Category Archives: Books & Reading

The Letters About Literature Contest is Still Open!

A reminder that the Nebraska Letters About Literature reading and writing contest is open through the end of December. Each letter must be submitted via the Letters About Literature online platform for Nebraska on the NCB website.

Young readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the Nebraska Letters about Literature (LAL) contest, a state reading and writing promotion program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre-fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic-explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s view of the world. Submissions must be completed online October 1- December 31, 2022. Nebraska Letters About Literature is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Lincoln City Libraries, Humanities Nebraska, and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

The Nebraska Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select a winner and an honorable mention per competition level (Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8, and Level III for grades 9-12) to be honored in a proclamation-signing ceremony at the state capitol during National Library Week in April 2022. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. Nebraska winners and honorable mentions will receive state prizes.

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download the contest guidelines, free teaching materials, information on the online entry system, and past winning letters on the Nebraska Center for the Book website. A recording of the informational NCompass Live webinar on November 3rd, discussing this year’s contest, is available online. For more information contact Nebraska Center for the Book.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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“The Mystery of Hunting’s End” Chosen as 2023 One Book One Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 24, 2022

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

The Mystery of Hunting’s End Chosen as 2023 One Book One Nebraska

People across Nebraska are encouraged to read the work of a Nebraskan — and then talk about it with their friends and neighbors. The Mystery of Hunting’s End (Bison Books, 1998) by Mignon Eberhart is the 2023 One Book One Nebraska selection.

The Mystery of Hunting’s End is a 1930s chiller, inspired and set in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, where Mignon G. Eberhart lived as a newlywed. Smack in the middle of the rolling desolation is Hunting’s End, a weekend lodge owned by the rich Kingery family. To that place socialite Matil Kingery invites a strange collection of guests — the same people who were at the lodge when her father died of “heart failure” exactly five years ago. She intends to find out which one of them murdered him. The selection committee for the 2023 One Book One Nebraska enjoyed the concept of a mystery. This is a book that keeps the reader guessing as to who is behind the murders taking place in a lodge outside of Valentine during a blizzard. Why were these murders committed, are any of the guests staying at the lodge safe, and who is the killer? The book is full of colorful characters, including Nurse Sarah Keate and detective Lance O’Leary. The reader is challenged to find clues that will lead to the discovery of who is the guilty party. Mignon G. Eberhart was born and raised in Lincoln, NE. She had a long and celebrated career, writing a total of 59 novels, earning her the Grand Master Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She died at the age of ninety-seven in 1996. 

Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events that will encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. Support materials to assist with local reading/discussion activities will be available after January 1, 2023 at http://onebook.nebraska.gov. Updates and activity listings will be posted on the One Book One Nebraska Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/onebookonenebraska.

2023 will mark the nineteenth year of the One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. The Nebraska Center for the Book invites recommendations for One Book One Nebraska book selection year-round at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/obon-nomination.asp.

One Book One Nebraska is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. The Nebraska Center for the Book brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at and supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Shortlist for 2023 One Book One Nebraska Announce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 14, 2022

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Shortlist for 2023 One Book One Nebraska Announced

What book will all Nebraskans be encouraged to read in 2023? We will all find out on October 22nd at the Celebration of Nebraska Books. Two generational family novels by a Nebraska authors, a nonfiction work on POW camps in Nebraska, a mystery set in the Sand Hills —all stories with ties to Nebraska and the Great Plains—are the finalists for the 2023 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The finalists are:

  • Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph, Bison Books, 2013.
  • The Mystery of Hunting’s End by Mignon Eberhart, Bison Books, 1998.
  • Nebraska POW Camps: A History of World War II Prisoners in the Heartland by Melissa Amateis Marsh, The History Press (Arcadia Publishing), 2014.
  • The Plain Sense of Things by Pamela Carter Joern, Bison Books, 2008.

The One Book One Nebraska reading program, now in its nineteenth year, is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss the same book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. A Nebraska Center for the Book committee selected the three finalists from a list of twenty-eight titles nominated by Nebraskans. In the coming weeks, Nebraska Center for the Book board members will vote on the 2023 selection.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books, on October 22nd, will also honor winners of the 2022 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The 2022 Mildred Bennett Award will be presented to Lois Todd-Meyer. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The 2022 Jane Geske Award will be presented to the Nebraska Writers Collective, a Nebraska organization known for exceptional contributions to literacy, books, reading, libraries, and literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska.

Nebraskans are invited to take part in the Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 22nd, at the Nebraska History Museum in downtown Lincoln, where the choice for the 2023 One Book One Nebraska will be announced. This year’s One Book One Nebraska selection will be featured in a key note presentation by author Jonis Agee on her novel The Bones of Paradise (William Morrow, 2018.) See http://onebook.nebraska.gov or https://www.facebook.com/OneBookOneNebraska for more information about ongoing 2022 One Book One Nebraska activities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books will include readings by the winners of the 2022 Nebraska Book Awards,with book signings by the authors after the event. A list of Nebraska Book Award winners is posted at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards.html. The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission with support from History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum. Humanities Nebraska provides support for the One Book One Nebraska keynote presentation.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Celebrate Nebraska’s 2022 Book Award Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 19, 2022

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2022 Book Award Winners

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2022 Book Award winners with author readings and an awards presentation ceremony at the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books. Held at the Nebraska History Museum on October 22nd, winners of the 2022 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators of books with a Nebraska connection published in 2021. And the winners are:

Children’s Best Continuing Series: George Meets His Match by Kristin Bauer Ganoung, illustrated by K. E. Gadeken. Publisher: Prairieland Press

Youth Book: Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds by Alison Pearce Stevens, illustrated by Matt Huynh. Publisher: Godwin Books, Henry Holt Company

Cover and Design: After One Hundred Winters: In Search of Reconciliation on America’s Stolen Lands by Margaret D. Jacobs. Publisher: Princeton University Press

Illustration: Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds by Alison Pearce Stevens, illustrated by Matt Huynh. Publisher: Godwin Books, Henry Holt Company

Fiction: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert. Publisher: Doubleday

Nonfiction Biography: The Only Wonderful Things: The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis by Melissa J. Homestead. Publisher: Oxford University Press

Nonfiction Biography Honor: Time in the Wilderness: The Formative Years of John “Black Jack” Pershing in the American West by Dr. Tim McNeese. Publisher: Potomac Books

Nonfiction Health and Fitness: Fuel Your Body: How to Cook and Eat for Peak Performance by Angie Asche. Publisher: Agate Publishing

Nonfiction Natural History: Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds by Alison Pearce Stevens, illustrated by Matt Huynh. Publisher: Godwin Books, Henry Holt Company

Nonfiction Nebraska as Place: Nebraska Golf: Out of the Shadows by Stu Pospisil. Publisher: Omaha World Herald

Nonfiction Popular History: Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen. Publisher: Workman Publishing Company

Poetry: The Way of Things by Shannon Vesely. Publisher: Rogue Faculty Press

Poetry Honor: Unholy Heart by Grace Bauer. Publisher: The Backwaters Press

Special Poetry: More in Time: A Tribute to Ted Kooser by Jessica Poli, Marco Abel, Timothy Schaffert. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

The Celebration of Nebraska Books, on October 22nd, will also honor winners of the 2022 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The Jane Geske Award is presented to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska.

The 2022 One Book One Nebraska selection, The Bones of Paradise: A Novel by Jonis Agee (William Morrow, 2016) will be featured in a keynote presentation by the author. The introduction of the 2023 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Great Reads from Great Places Online Panel with Nebraska’s Astronaut Clayton Anderson

Letters in Space by Astronaut Clayton Anderson was chosen to represent Nebraska at the 2022 National Book Festival. Nebraska’s Great Reads from Great Places book was chosen from its 2021 Nebraska Book Award winners.

Author Clayton Anderson took part in an online panel conversation with other chosen authors from state Centers for the Book in the Midwest Region. He talked about his book, what inspired him, what he likes most about Nebraska, and more.

Astronaut Clayton Anderson is Nebraska’s only Astronaut. He spent 167 days in space and 38 hours and 28 minutes in executing 6 spacewalks. He applied 15 times before NASA selected him as an Astronaut in 1998. He spent 30 years working for NASA, 15 as an engineer and then 15 as an Astronaut.

Astronaut Clayton “Astro Clay” Anderson is the author of three children’s books; Letters from Space, A is for Astronaut: Blasting through the Alphabet, and It’s a Question of Space: An Ordinary Astronaut’s Answers to Sometimes Extraordinary Questions, and his award winning memoir, The Ordinary Spaceman.

Find out more about Astro Clay and his current and upcoming books at www.AstroClay.com. Follow him on social media @Astro_Clay

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Check out the Library of Congress’ YouTube channel for other videos from the 2022 National Book Festival.

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Sherry Preston: Reviewing “The Bones of Paradise” by Jonis Agee

by Sherry Preston | Gering Courier

Have you read “The Bones of Paradise” by Jonis Agee? What did you think of it? Every year Nebraskans are encouraged to read a specific book to facilitate a common topic of discussion. We are fortunate enough to have this year’s author visit the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Aug. 25 at 1:30 p.m. to share in our community discussion. Everyone is welcome to come listen to Agee speak.

Jonis Agee’s book “The Bones of Paradise” was chosen as the 2022 One Book One Nebraska selection. Agee is the Adele Hall Chair of English at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and has written several books. Her works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories. Agee received the Nebraska Book Award twice and authored three different titles honored as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

“The Bones of Paradise” begins with two murders, which don’t seem to be connected. As the story continues, it moves in and out of the present day at the family’s ranch in the 1900s through recent history at 1890 Wounded Knee. It also delves into some of the characters’ pasts. The main characters in “The Bones of Paradise” are complex and sometimes make choices that readers may find confounding.

The timeline moves through various characters and a number of storylines. This style of writing is necessary to reveal the backstory so the reader can fully understand the current events. The characters include ranchers and ranch hands as well as some Lakota folks. The plot hinges on how they all came to be in the story.

Agee teaches creative writing, and it comes through in her books. Her writing is descriptive and more literary than plot-driven.

“She stooped to pick a wild pink rose, avoiding the tiny spines that slivered like unseen glass hairs onto one’s fingers. There was little scent, but the creamy softness of the petals like the insides of a dog’s ear more than made up for it. She placed one on her tongue, and imagined she could taste the hills, the bittersweet tang of life.”

Agee’s specialties are lyrical description and a firm sense of place. This book takes place in the sandhills, somewhere south of Valentine, Nebraska. She has a knack for vivid description.

“To the right was a vast blue lake, the surrounding marsh alive with birds feeding and mating. The air bore the moist scent of water, so blue it put the distant white-blue sky to shame. She shaded her eyes to stare at the lake where pelicans floated peacefully. Nearby a pair of swans stretched their long necks searching the waters for food, and farther on, ducks dove and flapped, green necks glistening in the sun.”

At the heart of this lyrical book is a mystery, but western fans might enjoy it as well.

If you like a book that keeps you turning pages, this one might not be for you. “The Bones of Paradise” by Jonis Agee would not pass the grandma test, due to some coarse language. Agee has written a number of books. We have four novels and a collection of short stories on the fiction shelf at the Gering Public Library.

August 3, 2022 | starherald.com

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Books Chosen to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 1, 2022

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Books Chosen to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

“Letters from Space” and “The Bones of Paradise” chosen for the National Center for the Book’s Great Reads from Great Places program

The Nebraska Center for the Book has selected one youth book and one adult book by Nebraska authors to represent the state at the 2022 National Book Festival: Letters from Space by Clayton Anderson, illustrated by Susan Batori and The Bones of Paradise: A Novel by Jonis Agee.

Both titles will be part of the National Center for the Book’s Great Reads from Great Places program. Great Reads from Great Places features books and authors representing the literary heritage of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Marianas. For over 20 years this program has included a highlighted youth title from each affiliate center. In 2022, Great Reads from Great Places is including titles for adults for the first time.

This year’s National Book Festival on Sept. 3 will be held in-person in Washington, D.C., but will include many livestreamed and recorded virtual programs celebrating books and authors. Author Clayton Anderson will take part in an online panel conversation with other chosen authors from state Centers for the Book in the Midwest Region to talk about his book and what inspired him, what he likes most about Nebraska, and more.

This and other panel discussions will be posted toward the end of August on the National Book Festival website and the Library of Congress’s YouTube channel.

About the Books

Letters from Space

Written by a real life Astronaut, these letters from space are full of weird science, wild facts, and outrageous true stories from life in space, complete with hysterical illustrations from Susan Batori. The back of the book includes even more interesting information on space, astronauts, and living among the stars.

A starred review in School Library Journal reads: “With a final page of facts about NASA, astronauts, and living in space, this must-purchase entertains with a combination of zany art, humor, and solid facts for fascinated young readers craving space travel even the armchair kind.”

Nebraska’s Great Reads from Great Places book is chosen from the previous year’s Nebraska Book Award winners and this book was awarded the 2021 Nebraska Book Award in the Children’s Picture Book category.

The Bones of Paradise

A multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee—it is an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.

Chosen as the 2022 One Book One Nebraska selection, libraries across Nebraska and other literary and cultural organizations have participated in book discussions, activities, and events that encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.  

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”  

About the Authors

Astronaut Clayton Anderson

Nebraska’s only Astronaut, spent 167 days in space and 38 hours and 28 minutes in executing 6 spacewalks. He applied 15 times before NASA selected him as an Astronaut in 1998; and he spent 30 years working for NASA, 15 as an engineer and then 15 as an Astronaut.

Succeeding in one of the most difficult and coveted jobs in the world through perseverance and a never-give-up mantra, Anderson employs NASA’s “Plan, Train and Fly (Execute)” philosophy to all his speaking engagements and projects. Coupled with lessons learned in the areas of leadership, persistence, and passion, he provides unique and “out of this world” insights for those seeking to achieve practical execution.

Astronaut Clayton “Astro Clay” Anderson is the author of three children’s books; Letters from Space, A is for Astronaut: Blasting through the Alphabet, and It’s a Question of Space: An Ordinary Astronaut’s Answers to Sometimes Extraordinary Questions, and his award winning memoir, The Ordinary Spaceman.  You can find out more about Astro Clay and his current and upcoming books at www.AstroClay.com. Follow him on social media @Astro_Clay

Jonis Agee

Agee was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Nebraska and Missouri, places where many of her stories and novels are set. In all, she is the author of thirteen books, including five novels, five collections of short fiction, and two books of poetry.

Agee’s novels include The Weight of Dreams (Viking Adult, 1999,) South of Resurrection (Viking Audlt, 1997,) Sweet Eyes (Crown, 1991,) and The River Wife (Random House, 2007.) She’s the Adele Hall Professor of English at The University of Nebraska — Lincoln, where she teaches creative writing and twentieth-century fiction.

Agee is married to the writer Brent Spencer. They live in Ponca Hills, which is on the Missouri River, north of Omaha.

“I own twenty pairs of cowboy boots (some of them works of art), love the open road, and believe that ecstasy and hard work are the basic ingredients of life and writing.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases .

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July Events

Happy first day of July!

It’s a new month full of new opportunities and events for you to enjoy! Check out the NCB Calendar to see a list of events happening near you and across the state of Nebraska.

The location, date, and time of these events are subject to change. Some events may require prior registration or charge a fee.

Feel free to contact us if there are any events that you think should be featured on the NCB Calendar!

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Literary Events in June 2022

June 2022 is coming fast! If you’re looking for something to do in the coming month, check out the NCB Calendar! See what literary events are happening near you.

The time, date, and location of these events are subject to change. Some events, workshops, or conferences may charge a fee or require prior registration.

Contact us if you have an event that you would like to be featured on the NCB Calendar!

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2023 One Book One Nebraska Nominations

You can have a say in what we read for One Book One Nebraska! The selection committee can’t consider a book unless it’s been nominated, so make sure you fill out the Online Nomination Form by June 15th!
Books must meet the following criteria:
1. Written by a Nebraska author, or has a Nebraska setting
2. Is in print
3. Is an adult title (Children/YA books are not considered)

Note: Titles only need to be nominated a single time to be considered by the selection committee.
Multiple nominations for the same title do not carry additional weight in the evaluation process.

Nominations received after the deadline will be considered for the following year.
Suggestions can also be e-mailed to: nlc.ask@nebraska.gov.

More information about One Book One Nebraska at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/onebook.html 

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