Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: The Book of Tomorrow, A Novel by Cecelia Ahern

Once again, I have come across a book in the mystery sub-genre of Bibliomystery.  In The Book of Tomorrow, Cecilia Ahern’s intriguing narrative proves to be much more captivating than just a whimsical young adult novel.

At first glance, Tamara Goodwin is nothing more than a poor little rich girl. But in one fell swoop, Tamara loses her father to suicide, her family’s lavish Dublin home to crippling debt and misfortune, her mother to a depression so debilitating that she can’t even get out of bed, and her friends. With dwindling options, Tamara and her mother pack their bags for Meath, a small town in the Irish countryside where Tamara’s distant aunt and uncle reside. Bored and restless, Tamara stumbles upon an old, padlocked diary one day while chatting with the cute boy that runs a lending library out of the back of a van. Shortly thereafter she discovers that the peculiar diary includes entries for one day in the future, seemingly authored in her own handwriting. Each day she finds herself startled by the accuracy of the prophetic diary, eventually learning to use its foresight to help her out of an unsettling situation in Meath, finding herself, and coming to terms with her father’s suicide and dark family secrets.

Cecelia Ahern is also the author of P.S. I Love You, so if you are a fan of that book, as well as a fan of Ahern in general, I’m sure you’ll also enjoy The Book of Tomorrow!

 

 

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NCompass Live: ‘Picture Book City: Reorganizing Our Storybooks by Subject’

Learn how to make your picture books more browsable on the next FREE NCompass Live webinar, ‘Picture Book City: Reorganizing Our Storybooks by Subject’, on Wednesday, May 22, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

What do you do to make picture books more browsable? Sort them by subject! Learn how we did it and tips we picked up along the way.

Presenter: Laura England-Biggs, Librarian, Keene Memorial Library, Fremont, NE.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • May 29 – Let’s Get Real About Virtual Reality
  • June 5 – Providing Passports at Your Library
  • July 24 – The Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award
  • Aug. 28 – Eliminating Late Fines is a Win-Win for Your Library and Community

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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#BookFaceFriday “Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know”

#BookFaceFriday is being blown away by Nebraska’s new State Poet!

"Things We Don't Know We Don't Know" by Matt Mason bookface photo

Matt Mason, Nebraska’s recently proclaimed State Poet for the term of 2019-2024, visited us to chat about poetry and his new role on this week’s NCompass Live webinar. Check out the recorded show, “A Conversation with Nebraska’s New State Poet, Matt Mason” in our NCompass Live archives. This week’s #BookFace highlights “Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know” by Matt Mason (The Backwaters Press, 2006.) If you haven’t read any of Matt’s poetry yet all we can say is “DO IT!” Take a peek at page 42 and read “After the 1996 Fiesta Bowl” and then watch Matt perform it on NCompass Live. You will not be disappointed with this Nebraska Book Award winning poetry collection!

“The only thing better than reading these poems is to hear Matt Mason himself read them.” –Marjorie Saiser

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is the author himself, Matt Mason!

Fun Fact: This book’s cover photo is by John Spence, who Matt used to work with. Matt knew he was a photographer and asked if he had photos which might go with the book. As they went back and forth, he mentioned that Bill Kloefkorn’s first printing of his first book had a photo of Spence’s on the cover. For those of you who aren’t Nebraska poetry buffs, Kloefkorn was a past State Poet of Nebraska.

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

 

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Friday Reads: I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi

When I shelved books as a high school student at the Beatrice Public Library, there was an entire room dedicated to biographies and I never understood the popularity. Sometime around the beginning of the millennium, I started listening to this genre and now I understand the appeal, especially when the author has the required talent to read his or her own material. Learning about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of someone else’s life can give perspective to your own. Recently I listened to Isaac Mizrahi read his autobiography, I.M: A Memoir. As a gentile from the heartland, learning about a young Syrian Jew growing up in Brooklyn was a little like binge watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, except from a gay male perspective.

Isaac shares stories of his life with two older sisters and his fashion forward mother, Sarah. Fabric and clothing design were passions as a young boy as was constructing puppets with the sewing machine his father gave him. Isaac provided critiques on his sisters’ ensembles for the high holidays and paid close attention to how his mother shopped, accessorized, and was stylish on a budget. His father, Zeke, manufactured children’s clothing, selling coats and suits to stores like JCPenney and Sears. This was Isaac’s first exposure to the retail industry.  Isaac’s relationship with his father was often difficult. At Yeshivah of Flatbush, an Orthodox Jewish school, the faculty told Isaac that God hated homosexuals and his father’s sentiments echoed this intolerance. The early death of Zeke demanded many religious obligations for Isaac to perform none of which he was able to complete with total conviction. This loss gave Isaac the opportunity to come out to his family, but remaining faithful to Judaism in the long term was untenable.

Isaac worked for Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, and others, leading him to begin designing his own clothing. He debuted his first signature line in 1987. Many of us remember Joan Rivers asking “who are you wearing?” to be answered with the name Isaac Mizrahi. The nature of life in a clothing design studio can be frenetic and unhinged, racing to meet deadlines and trying to satisfy high profile and often-difficult clients. The 1995 documentary Unzipped is an iconic representation of this period in fashion featuring many of the supermodels and personalities of the ‘90s. It highlights Isaac preparing for his 1994 fall collection after receiving critical reviews from his previous show.

Struggling with his own body image and insomnia were constant difficulties in his multi-faceted career, from hosting talk shows to cabaret singing. Ending his clothing line and transitioning to other projects, the speed of life settled into a more comfortable and healthy pace. Now Isaac is a spokesperson for his brand on QVC and is a judge on Project Runway All Stars. He continues to live in New York City with his husband Arnold and their two rescue dogs. Since his birth, the world has been Isaac’s stage. I only wish the stages were a little closer to the Midwest.

Mizrahi, Isaac. I.M.: A Memoir. New York: Flatiron Books, 2019

 

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#BookFaceFriday “Class Mom”

Do you take your PTA meetings with a side of snark? We have a #BookFaceFriday for you!

Book Face Friday photo "Class Mom" by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom: A Novel” by Laurie Gelman (Macmillan Audio, 2017) is an available audiobook to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 12,407 audiobooks and 24,143 eBooks, with new titles added weekly. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this brand new title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple this is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction—the kind of audiobook that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious listen for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman’s acerbic truths.”

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Jen Wrampe, NLC’s Administrative Services Staff Assistant!

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

 

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2020 Census: Key Roles for Libraries

In 2020, the Census will be conducted primarily online for the first time. Like past e-government efforts, this will likely impact libraries and libraries’ technology resources as staff work to assist people in participating in the Census. The 2020 Census also presents an opportunity to increase public awareness and use of Census data. To best position libraries to support our communities in the 2020 Census, ALA is engaging with the Census Bureau and other stakeholders to ensure that libraries are informed and represented in the policy discussions and planning process. ALA is advocating for a fair, accurate, and inclusive Census that recognizes the roles libraries will play in this vital civic effort.

Want to stay up-to-date on our work to prepare for the 2020 Census? Subscribe to ALA’s Census newsletter.

Why the Census is Important

  • Representation: The decennial count of all U.S. residents is required by the U.S. Constitution to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College (known as reapportionment). This data is also the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices (known as redistricting).
  • Funding: The Census is key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities (such as grants to states under the Library Services and Technology Act).
  • Information: Data resulting from the Census is widely used by researchers, governments, businesses, and other organizations (to, for example, plan for library services).

Key Roles for Libraries

  • Partners in E-Government: In 2020, the Census Bureau for the first time will encourage residents to complete the Census questionnaire online, starting in March 2020. Like past e-government efforts, this likely will place additional demands on library staff and technology resources to enable people to complete the Census questionnaire. (Other response methods will also be available.) Libraries can use their experience partnering with government to assist their communities in achieving a fair, accurate, and inclusive count.
  • Education and Community Outreach: Libraries have the opportunity to educate their communities about the Census. In the 2010 Census, more than 6,000 library locations hosted Census Bureau outreach activities.
  • Public Spaces: Census Bureau field staff often utilize community rooms in libraries as affordable temporary workspaces, such as for staff hiring and training. Other community stakeholders may also use library meeting rooms to host events related to the 2020 Census.

Advocacy for a Fair, Accurate, and Inclusive Census

Learn More

Courtesy of the American Library Association:  http://www.ala.org/advocacy/govinfo/census

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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for April 2019.  Included are Annual Reports from a variety of Nebraska state agencies, reports from the Nebraska Library Commission, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Foster Care Review Office, Nebraska Public Power District, Nebraska Department of Transportation, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972, a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.                UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians, for their patrons, in Nebraska.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in April:

Imaging Seattle : Social Values in Urban Governance                         Serin D. Houston (Series: Our Sustainable Future)

Imagining Seattle dives into some of the most pressing and compelling aspects of contemporary urban governance in the United States. Serin D. Houston uses a case study of Seattle to shed light on how ideas about environmentalism, privilege, oppression, and economic growth have become entwined in contemporary discourse and practice in American cities. Seattle has, by all accounts, been hugely successful in cultivating amenities that attract a creative class. But policies aimed at burnishing Seattle’s liberal reputation often unfold in ways that further disadvantage communities of color and the poor, complicating the city’s claims to progressive politics.

Through ethnographic methods and a geographic perspective, Houston explores a range of recent initiatives in Seattle, including the designation of a new cultural district near downtown, the push to charge for disposable shopping bags, and the advent of training about institutional racism for municipal workers. Looking not just at what these policies say but at how they work in practice, she finds that opportunities for social justice, sustainability, and creativity are all constrained by the prevalence of market-oriented thinking and the classism and racism that seep into the architecture of many programs and policies. Houston urges us to consider how values influence actions within urban governance and emphasizes the necessity of developing effective conditions for sustainability, creativity, and social justice in this era of increasing urbanization.

Intersectionality : Origins, Contestations, Horizons                                                                                        Anna Carastathis (Series: Expanding Frontiers)

A 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Intersectionality intervenes in the field of intersectionality studies: the integrative examination of the effects of racial, gendered, and class power on people’s lives. While “intersectionality” tends to circulate merely as a buzzword, Anna Carastathis joins other critical voices in urging a more careful reading. Challenging the narratives of arrival that surround it, Carastathis argues that intersectionality is a horizon, illuminating ways of thinking that have yet to be realized; consequently, calls to “go beyond” intersectionality are premature. A provisional interpretation of intersectionality can disorient habits of essentialism, categorical purity, and prototypicality and overcome dynamics of segregation and subordination in political movements.

Through a close reading of critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s germinal texts, published more than twenty-five years ago, Carastathis urges analytic clarity, contextual rigor, and a politicized, historicized understanding of this pervasive concept. Intersectionality’s roots in social justice movements and critical intellectual projects—specifically black feminism—must be retraced and synthesized with a decolonial analysis so that its potential to actualize coalitions can be enacted.

New Life for Archaeological Collections                                                Edited by Rebecca Allen & Ben Ford  (Society for Historical Archaeology Series in Material Culture)

New Life for Archaeological Collections explores solutions to what archaeologists are calling the “curation crisis,” that is, too much stuff with too little research, analysis, and public interpretation. This volume demonstrates how archaeologists are taking both large and small steps toward not only solving the dilemma of storage but recognizing the value of these collections through inventorying and cataloging, curation, rehousing, artifact conservation, volunteer and student efforts, and public exhibits.

Essays in this volume highlight new questions and innovative uses for existing archaeological collections. Rebecca Allen and Ben Ford advance ways to make the evaluation and documentation of these collections more accessible to those inside and outside of the scholarly discipline of archaeology. Contributors to New Life for Archaeological Collections introduce readers to their research while opening new perspectives for scientists and students alike to explore the world of archaeology. These essays illuminate new connections between cultural studies and the general availability of archaeological research and information.  Drawing from the experience of university professors, government agency professionals, and cultural resource managers, this volume represents a unique commentary on education, research, and the archaeological community.

Of Fathers and Fire : A Novel                                                                                                                                   Steven Wingate (Series: Flyover Fiction) 

When Richie Thorpe and his ragtag religious band of ex-thieves arrive in the High Plains town of Suborney, Colorado, Tommy Sandor is captivated by the group. It’s the summer of 1980 in the dusty, junkyard town, and the seventeen-year-old is wrestling with the forces shaping America and himself: the Iran hostage crisis, the incoming tide of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, and the political rise of the Christian Right.

As Tommy is increasingly drawn to the group, his mother, Connie, grows frantic. She has been hiding the truth from her son, telling him that his father was a saxophonist from New York who never knew he had a child, and is lying low in Suborney to hide from Tommy’s actual father—Richie Thorpe. Connie knows Richie has come for his son, and though she has witnessed Thorpe’s mysterious powers, the desperation to protect her lie, her son, and their life begets a venom with an elemental power that threatens the whole town.

Shattered Dreams : The Lost and Canceled Space Missions          Colin Burgess (Series: Outward Oddyssey : A People’s History of Spaceflight)

Shattered Dreams delves into the personal stories and recollections of several men and women who were in line to fly a specific or future space mission but lost that opportunity due to personal reasons, mission cancellations, or even tragedies. While some of the subjects are familiar names in spaceflight history, the accounts of others are told here for the first time. Colin Burgess features spaceflight candidates from the United States, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, and Great Britain.

Shattered Dreams brings to new life such episodes and upheavals in spaceflight history as the saga of the three Apollo missions that were cancelled due to budgetary constraints and never flew; NASA astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson, who died of burn injuries after her airplane crashed before she had a chance to fly into space; and a female cosmonaut who might have become the first journalist to fly in space. Another NASA astronaut was preparing to fly an Apollo mission before he was diagnosed with a disqualifying illness. There is also the amazing story of the pilot who could have bailed out of his damaged aircraft but held off while heroically avoiding a populated area and later applied to NASA to fulfill his cherished dream of becoming an astronaut despite having lost both legs in the accident.

These are the incredibly human stories of competitive realists fired with an unquenchable passion. Their accounts reveal in their own words—and those of others close to them—how their shared ambition would go awry through personal accidents, illness, the Challenger disaster, death, or other circumstances.

Unlikely Heroes : The Place of Holocaust Rescuers in Research and Teaching                                                                                                      Edited by Ari Kohen and Gerald J. Steinacher (Series: Contemporary Holocaust Studies)

Classes and books on the Holocaust often center on the experiences of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders, but rescuers also occupy a prominent space in Holocaust courses and literature even though incidents of rescue were relatively few and rescuers constituted less than 1 percent of the population in Nazi-occupied Europe. As inspiring figures and role models, rescuers challenge us to consider how we would act if we found ourselves in similarly perilous situations of grave moral import. Their stories speak to us and move us.

Yet this was not always the case. Seventy years ago these brave men and women, today regarded as the Righteous Among the Nations, went largely unrecognized; indeed, sometimes they were even singled out for abuse from their co-nationals for their selfless actions. Unlikely Heroes traces the evolution of the humanitarian hero, looking at the ways in which historians, politicians, and filmmakers have treated individual rescuers like Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler, as well as the rescue efforts of humanitarian organizations. Contributors in this edited collection also explore classroom possibilities for dealing with the role of rescuers, at both the university and the secondary level.

A Year With the Sages : Wisdom on the Weekly Torah Portion          Rabbi Reuven Hammer (Series: JPS Daily Inspiration)

A Year with the Sages uniquely relates the Sages’ understanding of each Torah portion to everyday life. The importance of these teachings cannot be overstated. The Sages, who lived during the period from the fifth century BCE to the fifth century CE, considered themselves to have inherited the oral teachings God transmitted to Moses, along with the mandate to interpret them to each subsequent generation. Just as the Torah and the entire Hebrew Bible are the foundations of Judaism, the Sages’ teachings form the structures of Jewish belief and practice built on that foundation. Many of these teachings revolve around core concepts such as God’s justice, God’s love, Torah, Israel, humility, honesty, loving-kindness, reverence, prayer, and repentance.

You are invited to spend a year with the inspiring ideas of the Sages through their reflections on the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and the eleven Jewish holidays. Quoting from the week’s Torah portion, Rabbi Reuven Hammer presents a Torah commentary, selections from the Sages that chronicle their process of interpreting the text, a commentary that elucidates these concepts and their consequences, and a personal reflection that illumines the Sages’ enduring wisdom for our era.

Pictures and Synopses from the University of Nebraska Press website: https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/

 

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#BookFaceFriday “Lemons”

When life gives you lemons, we make #BookFace!

NLC’s #BookFaceFriday is joining forces with Nebraska’s Reading Classic Committee!  Reading Classics is a statewide competition that promotes and encourages Nebraska Schools to form teams and recognize outstanding young readers. They just launched a friendly #BookFace competition as students await the new 2019-2020 reading list. “Lemons” by Melissa Savage (Yearling, 2018). It’s one of the 10 nominated titles for the 2019-2020 Golden Sower Chapter Books list!

“Nine year old Lemonade Liberty’s mom taught her that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  Lemonade learns how to make lemonade out of rotten lemons.  Those lemons come from losing and leaving everything and moving to a small town of Willow Creek, California with a woolly beast lurking in the woods.   This is a debut novel packed with humor, mystery, friendship, family secrets and even Bigfoot!”Cyndi Shinn

The Nebraska Reading Classic Committee chooses books for the reading list for each Division with input from coaches, team members, and many other sources. The list includes award-winning books such as Caldecott,  Newbery, Golden Sower, and many other awards. We snapped this week’s #BookFace while members of the committee were discussing titles to add or remove for the 2020 reading list. Specifically the 2019-2020 Golden Sower nominees.

This week’s #BookFace models are committee members, Cyndi Shinn, and Marjorie Brubaker!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Size of the Truth, by Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is best known for writing young adult novels that range from darkly humorous and apocalyptic, like Grasshopper Jungle and Rabbit & Robot, to angst-filled and realistic, like Winger and Stand-off. In a notable departure, Smith just debuted his first middle grade book, the mostly realistic but tiny bit surreal The Size of the Truth. It’s a prequel of sorts, filling in the backstory of Sam Abernathy, Ryan Dean’s precocious, cooking-show-loving roommate from Stand-off.

Sam narrates The Size of the Truth, jumping back and forth in time between the defining experience of his young life, which occurred when he was four and got trapped at the bottom of a well for three days, and his present, as an eleven-year-old eighth grader dealing with baggage left over from that event. The baggage includes severe claustrophobia and an inability to escape his identity, in Blue Creek, Texas, as “The Little Boy in the Well.” It also infects Sam’s relationship with his parents, who plot out every aspect of his life in an obsessive effort to “[make] sure [he’d] never have the freedom to fall into unseen holes in [his] future” (71). (Their version of his life involves Science Club, AP Physics, Blue Creek Magnet High School, and MIT, as opposed to the culinary school Sam aspires to attend.) Sam, for his part, goes along with this micromanagement because he doesn’t want to “do something as foolish as fall into a hole and disappoint [his] parents ever again” (71).

Sam’s challenge, in the course of this story, is to internalize the truth imparted to him by a probably-not-real talking armadillo named Bartleby (this is the surreal element referenced above), who he remembers visiting him during his time in the well: “don’t go living your life only trying to avoid holes” (172). Sam also needs to learn that other people aren’t always who he’s believed them to be either—most notably, James Jenkins, the older “murderous” boy Sam has always blamed for the well incident. (Everyone in Blue Creek assumes James is destined for football stardom when, unbeknownst to them, he has a whole other identity in Austin, Texas, where his mother lives.)

I don’t know how middle school me would have responded to Smith’s latest book, but it definitely strikes a chord with adult me. In particular, as the mother of a 17-year-old who I want to not only protect but also see flourish and succeed, it’s a good reminder of the damage we do when we project our expectations on to others, filling in their blanks without really listening to their truth.

Smith, Andrew. The Size of the Truth. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019.

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FREE 2019 Summer of Space Learning Program!

In the summer of 2019, 16,000 libraries across the country will celebrate space exploration in their summer reading programs. The slogan “A Universe of Stories” was chosen by library professionals to help inspire children of all ages to dream big, believe in themselves, and create their own story. The Collaborative Summer Learning Program and STAR Net are partnering to share STEM resources with these libraries.

This summer learning program will coincide with NASA’s 60 years of achievement and its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

This is a free program funded primarily by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. All giveaways, resources, and activities are available at no cost.

In order to participate, your library must be a public library within the United States and register at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/universe-of-stories-registration

The 2019 Summer of Space campaign does not require a paid subscription. You will, however, receive one newsletter a month highlighting resources.

You can register multiple libraries and branches in your system separately, providing  an email address and point of contact for each.

The benefits of registering are: Access to STAR Net’s webinar series, a chance to win everything from a telescope, tactile books, and Scholastic books to NASA Stickers and calendars.  New and exciting activities that connect well with A Universe of Stories and blogs highlighting events and competitions around the U.S.

Be sure to visit http://www.starnetlibraries.org/summer-of-space/ for more information and programming resources.

ALSO,  SAVE THE DATE!

On Monday, July 15th, join us for a Live Webcast Event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission. This live webcast, brought to you by the American Museum of Natural History, will feature a guided recreation of the Apollo 11 voyage – the space-flight that landed the first two astronauts on the Moon.

Note: More info will be available in future newsletters.

 

 

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#BookFaceFriday “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”

I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as … this #Bookface!

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith BookFace Photo

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can’t see how beautiful it really is.” Help us celebrate Arbor Day with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!  “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith (Harper & Brothers, 1943). This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection and a great classic for every book club!

“A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life. . . . If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience.” (New York Times)

This week’s #BookFace model is NLC’s new Cataloging Librarian, Shoshana Patocka! She started at the beginning of April and shared a few fun facts about herself with us!

  1. She collects vintage paint by numbers and old Kodak Brownie cameras (really all things vintage).
  2. Memoirs always draw her in when nothing else will.
  3. She recently came across some of her books from when she was little, a few of which still had the checkout cards and book pockets she’d made for when she was playing library with friends!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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NCompass Live: Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award


NOTE: This show has been rescheduled for July 24.

Who will win the 2019 ‘Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award’? Find out on the next FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, July 24 May 1, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

The 2019 Golden Sower Award winners will be announced on May 1! Want to know more about how the Golden Sower Award was started and how titles end up on the list each year? Golden Sower Award Committee Chair, Kathy Schultz; and NLC Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Sally Snyder, will present the history and the process of the Golden Sower Award, including a look at the web site.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • May 8 – Small Libraries Can Run Code Clubs for Kids
  • May 15 – A Conversation with Nebraska’s New State Poet, Matt Mason
  • May 22 – Picture Book City: Reorganizing Our Storybooks by Subject
  • May 29 – Let’s Get Real About Virtual Reality

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Friday Reads – Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

It is unusual for libraries to be the subject of best-selling books and nationally distributed films. Though, in recent times, that has happened with the publishing of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People, Emilio Estevez’s film, The Public, and Frederick Wiseman’s epic film documentary, Ex Libris.

In Palaces for the People, libraries are a subject not the subject. The book title comes from Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic initiative to support the building of libraries as palaces of the people. Klinenberg contends that public libraries are essential to social infrastructure – defined as the “physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact.” Klinenberg, a sociologist, reflects on how common spaces, like libraries, can aid in repairing our degraded and fractured civic life. He points to a number of “palaces” vital to restoring the common good – parks, diners, farmer’s markets, churches, and more. As for libraries, Klinenberg writes that “Libraries are the kinds of places where ordinary people with different backgrounds, passions, and interests can take part in a living democratic culture.”

Klinenberg rightly recognizes that libraries are community places that have value for all – public programs, space for children and teens, reading spaces, broad-based reading materials, public computers, makerspaces, and much more. Some places are not for everyone, libraries are for everyone. Klinenberg says libraries are “the best case of a physical place that is open and accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity or race, social class, or even citizenship status. They’re places that are defined by generosity of spirit.”

Libraries are not what they could be. Budget reductions over time have taken their toll. Library funding at national, state, and local levels has declined or remained stagnant. Library staffing, public service hours, and collections have declined. A more positive thought is that libraries, resourceful as they are, have sought ways to increase and improve programming, explore new services, and demonstrate imagination in doing more with less. Klinenberg makes the case for social infrastructure investments. His contention is that financial support – investment – brings people together and builds stronger communities, just as important as public and private investment in the physical infrastructure of roads, bridges, and other components. Imagine what would be possible if times could change to add more funding to library budgets.

Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Modern Romance and the author of the acclaimed books Going Solo and Heat Wave. He has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and This American Life.

Eric Klinenberg. Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. Crown), 2018.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Good Neighbor”

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

"The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers" by Maxwell King BookFace Photo

It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor with this week’s #BookFaceFriday! If the sight of a red cable knit cardigan brings a smile to your face, and our opening line has a jingle playing in your mind, this is the book for you. “The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King (Harry N. Abrams, 2018). It’s a New York Times bestseller and the 2018 Goodreads Choice Award Winner for History & Biography. This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection and I can’t think of a better way to add some nonfiction to a book club!

“As the extreme importance of our most gifted teachers, and the credit they are due, become ever more evident, Maxwell King has provided a superb, thoughtful biography of the brilliant Fred Rogers, who with his long-running television show, reached more children than any teacher ever. The enormous amount of thought, creative talent, and hard work that Rogers put into every aspect of the show becomes abundantly clear in this book, as do the lessons in empathy and kindness that he took so to heart.  Much there is for all of us to learn in Maxwell King’s The Good Neighbor.” — David McCullough

This week’s #BookFace model is NLC’s Director, Rod Wagner! I’d like to note that we did not plan his wardrobe, it was pure kismet.

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, might as well say
Would you be my, could you be my
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Stoner

This book is a bit of false advertising, as it is nothing like the title suggests. Nevertheless, I did stick with it, after learning that Stoner actually is a reference to William Stoner, the main character in the novel by John Williams (1922-1994). The book was originally published in 1965. Stoner tells the story of William, born and raised on a small farm in Missouri, who eventually goes off to Columbia, MO to college. The original plan is for Stoner to complete a degree in agriculture, and then return to implement his knowledge for the benefit of the family farm. However, while in Columbia, Stoner develops an interest in literature, eventually earning his Ph.D. and subsequently teaching at the University in Columbia. While Stoner tells the semi-interesting story of his lackluster marriage, his relationship with his daughter, and life teaching English (including faculty relationships and conflicts), it is really more about his stoicism.

After reading more about stoicism, it sounds great in theory, but after reading Stoner I’m not buying what the stoics are selling. For some filler material, I also read a bit of the well-known stoic and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD), whose book Meditations is a mix of hell yes (“The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have”) and fortune cookie philosophy (“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy”). I dunno, sometimes it seems as though revenge along the style of Ray Donovan or Donnie Yen seems appropriate. Depends on the circumstances I suppose. OK – back to the stoics. Generally speaking, the stoic endures hardship or pain without feelings or complaint, and this is exactly the life of Stoner, sans a few very brief moments of joy and happiness. However, after reading Stoner I realized something I had not thought of before or maybe did not see. And that is that the stoic life seems to not only suffer through hardships without complaint (dispassionate), but to also be void of any passion. Let’s face it — sometimes I like to be passionate about the fact that I’m dispassionate about certain things. And that I think is where Stoner falls short, at least on a philosophical level. On a literary level, it’s an OK read, but man you really come away thinking that Stoner is a real sad sack.

Williams, John. Stoner. NYRB Classics, 2006.

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#BookFaceFriday “Public Library and Other Stories”

O magic place it was — still open thank God.

-Alexandra Harris

Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith Book Face photo

What could be more appropriate than this week’s #BookFaceFriday highlighting National Library Week! Celebrate with “Public Library and Other Stories” by Ali Smith (Anchor, 2016). Libraries = Strong Communities is this year’s theme and nothing could be truer. What can you do to help your community celebrate? Get out to your library, sign up for a library card, tell someone what you love about your library, and tell your local library staff how much you appreciate them! It’s that easy. This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is a great read!

Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we’ve read over our lives—our own personal libraries—make of us? What does the unraveling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?

The stories in Ali Smith’s new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.  — book jacket

This week’s #BookFace model is NLC’s Talking Book & Braille Service Audio Production Studio Manager, Gabe Kramer! He is the only one we could talk into laying on the sidewalk outside the office, so he deserves an extra high-five this week.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura realized as a child that she was different from everyone else. Her classmates and teachers were increasingly dismayed by her behavior and her family desperately wanted her to be “cured” and become “normal.” Until Keiko found her job at the Smile Mart convenience store during university, she felt doomed to be the odd one out.

But at Smile Mart, the world makes perfect sense. She can follow the employee behavior manual, mimic the speech and dress of her co-workers, and everyone seems happy with her. Flash-forward 18 years; working part-time at a convenience store is no longer enough to keep her friends and family satisfied, and Keiko finds that it is time for a change.

This story gives some insight into the importance of conformity in Japanese culture; it is more important to Keiko’s friends and family that she meet societal expectations, to get married or find a real career path, than to live a content life as a misfit…even if that marriage is dysfunctional or the career makes her unhappy. Keiko must decide if she will do as others think she should… or be true to herself. A short read, this humorous yet heart-breaking tale may have you wondering who the misfits really are.

Murata, Sayaka. Convenience Store Woman. Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, Grove Press, 2018.

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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 10, 2019

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

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

Nebraska students competed for the twentieth year in the annual Letters About Literature competition. They wrote to tell an author about how books can make a difference in a young person’s life. Young Nebraska writers who wrote winning letters in the Letters About Literature competition received award certificates from Gov. Pete Ricketts at a proclamation-signing ceremony celebrating National Library Week, April 7-13, 2019. Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program. Nearly 28,000 adolescent and young readers nationwide, in grades four through twelve, participated in this year’s Letters About Literature program-hundreds of them from Nebraska. The competition encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) who had an impact on their lives.

This annual contest is sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, with funding from Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. The Nebraska competition is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., Humanities Nebraska, and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

Young Nebraska writers to be honored are:

Winners
Payton Boyer, Alliance, for a letter to M. Ruben
Ruby Cunningham, Omaha, for a letter to Ishmael Beah
Gage Boardman, Valley, writing to Becky Albertalli

Alternate Winners
Maren Steinke, Lincoln, for a letter to Paul Griffin
Makenna Miller, Elkhorn, for a letter to J.D. Salinger
Kelsee Moffat, Oshkosh, writing to Nicholas Sparks

The students wrote personal letters to authors explaining how his or her work changed their view of themselves or the world. They selected authors from any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. Winners were chosen from three competition levels: upper elementary, middle, and secondary school.

The Nebraska winners are honored at a luncheon and receive cash prizes and gift certificates. Their winning letters are placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. They will advance to the national competition, with a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. for themselves and their parents. For more information about the competition see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html.

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.”

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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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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for March 2019.  Included are reports from a variety of Nebraska state agencies:  Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Nebraska Public Power District, University of Nebraska-Omaha Center for Applied Urban Research, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972, a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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