On the Road With Minitex


December 14, 2009

November Reference Notes

After receiving a complete makeover, the new issue of Reference Notes is now available. Check out the newsletter's new look, which makes the following articles ever the more enjoyable:

  • ELM Workshops for Students and Pre-Service Teachers
  • Hands-on in Thief River Falls
  • A Southwest Minnesota Training Trip
  • Kitchigami Regional Library System
  • Annual MinneTESOL Conference
  • No New News: The Library Job Market Is Rugged
  • Google Wave (Guest column by LeAnn Suchy, Metronet; Rudy Leon, University of Illinois Champaign Urbana; and Rita Baladad, Minitex)
  • ELM Spotlight: ArchiveGrid and EBSCOhost Mobile
  • You No Longer Have a Choice (Guest column by Mary Mehsikomer, Network Coordinator with NWLINKS)
  • Mobile Phones Decrease Social Isolation, Increase Library Usage?
  • Research Project Calculator Update (Guest column by Michael Berkowski, Minitex Information Technology)
  • Trend Watching from the Reference Desk
  • Professional Development Opportunities

Sure, this November issue might be a little delayed in coming, but the new design ensures its appearance on the web is not simply late, but instead *fashionably* late.

July 31, 2008

An Interview with the Quintessential Children’s Librarian

 Kristen congradulating Sue at her retirement party.

My story of librarianship is similar to many others. I have a relative that is a librarian, my aunt, Sue Colten. Sue retired this past May from Hennepin County Library after 42 years of service. Yes, that isn’t a typo. Sue worked in the HCO system since she began as a shelver at the age of sixteen. Being the quintessential children’s librarian, Sue reflects on her career, aspirations and retirement plans. 

Sue's Podcast:  Download file

July 2, 2008

Media Specialists Matter

Connie's Podcast:  Download file

During April, I had the opportunity to interview Connie Van Blarcum, media specialist at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN. During our conversation she commented on how she communicates with students and staff, partnerships she has developed, how she uses MINITEX Reference Services and other wonderful programs she has initiated at her school. One thing that Connie brought up was on how libraries need a prompt turn-around time; it is how we will stay in existence in the age of Google. 

We encourage every librarian to be the “voice” behind a MINITEX podcast and share your expertise and experiences with the greater community.  Podcasts are featured on the MINITEX Reference Services blog under the category “On the Road with MINITEX.”  If interested in participating in a podcast or you know someone who would be great to interview, please contact me.

June 13, 2008

Site Visit Google Map

To enhance our Blog, Reference Services created a Site Visit Google Map. The map contains a pin for each location the Reference Services department has traveled to for a site visit back to about 2006. When you click on the pin, the name of the location, address and the date(s) of our site visit(s) will be displayed. For some, there will also be a small picture of the location. The photos I am still working on adding. 
To view the map, click on the below link, or the interactive map on the right pane under the Flickr badge.  http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=118389482041307513704.00044f697c236dc0d26c1&z=6

November 1, 2007

Tom Shaughnessy Podcast


 Tom's Podcast: Download file

During October, I had the opportunity to interview Tom Shaughnessy, former METRONET Executive Director, on reflections on his career, aspirations and future retirement plans. One thing that Tom brought up was, “how do you go beyond your job description on a daily basis?” This thought and others will help library staff in all areas of their career, from thoughts on beginning librarianship to preparation for retirement (the second go around). 
We encourage every librarian to be the “voice” behind a MINITEX podcast and share your expertise and experiences with the greater community.  Podcasts are featured on the MINITEX Reference Services blog under the category “On the Road with MINITEX.”  If interested in participating in a podcast or you know someone who would be great to interview, please contact me. 

October 4, 2007

Podcast with Beth Kelly







 Beth's Podcast: Download file

 During September, I had the opportunity to interview Beth Kelly, former Duluth Public Library Director, on reflections on her career, aspirations and future retirement plans. Beth was kind enough to participate in a phone interview using Skype, so neither of us had to travel and fit me in between her upcoming trip to Ireland and numerous volunteer commitments. For Kelly, libraries are a place of cooperation, environmental consciousness, civility, and self-directed learning, among other things.


This interview is fairly long, 35 minutes, but I couldn't cut any more from our one-hour chat- Beth has a lot of wisdom to share.  New graduates will find her path to librarianship encouraging, and directors will find her her ah ha! moment while being Director reassuring. 


Maybe I am hungry at the moment, but two of my favorite blurbs from Beth are, "Thinking about working in a public library was like thinking about someone who is a chocoholic and working at Ghirardelli. . . love using everything in a public library."  When discussing the computer usage at Duluth she said, "maybe all these things [computer usage] are not the broccoli, they are the carbohydrates." Implying this is okay! 


Continue reading "Podcast with Beth Kelly" »

July 6, 2007

2007 Turtle Derby

This year MINITEX Reference Services sponsored a turtle, Speedy Reference, in the 21st Annual Turtle Derby at the U of MN.  All money raised goes towards purchasing educational toys and games for the Children's Hospital, Fairview.  The day was full of dancing, turtle sundaes and cheering on numerous heats of turtles.  Sadly, Speedy Ref wasn't so speedy.  He did not place in his heat,so he did not win the title "Grandest Turtle of All."  All the turtles are from the metro area that have been hit by cars or boats and were rehabilitated on campus.  This was their last test before being released back into the wild. 

Speedy Reference Cheer team Speedy Reference Cheer Team (L-R: Mark Wilhelmi, Kristen Mastel, Sara Ring)

Speedy Reference and the competition Speedy Ref is the one with a purple handkerchief

For more information on this event, visit: http://www.uofmchildrenshospital.org/About/News/c_367193.asp

June 6, 2007

Perpich Center for Arts Education

Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, MN (see page 3 of Reference Notes). To listen to the podcast, click on the below link. 

Download file

Questions to comment on:
1. How can we strengthen the relationship between the media specialist and the classroom teacher?
2. What success stories can you tell of sharing your role of the media specialist and/or encouraging collaboration among teachers?
3. Please share additional thoughts and reactions to the podcast.

(Questions from a great podcast by the School Media Podcast at SCSU.)



April 20, 2007

FAIR School Podcasts

In March, the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary (FAIR) School invited MINITEX Reference Services to present ELM resources to their teachers and students.

The presentation with the 5th and 6th grade classes ended with creating a podcast about what they learned. When asked for five volunteers, a flurry of hands shot up! After the difficult task of choosing which students would create the radio show we divvied up their sentences and recorded them. The whole time the class was full of smiles and at the completion a LOUD roar of clapping and cheering occurred. These students were remarkable in their enthusiasm and attention.

5th grade podcast: Download file

6th grade podcast: Download file

Questions to comment on:
1. How can we strengthen the relationship between the media specialist and the classroom teacher?
2. What success stories can you tell of sharing your role of the media specialist and/or encouraging collaboration among teachers?
3. Please share additional thoughts and reactions to the podcast.

(Questions from a great podcast by the School Media Podcast at SCSU.)

December 19, 2006

HCL visit

On a recent trip to Ridgedale Public Library, I was lucky to run into my aunt, Sue Colten, who is a children’s librarian there. I was amazed to see how well Ridgedale has incorporated early literacy steps into their environment http://www.hclib.org/BirthTo6/EarlyLit.cfm.

Continue reading "HCL visit" »

October 17, 2006

Southwest Minnesota – A Circuit Rider’s Report

set1 149.jpg
I may not have been on horseback riding along roads winding through the prairie but by the way of a University of Minnesota Twin Cities vehicle, I found situated in the wide-open, sunny corner pocket of southwest Minnesota the Pioneerland Library System office (PLS) in Willmar and the Plum Creek Library System office (PCLS) in Worthington. I had the pleasure of visiting both sites in September and discussing such topics as current reference trends, MINITEX reference referral service, ELM training and technical support, and small town and rural library needs.

In my conversations with Amanda Raetzman and Ralph Hansen at Willmar Public Library and Mary Rae Oxborrow and Chris Lang at PCLS, I learned that though many are experiencing an overall trend of fewer reference questions libraries continue to be a very active and busy place with patrons utilizing computers and Internet resources, checking materials out, browsing, and leisure reading in comfortable chairs. Moreover, most of the reference questions received by library staff nowadays tend to be the kind that take a little more time and require the use of reference resources that a particular library may or may not own as well as skillful use of specialized databases. The databases included in the Electronic Library for Minnesota are those that many library staff turn to in answering those questions.langoxborrow.jpg

Each office and library I visited provided a link to the ELM Portal (http://www.elm4you.org) along with additional resources for their patrons. Whether it’s the lack of resources needed to answer a question or a matter of not having the time due to various job demands please take advantage of the reference referral service provided by the MINITEX Reference staff. Questions can be submitted over the phone using 1-800-462-5348, e-mailed to mtxref@umn.edu, or sent in via the web form at https://www.minitex.umn.edu/reference/refdb/index.asp. We are happy to take any reference question with which some assistance is needed.

While in the southwest region of Minnesota, I also enjoyed providing four training workshops on using the ELM databases, two each at Benson Public Library and Slayton Public Library. slayton.jpg
Each hosting library had a computer lab outfitted with presentation equipment and Internet connectivity. Public and school library staff attended and made for an engaging workshop. During the workshops, we examined each of the databases by vendor addressing updates, search features, search results management, limiters, publication title lists, and other aspects such as EBSCOhost’s folder features, Gales’ Tool Box, and viewing e-books in NetLibrary. We also had time to do practice searching with sample questions and sharing a variety of ways to answer those questions. Near the end of each workshop, I discussed the multiple ways in which the ELM databases are and can be accessed. It was a fruitful workshop for all – myself included! If you would like to host an ELM training workshop at your library, please give us a call at 1-800-462-5348 or e-mail us at mtxref@umn.edu.

I learned much on my trip to southwest Minnesota libraries and hopefully met training expectations, but one thing that has impressed me the most is that the library staff are working hard to maintain a well-functioning, purposeful library and provide much needed quality services to their patrons and community despite limited finances and/or resources. This is a battle faced by most libraries these days, to be sure, and the small town and rural libraries of southwest Minnesota are facing the challenge and maintaining their friendly spirits.

Post Script – 350,000 lbs. of Sod
On my drive from Willmar to Worthington I didn’t have time to visit historic Walnut Grove, but I did stop to discover a soddy and dugout, replicas of an original sod house and dugout designed and built by farmer Stan McCone in 1987 near Sanborn about ½ mile off U.S. Route 71. (These replicas include some lumber from an 1890 flourmill that once stood in Minneapolis Butler Square, glass windows, and a wood burning stove – definitely an upscale soddy.)

I was fortunate to meet Stan and his wife, Virginia. It was a lifelong dream of his, and it has been featured on a History Channel series called “Save Our History.” The episode title, however, is Frontier Homes. Find it in WorldCat, another state-funded ELM resource, and see who owns a copy in Minnesota!

August 12, 2006

Site Visits

sitevisits 003.jpg Liz Lynch
sitevisits 006.jpg Barbara & Richard

On my way out to Grand Forks for MORE training I made three site visits to Great River Regional Library, Lake Agassiz Regional Library and Northwest Regional Library. At GRR Janie LaBree took a few hours to sit down with me and visit about their ELM usage, reference question process and other issues regarding Reference Services. Good luck with the new building in two years! Liz Lynch with LARL gave me a nice tour of her library and chat about how they are being very proactive and trying to reach out to special interest and community groups to give library presentations or have them visit the library and give a customized overview of their services. Also, I must say they have one of the most integrated “Catch the Beat” programs I have seen, from music notes for each summer program reader in the children’s area to the t-shirts every staff member wears. Barbara and Richard up at Northwesten sat down and explained their reference process, and how reference questions have decreased from the branches to headquarters. They also are in the process of refinishing Thief River Falls, and adding wireless to all locations.

MINITEX looks forward to visiting with each library system to see how we may better serve your needs! Don’t forget we are willing to do on site training for your staff on ELM or MORE training.

MORE training is back!

sitevisits 0081.jpg

Last week I was invited by the Grand Forks Air Force Base Library to come give a 1-day workshop on MORE. This visit was by far one of the most hospitable and welcoming group I have ever come across. The night before my presentation Arelene Ott, the Library Director, invited me to accompany her to Tops in Blue, an Air Force Band that tours the world entertaining fellow troops. They were amazing!

The next morning bright and early we started our MORE training. Quickly I learned that an air force library is like none other I have been to. They serve as a public library to their retirees and enlisted troops. Research assistance is also a large part of their service, as there are four (or five- I can’t recall) universities that teach courses on base, so the student’s use their facility. Lastly, they also service the Air Force in general, so they have a very special library niche.

Through the day we went through the reference interview process. Of which 90% of the participants during our practice sessions made it to the bonus need during the reference interview (WAY TO GO!). Topics of interest included database searching strategies such as Boolean operators, truncation and wildcards; ethical issues; reference books; website critics and reader’s advisory.

I just want to say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to revamp the MORE training. I hope you learned as much from me as I did from your library.