Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss. We have Dr. Seuss books in every single one of our branch libraries. Go to the catalog page of our website, and do an author search — enter seuss, dr as the search term. When you get your Dr. Seuss book, grab a kid, and once again enjoy the lyric poetry. The National Education Association has proclaimed March 2nd as Read Across America Day. They even have this Read Across America poem on the NEA website:

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.

In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.

Come join us March 2nd
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day.

When you’re done with the Dr. Seuss books, the NEA site has a list of Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children.

Barbara Misselt, Director

How are the roads?

It’s a snowy Minnesota kind of day. I went out for lunch and got back just fine, and having gotten my driving teeth in this kind of climate, I would describe it as “not so bad, just gotta-take-it-easy.” However, delivery driver Jerry, a well-seasoned Minnesota driver came back after finishing half the route saying after 8 cars in the ditch and white-out visibility it’s one of his top bad driving days.

I just showed someone my stand-by reference tool for assessing road conditions and thought a few more might not have found it — 511mn.org. 511 is part of a national effort that began in July 2000, when the FCC designated “511” as the national traveler information phone number. The primary source of data for 511 services originates with the Condition Acquisition and Reporting System (CARS). Mn/DOT and the Minnesota State Patrol staff from dispatch centers, the field and the Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC) use this system to maintain real-time information about travel conditions throughout Minnesota.

You can find Minnesota’s 511mn.org at http://www.511mn.org
For other states, look at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/511.htm

Minnesota Department of Transportation was one of the first state DOTs to implement the 511 service. Many of the other states’ web resources are not nearly as well-developed as the Minnesota site.

Here is this afternoon’s map. For southern readers a hint — all that red means it’s a good day to stay home and read a book.


Barbara Misselt, Director

First Cambridge Branch Librarian Named

Press Release

Cambridge Librarian, Nancy Dunbar

History was made at the Cambridge Public Library on Monday, February 2nd when local resident, Nancy Dunbar, started her position as the very first Cambridge Public Library Branch Librarian. The Cambridge Public Library is one of 14 branches that make up East Central Regional Library system, which provides library service in Aitkin, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties in east central Minnesota. Thirteen of those branch libraries already have a Branch Librarian. Up until this month, the ECRL Director has also served as the Cambridge Librarian, as has been the practice since the regional library system began 50 years ago. Public service, reference service and programming duties were all divided amongst ECRL headquarters staff.

Nancy has lived in the Cambridge area for 25 years and worked for ECRL in circulation and reference services for 18 of those years. Nancy loves “learning new things everyday and helping others learn about what interests them.” Variety is one of the reasons she loves her job. It enables Nancy to work with all ages, genres and subjects. Plus one of the best things about working at the Cambridge Public Library and for ECRL, she says, is the “satisfaction I feel when I know a patron’s needs have been met and he/she leaves (the library) happy.”

When asked “Why do you believe libraries are an important part of a community?” Nancy replied that “libraries provide materials, activities and services that fulfill the lifelong learning needs of its patrons.” Considering that only 43% of Isanti County residents have a library card, Nancy believes it is important to “publicize library services, so patrons become aware of the diverse ways that libraries can benefit them.” With regard to public service, Nancy says, “It’s also important to provide good and helpful service. Satisfied users are great advocates for the public library.”

Library advocates are very important because providing services and funding libraries during these difficult economic times can be challenging. The biggest challenge Nancy sees at present is “providing for the needs of patrons and staff within” the “limited space of the Cambridge Public Library.” Thus, the biggest challenge for the future “will be funding and building a new library with adequate and functional space for patrons and staff.”

Nancy is spending the first few weeks as Cambridge Branch Librarian becoming familiar with her new duties, plus visiting several neighboring library systems for inspiration and ideas. ECRL Assistant Director, Nick Dimassis, will introduce Nancy to the Isanti County Board of Commissioners at their County Board meeting on March 17th.

The Cambridge Friends of the Library invite the public, including local city officials and business leaders, to an open house for Dunbar on Tuesday, March 10, from 5-7 p.m. at the library to celebrate this history making event for the Cambridge Public Library.

Kill A Watt Empowers You

Press Release

Kill a Watt

Electricity bills are rising and in these tough economic times, everyone wants to save money. 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 your water heater or refrigerator? Are they the reason that your utility bill is so high? Kill A Watt can help you make that decision by giving you the information you need.

East Central Energy donated five Kill A Watt electricity usage monitors to East Central Regional Library. The five monitors are currently housed at the following ECRL branch libraries served by East Central Energy: Cambridge, Hinckley, Milaca, Mora and Wyoming.

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 www.ecrlib.org 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.

The donation made by East Central Energy will help consumers in the region make informed decisions on their energy usage. So why not take advantage of this great 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.

Era Comes to an End

Press Release

After 49 years, an era will come to an end when the East Central Regional Library Bookmobile makes its last run on May 21st. The decision to replace library services delivered with the current bookmobile with other more cost-effective modes of service is part of the ECRL 2007-2010 Strategic Plan.

Declining use of the bookmobile, along with rising maintenance costs and an aging vehicle precipitated the decision. The current bookmobile purchased in 1996 has traveled over 350,000 miles delivering items to patrons. The bookmobile serves those individuals that are not able to use one of the Library’s 14 branches.

Current bookmobile patrons were recently sent a survey, asking for their input on how best to serve their library needs once bookmobile service has ended. Over 60 surveys were returned. The survey indicated that 50% of those visited by the bookmobile do have access to an ECRL branch and visit them on occasion. It also showed that over 50% using the bookmobile have access to a computer and the Internet. However, barriers still exist for many of our bookmobile patrons. Transportation for many, especially the elderly, remains an issue, along with access to computers and the Internet.

Members of the ECRL’s Long Range Planning Committee met and compiled the survey results and made a recommendation to the Library Board on how to best suit the needs of bookmobile patrons once service comes to an end. The Library Board approved these recommendations at their February 9 board meeting. Among the recommendations approved by the board was the promotion of existing services such as storytime kits for licensed center or family-based daycare providers, plus Bifolkal kits, long term loan checkout and institutional cards for nursing homes and assisted living facilities serving seniors.

Possible new service options among the recommendations include Library Link sites or a mail-a-book option. A library link site is a secure locally supported physical space with a small collection of library materials that would be open very limited hours. Cities or communities must apply to be a Library Link site. For people living in remote locations and who do not have options to pick up materials at a library, other delivery options will be considered.

The decision to end bookmobile service was a difficult one to make, but ECRL is striving to meet the needs of those individuals unable to access an ECRL branch by offering a variety of new and existing services. ECRL Headquarters staff is working with communities and individuals in our 6-county service area to determine the best way to provide library service when bookmobile service ends.