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Author Archives: Mary Jo Ryan
Friday Reads: Leaving the Pink House: A Memoir, by Ladette Randolph
The voyeur in me loves to read a good memoir and to snoop through other people’s houses. Even though I may talk a lot about the recent Masterpiece Theatre public television offering, House Hunters is one of my secret guilty pleasures. Leaving the Pink House: A Memoir by Ladette Randolph offers both the great memoir and the opportunity to poke around in various houses that the author lived in throughout her life. And it offers a lot more. I’ve read other books by this author so I was prepared for her careful, sparse, lovely writing. I might not have been prepared for how much the story of her life grabbed me and touched me.
I devoured the sections of the book that detail the remodeling project that compelled Randolph and her husband to leave the pink house (their previous remodeling project). The realistic descriptions of the planning, decision-making, and execution required in the remaking of their country home seem to mirror the internal remaking that was going on in their family. And anyone that has undertaken a home remodel can identify with that. Not to get all “pop-psychology” here, but our images of house and home really might reflect our sense of self—as suggested by Freudian and Jungian dream analysis.
“Renovating a house requires intimacy with a building. By time you’ve stripped wallpaper, pulled up carpets, removed cabinets, washed, sanded, and painted walls and woodwork, you know the lines and features of a house as you might the body of a lover. Our level of approaching intimacy with the country house, though, was less like that of a lover than like that of a forensic scientist.” (P. 61)*
I love that the sections on the remodeling project are interspersed with chapters that inform us about the author by reflecting on her life in previous homes. On the surface, the story seems to progress through the various homes that Randolph inhabited throughout her life, but below the surface she explores the relationships those homes sheltered and the different person she was as she lived in each of those homes. I know the author—a little bit—and I confess that might make this memoir even more enticing. I only know her as a snapshot in time. The revelation of her past life in the chapters of this book really surprised me. It reminded me that we may not really know that much about our acquaintances and colleagues. It reminded me that delving into another person’s life can uncover depths of beauty, but sadness too. Learning about another person’s journey can help us examine our own. Could that be the real appeal of House Hunters?
*Leaving the Pink House: A Memoir, by Ladette Randolph, University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2014)
Nebraska Library Commission staff look forward to joining Nebraska librarians at the upcoming NE Library Association Public Library and Trustee Section Spring Meetings: April 22 in Alliance, April 23 in Kearney, and April 24 in Columbus. Presenter Valerie Gross, President and CEO of the Howard County Library System in Maryland, will help us examine the strategy of aligning our libraries with the educational mission of our communities to help us tell the story of “Who We Are, What We Do, Why It Matters: Why Nebraska Needs Libraries More than Ever!”
We’ll be staffing a table to share materials to help you reposition your library as a community education resource and your library staff as educators, including:
Books Are Just the Beginning…check out this blog that can direct any Nebraskan to your library and help illustrate the many ways libraries function as educational resources at http://booksarejustthebeginning.com/
Online Self-Directed Education…learn about Skillsoft online classes funded by the Nebraska Library Commission to help train library staff to serve as community educators (http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ce/), United for Libraries (http://www.ala.org/united/nebraska) resources funded by the Nebraska Library Commission for training Trustees/Friends/Foundations, and the Nebraska Library Commission budget request to provide self-directed education programs for all Nebraska residents through their local library (http://nlc.nebraska.gov/stats/online_selfdirected_education_2015.pdf)
Nebraska eReads…pick up materials to tell your community about downloadable eBook and audio book resources (http://nlc.nebraska.gov/stats/eReads.pdf) or print your own at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/overdrive/overdriveinfo.aspx#mm
Nebraska Memories…find out how these digitized historical and cultural resources can illustrate the role of the library in assisting a variety of learners and researchers of all ages, see http://memories.ne.gov/.
NebraskAccess…check out the posters and business cards that you can print with your library password and share with learners in your community to help reinforce the message of how integral libraries are to the community learning environment—customize and print at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskaccess/promotingdb.aspx
Nebraska Public Libraries are Equalizers…see how statistics can be used to tell the story of how your public library responds to the needs in your community and serves specific target audiences with educational resources, along with instructive and enlightening experiences, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/stats/general_2015.pdf
NCompass E-Newslist…Keep up with news from the Nebraska Library Commission to help you enhance your library’s visibility by signing up to receive our short weekly email at http://eepurl.com/HSkX
Registration now to take part in the Nebraska Library Transitional Leadership Institute scheduled to begin on Monday, August 10, 2015. This Transitional Institute, held at the St. Benedict Retreat Center near Schuyler, will be an intensive five-day session open to previous NE Library Leadership Institute (NELLI) graduates and mentors to begin the process of envisioning what future library leadership development will look like in Nebraska while receiving additional leadership training. A non-refundable $300 fee for participants will be payable upon selection to attend.
The Institute will be facilitated by Becky Schreiber and John Shannon who have worked with the Nebraska Library Leadership Institute for the past fourteen years as well as “Snowbird” in Utah and state institutes in Alaska, California’s esteemed “Eureka!” Leadership Institute, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Australia’s “Aurora.” Schreiber and Shannon have done a great deal of consultation work with libraries, and understand the needs and challenges of the library world; and we are pleased to have them back to help in this transitional year.
Sessions at the Institute will include multi-generational issues, stages of leadership, building your personal brand and your legacy, assertiveness in critical relationships, and building Learning Libraries to encourage innovation. A tentative schedule may be found at http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/nebraskalibraries.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/NLLI/NLLI_Revised_schedule.pdf. On Thursday, August 13, in order to have as much input from those across the state as possible, the Institute will grow to 100 attendees and as we look at the past, present and future of library leadership, celebrate our successes, review current needs and invite additional information for the future vision, including actions required to transition into future leadership development for the state. If you are unable to come for the entire five day institute and would like your voice to be heard in these conversations, please register for the all day Thursday session, lunch included, $40.00 per person.
The Nebraska Library Transitional Leadership Institute is sponsored by the Nebraska Library Association. Funding for the Institute is generously provided by the Nebraska Library Commission, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the University of Nebraska, Omaha, the Nebraska Library Association and other organizations that support library leadership development.
The festival begins at 9:30 a.m. with writing workshops:
- Lucy Adkins: “Poetry and Inspiration: Imaginative Ways to Write Your Best”
- Mary Avidano: “Poems by You.” Attendees are invited to bring a poem they’ve written.
- Traci Robison: “From Draft to Digital: How to Prepare and What to Expect as a Self- Publisher”
- Laura Wiseman: “You’re No Body Until Some Body Loves You: Writing the Body”
Workshop seating is limited and early arrival is recommended. Advance registration is not necessary.
Readings, book sales, and book signings will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. Authors will read and discuss their work, allowing time for questions. Scheduled authors include:
- Mark Langan, Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night
- Marsha Davis, One Man’s Voice
- Sydney Olson, The Curse of the Fates
- John Price, The Tallgrass Prairie Reader
- Timothy Schaffert, The Swan Gondola: A Novel
- Karen Shoemaker, The Meaning of Names
Prior to a 3:45 p.m. reception, the Nebraska Center for the Book will announce the 2015 recipient of the Mildred Bennett Award, recognizing an individual who has made significant contributions to fostering literary tradition in Nebraska.
The festival concludes, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. with the NeBooks Project Student & Teacher Showcase. The NeBooks Project is a partnership between schools, state agencies, and non-profit organizations across Nebraska to provide quality instructional materials. Nebraska students and teachers developed eBooks this school year, with the goal of becoming published authors in the NeBooks Project eBook Library. Attendees will spend the evening learning from these newly published authors, along with special guests. Hear directly from Nebraska students and teachers how they created their iBooks, the struggles that they faced, and what it means to be a published author.
The Bookworm and University of Nebraska Press will offer books by Nebraska authors for sale throughout the event. The Nebraska Book Festival is presented by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. Visit http://bookfestival.nebraska.gov/2015/index.aspx for a complete schedule of free readings and workshops and other information.
Apply now for Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grants. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and American Library Association (ALA) are accepting applications for Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, a public programming initiative for libraries and other cultural institutions.
Latino Americans: 500 Years of History will support the American public’s exploration of the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become, with more than 50 million people, the country’s largest minority group.
The cornerstone of the project is the six-part, NEH-supported documentary film “Latino Americans,” created for PBS in 2013 by the WETA public television station. The award-winning series chronicles Latinos in the United States from the 16th century to present day. (Learn more about the series at www.pbs.org/latino-americans/en/.) The application deadline is May 1. Read the guidelines and apply online at www.ala.org/latinoamericans.
The recipients of the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Tech Week grant have been selected. La Vista Public Library is one of 20 recipients from a pool of 127 applicants were selected to receive Teen Tech Week grants of $1,000 each, funded by Best Buy, to support activities aimed at helping teens build the digital literacy skills they need to be successful in college and careers.
In addition to the grant, the library will receive a gift pack of themed posters and bookmarks, as well as other “making” resources. Other libraries wishing to celebrate Teen Tech Week can sign up on the Teen Tech Week website for access to free digital downloads of themed posters, bookmarks, webinars and other resources. Learn more about making in libraries via the resources on YALSA’s wiki, including a free webinar and downloadable toolkit. Read YALSA’s recent report “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” to learn more about libraries’ role in helping teens extend their learning beyond the classroom in order to gain the digital literacy skills needed for 21st century careers. The report can be accessed at www.ala.org/yaforum.
Teen Tech Week is a national celebration that offers libraries the chance to highlight all of the digital tools, resources and services they offer to teens and their families. It will be celebrated with the theme “Libraries are for Making…” and takes place March 8-14. To learn more about Teen Tech Week, visit www.ala.org/teentechweek, or check out #TTW15 on Twitter. Best Buy is the official sponsor of Teen Tech Week.
Supplemental products related to Teen Tech Week and digital literacy, such as a Makerspace Safety poster, a Good Digital Citizen poster and bookmark and YALSA’s Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week: Tips and Resources for YALSA’s Initiative publication are available for purchase through the ALA Store. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to www.ala.org/yalsa, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: email@example.com.
The Big Read is accepting applications for grants between $2,500 and $20,000. The Big Read supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Nebraska libraries are invited to apply before Jan. 28, 2015. Visit the Application Process page at http://neabigread.org/application_process.php for more information.
Treasurer Don Stenberg and First National Bank of Omaha presented $529 NEST college savings scholarships on October 30 to ten young people, ages 6 to 16, from the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts in the NEST Read to Win $529 Drawing, sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust, First National Bank of Omaha, and the Nebraska Library Commission.
The Lincoln City Libraries received a check for $1,250 in the ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda.
More than 20,000 children and teens were entered in the drawing after completing summer reading programs at their local libraries across the state. Five winners were selected in a random drawing from each of Nebraska’s three U.S. Congressional districts. Each was awarded $529 in a NEST 529 College Savings account, and their respective libraries received $250 each. Winners from the 2nd Congressional District were awarded earlier in October.
First National Bank of Omaha, program manager for NEST, provided the scholarship contributions and the donations to the libraries. A list of winners is available at: http://www.treasurer.org/news/2014/20141030.asp.
Nebraska library staff and board members are encouraged to access a free recorded Webinar, Anatomy of a Successful Library Campaign: Real World Tips for Getting the Funding You Need, at https://ala.adobeconnect.com/_a1087453682/p3ggw7rl5mk/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal. United for Libraries recently recorded a webinar with Libby Post of Communication Services and Doreen Hannon, executive director of the Salem-South Lyon (Mich.) District Library, who discussed the library’s successful millage campaign.
Libraries can also access the free United for Libraries Power Guide for Successful Advocacy, which takes the mystery out of advocacy, provides you with an organized step-by-step approach, and allows you to develop a set of strategies that will motivate your community to pressure funders to support the library or in the case of a referendum or a bond issue – to vote “yes.” Check out the Webinar and other online tools developed thanks to a Neal-Schuman Foundation grant.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), in collaboration with 3D Systems, will support 3D Systems’ mission to build digital literacy and expand access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D Printing and 3D scanning for young adults across the nation, through the new MakerLab Club initiative. YALSA members are eligible to become part of the MakerLab Club and for a limited time, apply for 3D printer donations from 3D Systems as part of MakerLab Club membership.
Through the online application, libraries must illustrate a commitment to creating or expanding makerlabs or maker programming and to providing community access to 3D printers and digital design. Applications will be accepted through Nov. 17, 2014. After the application deadline, applications will be put through a competitive evaluation process to determine the recipients of the donated equipment.
“This is a grand opportunity for libraries across the nation to really advance their libraries’ digital literacy” said YALSA President Christopher Shoemaker. “Teens will have the opportunity to experience digital literacy in a way they’ve never experienced before. We are very excited that this opportunity exists.”
“We are proud to launch The MakerLab Club, providing critical equipment, training, and support to libraries and museums across our country,” said Neal Orringer, vice president of Partnerships and Alliances, 3DS. “Today, libraries and museums are democratizing making in their local communities and reinforcing their longstanding position as centers of the arts, education and culture. We urge anyone interested in getting involved to contact us and get started setting up your lab today.”
The MakerLab Club is a new community for thousands of U.S. Libraries and museums chartered to advance 3D digital literacy through public access to 3D printing technology. Members of the MakerLab Club will receive other benefits such as access to training webinars and curriculum. To learn more about the MakerLab Club and to apply for a donated 3D printer, please visit 3D Systems’ official MakerLab Club page.
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
Nebraska libraries are encouraged to apply NOW to host the next Museum on Main Street exhibition, “The Way We Worked.” The exhibit explores work as a central element of American culture and traces changes in the work environment over the past 150 years. This opportunity is offered through Humanities Nebraska. For more information see http://humanitiesnebraska.org/program/museum-on-main-street/ — be sure to scroll down to the Apply to host “The Way We Worked link on the right side of the page.
The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Human Origins Program, is accepting applications for the traveling exhibition Exploring Human Origins. The exhibition seeks to create an opportunity for a wide spectrum of audiences to engage the complex field of human evolution research in ways that are understandable, fulfilling, captivating, and relevant.
Nationwide, nineteen public libraries will be selected to host the 40-panel, 1,200-square-foot exhibition for four weeks each between April 2015 and April 2017. The exhibition will include at least two interactive kiosks, a display of skulls, and two DVDs. Full guidelines and an online application are available at http://apply.ala.org/humanorigins. The application deadline is Nov. 19.
ALA is hosting a free webinar to help libraries plan for Money Smart Week @your library®. On Oct. 1, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. CDT, learn how your library can participate in 2015 Money Smart Week @your library®. Register at http://tinyurl.com/opy5mvu and participate in this hour-long webinar that will provide you with resources, promotional materials, programming ideas and ways to partner with others in your community, campus or school to get Money Smart Week going at your library.
Money Smart Week @ your library, April 18-25, 2015, is a national initiative in its fifth year between the American Library Association (ALA) and the Federal Reserve Bank (Chicago) to provide financial literacy programming to help members of your community—retirees, school kids, college students, everyone—better manage their personal finances. In 2014 more than 700 libraries in 48 states participated.
Learn from veterans and first-timers how Money Smart Week @your library® has been a great success for their libraries and how it can be in yours. Discussions will show how easy it is to convey financial topics to your library users.
Topics presented last year include basic banking services, credit and debt management, estate planning, going green to save, housing/mortgages/foreclosures, going to college, identity theft/investment scams/financial fraud, insurance, kids and money, money management for women, preparing for financial emergencies, retirement planning, small business and entrepreneurship, taxes, teens and money and unemployment and job transitioning.
Visit the Money Smart Week home page of the Federal Reserve Bank (Chicago) at http://www.moneysmartweek.org/ for additional details about Money Smart Week.
The American Library Association (ALA) is offering free materials to help libraries improve their community engagement and facilitation techniques. The materials — conversation guides, questionnaires, worksheets and webinars — are designed to help libraries strengthen their roles as core community leaders and work with residents to bring positive change to their communities.
The resources were developed by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, whose “turning outward” approach emphasizes changing the orientation of institutions and individuals from internal (organization-facing) to external (community-facing). This process entails taking steps to better understand communities; changing processes and thinking to make conversations more community-focused; being proactive about community issues; and developing shared aspirations.
Libraries are encouraged to download, copy and share the materials, free of charge, at ala.org/LTC. The resources are offered as part of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.
Available materials include tools such as:
- Aspirations/Aspirations Facilitator’s Guide (PDF) help libraries focus on their community’s aspirations, identify next steps for creating change, and create an aspirations-based narrative for their community as a starting point for library action.
- Turn Outward (PDF) helps libraries assess the focus of their efforts in the community as they shift their orientation from internal to external.
- Sustaining Yourself (PDF) helps library professionals map the components that fuel their motivation and commitment for community work.
- Community Conversation Workbook (PDF) explains how to convene engaging community conversations that will elicit substantial, actionable feedback from residents. The guide is accompanied by a webinar.
- Theming and Using Public Knowledge Workbook (PDF) demonstrates how to organize and understand the information collected during community conversations and how to share what you have learned with others. The guide is accompanied by a webinar.
For a full list of resources, as well as a 90-day guide for getting started with the “turning outward” approach, visit ala.org/LTC.
About Libraries Transforming Communities
Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) is an ALA initiative that seeks to strengthen libraries’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents. LTC addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for libraries to engage with their communities in new ways. As a result, ALA believes libraries will become more reflective of and connected to their communities and build stronger partnerships with local civic agencies, nonprofits, funders and corporations. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the risk of appearing like military-themed books are the only books that Nebraska Library Commission staff read during the summer, I’ve chosen a book that epitomizes this 100th anniversary of the start of World War I—for me. We always talk about books that change our lives and we know that different books can have a huge impact on our lives, sometimes depending on our life-stage and the environment. This is a book that stopped me in my tracks, and continues to this day to influence my ethical perspective and world view.
Written in 1938 by Dalton Trumbo, I came across Johnny Got His Gun as a student in a UNL English Literature class in the winter of 1970. It was among dozens of books we were assigned to read, but it is the only one I remember. This book sparked some of the liveliest discussions of my educational career, outside of discussing our original poetry in Ted Kooser’s Poetry Writing class—nothing gets the conversation heated up more than criticizing a classmate’s heartfelt, original works of poetry.
The book begins as a stream-of-consciousness, first-person narration by a severely wounded American soldier, Joe Bonham. Joe slowly comes to realize the extent of his injuries, as the reader gets to know Joe through his richly detailed memories of life before and during the war. The reader shares Joe’s growing horror as he begins to comprehend the loss of his senses one-by-one, interspersed with memories of how those senses gave him a rich full life and made him the man he was: touching, hearing, tasting, seeing, smelling (“There was a smell about the fair grounds you never forgot. A smell you never ceased dreaming of. He would always smell it somewhere back in his mind as long as he lived.”). Joe’s mind is still sharp as he struggles with existential issues: Is he awake or asleep? Is he dreaming or day-dreaming? Can he think his way out of this mess his life has become? What is the “future” for him?
The reader comes to realize the brutal horrors of war as they impact a very real person. Besides being a skillfully crafted story, the characters are so engaging and the depiction of time and place so perfect that reading this book really is like watching a movie. And no matter how badly I wanted to turn my eyes away, it was impossible to stop reading because Joe’s personality and predicament just got under my skin.
“And we won’t be back ‘till it’s over, over there,” went the words to a popular song used to recruit so many young people. But the reality is—it’s never over, over there—or over here. If the past one hundred years haven’t proved that, I don’t know what will. This war was romanticized beyond belief. The propaganda posters that drew so many to their death illustrate that target marketing was used to convince young people that their way of life depended on their participation in this “war to end all wars.” It’s a real education to take a look at examples of WW I posters at www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/wwipos/ and then contrast them to those of the Vietnam War era at http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/08/protest-posters-from-the-vietnam-era/243029/#slide2.
For many of us in that English class in 1970, the comparison of the Vietnam War to WWI seemed inevitable. As we discussed this book we railed against the war that was killing our friends and former classmates—sitting in our comfortable seats in Andrews Hall, smoking cigarettes, and arguing about making the world safe for democracy. Even though the reality is that these two wars were very different—WWI was the war that introduced us to modern, efficient killing machines and chemicals—there were enough similarities to feed the dissidence that was already growing. Even the author Dalton Trumbo agrees that not all wars should be lumped together when he says, “World War II was not a romantic war… Johnny was exactly the sort of book that shouldn’t be reprinted until the war (WW II) was at an end…Johnny held a different meaning for three different wars. Its present meaning is what each reader conceives it to be, and each reader is gloriously different from every other reader, and each is also changing.”
In May 1970, the semester ended prematurely for many of us that took part in the nationwide student strike. We left the classrooms for informal seminars and teach-ins on the floor in the student union. My grade for that English class was “Incomplete,” but I learned more in that class than I did in most other ones—and this book was a big part of my education.
“Woodstock,” by Joni Mitchell
… And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
As you read this, archeologists are out in the field somewhere in Nebraska, uncovering evidence of human occupation ranging from relatively recent times back to Paleo-Indian cultures that lived here millennia ago. Want to learn more? The Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists (NAPA) is planning statewide events for Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology Month in September. Events will include public lectures, a “Sunday with a Scientist” at Morrill Hall in Lincoln, events at Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed near Crawford, an Omaha event, and others. Nebraska librarians are invited to participate by highlighting archaeology-themed books in your libraries with displays and activities.
For more information see the news release below or search for “Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology Month” on Facebook for updates on September events.
September to be Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology Month 2014
LINCOLN – The Nebraska Association of Professional Archaeologists (NAPA) announces “Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology Month” this September. “September is an exciting opportunity for all archaeology-lovers, from amateur to the professional,” said NAPA President Cynthia Wiley. “We will celebrate the rich history of archaeology in this state and how it has contributed to our knowledge of the past in Nebraska and beyond.”
The Nebraska 2014 Archaeology Month poster will be unveiled at the Nebraska Artifact Show at the Seward County Fairgrounds in Seward on Saturday, August 16, 2014 following the presentation at 1:30pm by Jeffrey J. Richner. This year’s poster focuses on using new technologies to explore historical travel and settlement in Nebraska.
Archaeology will be the topic of the University of Nebraska State Museum’s “Sunday with a Scientist” on September 21, 2014, 1:30-4:30pm in Lincoln and a guided hike series at Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center near Crawford. Speaker presentations and other events are scheduled at museums and locales throughout Nebraska during the month. Many events are free to the public.
Events are still in the planning stages and communities across the state are encouraged to get involved. See www.nebraskaarchaeologymonth.blogspot.com for a calendar of events near you.
Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology is a month-long exploration of Nebraska’s archaeological past. It engages professional archaeologists and the citizens of Nebraska in activities showing the archaeological richness of our State in order to encourage a new generation of archaeologists and give citizens a greater appreciation of archaeological site stewardship.
Nebraska library staff are invited to attend the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival. Originating in 1996 at Concordia University in Seward, NE, the festival is a three-day literacy event for school age children and adults. Participants are provided with an opportunity to interact with nationally acclaimed authors and illustrators. The festival has grown from a one-day, one-author event to a three-day nine-author event. Over 10,000 school-age children and their teachers attend two Children’s Days of the festival at no charge. An adult conference is held the third day, with nine authors and seven literacy experts speaking to approximately 600 attendees. For a short video about the festival and registration links, see www.cune.edu/plumcreek.
Librarians across Nebraska are encouraged to share the information below with the youth of Nebraska and to inspire them to enter the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest. Each year Nebraskans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period. Please consider setting up a materials display in your library and/or other promotional activities to help you engage with your community.
2014 Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest
For our theme, we have chosen quotes from two influential Hispanic leaders: Jaime Escalante and Frida Kahlo. Please choose one of the quotes below and tell us what their words mean to you:
Jaime Escalante: Educator – “One of the greatest things you have in life is that no one has the authority to tell you what you want to be. You’re the one who’ll decide what you want to be. Respect yourself and respect the integrity of others as well. The greatest thing you have is your self-image, a positive opinion of yourself. You must never let anyone take it from you.”
Frida Kahlo: Artist – “I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
PRINT FRIENDLY COPY OF THE GUIDELINES
ESSAY: When writing your essay, please answer one or more of these questions: Both quotes deal with self-reflection. How does your heritage and culture reflect who you are as a person? How has society or current events impacted your self-image as an ethnically diverse individual? What do Frida’s or Jaime’s words mean to you and have they influenced your opinion of Hispanic Heritage Month?
ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open to Nebraska students of all ethnicities and backgrounds currently enrolled in a Nebraska public, private or magnet school (grades 6 – 12). Entries are welcome in English or Spanish and must be submitted with an entry form (see attachment)
RULES: Essay content must be original, typed or legibly handwritten, and double spaced. The word length is 250 – 400 words for middle school students and 500 – 700 words for high school students. The Hispanic Heritage Month State Planning Committee reserves the right to disqualify submitted essays that contain offensive language, political messages, and derogatory statements. A blind jury will judge the essays based on writing style, grammar, content and cohesion to the theme.
AWARDS: Cash prizes, certificates, Kindle Nooks, and McDonald’s gift cards will be given to six winners. Winning students will be recognized at the Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration, scheduled for October 10, 2014 at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln. First place winners will be asked to read their essay at the Commemoration and McDonald’s will publish first place winning essays on their tray liners. The Commission reserves the right to edit essays for fitting purposes.
SUBMISSION: All essays due by Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. Essays and entry forms may be submitted by email, preferably as a PDF, to Jasel.Cantu@nebraska.gov, via fax at 402-471-4381 or mailed to:
Nebraska Latino American Commission
Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest
P.O. Box 94965
Lincoln, NE 68509-4965
EDUCATORS/LIBRARIANS: For background information and teaching tools on Hispanic Heritage Month, Jaime Escalante and Frida Kahlo, visit the links below:
Hispanic Heritage Month: For teaching materials on Hispanic Heritage Month with links to the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and more, click here.
Jaime Escalante (1930-2010) was a high school math educator from Bolivia of Aymara ancestry. He achieved fame after introducing and teaching AP Calculus at Garfield High School in Los Angeles, CA in 1978. His students would go on to ace AP Calculus and helped build an exceptional Advanced Placement program in the school. At the height of his influence, Garfield High School graduates would go on to attend the University of Southern California in more numbers than all graduates from the working-class East Los Angeles area combined.
For library and classroom-friendly teaching material, educational videos with interviews, and background information on educator Jaime Escalante, click here. Recommended 1988 film “Stand and Deliver” on Jaime Escalante starring Edward James Olmos, family friendly, rated PG. View trailer.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican artist of German and Indigenous ancestry from Mexico City. Her artwork was among the first to include Mexican and Indigenous culture, tradition, and religion. She is also known as the wife of painter Diego Rivera and was influential in his art as well. She is the first contemporary Mexican artist to have artwork displayed at the Louvre in Paris. Her artwork would come to influence modern art and bring attention to the culture and art of Mexico.
For classroom-friendly teaching material, lesson guides, suggested class activities, and background information, click here. Recommended PBS Documentary: “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo” is also available for free viewing online. NOTE: It is recommended that librarians and educators view the film and observe Kahlo’s paintings first and decide which elements to present in class as a conflicting yet contiguous mix of politics, social unrest, and cross-cultural elements influenced her art and life. For recommended sections of the film with corresponding classroom lessons, click here. A Parent’s Guide and Teacher’s Guide are available for the film from NET and PBS.
The Summer 2014 issue of the NE Community Foundation newsletter, Connections, has a nice piece on the library projects funded through the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund (see page 5: http://www.nebcommfound.org/media/docs/NCF_Newsletter_Summer_2014_Correct_Web.pdf).
This spring more than $80,000 was awarded to libraries in Culbertson, David City, Deshler, Elgin, Exeter, Minden, Red Cloud and Walthill. Recently, the Hildreth Public Library completed its yearlong renovation project which doubled the size of the library, improved the interior, and added an accessible restroom.
This newsletter article is a great reminder to Nebraska public libraries located in communities of fewer than 3,000 residents that now is a good time to begin thinking about appying for a grant for 2015. Grants will be made in three areas: Planning Grants (leading to accreditation); Enhancement Grants (leading to improvement of library services and/or programs); and Facilities Grants (contributing toward new facilities or the renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries). Community leadership must be exhibited in grant applications indicating the likelihood of sustainability of improvements.
Short applications received on or before October 1, 2014 will be considered for the grant cycle awarded in March 2015. If approved, the full application is due 5:00 p.m. on January 5, 2015.
More information is available at http://www.nebcommfound.org/media/docs/Grant_Guidelines_2015.pdf or contact Reggi Carlson, 402-323-7331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you think of a book club, does your mind go to a circle of friends, great food and beverages, and a rousing discussion of the best new fiction? Mine did. Until I read a recent article in Governing magazine entitled, “Can a Book Club Improve Government?” A group of Baltimore city employees started spending their lunch breaks at book club meetings and the lessons they are learning are being applied to the challenges the city faces. Government book clubs are open to all employees and are attended by staff at all levels, from agency heads to mid-level managers, to front-line employees. And talking about the ideas in books is giving employees strategies that can be implemented at every level.
Some successful titles for government-based book clubs include:
- If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government, a collection of success stories by William D. Eggers and John O’Leary
- Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government, by Gavin Newsom, with Lisa Dickey, provides ideas for community digital communication and engagement
- The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization, a guidebook for designing the workplace to encourage creativity and teamwork by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman
See http://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-good-government-book-club.html for a complete list of books and more about the Baltimore city government book club. How about it, Nebraska librarians: would you like to host a book club for your city employees?