Here’s a round-up of Arrowhead Library System Mini Grants that were completed in 2019 and 2020 at Eveleth-Gilbert Public Schools, Eveleth Public Library, Cook County Public Schools, Coleraine Public Library, Hibbing High School Library, Moose Lake Public Library, Duluth Public Library, Mountain Iron Public Library, Calumet Public Library, and Iron Range Historical Society.

Project: AR/VR in EG
Feedback from Leigh Zika, Eveleth-Gilbert Public Schools
The addition of a subscription to CoSpaces EDU is providing our students with the ability to CREATE within the AR/VR space and not simply consume. Because we just recently wrote our ALS Mini Grant and received approval, we are just getting started with our CoSpaces experience! So far, we believe it is one of the most, if not THE most, popular programming project we’ve facilitated for our students. After creating an “environment” within the CoSpaces website, students can use our 3D goggles to then “step inside” the environment they’ve created. Their response to this so far has been awesome.  Roughly 90 students are accessing CoSpaces currently. We are only in our second week of implementation, but the engagement and response of students has been amazing. Students are creating environments that correspond with their study of traditional literature in their classrooms…so building a folk or fairy tale-related scene, adding characters, coding them to move and talk, etc. We’re excited to see where we can go with this over the upcoming year that we will have subscription access to CoSpaces, thanks to the generosity of the Arrowhead Library System Mini-Grant program!

Project: Sensory Boxes
Feedback from Mary Ellen Higgins, Eveleth Public Library
Eveleth Public Library created three Sensory boxes for our patrons with special needs – 1 for passive programming, 1 for active programming, and 1 available to check out to Eveleth Public Library patrons.  Kits include Fidget toys, Bubbler timer, Sensory Blanket, Sensory animals, a Play Parachute and a Visual Timer.  This project allows children who struggle with disabilities to feel that the library is a fun and safe place for them and is also a place that helps parents discover tools that meet their family’s needs. We will include Patron Feedback forms asking which items were used, how the items were used, how many times the items were used, and asking if there is anything else the patron/parent would like to see in the kits.

Project: Story Corner
Feedback from Jill Boen, Cook County Public Schools

The grant program was very successful for me.  I was able to fulfill my supplies for a story corner.  All kids in a class now have something to sit on while I read to them.  They love the stumps and the campfire to sit around.  Everyone has a lot of fun when they come in here. Thank you!!

Project: Game Cart/Art Cart
Feedback from Liv Mostad-Jensen, Coleraine Public Library
The library was seeing increased youth attendance after school this fall and we wanted to expand our collection of games to keep them positively occupied. We also wanted to purchase art supplies to support a developing art club. A 3-tiered rolling cart was also purchased to keep the games and art supplies organized and easy to move.  We put the cart out at the start of December and we have already seen a lot of positive impact. Our youth found the cart on the very first day it was out without even being directed to it and it has been used every day since. Chess, checkers and the art supplies have been particularly popular. This has resulted in a quieter library after school with fewer behavioral issues. We have also seen multi-generational use, with kids and adult patrons working on puzzles and origami together.  We measured the overall success of our Grant Project through observation of the use of the Game/Art Cart, as well as assessing the overall change in atmosphere at the library.

Project: My Intent Jewelry Making
Feedback from Lorri Shalley, Hibbing High School Library
With the money we received from the grant, we were able to purchase a jewelry stamping kit from MyIntent.org. Using the MyIntent website, students answer questions and come up with a word that will inspire or comfort them. Next, they stamp that word onto a washer and make it into a bracelet. The kit from MyIntent cost $231. In addition to the kit, we used money from our own budget to buy extra washers, cord, hammers, bases, etc. A staff member also donated a box of jewelry making supplies so students can take things to the next level and design additional pieces of jewelry. The trial class that I started with was a guided study hall group.  The class started by answering the questions in the “Grow” column on the attached chart from MyIntent.org. As they answered the questions, I asked them to think of their “word” to stamp onto a bracelet. Students took the project seriously and each came up with a unique inspirational or comforting word. Even the actual stamping of their word taught students patience and perseverance. It was fun to watch students encourage and help one another. I had students fill out an evaluation when they finished working. This first class had 15 students. I have also had several individuals come in and make a bracelet on their own. The kit will be our featured MakerSpace activity for the month of February. I have been impressed with the thought students are putting into finding their word. Each one comes up with something that has special meaning to them. I would call this project a huge success so far! Thank you!

Project: New Patron Computer
Feedback from Shelby Lonne-Rogentine, Moose Lake Public Library
Our library has extremely outdated patron computers we are working on replacing. We were able to provide them with access to an updated computer for their various tasks. This will continue to work well, while our other computers may end up slowing down quite a bit when Windows stops supporting the lower versions of Windows (Windows 7 in our case).  From November 13th-December 5th, 32 people signed up to use this computer. Our staff have reported that it makes for easier opening procedures (it’s an all in one computer instead of a tower and monitor). The patrons like the speaker capability so they can quietly listen to short news clip videos. Patrons have also commented on the nice display of the screen and the quicker processing compared to our older computers. Overall our patrons and staff seem to really like this computer.

Project: Locked Up at the Library
Feedback from Renee Zurn, Duluth Public Library
The Duluth Public Library purchased 4 secure bicycle locks – these Kryptonic Kryptolok standard U-locks are for our patrons to use while visiting the library to secure their bicycle outside, on one of our bicycle racks. Patrons can ride their bicycle to the library and don’t need to worry about their bicycle being stolen from the outside bicycle racks while in the library. With these locks they can securely attach their bicycle to our outside bicycle racks and know it will be there when they’re done at the library.  We are measuring success by noticing how many times we’ve provided these locks to our patrons and get them returned, undamaged, with the bicycle not stolen. At this time we’ve only had 2-3 of our regular library patrons who bike in the winter use the locks. They know to ask at the Circulation Desk for them. Once winter is passed and more people are riding bicycles, we expect increased use.

Project: Infant/Toddler Play Dates at the Library
Feedback from Anna Amundson, Mountain Iron Public Library
We want to work with our family-serving organizations in the community to promote active play and literacy. This program targets the stay-at-home caregivers who want to venture out of the home. The library is a welcoming, FREE space to play and read; why not get out of the house and out of the cold and into the library?! Our pilot date(s) had good attendance and parents liked the large muscle equipment. Children played and left, but not before stopping to check out some books to read together at home! This is the overall goal of the program.  Our program is new and just getting started, but attendance was good and the equipment, books and manipulatives were well-received. We see continued success with this program as we continue through the winter months. With monthly themes and new items added over time, this program offers families a safe place to play, indoors, and close to home.

Project: New Learning Experiences
Feedback from Melanie Lefebvre, Calumet Public Library
The Calumet Library wanted to update the learning experiences for our kids. We are very interested in STEAM toys, as engaging with STEAM allows kids to see their world in a new way. We spent our grant funding on new educational toys and books.  It was so incredible to see how the children were inspired with their creativity and sparking their curiosity.

Project: Acquire Range-Related Books
Feedback from Michele Lammi, Iron Range Historical Society
Iron Range Historical Society (IRHS) purchased books to add to our library collection.  The books deal with some aspect of Minnesota’s Iron Ranges and the Arrowhead.  IRHS has always had authors, college students, and those producing documentaries use our library archives in researching their projects. Our book collection is valuable to researchers as many of our books are no longer easily found. In purchasing these books, we are looking forward 30, 40, and 50 years to have more recently published books available for researchers of the future.  The success of this project will be realized as a researcher comes to the IRHS Library and uses any one of the books we have purchased. In addition, IRHS volunteers regularly use the books in our collections to find relevant content for individuals looking for information, local government bodies needing assistance on items in regard to their cities, and for use in our newsletters and the non-fiction books that we publish.