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!

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