Celebrate African American History in February and Every Day

The History of Black History Month

Federation of Negro Women

Federation of Negro Women, approx. 1920. From the Minnesota Historical Society.

February is Black History Month in the United States and the perfect time to learn more about the history of African Americans in Minnesota. It grew out of Negro History Week which was first celebrated in 1926,created by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization founded by historian Carter G. Woodson. It evolved into Black History Month in 1976.

Learn More About Minnesota History

A recent story from the Pioneer Press profiled 16 Trailblazing Black Minnesotans You Should Know More About, such as George Bonga, a fur trader and voyageur of African American & Ojibwe descent, Lena O. Smith, Minnesota’s first Black woman attorney, and labor leader Nellie Stone Johnson.

Want to learn more about African Americans in Minnesota? Try these resources:

Celebrating Stories from the African American Diaspora

Join us at the Metropolitan State University Library on Saturday, February 25, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, with an African American Storytelling Picnic featuring master storyteller Nothando Zulu, President of the Black Storyteller’s Alliance. Join us for this cozy, indoor, winter picnic to listen to stories from the African Diaspora. This event is co-sponsored by the Student Parent Center and Saint Paul Public Library.

The story of the Great Library Cookie Bake-off

‘Tis the season! The wonderful, chilly, and in some places, snowy white, season we call winter.  If your family is anything like mine, cookies are coming.  My grandmother always had a tin of cookies waiting for us grandchildren when we arrived.  We each had our favorites, spritz style, Russian tea cakes, or chocolate chip.  Maybe your family has favorites too such as linzer cookies, rosettes, krumkakke, or spice cookies by many a name.


Cookies, cookies and more cookies!

To celebrate the season of cookies, library staff decided to have a friendly (and delicious) cookie competition.  Cookies were required to arrive within the time frame of the competition and be stored in an airtight container.  Each staff member was allowed to vote once per day for the duration of the contest.  Staff members could try as many of each cookie as they liked (scarcity encouraged people to try cookies faster, and vote). At the end of the competition, the votes were tallied and the winner received the coveted “Cookie Master” trophy along with a little gift.


The Cookie Master Trophy

These are recipes similar to the recipes used to create this year’s delicious entries:

  1. Mint Chocolate Chip
  2. Molasses
  3. Cranberry White Chocolate
  4. Moravian Spice
  5. Raspberry Rugelach

Each cookie had a unique flavor and texture.  They were all quite tasty.  The Mint Chocolate Chip had a classic chocolate flavor with a cooling hint of mint throughout it.  The Molasses was soft and chewy with mild undertones of ginger and and a great molasses flavor.  The Cranberry  White Chocolate was soft and chewy with big chunks of cranberry and white chocolate throughout giving you a bit of both in each bite.  The Moravian Spice was thin and crisp with hits of ginger, cloves, and pepper in each bite and the Raspberry Rugelach was like having your own mini croissant filled with just the right amount of raspberry filling.  Not too sweet, and just a few bites of buttery goodness.

As the time flew by, the cookies disappeared and the voting box filled up.  At the end of the contest the votes were counted and the outcome was close.  The winning cookie was determined by a single vote.  The library staff had spoken and the winner was library dean, Chris Schafer’s Cranberry White Chocolate cookies. Coming in a close second were Saint Paul Public Library’s, Savitri Santhiran’s Raspberry Rugelach.  The winner received the “Cookie Master” trophy to display in their office for the next year and the runner up received the “Cookie Apprentice” medal to hang in theirs.


The Cookie Apprentice Medal

Until next year, may you have all the cookies your heart desires.

This weeks blog was written by Mallory Kroschel, an information commons specialist at Metropolitan State Library.

Just in Time for Finals Week: 5 Distracting De-Stressors

Feeling stressed because of Finals? Take a break from studying and try one or more of these distracting de-stressors.

Meditation – It doesn’t have to be the kind practiced by monks or hippies, lots of people meditate these days.  Start small with a minute or two a day and add more time as you get used to it.  If you like it, you can always add to your practice. If the thought of sitting still to meditate doesn’t sound appealing. Get some fresh air and focus your thoughts while walking the labyrinth on the Library’s south side.

Exercise – Take advantage of the warmer November/December weather to go for a brisk walk or run or take the time to squeeze in some jumping jacks or squats and bicep curls before hitting the books.


Tiny figures working out from Giphy.com

Animal time – Therapy dogs are popping up on more and more college campuses during finals week.  In fact, Simon the schnauzer will be visiting the Metro State Library Lounge on Monday, December 5th, 12-1:30. Can’t make it on Monday? No problem!  Look into volunteering at your local animal shelter or the Animal Humane Society.  There are always animals in need of care and who knows, maybe you’ll find a therapy pet of your own to take home.


Simon the therapy dog while on duty.

Coloring – You did it as a kid, who says you have to stop as an adult?  Adult coloring books and pages are popping up everywhere.  Get mesmerized by mandalas or enchanted by elephants.  Grabbing free, online versions is easiest, but a book to call your own is fun too.

Sleep – Depending on your age, 8-10 hours of sleep is the recommended nightly amount.  Without enough sleep it is harder to focus your attention on tasks, such as studying or taking a final exam. Sleep is also when your brain consolidates information and stabilizes memory. In short, squeezing in a nap is a great way to retain more info!


Student catching some Zzzz’s in front of the second floor fireplace at Metro State Library 2nd floor lounge.

For bonus points – laugh more.  It really is the best medicine!

Contact library.socialmedia@metrostate.edu with questions or concerns.

About the Authors

Mallory Kroschel is an Information Commons Specialist at Metropolitan State University Library

Katherine Gerwig is an Information Commons Specialist at Metropolitan State University Library


International Games Day


November 19th is one of those awesome secret holidays that not enough people talk about, kinda like National Peanut Butter and Jelly day (Sunday April 2nd) or National Lighthouse day (Monday August 7th.)  It’s International Games Day (at your library!)  Libraries all over the world are celebrating by having gaming events that day.


Metro State Library Staff showing off some of our new games

Metro State Library is celebrating a few days early this year on Tuesday, November 15th.  We will have board games, card games, and video games for everyone to play.  The event will run from 4pm to 7pm in the Library 1st floor student lounge.  Come challenge your friends to a round of Tetris or Settlers of Catan, or go old school, and school someone in a game of chess.  There are games for everyone.

To see if your library is participating and for more information go to igd.ala.org


Collaborative Novel

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Whoever said that novel writing couldn’t be a novel experience?  November is National Novel Writing Month and we here at the Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center would like to invite you to help write a collaborative novel.  Novel writing will begin today, November 1st, and continue on through the rest of the month.  Here are a few things you should know before you write with us.

  1. Individuals may contribute to the novel once per day.
  2. Daily entries may be no shorter than a paragraph, but no longer than a page.
  3. The font style, font size, and font color  for each entry, are up to the contributors discretion.
  4. All contributions must be written in English for the sake of consistency.  There is a dialogue exception. A translation of the discussion should be written in parentheses afterwards.
  5. To be credited for an entry, please include your name at the end of the entry.  (The finished novel will be bound and available for reading at a later date and contributors names will be listed in the index with corresponding page numbers.)
  6. Metropolitan State University Library staff will perform light structural editing to keep the novel  organized throughout the process.
  7. We are not looking to write the next Fifty Shade of Gray so lets keep it clean.
  8. Questions or concerns can be sent to library.socialmedia@metrostate.edu  In addition, if you would like a .pdf of the finished product sent to you please send us your email address.

We are signed up with the official NaNoWriMo website and will have our word count verified with them at the end of the month.  The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days or about 1700 words a day.  You can find the collaborative google doc here.

The story is waiting to start and we need you to help write it.

He was in a hurry so he slipped it on before getting back in the car….

Google Tools


Google Drive Logo and Icons

These days almost anyone that has email has a Gmail account.  Chances are they are not using that account to its full potential.  When a person signs up for a Gmail account, they automatically get access to Google tools.  These include lots of different things ranging from calendars to photo storage to various types of documents.


Screenshot of My Drive Homepage

When you sign up for Gmail you get 15 GB of free storage.  You can always purchase more if necessary.  Your 15 GB of storage includes Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive (Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides), and My Drive.  (My Drive is the folder that holds the files and folders you create in Google Drive).

Curious and want to learn more about these and other tools available through Google, check out the St. Paul Public Library’s session about Google Drive on Wednesday October 19th from 6pm-8pm at Dayton’s Bluff Library.


Dayton’s Bluff Google Drive Event


Banned Books Week


Banned Books Week starts Sunday September 25th 2016 and runs all the way through October 1st 2016. Banned Book Week was started to celebrate the freedom of reading.

The St. Paul Public library and the Metro State library will be hosting a banned author book signing on Saturday October 1st from 3-5 pm.  Noted local authors including Pete Hautman, Phyllis root, and Marion Dane Bauer will sign copies of their books that have at one time been challenged or banned.  Authors will also answer questions about their experiences with censorship.  Their books will also be available for purchase.

These are their books.

Pete Hautman wrote Godless, a young adult novel in which the main character invents his own religion after becoming frustrated with his fathers Catholicism.  The book was removed from summer reading lists at Oxford  High School in Mississippi after complaints about the books perceived anti-religious themes.

The book Big Momma Makes the World by Phyillis Root was challenged in 2013 by North Elementary School in Longview Texas.  The book was deemed offensive to religious sensitivities and end ended up being restricted.

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is the only book out of these three that was challenged and retained.  In Iowa it was challenged due to profanity and vulgarity.  In Pennsylvania parents disliked its “depressing” subject matter.

In addition to these three books,  at least 11,300 others have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. (ALA)  Here are some of the most popular books that have been challenged over the years.

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One of the most well-written books, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is centered around racism based in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama.

The Lord of the Rings, a fictional book, was banned because of its fantastical adventures, and what the book stood for. Even if this book did not mention God or any other religious beliefs it struck controversy.

One of the most popular contemporary series, Harry Potter, was banned due to the fact that it was based on witchcraft. The rule-breaking children in the series setting a bad example for the children who read these books was a concern as well. These books were banned not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom.

Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, was one of the few books banned because of the sexual content in the book, violence, etc. This powerful novel was based on the true story of a real slave who had to make a life or death decision.

Many of the books that people challenged were considered offensive in one way or another.  The ALA states that “Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from ‘inappropriate’ sexual content or ‘offensive’ language.”  The top reasons listed for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom are as follows:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

For more information about banned books check out the Banned and Challenged Books section of the ALA website.