creating collaborative and cooperative services to benefit Minnesotans. Local cities and counties provide 90 percent of the funding for library staffing and services. Through cooperative purchasing efforts, we save money on books, magazines, computers and supplies. Local governments already know how much better local library services can be when they come together and share resources. Minnesotans are so used to seamless library services that interlibrary use is now commonplace. When you want to take the book you checked out in Worthington on your vacation to Grand Marais, you can return the book to any library along the way. When you get off work in Roseville, you can stop at the local library to check out that book on CD you listen to while commuting to Eagan. When you want to ensure your child is ready for school, librarians can provide expert early literacy tips and training, fun story times, and new or old favorite books every week for bedtime. And you can choose the library you want to visit based on your home, school or work schedule. All of these benefits come with one library card which you can use at virtually every public library in Minnesota. That’s what I call regional enterprise!

Attention Norwegian-Americans


A television production company wants to give Norwegian-Americans in the Midwest a chance to go to their ancestral homeland.

Producers of Norway’s version of “American Idol” and other shows say they’re looking for outgoing Americans with Norwegian ancestry to go to Norway and compete for a $50,000 prize in “The Great Norway Adventure.”

Participants must be 18 to 60 and can’t have traveled to Norway before, apparently so the producers can film their initial reactions to all things Norwegian. Ingvild Daae, of the sponsoring production company, says the show is like “The Amazing Race” with plenty of fish-out-of-water situations.

The company is casting for the show nationwide, but with a special push in North Dakota, Minnesota and other states with large numbers of Norwegian-Americans. The deadline to apply for an audition is January 25. Applications may be downloaded at

By Rebecca Hostetler, Reference Assistant

My First Library Card

My First Library Card…..

What was the best gift you got for Christmas this year? Well, I can tell you what the best gift one little boy got this year – his very own “library card!” Spencer stopped in at the Cambridge Public Library (during a snowstorm, I might add) with his mom, dad and baby sister on Tuesday, December 30. “He has been waiting for this day for months,” said his mom, Francine.

The library encourages parents to let their children get their very own library card once they can write or print their name. Spencer had been practicing diligently for a long time. “I think he writes better than most adults,” I told his parents that day. It was wonderful to see the excitement in his eyes as he carefully wrote his name on the back of the card. It was also so refreshing to see parents so involved in making this a special moment in their young child’s life.

There are so many reasons for a young child to have a library card. The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children (Becoming a Nation of Readers). Thus, by checking out library materials, a child is on the fast track to success. By giving a child a library card, parents such as Spencer’s, are telling their children that reading is important. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all parents felt the same way?

Give your child a gift of reading, a library card. It is a timeless and classic gift that does not require batteries or any assembly. Plus, it’s free and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to get one. Let your child’s library card be the first step in a journey of a lifetime!

By Vickie Sorn, Youth & Community Services Librarian

Internship at Cambridge Branch

Jennifer, Metro State Student

Cambridge library users were fortunate to receive enhanced services for 8 weeks this fall, thanks to Jennifer Larson, who did an internship as part of her degree requirements for Metropolitan State University. Jennifer worked 3 days a week in the computer lab, and twice a week she gave after-school research help to children and young adults in the youth section of the library. Jennifer also put together pathfinders (research or study guides) on Minnesota History and Health and Nutrition.

Thank you, Jennifer!

Barbara Misselt, Director