Near the top right of the front page of the ECRL website is a blue square that says "MnKnows DIG DEEPER @ YOUR LIBRARY." Go ahead, select it, see what amazing tools are behind it: history, news, magazines, encyclopedias, real-time contact with a live librarian, even a research paper planning guide for students. Now before you think, hey, this stuff is all available free on the Internet, why is this tied to the library or even local or state library funding -- well, the answer is that it's not free! The parts that make up AskMN are funded through library-marked funding streams* and when you click on the blue AskMN box, you only gain access because you are connecting from within a Minnesota public library region. Most Minnesota Internet providers are known by the components of AskMN, and automatically authenticate your access. There are some that may not automatically authenticate, and for those, you will be asked for your library card number. So, starting at the top of AskMN, here's what you'll find:
MnLiNK Gateway - This button will get you books, DVDs, or CDs from across Minnesota. If your local library doesn't have it on the shelf, it's a good bet that another library may loan it to you, and will send it to your local library via the Minitex and ECRL delivery network. You will need your library card number to make requests. Please check the ECRL catalog (link on the left side of the website) before placing a MnLINK request, since if the item is owned by ECRL, your MnLINK request will not be filled.
ELM the Electronic Library of Minnesota - Here you'll find magazines, newspapers, even the Encyclopedia Britannica in multiple versions, from Elementary School through the Academic Edition. Read the New York Times, Star Tribune from 1867 up until current, or the Wall Street Journal. There are magazines and journals as diverse as business journals, home and craft magazines or children's publications. The Points of View Reference Center is an excellent resource for students in critical thinking or debate.
Minnesota Reflections - This project of the Minnesota Digital Library is almost 8 years old. The collection brings you more than 80,000 images, maps and documents from more than 125 of the state's cultural heritage organizations. This site offers resources on Minnesota's history and geography for researchers, educators, students, and the public.
AskMN the Librarian Is In - Connect with a librarian from one of the participating libraries (including Minnesota) through real-time chat any time 24/7.
Research Project Calculator - Guides students through development and production of research projects and recently added History Day guidance and lesson plans for teachers.
AskMN and its components are brought to you by:
*Your library or school media center, who partners with libraries across Minnesota
*Minitex, an information and resource sharing program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and University of Minnesota Libraries
*State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education
*Federal LSTA funds under the support of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
*Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state's constitution.