2023 Arrowhead Library System Mini Grant Round-Up Part 1

Here’s a round-up of Arrowhead Library System Mini Grants that were completed in 2023 at Silver Bay Public Library, Mountain Iron Public Library, Cook County Middle School/High School Media Center, Carlton Area Public Library, The College of St. Scholastica Library, Chisholm Public Library, Pike Lake Elementary School, Lakewood Elementary School, Duluth Public Library – Mt. Royal Library Branch, Marble Public Library, Nashwauk-Keewatin High School Library, Hoyt Lakes Public Library, Lester Park Elementary School, and Bayview Elementary School:

Project: Teen Zone
Feedback from Shannon Walz, Silver Bay Public Library
Thank you so much for funding our library “Teen Zone” project. The “Teen Zone” was designed by teens to help the library feel more welcoming to older youth. We were able to purchase seating, a table, a rug, a neon light and a privacy screen. And with the help of volunteers we were able to move a lot of books to open up the space.  The project total was $1000. We were able to get $250 from this ALS mini grant and $750 from Co-op Light and Power Operation Round-up.  The ALS funds paid for 3 floor cushions and part of the area rug we got for the space. We did some major moving of our collections to create the teen zone. It has improved the overall feel of the library for patrons both young and old. We put the teen zone in the back corner of our library which allows for a bit of privacy for the youth to foster a feeling of independence. We are glad that youth are excited to use the space – giving them a positive environment to hangout in.  The project was a huge success. We finished the teen zone in the beginning of October.  It is being used nearly daily by youth in our community.  We are seeing new youth coming to the library with their friends. In our conversations with the teens, they have shared how cool they think the space is and how much they appreciate having the space.

Project: Busy Bags
Feedback from Anna Amundson, Mountain Iron Public Library
We put the first 10 BUSY BAGS together for our after school Kids Book Club. What a hit! They really enjoyed the autonomous play and small-group interactions with our LEGO Build kits and math games. It was a fun way to carry over the learning of the school day. Several of our home school families have now been asking for them when they stop by for books. It’s any easy way to occupy busy kids while parents check out books. The BUSY BAGS are designed to be a quick 5-10-minute activity that one can take out and put away in a short amount of time – just challenging enough to be engaging, but not too difficult that it leaved the child frustrated or the project unfinished. We will be making more of these through the coming months.  We have had a very positive response from youth and parents, mainly that they are simple enough to do in a short visit. Our older youth are liking the challenge of the LEGO Builds and competing to see who can build the fastest. Quick games that last no more than 10 minutes are appreciated by parents and youth alike. As we approach our cold winter months, families are looking for a warm place to be and do; we think these bags will see lots of use.

Project: Floor Chairs and Lap Tables for Teens
Feedback from Jenna Berglund, Cook County Middle School/High School Media Center
We have students who spend large chunks of their time in the Media Center doing online work, Study Hall, and PSEO classes. Having a few chairs and lap tables gives the students a variety of ways to complete work and get some movement in. Our budget was $250 and we spent the majority of that on two floor chairs and four lap tables. This grant helped students to have more freedom of movement while working in the Media Center. Many kids benefit from being able to rock back and forth while working on classwork. 

Project: Present Wednesdays
Feedback from Bethany Leseman, Carlton Area Public Library
This grant enabled us to have someone come in and teach the art of paper folding and supplies for additional crafts. We started Present Wednesdays on 10/25/2023, with the hopes that people would come in and be present while making presents.  It could be for anything going on in their life that they want to give someone a present. We picked a different craft for people to make each Wednesday. We have all of the supplies available to create a wide variety of things and did the following projects: book painting, book hollowing, book page folding, making sugar scrubs and scented Epsom salts, popsicle stick ornaments and crafts, paper tube crafts, bead ornaments, foam bookmarks, ornaments, and picture frames. We also have a large variety of boxes and paper for wrapping the presents. This grant helped us to provide better service to our community by allowing anyone from our community the time, space, and supplies to create something special for themselves or someone in their life. It allows them to be creative and explore new craft ideas. Being creative and trying new things, and the opportunity to share ideas and socialize in a safe and neutral setting helps with stress relief and mental wellbeing. We kept track on our daily tally sheets of how many people came in to work on things in our activity room.

Project: Recreational Materials
Feedback from Kevin McGrew, The College of St. Scholastica Library
As we’ve emerged from the Covid pandemic we’ve seen a slow return to the physical library. The addition of new recreational materials, in the form of popular reading books and board games, will revive the library as a place for St. Scholastica Library patrons and community members and provides student mental health support.

Project: STEAM Kits for All Ages
Feedback from Debbie Wangensteen, Chisholm Public Library
With the funds provided, we were able to create three STEAM kits for our patrons to accommodate the following age groups:
*Kit 1: 12 month+ Marble Run
*Kit 2: 4+ years Colossal Elevator Marble kit
*Kit 3: a 12+ years Spirograph Art & Marble Circuit Kit
The goal of these kits was to add purposeful, creative, independent play to our library patrons and their families. The kits have fostered ingenuity, the use of critical thinking, problem solving and having fun.  At the Chisholm Public Library, we strive to find ways to have items available to allow children and their adults the opportunity to play and bond while they are here. The kits provide a new and different kind of play that we weren’t able to offer before.  Kits 2&3 were recently used in our new Kreative Kids program, which includes 15 students in grades 4th-6th. Kits 1&2 were recently used by several families when they visited the library during a day off school. All three kits were popular among their age groups and we anticipate using them quite often in the future.

Project: New Baby Baskets
Feedback from Jilli Peterson, Pike Lake Elementary School
We provided books for families with new children in the Proctor and Hermantown School Districts. We were able to deliver 40 baskets with local resources and board books for families in the past two months.  By providing new families with board books and other ALS library resources, we were able to provide a strong literacy foundation for their home. Some of the families may not have access to quality literature that is developmentally appropriate for their child. We were able to give them great stories to bond over as families. Based on family preference, the baskets were coupled with a visit from a licensed ECFE teacher.

Project: 2023 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference Registration
Feedback from Brian Schilling, Lakewood Elementary School
I recently accepted the media specialist position at Lakewood Elementary School. This fall, the Duluth Public Schools elementary media positions are now on a four day rotation with 45 minute classes. I was able to attend some great conference sessions on book challenges, weeding the collection, tools for students to model their learning, research skills in the Minnesota 2020 K-12 English Language Arts Standards, and school wide program ideas. I will be able to help my students during the research process and help develop a more effective Media program with the ideas learned. I had a great session on the MN ELA standards and research skills process. It will really help me effectively craft a unit or lesson with a classroom teacher. I was also able to collaborate with other media specialists in the state which is very useful to network and get ideas.

Project: Wellness Kit Assembly
Feedback from Emily Blomberg, Duluth Public Library – Mt. Royal Library Branch
On November 8th, 2023, Mt. Royal library hosted a wellness kit assembly for community members in need. We packed 100 kits that have basic wellness items including socks, body wipes, facial tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hair combs, lip balm, and feminine hygiene products. Greeting cards were available for participants to address and decorate, which were included in the kits. Donations to CHUM were also accepted.
This grant allowed us to purchase basic care items to be assembled into kits. Those kits will be distributed to those folks who stop into any of the Duluth library locations who are looking for, or appear to be in need of, basic wellness items. Participants of the assembly discussed homelessness in Duluth and the need for more programs like this one. Participants were all ages, from toddlers to seniors, which provided a good opportunity for people of all ages to help in their own way. In addition to the essential items, several of the kids decorated greeting cards to hopefully brighten the recipients’ day upon receiving a kit.

Project: A Quieter Library
Feedback from Alexandria Pederson, Marble Public Library
We used the grant to make the library a bit quieter, and more user friendly, by purchasing headphones for use at the computers.  We purchased 10 pairs of Panasonic Over Ear Headphones with the grant.  The new headphones work so much better than the old, beat up pairs that we had. They trap sound. This allows multiple patrons to use the sound on the computers, while keeping the library quiet for other patrons. The young patrons have stated that they are excited to use the headphones while gaming. 

Project: Summer/After School Coloring Day
Feedback from Necia Nunn, Nashwauk-Keewatin High School Library
We discovered a few years back that we had a group of children who really enjoyed coloring. However, our materials were a little worse for wear so I applied for this grant. With the grant, I was able to purchase, card stock, coloring books, a PILE of crayons, Sharpie markers and pens, as well as glitter gel pens and sidewalk chalk.  Some of these children barely knew each other and many were timid around one another. Through the weekly coloring program, many made new friendships which (I hope) will last into their elementary and high school years. It was also evident that we had some budding creativity – especially when the card stock came out and we made book marks.  I should also note that, because I ordered early, the pens arrived during the school year and were used in a couple of high school projects as well.  Thank you for helping to provide hours of fun, creativity, and friendship!!!

Project: Summer Kick Off 2023
Feedback from Sue Sowers, Hoyt Lakes Public Library
For our Summer Kick Off party, we booked the Cook’s Country Connection Mobile Zoo. They had their own fencing and set up outside. The animals they brought were three baby goats, mama goat, a mini donkey, a mini horse, an alpaca and a llama. They also had food kids could give to the animals. Families are drawn to any program with live animals, so we had a large attendance. People learned the differences between llamas and alpacas, saw a mini horse and donkey for the first time, and interacted with baby goats. Because of the many people who came, we were able to promote our Summer Program for kids and had a record number of sign ups! There were 126 people who participated. This is one of our most attended programs we have ever had at the library.

Project: 2023 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference Registration
Feedback from Anna Rose, Lester Park Elementary School
I am the Lester Park Elementary School librarian, who is brand new to the position and to Minnesota, and I was able to attend the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) conference for one day to learn all about MLA and “library-ing” in Minnesota!  I was able to familiarize myself with the status of libraries and particularly school libraries in the state of Minnesota. I got to learn about the status of state library media standards (or lack of them) as well as state award (Maud Hart Lovelace Award) nominees. I was able to connect with other librarian from around the state and learn about their unique library programs. I came back to my school with lots of ideas of how to improve my school library’s circulation through signage, display ideas, and programming ideas. I particularly loved a session about bringing green spaces into libraries.

Project: Social Emotional Books
Feedback from Sarah Dennis, Bayview Elementary School
We were able to purchase books to support our Second Step social emotional curriculum for our classrooms. This grant has already impacted almost 200 students this year and will continue to impact students for years to come. The books purchased with this grant have helped our students understand more and better reflect their emotions. They have also learned skills such as cooperation, self regulation, caring, mindfulness, respect and inclusivity through the books purchased by this grant. 

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