Awards & Scholarships

National Medal for Museum and Library Service

It has been a big, huge, enormous, gigantic, week at Rochester (MN) Public Library. After our second year of being named a finalist , we are honored to be a winner of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Service! Let that soak in. And then read it again: We are honored to be a winner of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Service! That is a great sentence, but it is nowhere near the whole story. This award is the result of years of listening to our community, living our strategic plan & core values, being agile, taking risks, failing, succeeding, measuring outcomes, and listening some more. We strive to increase equity by targeting services to those who have limited access due to language, finances, health, safety, literacy, or other…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Balancing Act

I will admit that I am a sucker for planners, calendars, and any book that promises to help me organize my life. And yes, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and my sock drawer looks amazing. While I would recommend Marie Kondo’s book if you are looking for inspiration to de-clutter, today I’m recommending a title that will help you with not only clutter, but also with that nebulous thing called work-life balance: The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Christine Carter. While you are welcome to sit down and read the book cover to cover, Carter recommends dipping into the book where you need it most. Included throughout are proven strategies for taking charge of yourself and your life by backing away from busy and overwhelm, figuring out what is most important to you, and focusing there to create a more satisfying and…

Blogger Heather Acerro

RPL’s ArtCart: Spinning Creativity

Back in April, when we were looking forward to the start of summer in Minnesota, Rochester Public Library introduced a new ArtCart. The ArtCart complements our 2015 Local Government Innovation Award-winning BookBike, a bicycle pulled trailer that provides access to books and DVDs, library cards, and advisory services within downtown and in nearby low-income neighborhoods. Over summer 2017 the ArtCart, an art room on wheels, traveled alongside the BookBike bringing fun and creative activities to the community.         Some of our favorite art activities included: Flyswatter Painting Salad Spinner Art Q-Tip Pointilism Collaborative Community Mural Chalk Art Solar Prints From easy and cheap to fairly complicated and expensive, the projects changed out on a two-week rotation in order to keep the ArtCart fresh and interesting for repeat customers. We made 74 stops over the summer months and had 3,672 visitors! We surveyed our customers and found that:…

Blogger Heather Acerro


At PLA 2016, I attended the “How Two Libraries Quit Summer Reading and You Can, Too” program with the real hope (deep in my heart) that I would never, ever, ever do a summer reading program (SRP) again. You already know where this is going. That program title was a trick to get me in the door, but the presentation was full of good stuff that re-invigorated my team to finally make the changes to our SRP that we had been imagining for years. That PLA session was the inspiration that made us examine everything we were doing and start over. Let’s begin with a tour of the past. Our SRP wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a team effort, but rather a task on someone’s to-do list. Since SRP isn’t an easy program for one person to put together, we knew this was a practice that needed to change. Also,…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Getting Logical

Late last year the Rochester Public Library (MN) administrative team worked with a consultant from Wilder Research to develop a logic model. I know what you are thinking: What is that and who even cares? But if you stay with me for a minute, maybe I can sell you on this wonderful tool for tracking outcomes. Yes, outcomes! Those nebulous, seemingly impossible to track things that prove what the library does changes or benefits the community. It has felt in the past that it is best to leave tracking outcomes to the academics, but with a simple and straightforward logic model, even the smallest community library can get tracking. A logic model is essentially  – everything that your organization is doing, everything that you want to know about how your organization is doing, and everything that you hope will change because of what your organization is doing –  all in…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Program in a Post: Captain Underpants Celebration!

With this post, a little money, and mostly paper (much of it toilet paper), you can throw a toilet-tastic Captain Underpants Celebration! Activities: Dirty Diaper Toss – Create some dirty diapers (we used paint and beanbags to fill them) and have kids toss them into a toilet (we used a new toilet seat over a bucket). Create Your Own Comics – Put out a bunch of comic blanks and invite kids to write and draw their own comics. Toilet Paper Contests – Invite kids to work together to create the tallest toilet paper tower or race against each other to build a tower the fastest. Belch the Alfabet Bakwards – A little root beer goes a long way. Fart Zones – Create some signage indicating fart zones and no fart zones. Little kids love practicing their reading on funny words! Poopify Your Name! – Have kids create nametags with their…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth

On May 15th, educators from University of Minnesota Extension visited Rochester Public Library (MN) to deliver the workshop “Lessons from the Field: Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth” to 77 youth workers from the area. This workshop focused on providing gender-inclusive environments in order to support healthy habits and positive body image for transgender youth. You’ve seen the statistics for transgender youth, so you know they are at great risk of harassment, assault, homelessness, and substance abuse. For transgender youth, having supportive adults and a safe environment can improve their well-being considerably. The report discussed yesterday is brand new and provides background information as well as steps that you can take as a youth worker. To read the report visit University of Minnesota Extension: Children, Youth & Family Consortium and click on Children’s Mental Heath eReview: Transgender Youth. Some more library tips for serving LGBTQIA youth and families can be…

Blogger Heather Acerro

RPL ArtCart: Rochester’s New Art Movement

Following two wildly successful seasons with our BookBike outreach program, Rochester Public Library (MN) is delighted to launch our new ArtCart program! The ArtCart will travel alongside our BookBike this summer bringing amazing art activities, including: Watercolors Community murals Bubble prints Solar prints Shadow tracing Scratch art Frisbee art and more! The ArtCart is essentially a table on wheels with a storage box underneath. We will be able to carry all kinds of art supplies and giveaways all over town this summer. We can’t wait to tell you more about this exciting adventure – but first we have to spend some time out there arting it up with the community. For more information about our BookBike program, check out this post or this post.