2023 Arrowhead Library System Mini Grant Round-Up Part 2

Here’s a round-up of Arrowhead Library System Mini Grants that were completed in 2023 at St. Joseph Catholic School Library, Two Harbors Public Library, Lincoln Park Middle School Library, Minnesota North-Rainy River Campus Library, Hermantown Elementary School, Duluth Public Library, Calumet Public Library, Tower-Soudan Elementary School Library, Proctor Early Learning Center, Duluth East High School, Baudette Public Library, Babbitt Public Library, and Coleraine Public Library:

Project: Wall Scrabble Board
Feedback from Barbara Hughes, St. Joseph Catholic School Library
The students will practice and build their vocabulary and spelling skills in an informal and fun manner.  There’s even a little math in totaling scores. School is just starting, but over the summer students in the building were immediately drawn to the board. And it wasn’t just students – teachers loved it. It was amazing seeing the words pop up. I now had to add a dictionary to the area to settle questions. Success is measure in excitement and use. We are off to a great start with students asking when they can play. I have enjoyed watching kids settle disagreements by using a dictionary and not me! During a recent school board meeting held in the library, members of the board took time out to play. I’m also seeing it as a team building experience. Students are partnering and challenging other partners. The true measure of success is realizing I need to create a second board!

Project: Easy Readers Shelving
Feedback from Madeline Jarvis, Two Harbors Public Library
Our library has a great collection of easy/levelled readers, but the small and slippery books were not browsable and made it difficult to shelve, locate holds, and browse the collection. We purchased new shelving with front-facing browsing bins. We used our mini grant to supplement a private donation to cover the cost. The easy readers are now located closer to our picture books and in similar shelving, which provides a gentle step up in our youngest patrons’ library journeys. Upgrading to front-facing storage will empowers young readers as they browse the collection. Additionally, our volunteer shelvers have an easier time shelving the small and slippery books. We got feedback from a few caregivers that they were excited we added Easy Readers to our collection… these books have been a part of the library’s collection for 7 years, they just weren’t as obvious to browsers! We were able to install the new shelving the day before all first graders in the local elementary school toured the library and gave them a “sneak peak” of the new shelving. We are only a few days in to summer break but know that the increased visibility will help prevent the summer slide for our patrons. Thank you for your support of rural libraries!

Project: 2023 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference Registration
Feedback from Geraldine Davidson, Lincoln Park Middle School Library
This grant project made it possible for me to meet authors of new books and help in collection curation to bring the most current books to our library. I learned more about using Canvas that will improve communication for students. I was able to learn about new legislation for libraries that helps me to do a better job of advocating for programs and money to improve our programs and services. After attending the picture book breakout session, I got the idea to have students decorate a pumpkin after their favorite character. The book fair was here and a student decorated her pumpkin after the Diary of Wimpy Kid character. The Canvas session was a great one that helps me make my presentations more engaging with students.

Project: Furniture and Tech Update
Feedback from Cheyenne Ettestad, Minnesota North-Rainy River Campus Library
With this grant, I was able to purchase an ottoman, a power strip, and five sets of headphones.  This program benefited library patrons and students by giving them more options to help them accomplish their goals in school.  They were able to charge their devices while working on projects, use headphones to help them concentrate on tasks at hand, and gather around the ottoman to collaborate with others.  After getting the new ottoman, students would gather around it daily. It had a nice reversible top with a hard surface that they could use to work on their schoolwork and they were able to put their feet up and relax while waiting for class. The headphones were used weekly. Many students do not have their own pair and benefited from using the headphones in the library. This helped them to not feel uncomfortable by playing what they were listening to out loud for all to hear. The charging port was great for those that wanted to come in and work on their personal laptop while charging it at the same time. Study groups would gather at the table it is on and use it during that time.

Project: Kids’ Zone Reading Challenge
Feedback from Kristal Berg, Hermantown Elementary School
The Kids’ Zone Reading Challenge took place before and after school during our school age care programs, and it was designed to encourage reading outside the classroom and to explore a variety of interests. Students were able to challenge each other by logging the number of minutes they read, and each site declared a winner per grade level! The ALS grant allowed us to purchase a variety of books at various reading levels so every student could be encouraged to read at their level.  We were able to purchase books at various reading levels and challenge students to read outside of school hours!  

Project: Merchandizing Youth Services Collections
Feedback from Brianna Belanger, Duluth Public Library
We are working on making our collection more browsable, accessible, and inviting to our young patrons and families. Part of that work includes merchandizing our collections to help kids discover great books and display materials with characters and content that reflects our community. With the grant, we purchased book easels and folding wire easels.  It helped us better merchandize our collections which not only helped our materials last longer, but also helped patrons discover new titles and increase circulation.  We are noticing books go very quickly and are frequently refilling our easels.

Project: Kids & Cars in the Park
Feedback from Melanie Lefebvre, Calumet Public Library
Kids and Cars in the Park is a huge summer event for Calumet at the end of August. We had Kevin Saline, magician/ventriloquist for our entertainment. It was a great time for families to come together, along with others from the surrounding communities, and enjoy time together.  We had over 100 people attend and everyone commented on a great time that they had!

Project: Library Signage
Feedback from Jeff Poppema, Tower-Soudan Elementary School Library
With the grant we received, we purchased plastic signs for our library so kids and staff could find books more quickly.  Kids commented on how much easier it is to find books when the author’s last name is visible.

Project: Letter Tracing School Readiness Skills
Feedback from Andrea Mattison, Proctor Early Learning Center
The letter tracing products have greatly increased my student engagement in wanting to write letters and numbers. Since this is a sensory activity they are more actively engaged and this activity is easy to setup and differentiate based on the skill level of my students. As we know, when engagement is high, so is success. I have measured success by active engagement and willingness to do this activity. I have done this activity with all 24 students multiple times. The kits are used during small group instruction time so I can give direct/individualized attention to each student. Many students have stated that this is their favorite small group activity and are excited when they see it come out. Having done this activity routinely for a few weeks I have noticed a difference in their fine motor skills. This has been a wonderful addition to my classroom resources. 

Project: 2023 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference Registration
Feedback from Colleen Knettel, Duluth East High School
I was able to attend the 2023 Minnesota Library Association Conference with the generous support of the Arrowhead Library System. I am a library media specialist at Duluth East High School. This fall, with the support of new school library aid provided in Minnesota Statute 134.356, Duluth’s secondary media centers hours were restored to full-time after having been part-time for three years. It was particularly important to have the opportunity to learn from the experience of other library media specialists during this time of rebuilding. Conference sessions provided inspiration for lessons as well as materials selection and promotion. One of the most valuable sessions that I attended focused on library media specialists’ roles in supporting and collaborating with classroom teachers to provide materials and student research assistance for the new Minnesota English Language Arts standards. I am incredibly grateful to ALS for the professional development opportunity as well as its continued commitment to supporting Minnesota’s school library media specialists!  Attending the MLA Conference provided me with new, engaging ideas for high school library media lessons, programming, collaborations, and library management strategies which will benefit the entire school community.

Project: Pop Up Canopy & 2 Chairs for Community Events
Feedback from Kelli Pelland, Baudette Public Library
The Pop Up Canopy & 2 Chairs helped us represent our library at functions away like Timber Mill Park, Willie Walleye Park, Events at School Gym, etc. We were able to reach a broader audience who may never visit the library.  We typically see 100+ at National Night Out, our weekly story times on the hill can be attended by up to 30, and we can also reach families at the county fair next summer.

Project: JFJ Easy Pro Universal Cd/DVD Repair Machine
Feedback from Lisa Pennala, Babbitt Public Library
We purchased a JFJ Easy Pro Universal CD/DVD Repair Machine for our library with the grant.  This new machine will help keep our collection growing, and save us money from having to replace those items. 

Project: Summer Reading Supplies
Feedback from Liv Mostad-Jensen, Coleraine Public Library
The purchased items for summer reading were used to offer a weekly program that patrons could either attend or do as a Take and Make.  Activities included printmaking, word bracelets and keychains, glitter calm down bottles, Perler beads and more.  This grant project benefited our patrons by providing free engaging and creative activities over the summer that were well attended by both youth and adults. Leftover materials were used for fall library programs and will be used in future library programs.  The glitter calming bottles were particularly popular and materials were used for four different programs, including KinderCamp and our Solar Eclipse Party, with approximately 100 participants overall. We have sample glitter bottles on display at the circulation and they are very popular with students as they wait in line to check out books. They actually have an amazing calming effect and so there has been the added bonus of happy, calm students in the checkout line. 

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