The world is at your fingertips @ the library

by John Hunziker
Jay ChangOver the past four years I have come to realize that people in our community see the library as a resource of infinite possibilities and use it in many ways.
Jay Chang stopped by the other day to share his story. I had gotten his name from Louise in the Reference area on the second floor. She had talked with Jay as she saw him in the library and passed his name to me so I gave him a call.
Jay is originally from South Korea where he studied law; he met his wife there. He spent four years in London working with a Korean language paper and then he and his wife traveled to the United States. They originally settled in California where he published a Korean newspaper in Orange County. There were over 600,000 Koreans living in Southern California in 1996.
He and his wife decided that they wanted to raise their family in a less busy part of the country and after researching areas decided on Rochester. They have lived here for 15 years and originally bought a house in Northwest Rochester. Their daughter is at Macalester College in St. Paul and their son is at Mayo High School. Jay’s original dream when they moved to Rochester had been to publish an on-line Korean language newspaper; unfortunately the internet was not as good in the 1990’s as it is today.
Needing to support themselves and their family, they opened a retail store in Miracle Mile called In Vogue. That store grew into two more over time. After 10 years they began tiring of the day-to-day stress of retail sales so they decided to sell the stores. They thought about taking the concept to the Twin Cities area but haven’t found the right location. They have found their version of the American Dream and Jay is now taking some time to find his personal meaning of life. They sold their Northwest house and have moved closer to the downtown area. Jay can easily walk the mile to the library and back home when he chooses.
Jay had thought about returning to Korea and spending time in a monastery environment to find his, “meaning of life” but finds he can do the same thing in the quiet study rooms on the second floor of the library. He brings his laptop and connects to the Wi-Fi and explores what other people have thought, whether they are Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or various Christian philosophies. One of his favorite authors at this time is Richard Dawkins who wrote the God Delusion; Jay says that he agrees with about 90% of what Dawkins writes.
Along with his search for his own meaning of life, his personal journey, he as two goals. He still wants to publish an online magazine focused on the worldwide Korean population. He actually has a number of online blogs at this time, although they are in Korean. If they are successful he will consider English versions. Secondly he has studied for and passed in September his realtors’ tests. He spent 10 hours a day for two weeks at the library preparing for the tests as he wanted to pass the first time. He wants to be a commercial realty consultant working with people who want to invest in U.S. properties.
Jay says that with the library and our internet access, the philosophies of the world are at his finger tips.

From the Director

The Rochester Public Library recently received two workplace recognition honors for wellness and workplace flexibility, and I wanted to share the good news with you.
We received a bronze award at the 2011 Workforce Wellness Conference on September 28, 2011, in Rochester.
Wellness Works, a coalition of small and large organizations, confers the award on employers who have invested in and are excelling at offering varying levels of worksite wellness services. The library was one of seven workplaces that received either a bronze, silver or gold award. The award is based on fulfilling various criteria. Since we established a Wellness Committee in December, 2010, the committee organized a community supported agriculture program with a local farm for fresh vegetable delivery for the 2011growing season, recommended changes that were adopted by the library board for healthy options in public and staff vending machines, and organized a program by a dietician on healthy lunch time alternatives for a general staff meeting.
On October 20th the library received an Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. The ceremony, part of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Member Event, took place at the Rochester Event Center. The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce encourages organizations to submit nominations. The award recognizes model employers for innovative and effective practices that make work better for both the employer and the employee. The award is given to employers who rank in the top 5% nationally. The Sloan Awards are part of When Work Works, a research-based initiative to highlight how effective and flexible workplaces can yield positive business results and help employees succeed at work and at home.
For the award we highlighted information on our telecommuting and job sharing policies and the Wellness Committee. The Library was also a champion of a city-wide Flexible Work Arrangement policy that was approved by city council on October 17th. The policy creates a process for employees to request flex time, compressed work weeks, phased retirement and other options to promote flexibility and win/win situations for the city and employee. We strive for a culture of flexibility.
We not only want the library to be a great place for the community, but we also want to be a great place to work.
Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library Director

300,000 Imagination Library books

300,000 Imagination Library books
This month of November, somewhere in Olmsted County, a child will receive the 300,000th book delivered through the United Way of Olmsted County partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.  The link is to an ABC news article that provides many of the details. Remember books make wonderful holiday gifts for your children! And the deals in our Bookstore and at the Holiday Sale are amazing. Create a reader today!

Preserving History at the Library

The Rochester Public Library’s archival collection of county histories and city directories (similar to phone books, but with more information) are ideal resources for helping researchers find answers to their historical questions about Rochester and Olmsted County. These directories can trace home ownership, school or organization history, and even where the name “Kutzky” came from.
Unfortunately, the Library’s original copies of these irreplaceable, sometimes hundred-year-old-plus documents have deteriorated from use through the years. Very few copies of them are in existence anywhere.  Thanks to a generous donation from the Rochester Public Library Foundation (RPLF) and an enthusiastic volunteer, these volumes are not only being saved from further wear and tear, but are also being made available digitally to historians (and the merely curious) via the Library’s website.
A digital book scanner was purchased in 2011 with RPLF funds. This machine allows scanning of pages very easily, without harming the book’s spine.  Images can be saved in a variety of quality levels and formats (such as .pdf, .jpg. or .tif).  Once scanned, these images can then be run through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program to convert the image to text and become a searchable document that can be read online. This scanner is available for public use and is located on the second floor of the library—a flash drive is needed to save the scans.
Bryan Graves, the son of Ginny and John Graves, is the library volunteer who faithfully comes twice a week to scan books and documents for the library so they can be loaded onto the Internet. 
For the past three years, Bryan has participated in Supported Employment, a program of PossAbilities of Southern Minnesota.  Since he likes to hang out at Barnes & Noble in his free time, he approached his job coach, Sharon, about working at the Library.  Sharon met with Rochester Public Library’s volunteer coordinator, Marilyn Campbell, to find a project for Bryan. His first library task was to re-label thousands of magazines so issues could be checked out.  With the assistance of Hilary, Katie, and Kim, his current job coaches, Bryan was able to move to the scanning project when the magazines were finished.
Because of Bryan’s desire for perfection and his ease with repetition, he is especially suited to scanning projects.  Bryan carefully scans each page ; the straighter the scan, the better the OCR program will convert to correct text. A single directory may have over 600 pages. That’s a lot of scanning!
Because he can use the new book scanner, push the buttons and work on a computer, Bryan thinks the scanning project is much more enjoyable than labeling magazines or his sometime job at the PossAbilities center, shredding paper.
Bryan lived in North Carolina before moving to Rochester 13 years ago.  He is a John Marshall graduate who loves animation, especially the original Bugs Bunny cartoons and the older Transformers films.
Bryan is doing something the Library couldn’t afford to do without his help.  To have the directories professionally prepared would cost about $320 per book.  Bryan is making a valuable contribution to preserving the history of the community and making it available worldwide.
City directories from 1873 to 1929 are available from the Public Library website as well as some histories of Olmsted County from 1866 and 1910.  Plans are to add additional directories when copyright permits, it as well as various other historical Rochester and library related documents.
Search and view this digital history collection at

Murals in the Library

by Heidi Preslicka

It was almost two years ago that we received a phone call from a library requesting to have a mural for their children’s section. This would be our first library job, and we were thrilled. After creating murals in several day cares, dentist offices, activity centers, and homes, Greg was ready for the creativity and challenge that a library mural would offer.
My name is Heidi Preslicka; my husband is Greg Preslicka, a Minnesota artist. He creates large-scale wall murals that grace almost 50 rooms throughout Minnesota. We work together to run our small business. Greg creates the artwork, and I do the bookkeeping, marketing, and project management. For twenty years we have worked together in our graphic design studio in our home. However, three years ago, when the economy started to affect our business, we needed more work. We decided Greg should try painting wall murals in our children’s rooms. He has been doing art all his life, so this work wasn’t far off from his experience. The murals’ large-scale offered a new challenge for Greg. The murals turned out great and so,  “The Big Picture” was born. Greg created a logo, a website, and I got to work marketing our business. Now, Greg enjoys the balance of working at his computer doing graphic design AND getting out of the office to do what he truly loves – painting. Now, over one third of our work is murals.

Murals can transform a space – whether it is an office, library, daycare, school, fitness studio, a bedroom, or a child’s play room. Murals bring a little bit more fun to a place that is already fun. Recently, Greg completed a large mural in the skyway connecting the Rochester Public Library and the parking ramp. Greg enjoys painting murals in libraries. Not only is he a huge fan of reading, but his job also requires him to keep his imagination flowing and reading helps this process. Greg enjoys children’s books, and he has even written and illustrated several books for our children. His favorite books are non-fiction, but he has recently been enjoying some fiction as well and has also been enjoying the library’s new audio book system.
Since our first library job two years ago, Greg has brought his talent to many Minnesota libraries. A library is the perfect place for a mural; a place where you can enjoy a vast variety of information, learn a new hobby, and read stories. It is a place where your imagination can flow, a place to escape and enjoy. Libraries offer a chance to learn about almost anything in the world – all in one place. The decor in a library should reflect what a library has to offer, this being: history, culture, imagination, relaxation, beauty or a combination of these. Libraries have a similar look with the rows of shelving, but murals are a way to break up the monotony and provide a unique look, making it a more exciting place to venture into. Children love libraries; and adding murals makes it even more special for children and adults. Greg’s murals give you a sense of being in another place. Libraries can take you away to another world with all they have to offer through reading. Greg’s murals do the same and add to this wonderment, whether the mural is of outer space, a tropical island, underwater world, a serene forest, or in the case of the Rochester Skyway mural – a view of the vast diversity within the town of Rochester.

Murals are awe-inspiring and have generated a huge response within every town that Greg has worked. Greg feels honored to create a new work of art each time and he enjoys the process every step of the way. The process begins with meeting our client and discussing their vision. Sometimes our clients do not have a vision, but Greg walks them through these early steps and guides them into a direction they would like to go. After the first meeting Greg creates computer-generated layouts and with his computer, he super-imposes these images into photos of the space. With these images, the layouts appear as if the mural has already been created, giving our clients a chance to make the best choice for their space. Occasionally, our clients wish to see more and Greg will go back to the sketch-pad and computer. He wants our clients to love their mural and he’ll make changes to layouts until they are happy. Sometimes Greg works with a larger group of people. When working with a library board or a committee at a business there are many opinions and ideas that float around. Greg is able to work with a group and bring the discussion back to the goals of the mural and how those goals are going to be best achieved. He helps to guide the group to develop a design that is enjoyed by everyone.
We have received many testimonials about the impact that the murals have had on the businesses we have worked with. It has been an overwhelming response. Those testimonials make this job even more fun. We hope you’ve been able to see the mural both in the skyway and in the children’s section of the Rochester Public Library. Thank you Rochester Public Library for supporting our business and for giving Greg the opportunity to contribute to the beautification of Rochester.
Greg painted two murals in the Rochester Public Library – check out the photos on our Flickr account! Below is a small sample of other murals Greg has painted. Visit The Big Picture to see more of his work.

Available at the Library!

We’ve come a long way since the library started.

Miss Edna

This is Miss Edna, Rochester’s first librarian. In her day, paper books were all the library had available for check out.
But now…
Now we have more than just paper books; we have electronic books! Books on CD and cassette and even books that you can download from the internet. Books! Books! Books!

But wait, there’s more!
The library: it’s not just about books anymore.

In our library catalog, we have:

DVDs and VHS videos: documentaries, feature films, exercise videos, do-it-yourself topics, music concerts, Bollywood, independent and international films, etc.
Music on CD, cassette and even downloadable. We also have musical scores.
Mp3 players are available to check out. The library has a download station for use with these or your personal Mp3 players or ebook readers to download electronic material.
CD-ROMs including games for children that are both entertaining and educational, house and landscape design, keyboarding skills, do-it-yourself, etc.
Storytime Kits do contain books but they also are full of thematic toys, games, puzzles, puppets, flannel board stories, etc.
Wii and Play Station games have become quite popular items to check out.
Hand-held engravers to put your name on personal tools or other belongings.
Electric meters to find out how much electricity appliances in your household use. You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even an entire year. You can also check the quality of your power by monitoring voltage, line frequency and power factor. Now you’ll know if it’s time for a new refrigerator or it that old air conditional is still saving you money.

On our website we have access to lots of electronic resources:

  • Auto Repair information,
  • Learn Spanish, German, etc.
  • Take practice tests
  • Get company profiles
  • Search your family history
  • Job Searching links
  • Homework Help
  • etc

In the library building we have

Events for all ages. There are storytimes, music concerts, author visits, game nights, book groups, movies, classes, etc scheduled throughout the year.
Microfilm readers to research old newspapers. Digital scanners make it possible to send the information you find on the microfilm to your email address.
Multiple Internet Stations are located in three areas of the library.
Word Processing computers that have Microsoft Office installed for paper writing or presentation creation, spreadsheets, etc. One of these word processing computers is connected to a scanner and has Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 installed for photo editing.
The Adaptive Workstation allows patrons who are blind or have low vision access to the internet.
Meeting rooms area available for rent.
Quiet Study rooms for one to two people to use at a time. There is also a  larger Quiet study area on second floor, right next to the stairs.
A variety of magazines and newspapers, both in print and online, are available to read both in and out of the library.
So, the next time you think that a library is just about books, think again.

How Reading Changed My Life

by Kamala Nair
Kamala NairWhen I was a child, my parents made a rule that neither my sister nor I were allowed to watch television during the weekdays. At first we railed against their injustice. The thought of being the only kid at school who didn’t know what happened on yesterday’s episode of Saved by the Bell seemed unbearable. But when the realization that arguing was futile eventually sank in, I began to seek entertainment elsewhere.
I had always loved reading, but now that watching television after homework was no longer an option, books became an obsession, one my parents encouraged. Although I have remained a passionate reader into adulthood, nothing compares to the sense of magic and wonder of immersing myself in a story as a child. Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Secret Garden, Chronicles of Narnia. These are only a few of the works that captivated my imagination, books that made it easy to completely lose myself in another world to the point where I’d feel disoriented when I finally surfaced, eager to dive back in.
The television ban was lifted on weekends and during summer vacations, and I happily partook in Saturday morning cartoon time like most other kids. But watching stories unfold on a screen had lost some of its appeal, and I began to spend more time with my nose buried in a book. The pleasure of a cartoon or sitcom was fleeting, I discovered, whereas books stretched out over the course of days or weeks, and resonated in my heart long after the last word had been read. I often returned to my favorite stories, reading them over and over again until the pages were fragile and dog-eared.
We moved two times over the course of my childhood, first from upstate New York to Vermont, then from Vermont to Minnesota. We also spent three months living in Sweden when I was ten. During those years of shifting landscapes, people, and cultures, books became my one constant. We arrived in Rochester the summer before I started eighth grade, and I didn’t have a single friend. I remember checking out The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck from the library, and falling under its spell. I devoured it in a few short days, and returned for more. I ended up reading every book Buck had ever written over the course of those few months before school started, and even though it was a difficult period, having just said goodbye to the friends and life I had established back in Vermont, the joy of reading made that summer a surprisingly pleasant one.
My love of reading transitioned into a desire to write. From a very early age, I learned that writing was a wonderful source of entertainment. I could create my own world and make my characters do whatever I wanted. It was a heady feeling. As I grew older, I approached writing with a more serious attitude. In sixth grade I had a poem published in a small journal, and in eighth grade I won a statewide short story contest. These achievements encouraged me, and helped me realize that writing was something I might be able to pursue as a career. I wanted to make some kind of difference, and I decided the most valuable contribution I could make would be to add beauty to the world through literature. If I could bring as much joy to even a handful of people as the books I had read throughout my childhood had given to me, it would be enough.
My first novel, The Girl in the Garden, just hit shelves. I have no doubt that my love of reading is what inspired me to pursue the goal of writing a novel. I’m so grateful to my parents for encouraging us to read instead of spending hours in front of the television. If it hadn’t been for that rule, I might be living a very different life today.