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.

Resolutions and Remembrance

January is traditionally the month to make resolutions, and to remember the past year.  In Roman mythology there was a god named Janus who represented beginnings and endings.  The month of January was named for him.  He is depicted as having two faces.  One face is to look to the future and the other is to gaze upon the past.  As we start this new year, we are going to remember some of the people we lost in 2016 along with giving some suggestions for resolutions for 2017.


A statue depicting Janus

  • 2016 was a tough year in terms of losses.  In January alone we lost over 20 notable individuals including David Bowie and Alan Rickman.  February saw the passing of literary legend Harper Lee.  I personally remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird in the 9th grade.  Former first lady Nancy Reagan passed away at age 94.  Country fans mourned the loss of Merle Haggard in early April.  Just a few weeks later the State of Minnesota mourned the loss of our beloved Prince.  Landmarks all over the city (including Metro State) were lit in shades of purple.  In May, we lost another Beastie Boy when John Berry lost his fight with dementia.  June took boxing’s greatest legend, Muhammad Ali, and Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, from us.  Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor passed away July 2 at age 87.  In August we lost R2-D2  and Willy Wonka when Kenny Baker  and Gene Wilder both passed away.  The LGBTQ community lost a member upon Alexis Arquette’s death in early September and the golf community lost legend Arnold Palmer in late September.  Actor Michael Massee died in October.  November 7th was a hard day, Janet Reno and Leonard Cohen both died that day.  December went out with a bang taking real life astronaut John Glenn and Star Wars princess Leia, Carrie Fisher along with George Michael and Debbie Reynolds.  For a more thorough list of people we lost in 2016 check out wikipedia.

Now lets take a peek through Janus’ other face and look to the new year.  Everyone makes resolutions for the new year.  According to Dictionary.com one of the definitions of a resolution is as follows:

n. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action,method, procedure, etc.

If you haven’t chosen any resolutions for this year we have a few suggestions.

  1. No more fake news.  Check your sources every time you read and re-post.  If you need help telling the difference check out our Fact or Faked blog from November.
  2. Read more!  Whether you have your own books-to-read list or you are picking from Time magazines top 100 (or some other list) get that nose into a few more books this year.  Reading to your kids (if you have kids) is a great way to get them into books too.
  3. Play more games.  Did you know gaming is good for you?  Check out this TED talk by game designer Jane McGonigal and come out to our 3rd Tuesday gaming nights at Metro State Library for bonus points.
  4. Make more time for yourself.  Taking time for you is an important part of mental, emotional, and physical health.  Whether you prefer hitting the gym or meditation, make a little more “me time” in your schedule.  Check out our blog about de-stressing for suggested relaxing activities.
  5. Learn a new language.  Pick a language you’ve always wanted to understand and commit to learning it.  There are lots of free language learning websites out there.  Check out Duolingo, Openculture, and LearnALanguage for a start.  You can also check out your local community ed. flyer for classes in things like sign language.

Hopefully 2017 will bring you joy, knowledge, and perspective in life.  Good luck with those resolutions and remember that a stumbling is not the same as failing.  Get up and keep going.

About the Author

Mallory Kroschel is a Information Commons Specialist at Metropolitan State University Library.

Winter Reads

Need something to cozy up by the fire with this winter break?  Check out our specially selected collection of winter reads.  Our staff has combed through their favorite winter break books to bring you this collection of hot chocolate and fuzzy slipper worthy reads.

A Man In Full by Thomas Wolfe.


Cover of A Man in Full from Wikipedia.com

“Set in the racially mixed city of Atlanta Georgia during the mid to late 90’s, A Man in Full tells the stories of Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsize ego has at last hit up against reality, Conrad Hensley, idealistic young father of two, star Georgia Tech running back Fareek “the Cannon” Fanon, and upscale black lawyer Roger White II who is asked to represent Fanon in the accused date-rape of the daughter of a pillar of the white establishment. A Man in Full will keep you intrigued with networks of illegal Asian immigrants crisscrossing the continent, daily life behind bars, shady real estate syndicates, and the cast-off first wives of the corporate elite.” from Tom Wolfe’s website.  Grab a blanket and a cup of tea before you tuck into this book.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.


Cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Amazon.com

A mystery/thriller set in Sweden in the winter.  If you decide you like it, there are two more books in the original series and a fourth book that is an offshoot of the original three.  Bundle up and grab a nip of something a little stronger to get in the mood for this book.

“I’ve had many enemies over the years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never engage in a fight you’re sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you’re in a position of strength—even if you no longer need to strike back.” – Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Mitten by Jan Brett and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Two great picture books for cold winter days, The Mitten and The Snowy day are sure become winter read favorites.  One tells the tale of chilly animals that are trying to make space for everyone to keep warm, while the other tells of a boy out for a snowy adventure in the city.  These are great stories to read aloud to little ones or just to yourself while you’re cuddled up with blankets and hot cocoa.

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Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.


Cover of Doctor Zhivago from Amazon.com

During the turbulent times surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution, Yuri Zhivago struggles to retain personal agency, but is ensnared in political machinations beyond his control. Throughout his life, Yuri is entranced by Lara, eventually choosing her over his wife and children before ultimately losing Lara as well. Though bleaker than the classic film, the novel is just as memorable.

East by Edith Pattou.

Written for young adults, East retells the Norwegian folktale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” combined with elements of “Beauty and the Beast”. In East, a mysterious polar bear promises Rose health and good fortune for her family if she leaves them behind to travel with him through deepest winter to a ice castle in the wilderness.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen.


Cover of Winterdance from Wikipedia.com

Gary Paulsen’s great adventures in northern Minnesota learning how to run sled dogs and ultimately running the Iditarod twice in Alaska are just as exciting as any of the stories he pens for kids and funnier than one might expect.

The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch.


Cover of The Chronology of Water from NPR.org

“This is not your mother’s memoir. Lifelong swimmer and Olympic hopeful Lidia Yuknavitch accepts a college swimming scholarship in Texas in order to escape an abusive father and an alcoholic, suicidal mother. After losing her scholarship to drugs and alcohol, Lidia moves to Eugene and enrolls in the University of Oregon, where she is accepted by Ken Kesey to become one of 13 graduate students who collaboratively write the novel, Caverns, with him. Drugs and alcohol continue to flow along with bisexual promiscuity and the discovery of S&M helps ease Lidia’s demons. Ultimately Lidia’s career as a writer and teacher combined with the love of her husband and son replace the earlier chaos that was her life.” from hawthornebooks.com.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.


Cover of The Name of the Wind from patrickrothfuss.com

“Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.” – Goodreads

If you are searching for something to keep your brain sharp amidst the warm fuzzies above, here is a book for you.

ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic by Alan Schwarz.


Cover of ADHD Nation from Amazon.com

“In ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz examines the roots and the rise of this cultural and medical phenomenon: The father of ADHD, Dr. Keith Conners, spends fifty years advocating drugs like Ritalin before realizing his role in what he now calls “a national disaster of dangerous proportions”; a troubled young girl and a studious teenage boy get entangled in the growing ADHD machine and take medications that backfire horribly; and big Pharma egregiously over-promotes the disorder and earns billions from the mishandling of children (and now adults).

While demonstrating that ADHD is real and can be medicated when appropriate, Schwarz sounds a long-overdue alarm and urges America to address this growing national health crisis.” – from Simon and Schuster.

A Man in Full recommended by Nancy Kerr, Circulation Technician.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo recommended by Dylan Haris, Library Technician.
The Mitten and The Snowy Day recommended by Mallory Kroschel, Information Commons Specialist.
Doctor Zhivago, East, and Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod recommended by Martha Hardy, Librarian.
The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch recommended by Chia Vang, Student Worker.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic by Alan Schwarz recommended by Katherine Gerwig, Information Commons Specialist.

Open Access in Action


Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.

-Peter Suber

This past week has been Open Access Week. This year’s theme is Open Access (OA) in Action. The Library has recently taken action to support OA through the purchase of a repository platform (BePress). We are working through the set-up process this semester. Starting Spring semester we will digitize and ingest a couple of pilot collections. We hope to have the archival portion of the platform operational by next Fall. Eventually, the repository will provide a home for student and faculty works and university archival materials of historical value.

Metropolitan State University values inclusion and the ability for all voices to be heard. Making faculty, staff, and student scholarship, along with other university works accessible to the widest possible community is a clear demonstration of the university’s values.

Want to do do something to support OA? Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Archive your work in a repository when possible. There are disciplinary repositories such as: arXiv, dryad, ICPSR, SocArXiv, or SSRN that may take your pre-prints, post-prints, or data.
  • Work to retain your author rights.
  • Obtain an ORCID.
  • Start conversations with your colleagues and students on the viability of OA publishing models, the impact of making scholarship widely available, or ways you can support OA.

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



Have you ever wanted to learn more about a subject briefly touched on in class? Would you like to compare what you learned with another course? Or maybe you have wanted to take a course in another subject but you didn’t have the time for it?

Are you an instructor looking for a supplemental tool to support concepts learned in class or teach technical skills needed to complete an assignment?

Lynda.com has a large collection of online classes covering business, professional development, software, technology and creative professional topics.  As a currently enrolled Metropolitan State University student, access to the premium membership is free, you just need to set up your account using the Metropolitan State University e-mail provided to you (StarID@metrostate.edu).  They even have a course on how to navigate the website.

The tutorials are broken down into short topic specific sections so you don’t have to watch the entire 6 hour tutorial on Excel, you can just find the section dealing with what you are trying to do and watch it. Instructors can also use links to the sections to point students directly to the most useful sections of a tutorial instead of asking them to watch a tutorial in its entirety.


Metro State link to Lynda.com

If the link above does not work then type: “Lynda.com“, in the search bar, or navigate through the Metropolitan State University website by following these steps:
1.) Start with the MetroState.edu homepage, click on the Current Students link in the black bar on top of the website

2.) Click on the Learning Resources tab.

3.) Scroll down the list of Learning Resources until you get to number 5 and click on the link named, “Student Tools and Resources”. This will bring you to another list.

4.) Look for item “2: Lynda.com Online Training” and click on the “Access LYNDA.com at Metropolitan State” link.

This is what an online course looks like:


Lynda.com course welcome page

You can click on different sections of the lecture or read along with the transcript as the video plays:


Lynda.com interactive transcript

The benefits of premier membership over basic access include downloadable files and downloadable course video, practice code and quizzes. Premier membership is normally $29.99 a month and basic membership is $19.99 a month. But for Metro State students it is free!


Lynda.com membership options

Fun fact: If you have a library card from the Hennepin County Library System* or the Saint Paul Public Library System* you also have access to Lynda.com.  Their links are listed below.

Hennepin County Library

Saint Paul Public Library

*Membership level is unknown

Metropolitan State University is in no way affiliated with Lynda.com

What can a Liaison Librarian do for you?

Did you know there is a faculty librarian assigned as a liaison to each Major area of study? Liaison Librarians provide specialized assistance locating and evaluating resources in their liaison area.

dsc_0012-editedLibrary Liaisons (from left to right): Alec Sonsteby, Jennifer DeJonghe, Christine Larson, Martha Hardy, Michelle Filkins, Michelle Desilets, and Ruth Zietlow.

Some things liaisons do to support students:

  • Assist students individually with literature searching, Web searching, citing sources and more via Research & Reference Services.
  • Course-integrated instruction sessions to support specific assignments.
  • One-time workshops for students on special topics such as Google searching & Google Scholar, Zotero, and subject-specific literature searching within a discipline.
  • Create subject or course specific research guides (LibGuides) handouts, and tutorials to assist students with literature searching, Web search, evaluating materials, citing sources, and other information literacy topics.
  • Individual research consultations.

To support faculty & staff:

  • Consult with faculty on assignments and course design.
  • One-time workshops for faculty and staff on special topics such as Google searching & Google Scholar, Zotero, and subject-specific literature searching.
  • Individual research consultations.
  • Answer questions regarding library services such as interlibrary loan, ereserves, and copyright clearance and permissions for course texts.
  • Literature searches.
  • Keep faculty apprised of new tools, services, and items added to the collection relevant to their discipline.
  • Develop a relevant, useful collection that supports the curricula by purchasing or licensing books, journals, films, research databases, & more.
  • Support accreditation processes for specific disciplinary programs.
  • Consult on copyright issues, including determining what might constitute Fair Use.


Click the link below for a list of this years library liaisons and their contact information.

Library Liaisons 2016-2017