More regional broadband support

By adding their names to the Minnesota Broadband Vision, regional library boards are showing their support for a future in which residents of all generations and backgrounds will have access to affordable, high-quality broadband. Included on the growing list:

MN Broadband Vision 2016Great River Regional Library (GRRL) – March 15

Kitchigami Regional Library (KRLS) – March 17

Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) – March 17

Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) – March 17

Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative (TdSLC) – March 17

Viking Library System (VLS) – March 15

With its many community interests, The Blandin Foundation initiated the Minnesota Broadband Vision campaign.  This includes sharing news and information on broadband use, policy and trends.  There is even an “I Endorse the Minnesota Broadband Vision” Facebook page to “like” as well as post local support.

MN Broadband Vision

MN Broadband Vision 2016Karen Pundsack, GRRL Executive Director, joined other conference participants as they collaboratively developed a broadband vision for Minnesota:

Everyone in Minnesota will be able to use convenient, affordable world-class broadband networks that enable us to survive and thrive in our communities and across the globe.

Cities, counties, community organizations, and regional libraries  are actively showing support by endorsing the vision.  During the coming months, CRPLSA members will seek approval from their regional library boards. The Bladin Foundation has crafted a draft resolution to aid in generating support.  Follow the Broadband Vision Facebook page to keep up with endorsements.

Digital images from GRRL

The Great River Regional Library (GRRL) recently participated in a joint project with Minnesota Digital Library and the Digital Public Library of America.

MDL sought content on the history of libraries in Minnesota and GRRL provided exterior and interior images of the St. Cloud Public Library’s original Carnegie building, built in 1902 and torn down in 1981,  images of St. Cloud’s second library building, in use from 1979 to 2009, its BookmoGRRL Bookmobile MDLbile, the Little Falls Public Library, and the Royalton Community Library.

Two of the GRRL images were selection for DPLA’s online exhibition, “A History of US Public Libraries,” in the Carnegie libraries section.

View GRRL’s digital library history

GRRL Planning

GRRL logo and library cardAfter 12 community meetings, three staff meetings, a board survey, a user/non-user survey and a survey of non-library communities, the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) is drafting a new long range plan for the next five years. GRRL will fine-tune their mission and vision statements and add core values to the mix.

One of the findings was that the majority of our users come to the library to use books! The board has been actively engaged in developing the plan and met in October to discuss ideas for the draft with a goal to finalize the plan at the November board meeting.

Discover Five Practices Essential for Pre-Readers

The Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is excited to bring renowned early literacy educator Saroj Ghoting back to Minnesota for a series of workshops that will give librarians and early childhood educators tools to provide high-quality storytimes and early literacy interactions with pre-readers. The workshops are rooted in the Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition (ECRR2) research-based curriculum released by the Public Library Association.

Please visit the Supporting Libraries Serving Youth webpage to learn more about the training options and register for a workshop near you.

Storytimes for Everyone

  • Great River Regional Library – St. Cloud,  Monday, August. 24, 2015, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
  • Headwaters School of Music and the Arts – Bemidji, Thursday, August 27, 2015, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
  • Blue Earth County Library – Mankato, Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • East Central Regional Library – North Branch Area Library, Friday, September 25, 2015, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Training the Trainers

  • Great River Regional Library – St. Cloud,  Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
  • Ramsey County Library – White Bear Lake Library, Thursday, September 24, 2015, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

There is no fee to attend – lunch arrangements vary by location.  Please email Jackie Blagsvedt or call 651-582-8805 or  for more information.

GRRL Planning Process

GRRL logo and library cardOver the months of June & July, Great River Regional Library (GRRL) has hosted community feedback sessions in 11 libraries to gather input for a new 2016-2021 strategic plan. They will conduct a user/non-user study in August based on work performed through a St. Cloud State University student service learning project.

Staff input sessions will be held in August as well. GRRL will incorporate technology planning into the overall strategic plan. The regional library target is to finalize the plan for approval at the November GRRL board meeting.

GRRL Year in Reading

GRRL year in reading logo-webEach month of A Year In Reading the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) encourages library patrons to try something different and expand  personal reading horizons. The categories thus far this year:

  • January’s challenge was to read a book published in the year the patron was were born.
  • In February, patrons were asked to read somebody else’s favorite book.
  • The March challenge was to read a book that’s been adapted into a movie.
  • April to reread a favorite book from childhood.
  • Books from another country is the theme for May.

GRRL Names New Executive Director

Karen PundsackThe Great River Regional Library (GRRL) Board of Trustees has appointed Karen Pundsack as the new Executive Director of the 32-library system.

Pundsack has been serving as interim director since July 2014. She joined GRRL in 1999 as manager of the Sauk Centre branch. She transferred to the Albany branch in 2002, and began working at GRRL headquarters in St. Cloud in 2009 as Associate Director of Patron Services. As interim director, she has steered the library through its annual budget process, overseen significant personnel hiring decisions, and been responsible for maintaining communication between staff, administration and board of trustees.

Pundsack was one of three candidates interviewed in person following a nationwide candidate search and a series of Skype interviews.

A graduate of Albany High School, Pundsack has a degree in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University, as well as a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is active in various professional library associations and has been a panel presenter at Minnesota Library Association conferences.

Pundsack stated, “I am humbled and grateful to be able to serve residents in this role. I am excited to work with the GRRL staff in this new capacity to serve our residents.”

New GRRL Event Guide

GRRL logo and library card

Great River Regional Library (GRRL) published a four-month Event Guide for the first time, featuring programs from May through August. This change required a little more advanced planning, but has been well received by the staff and the public. It will allow regional staff to promote all of the GRRL summer events during the spring class visit season.

In addition to distribution through the branch libraries, GRRL has connected with local organizations in 26 communities where there is not a GRRL library to distribute a supply of Event Guides.

Cow’s Week of Travels

Cow at a GRRL library programCow, Mike Wohnoutka, and David LaRochelle had a very successful week with Moo! Trunk Shows around Minnesota. 

On Monday they were in Great River Regional Library (GRRL) with stops at Staples (119 attendees at the morning presentation) and Melrose (49 attendees at the evening presentation. On Tuesday they braved the snow for a noon presentation in Elk River (49 attendees) and an evening presentation in St. Michael (75 attendees).

The dynamic trio moved to Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative (TdSLC) with a visit at the Mankato Public Library for two library presentations (12 attendees in the morning and 5 attendees in the afternoon…maybe everyone had already seen the Truck Show while at the MLA conference last fall  😉 ).

At all six shows Cow was very well received.  Check out her Flickr pix.

Once Upon a Reader – Moo! calendar  Find out when and where Cow will be visiting next

Once Upon a Reader information

OUR is made possible with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the people of Minnesota for Library Legacy activities.

GRRL Search Underway

GRRL logo and library cardThe Board of Trustees of the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) announce their national search for a collaborative and forward-thinking Executive Director.  Working with a nationwide Executive Search firm, John Keister & Associates, GRRL seeks an Executive Director who will:

  • Exhibit superior leadership and library operations skills
  • Lead the staff and the library system in a highly professional manner, fostering teamwork and collaboration
  • Advocate for the library and enthusiastically participate in community events and organizations.

Informational interviews can be arranged during ALA Midwinter in Chicago on Saturday, January 31.

New GRRL PR video

Great River Regional Library (GRRL) has a new public awareness campaign.  The video  was created by St. Cloud State University students whose management class required a service project and this is the outcome.  The students responsible for the infomercial handled all of the production details.  They also worked with two cable companies for additional coverage on local stations beyond the web resource.

GRRL Book A Librarian: Successful Trial

GRRL logo and library cardGreat River Regional Library has been experimenting with a new service called “Book a Librarian” at several branch locations.  Librarians from the GRRL St. Cloud headquarters have been available at five pilot locations by appointment or on a drop-in basis to meet one-on-one with library patrons and answer lengthy service questions.

“We’ve had a really good response by appointment,” said Patron Services Librarian Connie Laing. In many locations, the library is staffed with only one person making it difficult to provide individualized service without making others wait.  A majority of the questions focused on technology.  This program provided patrons with individual assistance to learn about a personal device and download eContent from the GRRL virtual collection.

The “Book a Librarian” trial period ended in June.  It is under review and will be revised before being offered at additional locations.

GRRL in Transition

The Great River Regional Library (GRRL) Board of Trustees met in special session on July 1 and appointed Karen Pundsack Interim Executive Director.  The GRRL Board of Trustees along with leadership staff will work together to manage the transition effectively and conduct the search for a new Executive Director.   Karen Punsack fills the position formerly held by Kirsty Smith.

Due to personal reasons including a soon to be published e-book, Kirsty Smith resigned her GRRL position on Monday, June 23, 2014. Kirsty stated in her resignation notice “I have been honored in the trust placed in me in the past eight years. I have also been pleased to work with such wonderful people doing important work. I wish everyone well.”

The  management team offered their thanks to Kirsty for her service and dedication to GRRL and wished her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

Regional News Tidbits

East Central Regional Library (ECRL)was part of a grant project with Health Access to Minnesota to provide assistance by MNsure navigators at branch libraries. Appointments started out slow, but then were booked solid for an altogether worthwhile venture.

Great River Regional Library (GRRL) hosted a GRRL All Staff Day in April. It is Organization Orientation Part 2, with specific focus placed on GRRL departmental roles and procedures. This in-depth view provided an increased understanding of how various GRRL departments work as a unit and their relationships with other GRRL elements.

Northwest Regional Library (NWRL) has the Storyland Exhibit at the Thief River Falls library. This interactive display allows children to participate in a hands-on activity in each of three areas. Many area schools and daycares have scheduled visits to the display and each child who participates receives a copy of one of the related books to keep. NWRL will host the display through May.

GRRL Mosaics

GRRL Buffalo mosaic 2014As part of Library Legacy activities, Great River Regional Library (GRRL) commissioned Minneapolis artist, Lisa Arnold, to offer community mosaic workshops and create local art.   During the 1-2 hours workshop, attendees learn the basics of making a mosaic and  contribute to a community mosaic. Lisa designs the basic format of the mosaic in advance, attendees select glass, tile, and pottery fragments to place within the design.  The artist then completes the work after the program by grouting it. The new art piece is displayed in the library.

Each GRRL mosaic was a map of Minnesota with a unique bauble to mark the location of the library.  Book titles and subjects are added along the bottom to customize to that location. The Buffalo mosaic features a bison on the Minnesota map where the City of Buffalo is located and offers an example of how the regional project is tailored to each community.   This region-wide project will conclude this summer and GRRL will have 32 mosaics – one for each GRRL library.

Regions interested in hosting a similar project are encourage to contact Lisa Arnold directly for more information.