Author Archives: Susan Knisely

Friday Reads & #BookFaceFriday: Houses with a Story, by Seiji Yoshida

Sometimes art imitates #BookFaceFriday

After the holiday frenzy I needed to read something that would serve as a mental palate cleanser–the literary equivalent of a deep, cleansing breath. Houses with a Story, by Seiji Yoshida, fit the bill.

Yoshida, a Tokyo-based artist who works as a professional background illustrator in the game/anime industry, first published Houses with a Story in Japan in 2020. The English translation came out in November 2023. Language isn’t the most important component of this book, however. Instead, detailed illustrations of over 30 imaginative dwellings, along with brief text hinting at a backstory for each, predominate.

Each of Yoshida’s 30+ houses get at least a two-page spread featuring both a street view and a cut-away drawing that lets you see inside the structure’s various rooms. This allows you to view nooks and crannies, furnishings, and basic possessions. Sketched floor plans are also sometimes included.

One of my favorite dwelling/character combos is the Methodical Witch’s House. Her small abode is divided into two rooms by a partial wall, which includes a two-sided hearth designed to heat both. The witch grows herbs and vegetables in an outdoor garden (also depicted), which she then harvests and uses in cooking and medicine. According to a “Concepts and Commentary” section at the back of the book, Yoshida imagines this house existing in mid-nineteenth century Scotland.

As a librarian, I also love Yoshida’s Library of Lost Books. This temple-like compound of unknown origin exists in an imaginary, isolated, Tibet-inspired landscape. According to the accompanying annotation, it supposedly contains “all the books that have been entirely lost to this world.” The lone librarian’s main duty is to comb the shelves for newly lost books that appear daily in order to catalog and organize them—a seemingly unending task.

The publisher of Houses with a Story recommends it for fans of Studio Ghibli, which makes sense given their similar aesthetic. I also think that adults who enjoy looking at architecture, floor plans, and photo spreads of enchanting and unusual living spaces will be enthralled. Finally, if you were a kid who loved poring over Richard Scarry, I Spy, and Where’s Waldo books, this might be a good selection for adult you!

You can find “Houses with a Story: A Dragon’s Den, a Ghostly Mansion, a Library of Lost Books, and 30 More Amazing Places to Explore” by Seiji Yoshida and many more in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 194 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,174 audiobooks, 36,611 ebooks, and 5,210 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

This week’s BookFace “model” is a painting by the late Lincoln artist Larry Griffing, which hangs in librarian Lisa Kelly’s home. Thank you Lisa for capturing this photo for us!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

Yoshida, Seiji. Houses with a Story. Abrams, 2023.

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Computers in Libraries 2024 Conference (March 12-March 14) Discount

Computers in Libraries logo

The Nebraska Library Commission is offering a group discount to all Nebraska librarians who attend the Computers in Libraries 2024 conference. This year it will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA, from March 12th through March 14th, 2024. Detailed information about the conference can be found on the conference web site.

This year the Gold Pass will be available for the group rate of $679 (regular rate is $929). The Full 3-day Pass will be $399 (regular rate is $639). No discount rates are available for the preconference workshops, unless purchased as part of a Gold Pass.

In addition, a discounted price of $629 (regularly $779) on the Library Leaders Summit (includes all three days of CIL) is also available.

To receive the discount:

  1. Go to the Computers in Libraries 2024 Registration page: https://secure.infotoday.com/RegForms/ComputersinLibraries/
  2. Type priority code 24NLC in the Priority Code field at the top of the form, and click the “Activate Code” button. Discounted rates should appear on the registration form after you successfully activate the code.
  3. If you prefer, in lieu of the previous two steps use this embedded code link: https://secure.infotoday.com/RegForms/ComputersinLibraries/?Priority=24NLC
  4. Complete and submit the online form by the deadline.

Deadline: Online registrations can be made until February 9th to receive the discounted rates. Please note that if the deadline is extended for regular registration, your deadline will also be extended. After this time, rates will go up by $30 (Gold and 3-Day), and $50 (Library Leaders).

If you have questions, please contact Susan Knisely

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Join the Nebraska WebDewey Group Purchase

WebDewey screenshots

This is a good time of year to remind Nebraska librarians that they can save money on a subscription to WebDewey by participating in the Nebraska WebDewey Group Purchase! Enjoy web-based access to an electronic version of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC ) database through WebDewey. It is a full representation of all published numbers, plus other mappings and new terms that have been approved by the Dewey Editorial Policy Committee (EPC).

WebDewey also includes:

  • Searching or browsing DDC numbers, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and mapped MeSH headings.
  • Adding your own notes and displaying them in context.
  • An easy-to-navigate, simple user interface that is suitable for the novice as well as the power user.

Our next WebDewey Group annual subscription will begin on January 1, 2024 and run through December 31, 2024. Libraries may join the group at any time. Mid-term subscriptions will be prorated. If your library is interested in subscribing to WebDewey, you’ll find pricing information on our online WebDewey Group Order Form. OCLC Membership is NOT required to purchase WebDewey.

If you have questions please contact Susan Knisely.

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Friday Reads: Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids, by Scott Hershovitz

A Facebook friend who also happens to be a librarian recently posted “If you want to have a cursory understanding of a complex topic…get a children’s book about it.” Brilliant counsel! And while that’s not exactly what I did, it was in the back of my mind when I stumbled on Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids, by Scott Hershovitz.

Nasty, Brutish, and Short isn’t a children’s book, but it is a book by a philosopher recounting conversations he’s had with his young sons, Rex and Hank, about philosophy. I figured if he could make philosophy accessible to them, maybe he could do the same for me. That, it turns out, was his plan all along. As he writes in the introduction, “[t]his book is inspired by kids, but it’s not for them. In fact, kids are my Trojan horse. I’m not after young minds. I’m after yours.”

In twelve chapters, each devoted to a topic ripe for discussion (rights, punishment, authority, knowledge, truth, etc.), Hershovitz shares stories of children (his own and others’) initiating and participating in philosophical inquiry with greater facility than most adults. In fact, as he goes on to show, they often wind up pondering the exact same questions as renowned philosophers of yore! (Examples include the shifted color spectrum, credited to John Locke, Aquinas’ first cause argument, and Descartes’ Cogito: “I think, therefore I am.”)

Chapter Four of Nasty, Brutish, and Short, titled “Authority,” is a good example of how Hershovitz approaches his subject. He begins with a kid-related anecdote—his son Rex refusing to comply with his father’s request that he put on his shoes. Kids’ chafing at parental authority is nothing new. What kid hasn’t uttered the phrase “You aren’t the boss of me!” to a frazzled parent seeking compliance? And what parent hasn’t responded “Because I said so” when asked “Why” by a stubborn child?

For Hershovitz, however, such encounters are great jumping off points for discussions about power vs. authority, the nature of obligation, and the role reasoning and responsibility should play in compliance. He writes about these concepts as they play out in contemporary life–between bosses and employees, parents and children, teachers and students, the government and the governed. (Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares even makes a cameo.) He shares various philosophers’ takes on authority, as well as highlights from his many conversations with Rex and Hank about the subject.

By the end of each chapter you realize not only that Hershovitz has gotten you to “do philosophy” with him, but also that philosophy—thinking carefully about important things–is something worth practicing ourselves and encouraging in our children. (Don’t worry—Hershovitz is well aware that there is a time and a place, especially with kids!)

In his conclusion, titled “How to Raise a Philosopher,” Hershovitz reminds us of what he thinks the goal should be:

The aim is not to raise a professional philosopher. It’s to raise a person who thinks clearly and carefully. It’s to raise a person who thinks for themself. It’s to raise a person who cares what others think—and thinks with them. In short, the aim is to raise a person who thinks.

Definitely a worthy goal! And an inspiring read!

Hershovitz, Scott. Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids. New York: Penguin, 2022.

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Just for Kids Streaming Video Database Trial (through 9/28/23)

Infobase is offering Nebraska public libraries trial access to their Just for Kids streaming video collection through September 28, 2023.

Infobase’s Just for Kids streaming video collection for the public library market offers a thoroughly kid-safe, advertisement-free media platform where children can freely explore and enjoy! Just for Kids has educational videos children want to watch–Weston Woods, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Franklin, and more. Access to songs, games, and other interactives that are sure to entertain, educate, and inspire.

The collection is ideal for librarians hosting a video storytelling hour, activities for early learners as well as after-school or ESL programs. Great resources for homeschoolers that they can access anywhere, anytime.

Unlimited, simultaneous access means ALL patrons can enjoy this entertaining and educational resource.

For more product information, see: https://infobase.com/products/just-for-kids-streaming-collection/

Trial Dates: August 28, 2023 through September 28, 2023

Trial Registration URL: https://freetrial.infobase.com/?promocode=WEBSITE&products=228

When completing the registration form, be sure to select “Public Library” from the “Market Type” menu. This will ensure that the expanded “Select Products to Demo” section of the registration form includes “Access Video On Demand: Just for Kids” under the Streaming Video heading. The “Access Video On Demand: Just for Kids” product should be automatically selected, but if it’s not you can select it by checking the box to its left.

If you have questions about this trial, please contact Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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Weiss Financial Ratings Database Trial (through 9/15/23)

Weiss Ratings and Grey House Publishing are offering Nebraska public libraries trial access to Weiss Financial Ratings Online through September 15, 2023!

Weiss Financial Ratings specializes in providing high quality advisory information that can help individuals select and monitor financial services companies and financial investments, such as: Life & Annuity Insurers; Property & Casualty Insurers; Health Insurers; Banks & Credit Unions; Stocks; Exchange-Traded Funds; Stock Mutual Funds; and Bond & Money Market Mutual Funds.

This online service also includes:

  • Financial Literacy Basics guides on: How to Manage Debt; How to Make and Stick to a Budget; Buying a Car & Understanding Auto Insurance; Renting an Apartment & Understanding Renters’ Insurance; Calculating the Cost of College & Understanding Student Loans; How to Start a 401(k); Understanding Health Insurance Plans; and What to Know About Checking Accounts.
  • Consumer Guides on: Homeowners Insurance; Automobile Insurance; Variable Annuities; Term Life Insurance; Health Savings Accounts; Long-Term Care Insurance; Medicare Supplement Insurance; Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage; and Elder Care Choices.
  • Financial Literacy: Planning for the Future guides on: Living Together, Getting Married & Starting a Family; Buying a Home; Saving for Your Child’s Education; Retirement Planning Strategies; Insurance Strategies & Estate Planning to Protect Your Family; Making the Right Health Care Coverage Choices; Starting a Career & Career Advancement; Protect Yourself from Identity Theft & Other Scams.
  • Financial Literacy: How to Become an Investor guides on: What is Investing; Brokerage Firms; Financial Advisors; What Type of Investor Are You?; All About Investment Fees; Tax Consequences; and Alternative Investment.

Trial URL: https://greyhouse.weissratings.com/

Trial Access information was distributed via an August 7, 2023 message to the Trial mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or would like to have it sent to them again may contact Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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Internet Librarian Connect 2023 Conference (Oct. 16-19)

Internet Librarian Connect 2023 logo

The Nebraska Library Commission is pleased to offer a discount to all librarians in Nebraska who sign up for a Virtual Pass to attend the Internet Librarian Connect 2023 Conference. The conference is going virtual this year, so join your peers online to learn, share, and celebrate the future of libraries!

The Virtual Pass discounted rate is $199 (regularly $299). The Virtual Pass includes access to all keynotes and main conference sessions, networking, and the virtual exhibit hall. It also includes access to archived session recordings for viewing through December 31, 2023. (Does not include access to workshops unless purchased separately.)

This year the conference is being held virtually, from October 16-19, 2023. Detailed information about the conference can be found on the virtual event website now!

View the Event Agenda for session dates, times, and descriptions.

To receive the discount:

  1. Go to the Internet Librarian Connect 2023 registration link: https://site.pheedloop.com/event/ILC23/register#category
  2. If you are registering a single person, click on the Single Registration option.
  3. If you are registering more than one person, click on the Team Registration option.
  4. Complete the registration form, entering and applying the appropriate discount code (see below) when prompted at checkout. Your discounted pricing should appear at this point.
    • The Single Registration discount code is: NLC23-SINGLE
    • The Team Registration discount code is: NLC23-TEAM

Please note that sharing virtual access is not allowed. Each registration allows access for one person only.

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Friday Reads: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking

This past weekend I listened to The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking (duration: approximately three hours). Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, narrates with a delightful Danish accent.

You’ve probably heard at least a passing reference to the Danish word hygge (pronounced HOO-GA). According to a blurb on the back cover of the book’s print edition, hygge “loosely translates as a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.” You may even have read an article about hygge—they proliferated during the pandemic when people were struggling with how to feel better about being stuck at home. But according to my new understanding, spending time consuming a whole book about hygge is definitely more hyggelig (the adjectival form of hygge) than spending 5 minutes scanning an article about it!

Wiking spends a lot of time talking about what is and isn’t hygge. Candles and low lighting are hygge. Wool socks and blankets are hygge. Cake, coffee, and chocolate are hygge. Cooking and eating a meal with friends at home is hygge. Bling and boastfulness, on the other hand, aren’t hygge. The idea that “bigger is better” isn’t hygge. And neither is champagne and oysters at a fancy restaurant.

At its most basic level, hygge is about relishing simple, everyday pleasures, especially in the company of close friends and family. The fact that this practice contributes to happiness isn’t an earthshattering revelation, so why do the Danes seem so much better at it than other nationalities? According to Wiking, “What might also be unique for Denmark when it comes to hygge is how much we talk about it, focus on it, and consider it as a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA. In other words, what freedom is to Americans, thoroughness to Germans, and the stiff upper lip to the British, hygge is to Danes.”

The intentionality with which Danes approach hygge is undoubtedly one reason Denmark consistently ranks among the happiest nations in the world. But Wiking also points to policy factors, including a good work-life balance and the welfare state, which “reduces uncertainty, worries, and stress in the population.”

Policy change, while worthwhile, is hard and takes time. Hygge, on the other hand, is easy and accessible to all of us if we are so inclined. So if you’ve been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy, plan intentionally for a hyggelig evening sometime soon. And if you want to learn more about why Danes are among the happiest people in the world, consider reading or listening to The Little Book of Hygge.

Wiking, Meik. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. HarperAudio, 2017.

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Encyclopaedia Britannica Database Trials

Encyclopaedia Britannica is offering Nebraska libraries trial access to a number of their online resources through April 20, 2023. These resources also happen to be available at discounted subscription rates through the Nebraska Library Commission. The next subscription term through NLC begins June 1, 2023 so this trial is well-timed to give librarians a chance to try before they buy! Here are the products included in the trial:

  • Britannica Academic
  • Britannica School
  • Britannica Library [public library edition]
  • Original Sources
  • ImageQuest
  • Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged
  • LaunchPacks: Social Studies
  • LaunchPacks: Science
  • Language Products:
    • Britannica Escolar (Spanish Elem/MS)
    • Britannica Moderna (Spanish HS/Academic)
    • Britannica Online Japan
    • Encyclopaedia Universalis Senior (French HS/Academic)
    • Universalis Junior (French Elem/MS)
  • Expedition Learn!: Science and Social Studies

Trial access information was distributed via a March 17, 2023 message to the Trial mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or would like to have it sent to them again may contact Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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NewsBank Trial Access Through April 8, 2023

NewsBank is a web-based subscription service that offers library access to current and archival content from newspapers, newswires, transcripts, and other publications. They have agreed to offer Nebraska libraries trial access to the following resources through April 8, 2023:

Trial access instructions, including product login URLs and a temporary username and password, were distributed via a March 8, 2023 message to the TRIAL mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or who would like to have it sent to them again can email Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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Friday Reads: How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, by Leslie Jordan

I listened to Leslie Jordan’s How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, shortly after the 67-year-old actor’s October 24th death. Jordan was well known for his roles in “Will & Grace” and “American Horror Story,” but his profile shot through the roof during the pandemic. Stuck at home, he started making regular posts to Instagram to keep himself entertained. The posts were short and silly but obviously resonated, because before he knew it he had five and a half million followers and a book contract!

When describing his Instagram posting philosophy Jordan states: “On my Instagram page, I usually follow the old rule of not discussing politics and religion in company. I don’t know what I don’t know, and who would want to hear about what I don’t know? All I know is comedy and my sweet self.” And therein lies the appeal of listening to Jordan narrate the audiobook edition of How Y’all Doing? – it is a chance to spend four hours and 14 minutes in his sweet, hilarious company, listening to him tell stories in his delightful Tennessee accent.

Jordan writes about how much fun he’s had with Instagram, crediting the need to tell a story in around a minute with improving his comedic delivery: “Get to the point. Cut to the chase. No meandering around.” But he also celebrates the comedic freedom he experienced writing this book: “Who knew that writing for the printed page could send an artist soaring? To be able to tell not only the story but the backstory as well. And the story that led up to the backstory.”

Jordan’s memoir doesn’t have to be read in any particular order, since its chronology isn’t linear. Instead, most chapters are structured around a theme on which Jordan riffs, sharing stories from his life that are in some way related to that theme. In “The Bride Doll,” for instance, he talks about everything from the negative connotations attached to being a boy who loved playing with dolls, to being a man who, due to work he did in recovery programs, could walk into an American Girl doll store without shame and purchase one as a gift. “[I]t was a milestone moment,” Jordan writes. “Not one with trumpets blaring and angels singing, but a nice quiet realization that I had changed.”

It’s not until the chapter’s end that he tells the story of the bride doll he asked Santa to bring him back in 1958, when he was three. Initially, his father, “a man’s man” who died in 1967 when Jordan was 11, told his mother there was no way he was buying his son a bride doll. But on Christmas Eve, confronted with his son’s exuberant anticipation and unwilling to be the cause of his crushing disappointment the next morning, his father snuck out and procured one. “Thank you, Daddy. For having enough love for your son to buy him a doll,” Jordan writes in his conclusion. “And thank you, Don Norman [Jordan’s recovery advisor]. For helping me live a joyful, shame-free life.”

And that’s how most of the chapters unfold, including the final one, poignantly titled “”Until We Meet Again.” Jordan starts out reminiscing about the Florida vacations his family took each summer, and how bereft he felt when they ended: “It was then I realized how hard goodbyes can be.” He then pivots to the fact that even though the book is ending, it won’t really be the end because he has an endless supply of stories to tell. Knowing of his recent death, it was impossible not to choke up at his optimistic concluding words, which promise something that will now never come to pass:

So, to all my dear new friends, this is not goodbye forever. It is only goodbye for now. Goodbye till I get revved up and ready to launch into a whole bunch of new stories.

See you then.

Jordan, Leslie. How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived. Read by the author. Harperaudio, 2021. Audiobook, 4 hr., 14 min.

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Computers in Libraries 2023 Conference (March 28-March 30) Discount

The Nebraska Library Commission is offering a group discount to all Nebraska librarians who attend the Computers in Libraries 2023 conference. This year it will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA, from March 28 through March 30, 2023. Detailed information about the conference can be found on the conference web page.

This year the Gold Pass will be available for the group rate of $649 (regular rate is $899). The Full 3-day Pass will be $379 (regular rate is $599). No discount rates are available for the preconference workshops, unless purchased as part of a Gold Pass.

In addition, a discounted price of $619 (regular $749) on the Library Leaders Summit (includes all three days of CIL) is also available.

To receive the discount:

  1. Go to the Computers in Libraries 2023 Registration page: https://secure.infotoday.com/RegForms/ComputersinLibraries/
  2. Type priority code NLC23 in the Priority Code field at the top of the form, and click the “Activate Code” button. Discounted rates should appear on the registration form after you successfully activate the code. If you don’t see the discounted rates on the form, please contact Susan Knisely for assistance.
  3. Complete and submit the online form by the deadline.

Deadline: Online registrations can be made until February 24th to receive the discounted rates. Please Note: If the deadline is extended for regular registration, your deadline will also be extended. After this time, rates will go up by $20.

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Join the Nebraska WebDewey Group Purchase

WebDewey screenshots

This is a good time of year to remind Nebraska librarians that they can save money on a subscription to WebDewey by participating in the Nebraska WebDewey Group Purchase! Enjoy web-based access to an electronic version of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC ) database through WebDewey. It is a full representation of all published numbers, plus other mappings and new terms that have been approved by the Dewey Editorial Policy Committee (EPC).

WebDewey also includes:

  • Searching or browsing DDC numbers, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and mapped MeSH headings.
  • Adding your own notes and displaying them in context.
  • An easy-to-navigate, simple user interface that is suitable for the novice as well as the power user.

Our next WebDewey Group annual subscription will begin on January 1, 2023 and run through December 31, 2023. Libraries may join the group at any time. Mid-term subscriptions will be prorated. If your library is interested in subscribing to WebDewey, you’ll find pricing information on our online WebDewey Group Order Form. OCLC Membership is NOT required to purchase WebDewey.

If you have questions please contact Susan Knisely.

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NewsBank Trial Access Through October 22, 2022

NewsBank is a web-based subscription service that offers library access to current and archival content from newspapers, newswires, transcripts, and other publications. They have agreed to offer Nebraska libraries trial access to the following resources through October 22, 2022:

Trial access instructions, including product login URLs and a temporary username and password, were distributed via a September 15, 2022 message to the TRIAL mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or who would like to have it sent to them again can email Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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Friday Reads: A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), by David Sedaris

I’m currently 14 hours into listening to the audiobook edition of A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), by David Sedaris. I have about three hours left and will be sad when it ends, which I’d say is a pretty good endorsement. Nevertheless, I suspect the most receptive audience for this title will be individuals who already know and adore Sedaris—either because they’ve read his previous books or heard him read from them in person or on public radio.

A Carnival of Snackery is actually Sedaris’s second diary volume. His first, Theft by Finding, covered the years 1977 through 2002. Sedaris’s diary entries aren’t deep dives into personal development, but in the first volume you can definitely observe his life unfolding. When it starts Sedaris is a 20-year-old college dropout, bouncing between bad jobs and bad apartments; when it ends he is a famous 45-year-old touring author, in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Hugh Hamrick.

By comparison, throughout the entirety of A Carnival of Snackery, which begins when Sedaris is 46 and ends just after his 64th birthday, his status doesn’t change—he’s still a famous, touring author and still with Hugh. As Sedaris, himself, writes in the introduction to A Carnival of Snackery, “Theft by Finding . . . had a narrative arc. ‘David Copperfield Sedaris,’ Hugh called it. If there’s an arc to this book, I don’t know what it is.”

Narrative arc isn’t the draw though. Instead, it’s the joy of spending time with someone who excels at sharing interesting observations and anecdotes from daily life. Sedaris begins each diary entry with a date and a location. And the number of locations from which he writes is astounding–countless U.S. cities, but also a surprising number of international ones (e.g., Perth, Tokyo, Odessa, Bucharest, Riga, Reykjavik, Dubai), representing stops on his various book tours. There are also recurring locales that reflect Sedaris’s various home bases—most notably Rackham, in West Sussex, England, where he and Hugh live, and Emerald Isle, North Carolina, where he vacations with his siblings in a beach house named the Sea Section.

Diary entries range in length from a couple sentences to a couple pages. Some record memorable jokes, which Sedaris regularly solicits from people in line at his book signings. Others consist of obnoxious sayings he sees printed on t-shirts. Most often, they feature snippets of conversations overheard while traveling, and also accounts of interactions he’s had with drivers, hotel staff, store clerks, barbers, flight attendants, and others he encounters on the road. He also writes about trash—specifically what he picks up with his grabber as he walks the roads of West Sussex. (He applies himself to this task so diligently he’s had a local garbage truck named after him.) Among the most poignant diary entries are those recounting conversations with his elderly father, whose dismissive attitude toward Sedaris clearly remains a source of pain. (Sedaris’s father died at the age of 98, several months after the last diary entry in this volume.) In the end, Sedaris’s diary excerpts teach us that an interesting and curious person can turn interactions and observations that most of us would consider boring and mundane into engaging snapshots.

Sedaris, David. A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020). Little, Brown and Company, 2021.

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Internet Librarian 2022 Conference Discount (Oct. 18-20)

The Nebraska Library Commission is offering a group discount to all librarians in Nebraska who attend the 2022 Internet Librarian Conference. This year it will be held at the Monterey Marriott in Monterey, California on October 18-20, 2022. Detailed information about the conference can be found at https://internet-librarian.infotoday.com/2022

As in the past, InfoToday is offering select groups the opportunity to participate in their Group Discount Program. The Gold Pass is available to groups at the discounted rate of $699 (regularly $899 and it is the only pass to include preconference workshops). They are also offering a special rate of $449 for the 3-Day Pass (regular rate is $599). (No discount rates are available for the separately priced preconference workshops.)

To receive the discount:

  1. Go to the Internet Librarian 2022 Registration page: https://secure.infotoday.com/RegForms/InternetLibrarian/
  2. Enter priority code 22NLC in the Priority Code field at the top of the form and click on the “Activate Code” button.
  3. Complete the registration form, checking to be sure the discounted rates appear on the form. (Clicking on the “Activate Code” button should have triggered the rates to update. If you don’t see the discounted rates, please contact Susan Knisely for assistance.)

Deadline: Online registrations can be made until September 23, 2022 to receive the discounted rates. Rates will go up by $20 after the deadline.

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Friday Reads: Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, by Catherine Raven

This book was a nice respite. It didn’t tackle a contentious political or social issue, nor did it build a fictional world fraught with challenges and interpersonal drama. Instead, it was a quiet meditation, shared by a purposefully solitary individual. The drama that did make it onto the pages was that of the natural world—ebbing, flowing, occasionally bloody, though not in a “man’s inhumanity to man” kind of way—and of metaphysical ruminations on the relationship between humans and nature, science and intuition.

Author Catherine Raven doesn’t share an in-depth backstory, but offers enough details that we know she’s been on her own for years. She left an unhappy home at fifteen, started college at sixteen, spent years as a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service, and eventually earned a PhD in biology. At the start of Fox & I she is living in a cottage on a small plot of land in Montana, miles from civilization.

Although Raven has some interaction with people—she teaches online classes and the occasional in-person field class—their presence is peripheral. The central characters of her narrative are the living things she shares space with—Gin and Tonic, two nearby juniper trees; Tennis Ball and Torn Tail, the two magpies she can distinguish from the rest; the voles inhabiting her pasture; and, most significantly, a fox (whom she calls Fox) that comes visiting every day at 4:15.

At first Raven, trained as a scientist, feels self-conscious about her relationship with Fox. She worries about anthropomorphizing him, and feels professional pressure to turn him into a research subject capable of yielding data points. As time passes, though, she becomes more comfortable with their companionable coexistence, which she acknowledges as friendship.

One of my favorite things about this book is Raven’s frequent invocation of world-weary Ishmael, narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince (the book she reads aloud to Fox during his visits). By linking her own introspection about the nature of existence to theirs, she connects herself to a literary tradition in which plot is a convenient excuse to wrestle with the bigger, existential questions of life. If this is the sort of narrative you need right now, you’ll appreciate Fox & I.

Raven, Catherine. Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2021.

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NewsBank Trial Access Through May 14, 2022

NewsBank is a web-based subscription service that offers library access to current and archival content from newspapers, newswires, transcripts, and other publications. They have agreed to offer Nebraska libraries trial access to the following resources through May 14, 2022:

Trial access instructions, including product login URLs and a temporary username and password, were distributed via an April 12, 2022 message to the TRIAL mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or who would like to have it sent to them again can email Susan Knisely.

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

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Computers in Libraries 2022 Conference (March 29–March 31) Going Virtual

The Computers in Libraries Conference, originally scheduled for March 29th through March 31st at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, in Arlington, VA, is switching to a virtual format. See their online announcement for more information.

The virtual event is scheduled for the same week that had been set aside for the in-person conference, and a Virtual Pass for March 29-31 will provide you with access to all keynotes and main conference sessions, networking, and the virtual exhibit hall. It also includes access to archived session recordings for viewing through June 30, 2022. (Note: This pass does not provide access to workshops.) See the Computers in Libraries Connect 2022 website for more details.

Nebraska librarians are still eligible for a discount if they sign up for a Virtual Pass to this conference using the Nebraska Library Commission discount code: NLC22. The discounted rate for a Virtual Pass is $199. This is a $100 savings off the regular $299 price.

To receive a Virtual Pass discount:

  1. Go to the Register page and click “Attendee.”
  2. Complete the form and click “Proceed to Tickets.”
  3. Add 1 Virtual Pass ticket and scroll to the bottom of the form.
  4. Type NLC22 in the Promotion Code field and click “Apply.”
  5. You should see a pop-up telling you the code has been successfully applied. At this point you can enter your payment information and click “Checkout.”

Note: During the Early Bird registration period all registrants will receive the $199 rate, so during this time entering the code NLC22 will just be for tracking purposes. On February 25th (at midnight ET) the Early Bird pricing will end and the regular rate will change to $299. At that time, the NLC22 group code will adjust the rate to $199 when users register and apply it.

If you have questions, please contact Susan Knisely

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Friday Reads: Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe’s latest book, Empire of Pain, released on April 12, 2021, is a timely account of three generations of the Sackler family and the role they’ve played in the ongoing opioid crisis. It starts out as a classic American rags-to-riches story–three entrepreneurial brothers, born to poor immigrant parents in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, who succeed beyond their wildest dreams, winding up as billionaire philanthropists. It also tells a darker tale of corporate greed, coupled with personal hubris, leading to devastating social consequences.

Most of us know a bit about the Sacklers, due to media coverage of the multiple lawsuits filed against their privately owned company, Purdue Pharma, which manufactures and markets OxyContin. Purdue Pharma introduced this highly addictive extended-release painkiller to the market in 1996, and it was a game changer. Indeed, many view its arrival on the scene as the most significant precipitating event leading to the now-decades-long opioid epidemic.

If you want to know more, Keefe’s extensively researched book provides compelling evidence of why this family and their pharmaceutical company are viewed as culpable. And sadly, it feels like a too-familiar narrative:

  • There’s the FDA employee who, shortly after overseeing approval of OxyContin, wound up accepting a well-paid position with Purdue Pharma.
  • There’s the misleading marketing strategy of touting OxyContin as less addictive and less prone to abuse because of its time-release coating, even though company insiders knew from monitoring online discussion groups that users were crushing and chewing the drug to get a bigger “hit.”
  • There’s the sales force that continued to call on and sell to doctors who were clearly running pill mills, because of unending pressure to increase revenue.
  • And finally, there is the pathological refusal of family members to accept any responsibility for the problems that proliferated in conjunction with OxyContin sales. They seemed to view reports of OxyContin-related addiction and overdose deaths as PR problems that unfairly sullied the reputation of Purdue’s prized product, not as human tragedies: Addicts were the victimizers and Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers were the victims.

If you’re a fan of corporate exposes, this book will be right down your alley. It would also be a good companion read if you are watching the limited series Dopesick, now streaming on Hulu.

Keefe, Patrick Radden. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. New York: Doubleday, 2021.

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