Category Archives: Books & Reading

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 November and December 2019:

Handbook of Narrative Analysis                                                                Luc Herman and Bart Vervaeck                                                            (Series: Frontiers of Narrative)

Stories are everywhere, from fiction across media to politics and personal identity. Handbook of Narrative Analysis sorts out both traditional and recent narrative theories, providing the necessary skills to interpret any story. In addition to discussing classical theorists, such as Gérard Genette, Mieke Bal, and Seymour Chatman, Handbook of Narrative Analysis presents precursors (such as E. M. Forster), related theorists (Franz Stanzel, Dorrit Cohn), and a large variety of postclassical critics. Among the latter particular attention is paid to rhetorical, cognitive, and cultural approaches; intermediality; storyworlds; gender theory; and natural and unnatural narratology.

Not content to consider theory as an end in itself, Luc Herman and Bart Vervaeck use two short stories and a graphic narrative by contemporary authors as touchstones to illustrate each approach to narrative. In doing so they illuminate the practical implications of theoretical preferences and the ideological leanings underlying them. Marginal glosses guide the reader through discussions of theoretical issues, and an extensive bibliography points readers to the most current publications in the field. Written in an accessible style, this handbook combines a comprehensive treatment of its subject with a user-friendly format appropriate for specialists and nonspecialists alike.

Handbook of Narrative Analysis is the go-to book for understanding and interpreting narrative. This new edition revises and extends the first edition to describe and apply the last fifteen years of cutting-edge scholarship in the field of narrative theory.

Mapping Beyond Measure : Art, Cartography, and the Space of Global Modernity                                                                                        Simon Ferdinand                                                                                    (Series: Cultural Geographies + Rewriting the Earth)

Over the last century a growing number of visual artists have been captivated by the entwinements of beauty and power, truth and artifice, and the fantasy and functionality they perceive in geographical mapmaking. This field of “map art” has moved into increasing prominence in recent years yet critical writing on the topic has been largely confined to general overviews of the field.

In Mapping Beyond Measure Simon Ferdinand analyzes diverse map-based works of painting, collage, film, walking performance, and digital drawing made in Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the United States, and the former Soviet Union, arguing that together they challenge the dominant modern view of the world as a measurable and malleable geometrical space. This challenge has strong political ramifications, for it is on the basis of modernity’s geometrical worldview that states have legislated over social space; that capital has coordinated global markets and exploited distant environments; and that powerful cartographic institutions have claimed exclusive authority in mapmaking.

Mapping Beyond Measure breaks fresh ground in undertaking a series of close readings of significant map artworks in sustained dialogue with spatial theorists, including Peter Sloterdijk, Zygmunt Bauman, and Michel de Certeau. In so doing Ferdinand reveals how map art calls into question some of the central myths and narratives of rupture through which modern space has traditionally been imagined and establishes map art’s distinct value amid broader contemporary shifts toward digital mapping.

The Mysterious Sofia : One Woman’s Mission to Save Catholicism in Twentieth-Century Mexico                                                                        Stephen J.C. Andes                                                                                        (Series: The Mexican Experience)

Who was the “Mysterious Sofía,” whose letter in November 1934 was sent from Washington DC to Mexico City and intercepted by the Mexican Secret Service? In The Mysterious Sofía Stephen J. C. Andes uses the remarkable story of Sofía del Valle to tell the history of Catholicism’s global shift from north to south and the importance of women to Catholic survival and change over the course of the twentieth century. As a devout Catholic single woman, neither nun nor mother, del Valle resisted religious persecution in an era of Mexican revolutionary upheaval, became a labor activist in a time of class conflict, founded an educational movement, toured the United States as a public lecturer, and raised money for Catholic ministries—all in an age dominated by economic depression, gender prejudice, and racial discrimination. The rise of the Global South marked a new power dynamic within the Church as Latin America moved from the margins of activism to the vanguard.

Del Valle’s life and the stories of those she met along the way illustrate the shared pious practices, gender norms, and organizational networks that linked activists across national borders. Told through the eyes of a little-known laywoman from Mexico, Andes shows how women journeyed from the pews into the heart of the modern world.

Nomad’s Land : Pastoralism and French Environmental Policy in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean World                                            Andrea E. Duffy                                                                                    (Series: France Overseas –Studies in Empire and Decolonization)

During the nineteenth century, the development and codification of forest science in France were closely linked to Provence’s time-honored tradition of mobile pastoralism, which formed a major part of the economy. At the beginning of the century, pastoralism also featured prominently in the economies and social traditions of North Africa and southwestern Anatolia until French forest agents implemented ideas and practices for forest management in these areas aimed largely at regulating and marginalizing Mediterranean mobile pastoral traditions. These practices changed not only landscapes but also the social order of these three Mediterranean societies and the nature of French colonial administration.

In Nomad’s Land Andrea E. Duffy investigates the relationship between Mediterranean mobile pastoralism and nineteenth-century French forestry through case studies in Provence, French colonial Algeria, and Ottoman Anatolia. By restricting the use of shared spaces, foresters helped bring the populations of Provence and Algeria under the control of the state, and French scientific forestry became a medium for state initiatives to sedentarize mobile pastoral groups in Anatolia. Locals responded through petitions, arson, violence, compromise, and adaptation. Duffy shows that French efforts to promote scientific forestry both internally and abroad were intimately tied to empire building and paralleled the solidification of Western narratives condemning the pastoral tradition, leading to sometimes tragic outcomes for both the environment and pastoralists.

Pathologies of Love : Medicine and the Woman Question in Early Modern France                                                                                        Judy Kem                                                                                            (Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World)

Pathologies of Love examines the role of medicine in the debate on women, known as the querelle des femmes, in early modern France. Questions concerning women’s physical makeup and its psychological and moral consequences played an integral role in the querelle. This debate on the status of women and their role in society began in the fifteenth century and continued through the sixteenth and, as many critics would say, well beyond. In querelle works early modern medicine, women’s sexual difference, literary reception, and gendered language often merge. Literary authors perpetuated medical ideas such as the notion of allegedly fatal lovesickness, and physicians published works that included disquisitions on the moral nature of women.

In Pathologies of Love, Judy Kem looks at the writings of Christine de Pizan, Jean Molinet, Symphorien Champier, Jean Lemaire de Belges, and Marguerite de Navarre, examining the role of received medical ideas in the querelle des femmes. She reconstructs how these authors interpreted the traditional courtly understanding of women’s pity or mercy on a dying lover, their understanding of contemporary debates about women’s supposed sexual insatiability and its biological effects on men’s lives and fertility, and how erotomania or erotic melancholy was understood as a fatal illness. While the two women who frame this study defended women and based much of what they wrote on personal experience, the three men appealed to male authority and tradition in their writings.

Nebraska During the New Deal : The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State                                                                                Marilyn Irvin Holt

As a New Deal program, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) aimed to put unemployed writers, teachers, and librarians to work. The contributors were to collect information, write essays, conduct interviews, and edit material with the goal of producing guidebooks in each of the then forty-eight states and U.S. territories. Project administrators hoped that these guides, known as the American Guide Series, would promote a national appreciation for America’s history, culture, and diversity and preserve democracy at a time when militarism was on the rise and parts of the world were dominated by fascism.

Marilyn Irvin Holt focuses on the Nebraska project, which was one of the most prolific branches of the national program. Best remembered for its state guide and series of folklore and pioneer pamphlets, the project also produced town guides, published a volume on African Americans in Nebraska, and created an ethnic study of Italians in Omaha. In Nebraska during the New Deal Holt examines Nebraska’s contribution to the project, both in terms of its place within the national FWP as well as its operation in comparison to other state projects.

Xurt’an : The End of the World and Other Myths, Songs, Charms, and Chants by the Northern Lacandones of Naha’                                  Suzanne Cook                                                                                    (Series: Native Literatures of the Americas and Indigenous World Literatures)

Xurt’an (the end of the world) showcases the rich storytelling traditions of the northern Lacandones of Naha’ through a collection of traditional narratives, songs, and ritual speech. Formerly isolated in the dense, tropical rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico, the Lacandon Maya constitute one of the smallest language groups in the world. Although their language remains active and alive, their traditional culture was abandoned after the death of their religious and civic leader in 1996. Lacking the traditional contexts in which the culture was transmitted, the oral traditions are quickly being forgotten.

This collection includes creation myths that describe the cycle of destruction and renewal of the world, the structure of the universe, the realms of the gods and their intercessions in the affairs of their mortals, and the journey of the souls after death. Other traditional stories are non-mythic and fictive accounts involving talking animals, supernatural beings, and malevolent beings that stalk and devour hapless victims. In addition to traditional narratives, Xurt’an presents many songs that are claimed to have been received from the Lord of Maize, magical charms that invoke the forces of the natural world, invocations to the gods to heal and protect, and work songs of Lacandon women, whose contribution to Lacandon culture has been hitherto overlooked by scholars. Women’s songs offer a rare glimpse into the other half of Lacandon society and the arduous distaff work that sustained the religion. The compilation concludes with descriptions of rainbows, the Milky Way as “the white road of Our Lord,” and an account of the solstices.

Transcribed and translated by a foremost linguist of the northern Lacandon language, the literary traditions of the Lacandones are finally accessible to English readers. The result is a masterful and authoritative collection of oral literature that will both entertain and provoke, while vividly testifying to the power of Lacandon Maya aesthetic expression.

**All synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press  (https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/)

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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 the 4th quarter of 2019.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services, reports from Nebraska Colleges and Universities, Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, Nebraska Broadband Initiative, 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.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

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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Friday Reads: Crosstalk, by Connie Willis

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

In Crosstalk by Connie Willis, a simple surgery to promote empathy between romantic partners goes hilariously wrong. It shows how constant, complete, personal connection is anything but desirable.  Briddey Flannigan should have known, since the cell phone company, (COMMSPAN) she works for in a  US city, is very nearly a model of what will come, with gossip seemingly carried on the breezes! And avoiding telling her family the news that she and her perfect boyfriend, Trent Worth will be having the implantation of a devise which will result in empathy,( if they are truly in love), before she tells her friends at work is, well, a lost cause.

The entire novel moves at a breakneck pace from one situation to another. Just as soon as Bridey has settled her family, her boyfriend Trent springs a speeded up surgery schedual on her, so she’s off to the hospital. And avoiding gossip and her family, by hiding her car. After seeing that her family has no boundaries where it comes to Bridey’s privacy one begins to see why she’s so secretive. And why she settles on the up and coming executive Mr. Worth,  and his push to get the EED (the empathy device) before they marry. Which her family and CB Schwarz think is a really bad idea–and they all email, call, or text her. She argues it’s been tested before, and that even celebrities have had it done, and that they are even having the Dr. who invented the device doing the surgery. The surgery goes well. The aftereffects are, well, telepathy.  And of course, the first person she hears  is not Trent, but CB Schwarz, who is naturally telepathic. 

Ms. Willis brings the claustrophobic and confusing experience that we imagine to be telepathy to a print page well. It can be confusing  for the reader as well, but having a sense of the harried life of Briddey, makes it worth a little push just to get through those passages. It also gives her new relationship with CB a understandably difficult start. And exposes the real reasons behind Trent’s wanting to get the EED before getting married, like other couples.

This is the perfect introduction to Connie Willis and her comic timing, her patter, and infectious humor and sense of irony. If you enjoy Crosstalk, you’ll enjoy, To Say Nothing About the Dog, and Bellwether.

Crosstalk, by Connie Willis, Del Rey, 978-0-34554067-6

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#BookFaceFriday – “Madness” by Zac Brewer

Mrs. Rochester’s got nothing on this #BookFace.

“We’re all mad here” for this week’s #BookFaceFriday, it’s “Madness” (Harper Teen, 2017) by Zac Brewer. “New York Times bestselling author Zac Brewer delivers his most honest and gripping novel yet, about a girl who believes she’s beyond saving—until she realizes the only person who can save her is herself.” -book jacket.

“Readers will cheer as [Brooke] navigates her way toward a degree of peace with her mental illness…Best-seller Brewer’s honest and highly personal story will speak to a wide audience.” (Booklist)

This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

This week’s #BookFace model is Amanda Sweet, our Technology Innovation Librarian!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 14

The Fourteenth Census: Census Day was January 1, 1920.

Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States on Census Day, January 1, 1920.

Authorizing Legislation

The date change for the 1920 census was requested by the Department of Agriculture. The department believed that in January, harvests would be completed and information about those harvests would still be fresh in farmers’ minds. Additionally, it argued that more people would be at home in January than in April.

The census act designated a three-year decennial census period, beginning July 1, 1919, during which time the Census Bureau was authorized to hire an increased work force at its Washington, DC headquarters and created a special field force to collect the data.

The act also authorized a census of manufactures to be taken in 1921, repeated every two years thereafter. Previously, the manufacturing census had been conducted every five years. The act further ordered a census of agriculture and livestock in 1925, repeated every ten years thereafter, and strengthened for penalties for those who refused to supply information or who supplied false information. These censuses, which had once been closely aligned with the decennial population count, were, by 1920, largely independent of each other.

The act also stipulated that the director could, at his discretion, furnish any governor or court with certified copies of census returns at the cost of making the search plus one dollar for certification. Individuals who wanted copies for genealogical or other purposes could also obtain them, so long as the information was not used to the detriment of the person to whom the information referred.

Enumeration

For the 1920 census, “usual place of abode” became the basis for enumeration. Individuals were enumerated as residents of the place in which they regularly slept, not where they worked or might be visiting. People with no regular residence, including “floaters” and members of transient railroad or construction camps, were enumerated as residents of the place where they were when the count was taken. Enumerators were also instructed to ask if any family members were temporarily absent; if so, these people were to be listed either with the household or on the last schedule for the census subdivision.

The format and information in the 1920 census schedules closely resembled that of the 1910 census. The 1920 census, however, did not ask about unemployment on the day of the census, nor did it ask about service in the Union or Confederate army or navy. Questions about the number of children born and how long a couple had been married were also omitted. The bureau modified the enumeration of inmates of institutions and dependent, defective, and delinquent classes. The 1920 census included four new questions: one asking the year of naturalization and three about mother tongue. There was no separate schedule for Indians in 1920.

Because of the changes in some international boundaries following World War I, enumerators were instructed to report the province (state or region) or city of persons declaring they or their parents had been born in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, or Turkey. If a person had been born in any other foreign country, only the name of the country was to be entered.

The instructions to enumerators did not require that individuals spell out their names. Enumerators wrote down the information given to them; they were not authorized to request proof of age, date of arrival, or other information. The determination of race was based on the enumerator’s impressions.

Intercensal Activity

The results of the 1920 census revealed a major and continuing shift of the population of the United States from rural to urban areas. No apportionment was carried out following the 1920 census; representatives elected from rural districts worked to derail the process, fearful of losing political power to the cities. Reapportionment legislation was repeatedly delayed as rural interests tried to come up with mechanisms that would blunt the impact of the population shift. Congress finally passed a reapportionment bill in 1929. The bill declared that the House of Representatives would be apportioned based on the results of the 1930 census.

The 1929 act provided for an automatic reapportionment by the last method used unless Congress moved proactively to prevent that from occurring. The act also authorized the 1930 and subsequent decennial censuses.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 13

The Thirteenth Census: Census Day was April 15, 1910.

William Howard Taft was President of the United States on Census Day, April 15, 1910.

Authorizing Legislation

Legislation for the 1910 census was introduced initially in December 1907, but was not enacted into law until July 1909. The delay resulted from a disagreement over the appointment of enumerators, with President Theodore Roosevelt insisting that they be hired through the civil service system and Congress seeking to retain them as patronage positions, as had been traditional. Roosevelt won this fight.

One new feature of the 1910 act was that it changed Census Day from June 1st, which it had been since 1830, to April 15. The director of the Census Bureau suggested this adjustment, because he felt that much of the urban population would be absent from their homes on summer vacations in June.

The act also did away with vital statistics inquiries on the questionnaire, but added questions about mines and quarries. A month before the census, an amendment to the act required an additional question on nationality or mother tongue of foreign-born persons and their parents. Because the questionnaires had already been printed, enumerators were instructed to add this information to column 12 (birthplace) of the form.

The enabling legislation for the 1910 census authorized funds for the newly established permanent Census Bureau to expand its permanent workforce and specifically created several new full-time positions, including that of a geographer, a chief statistician, and an assistant director. The assistant director, appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, was to be an experienced practical statistician. All non-presidentially-appointed census employees were hired on the basis of their scores in open, competitive examinations, administered throughout the country by the Civil Service Commission.

Enumeration

For the first time, enumerators in the large cities distributed questionnaires in advance, a day or two prior to April 15, so that people could become familiar with the questions and have time to prepare their answers. In practice, only a small portion of the population filled out their questionnaires before the enumerator visit, however. The law gave census takers two weeks to complete their work in cities of 5,000 inhabitants or more while enumerators in smaller and rural areas were allotted 30 days to complete their task.

Crises and Controversies

Difficulties with the tabulation process continued despite the presence of automatic counting machinery introduced in the most recent censuses. Correcting these problems delayed publication of some population numbers. Some census results, such as the total population of cities, were issued first as brief press releases, but were expanded into bulletins and abstracts that appeared as long as a year before the final reports were published.

Intercensal Activity

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Census Bureau took on an important new role. During the nation’s mobilization for the war, the Census Bureau was able to use its compiled population and economic data to report on populations of draft-age men, along with the different states’ industrial capacities.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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Nebraska Library Commission Awarded $28,000 for New Books and eBooks by Nonprofit First Book

Contact:
Christa Porter
402-471-3107
christa.porter@nebraska.gov

Melanie Boyer
202-639-0114
mboyer@firstbook.org

Nebraska Library Commission Awarded $28,000 for New Books and eBooks by Nonprofit First Book

LINCOLN, NE (December 23, 2019) – The Nebraska Library Commission’s Books2Kids Learning Initiative has been awarded $28,000 for new books and eBooks by First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need. The award is part of First Book’s OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will unlock more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 states and territories.

The Nebraska Library Commission’s Books2Kids Learning Initiative will use the award to reach out to schools, public libraries, Head Start programs, and Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Nebraska to encourage them to register in the First Book Marketplace. By purchasing books and eBooks through the Marketplace, recipients will provide children in need improved access to quality educational materials, programming, and experiences. Recipients will choose their own book and eBook titles, matching them to their specific community needs. Institutions interested in participating can visit the Books2Kids webpage to learn more.

“The Nebraska Library Commission is uniquely qualified to organize and coordinate this program as we work daily with schools and public libraries in communities with children in need. Our goal is to facilitate the improvement of educational opportunities for children across Nebraska.” said Rod Wagner, Nebraska Library Commission Director.

Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. Nebraska was among 12 states in the final cycle of awards. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.

“Education consistently ranks among the highest priorities for Americans, yet school funding is still below pre-recession levels in 23 states, and the need for resources is taking on an acute sense of urgency,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Educators are grossly under-resourced, especially in low-income communities, and working at maximum effort with what they have. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book is not only addressing a recognized national priority, we’re also supporting educators so they can provide the best education possible to kids in need.”

Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States. Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children. Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all. (References below).

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

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

About First Book

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 27-year history, First Book has distributed more than 185 million books and educational resources, with a value of more than $1.5 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its network of more than 450,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of particular need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children’s books.

For more information, visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

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NCompass Live: Best New Children’s Books of 2019: Discovering New Books for the Young and the Young at Heart

Discover New Books for the Young and the Young at Heart on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, ‘Best New Children’s Books of 2019’, on Wednesday, January 15, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

Attendees will learn the best (we think) children’s books in the categories of: Picture Books (Story time faves), Non fiction, and Middle Grade fiction, that were published within the last year.

Presenters: Dana Fontaine, Librarian, Fremont High School; Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Jan. 22 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Technology Solving Real-World Problems
  • Jan. 29 – Community Engagement: Straight Talk
  • Feb. 5 – Best New Teen Reads of 2019
  • Feb. 12 – Legal Research for Non-Lawyers and Librarians
  • Feb. 19 – 2020 One Book One Nebraska: All the Gallant Men

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 – “Midwestern Strange” by B.J. Hollars

The truth is out there… and it’s a #BookFace.

You see a lot of strange things in flyover country, unidentified drones, crop circles, Iowa fans. Learn all about them in “Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country” (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) by B. J. Hollars. This title is published by the University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program.

“Crazy tales, from the turtle the size of a dining room table, which turned an Indiana family’s life upside down, to stories of pancake-flipping visitors from outer space. Hollars meets some fascinating people in this quirky account that contends with the ways such oddities retain cultural footholds.”—Marjie Ducey, Omaha World-Herald

This week’s #BookFace models are Vern Buis, our Computer Services Director, and his trusty lieutenant, Janet Greser, Computer Help Desk Support !

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was banned or challenged in several communities. ALA’s Banned Book Spotlight quotes a complaint from one of the challengers, highlighting “shocking words of profanity, sexual innuendo and violence”. A reviewer on Goodreads recommends the book for older audiences because she is “all for letting kids enjoy their innocence for as long as possible”. This book does have adult themes, including alcoholism and child abuse, with the constant bitterness of death glaring between the pages.

Parents and schools can try to ban books and protect innocent minds. However, we cannot ban reservations to protect the innocent. For many kids living in these areas, life is not appropriate for a young adult audience. What is the alternative to life? We have a theme.

How do I know about reservation life? My dad is from the Bad River Band of Chippewa in Wisconsin. I grew up hearing the myths and legends of an amazing culture. The myths are better than the reality of that reservation. Poverty runs rampant, and alcohol and drugs are the strong thematic elements that propel many people through the day. The ones who leave the reservation are challenged to change their way of life. Reservations are often a small, tight-knit community. Leaving is traitorous. Leaving can mean you are no longer Indian. It’s like saying your skin changes color as soon as you cross the border. Not everyone thinks this way, and not every reservation is the same. But I’ve seen it often enough.

I didn’t grow up on the reservation. I grew up with the aftermath. That is another story. We’re here to talk about Junior, a Spokane Indian born with brain damage to alcoholic parents. He’s the protagonist of The Absolutely True Diary. This is the story of how he leaves the reservation by attending an all-white rural school, 22 miles from the reservation. He hitchhikes his way to school and back, catching fire and vitriol on both ends.

Yet he is determined to break free and make change happen. I’ve read the book, and concur that it is absolutely true. Change can be like raking over hot coals. The humor and cartoons make the pain bearable. Humor is the collection of small respites necessary to drive change to fruition. If you want to bear witness to the truth of life, laid bare by a teenage protagonist, please read this book. Read deeply, and take the wise words of a teenage Indian living through real, thematic elements: “Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community”.

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What’s Sally Reading?

YALSA Announces the 2020 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers List

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a division of the American Library Association (ALA),  announced the list on January 8, 2020 on their blog, The Hub.  You will see the committee also chose a “top ten” out of the 64 titles on the final list.

One of the titles selected as a top ten of the list is the graphic novel Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, a Nebraska author. Deja and Josiah (who goes by Josie) are great friends and have worked together each fall at the pumpkin patch. This is the last day of their last fall together. Deja is determined to get Josie to talk to his four-year crush – the Fudge Girl. He is reluctant. This final evening is a whirlwind of hitting different parts of the Patch trying to find his crush. They encounter a snack-thief, a runaway goat, the maze, lots of chances to eat, all as Josie suffers anxiety about actually talking to Fudge Girl.     As School Library Journal (8/1/19) says, “The characters in this graphic novel are so expressive and authentic, it’s impossible not to love them…the dialog is cute, funny, and punny…”

Ms. Rowell notes in the back of the book that the Pumpkin Patch in the novel is fictional. However, illustrator Faith Erin Hicks did travel to Omaha to join Rainbow Rowell in a visit to her favorite Omaha pumpkin patch. There is a fun conversation between them at the back of the book.

(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers. After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)

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Friday Reads: The Little Book of Big Feelings: an Illustrated Exploration of Life’s Many Emotions by Maureen “Marzi” Wilson

Being the good reader that I am every holiday season I make sure to include books on my gift list. (Yes, my family still does Christmas lists but that’s a story for another time.) Sometimes I’ll ask for the latest hot fiction title, or I might want a larger coffee table book that I’ve had my eye on but couldn’t justify the price. This year though I went with something small enough to fit in my stocking.

The Little Book of Big Feelings is authored and illustrated by Marzi Wilson, creator of “Introvert Doodles”. If you’ve ever wondered about the care and feeding of your fellow introvert, or are one yourself, I highly recommend checking her out. She has a lovely little Instagram page, perfect material to scroll through when that party gets to be a bit to much and you’re taking a moment to yourself behind a potted plant. She has three other books, as well, including an activity book!

This latest book takes a look at those big feelings we all get, joy, sadness, anger and so on, how they may look different to an introvert and, greatest of all, how to deal with them. Reading this book is a great way to get perspective on those emotions and even to start processing and accepting them. Each section deals with one particular emotion in small cartoons as well as meatier parts dealing with they psychology behind them. This is a fun and easy to grasp little book that, while slightly geared towards adults, would totally be useful for those fun balls of emotions that are teens.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney

Raise your hand if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more! One of the best ways to accomplish that goal is by joining a book club, and have some great ‘conversations with friends’ about books! “Conversations with Friends: A Novel” ( Hogarth, 2017) by Sally Rooney is a part of our book club kit collection. It’s also available to our Talking Book & Braille customers who are looking for a new read in the new year! Check out all of our Book Club titles and TBBS services to start tackling your goals today!

“An insightful look at what it’s like to be young, smart, and deeply confused about friendship and love . . . It’s like an Ask Polly letter in the form of a novel, in the best possible way.”The Cut

This week’s #BookFace models are Anna Walter and Holly Atterbury, two of our Talking Book & Braille Service Library Readers Advisors!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 12

The Twelfth Census: Census Day was June 1, 1900.

William McKinley was President of the United States on Census Day, June 1, 1900.

Authorizing Legislation

In the act authorizing the 1900 census, Congress limited census content to questions dealing with population, mortality, agriculture, and manufacturing. Reports on these topics, called “Census Reports,” were to be published by June 30, 1902. The act also authorized special census agents to collect statistics relating to incidents of deafness, blindness, insanity, juvenile delinquency, and the like; as well as on religious bodies; utilities; mining; and transportation, among others. These statistics were to be collected following the completion of the regular census. The preparation of the special reports developed from these statistics was to be accomplished in such a way so as to not interfere with the completion of the Census Reports.

The act also changed the title of the chief officer of the Census Office from “supervising clerk of the census” to “director of the census.” Additionally, a new position, assistant director of the census, to be filled by “an experienced practical statistician,” was established. The director was given the power to appoint staff based on noncompetitive examinations. However, in practice, positions were given to political referrals.

Enumeration

The Departments of War and the Navy enumerated military personnel (including those who were abroad). Indian Territory was enumerated with the cooperation of the commissioner of Indian affairs.

Hawaii, which had been annexed in 1898, was included in the census for the first time. (A census of Puerto Rico and Cuba had been carried out by the War Department in 1899. Under the direction of the Philippine Commission, a census of that territory was taken in 1903.)

Intercensal Activity

In 1902, the formerly temporary Census Office was made a permanent organization within the Department of the Interior. In 1903, it became the Census Bureau and was moved to the new Department of Commerce and Labor.

The transition from a temporary to a permanent agency was sometimes controversial. One of Congress’s goals in creating the new department was to centralize many of the overlapping statistical offices scattered throughout the bureaucracy; Census Bureau officials attempted, without much early success, to assume the role as chief statistical agency of the federal government. These aspirations were hindered, in part, by the Census Bureau’s subordinate position within the Department of Commerce and Labor.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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NCompass Live: Summer Reading Program 2020: Imagine Your Story

Join us online tomorrow as we get ready for the 2020 Summer Reading Program Imagine Your Story on NCompass Live with the NLC’s Children and YA Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder.

NOTE! This NCompass Live will be on Tuesday December 31, due to the New Year’s Day holiday. It will be at the usual time, from 10am – 11am Central Time.

Log in at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgID=18875

Get ready for next summer by learning about quality books to consider for your library’s collection and start planning for Imagine Your Story. Kids will be clamoring for both fiction and nonfiction titles as they explore the worlds of fairy tales, myths, legends, and even their families’ own stories of their history. These are the topics for the 2020 Summer Reading Program.

Presenter: Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Nebraska Library Commission

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Jan. 8, 2020 – Rescheduled due to technical issues – United for Libraries – Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations: The Voice for America’s Libraries
  • Jan. 15, 2020 – Best New Children’s Books of 2019: Discovering New Books for the Young and the Young at Heart
  • Jan. 22, 2020 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • Jan. 29, 2020 – Community Engagement: Straight Talk
  • Feb. 5, 2020 – Best New Teen Reads of 2019
  • Feb. 12, 2020 – Legal Research for Non-Lawyers and Librarians

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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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 11

The Eleventh Census: Census Day was June 2, 1890.

Benjamin Harrison was President of the United States on Census Day, June 2, 1890.

Authorizing Legislation

An act signed into law March 1, 1889 authorized the census of 1890, which was modeled after the 1880 enumeration.

Enumeration

Because June 1 was a Sunday, the 1890 enumeration began on June 2. The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, except Alaska and the Indian Territory. Subdivisions assigned to a single enumerator were not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. In cities designated by 1880 census results to have populations under 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.

The 1890 questionnaire retained almost all of the inquiries from the 1880 census, and a few new questions were added. The 1890 census included a greater number of subjects than any previous census and more than would be included in those immediately following. New entries included questions about ownership and indebtedness of farms and homes; the names, as well as units served in, length of service and residences of surviving Union soldiers and sailors and the names of the widows of those who had died. Another new question dealt with race, including “Japanese” as a category for the first time, along with “Chinese,” “Negro,” “mulatto,” “quadroon,” “octoroon,” and “white.”

The population schedule was changed so that a separate sheet was used for each family, irrespective of the number of persons included.

As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations of manufactures, Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education, insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by experts and special agents.

For the first time, enumerators were given detailed maps to follow so they could account for every street or road and not stray beyond their assigned boundaries.

Technological Advancement

The 1890 census was notable as the first in which the electric tabulating system, invented by former Census Office employee Herman Hollerith, was used. Tabulation of the 1880 census results took almost a decade to complete, and officials hoped Hollerith’s machine would alleviate delays caused by relying on hand counts and rudimentary tallying machines to process data.

Hollerith’s machine required information from the census questionnaires to be transferred to a card, which was hole-punched at various places to indicate the characteristics – age, sex, color, marital status, etc. – of a person enumerated. The cards were then run through an electronic tabulating machine, which, using metal pins to complete circuits through the punched holes, counted or cross-tabulated different characteristics.

Intercensal Activity

Robert P. Porter served as superintendent of census until his resignation on July 31, 1893. On October 3, 1893, Congress enacted a law that directed census-related work to continue under the direction of the commissioner of labor. On March 2, 1895, a further act of Congress closed the Census Office and transferred the unfinished work to the office of the secretary of the interior, where it continued until July 1, 1897.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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Friday Reads: Exile from Eden, by Andrew Smith

Exile from Eden, the featured title in this Friday Reads, is the sequel to Andrew Smith’s 2014 apocalyptic novel, Grasshopper Jungle, which I claimed as my new favorite book in a July 15, 2016 Friday Reads. I guess, therefore, this is a sequel Friday Reads.

Exile from Eden begins sixteen years after six-foot-tall praying mantises with a taste for human flesh forced Austin Szczerba, Robby Brees, and Shann Collins, along with Robby’s mother, Connie Brees, her boyfriend, Louis Sing, Shann’s mother and stepfather, Wendy and Johnny McKeon, and Austin’s dog, Ingrid, to hole up in an underground bunker, called Eden. During these sixteen years, Johnny McKeon and Ingrid have died, and Arek Szczerba and Mel Sing have been born. Arek is the son of Austin and Shann, though he considers Robby his second father. Mel is the daughter of Connie and Louis.

Narrated by sixteen-year-old Arek, Exile from Eden tells the story of what happens when he and fifteen-year-old Mel leave Eden (or, as Arek calls it, “the hole”) to search for Austin and Robby, who have failed to return from one of their regular supply-gathering missions. A road trip adventure ensues. As was the case with Grasshopper Jungle, however, Exile from Eden is about so much more than a mere plot summary would suggest. After all, as Austin stated in Grasshopper Jungle, “[g]ood books are about everything.”

In Grasshopper Jungle, Austin was obsessed with recording history and telling the truth. In Exile from Eden, Arek, his son, also ruminates on truth—how we construct it for ourselves and try to convey it to others: “All stories are true the moment they are told,” Arek states in the opening sentence of the book. “Whether or not they continue to be true is up to the listener” (3).

Because he was born and raised in the hole, Arek has no firsthand knowledge of the before-the-hole world, and extremely limited exposure to the new post-apocalyptic world outside the hole. To address this deficit, his father, Austin, brings back artifacts—including books, maps, and paintings—to try to build a model of the world for Arek. As Arek discovers after leaving the hole, however, “the model . . . is not the thing” (110). This leads him to further epistemological exploration of what we can know and how we can know it:

. . . My father’s model of the world was supposed to represent everything that was outside the hole. The only thing that can re-present anything real is the thing itself. No models can ever adequately perform that job.
    The model presents—and re-presents—only the model, and nothing more.
    And the data—what’s really outside the hole—does not call to us, so we must go to it, and then interpret its meaning with our incompetent human minds. The data is mute; we give it an imperfect voice. (110)

Exile from Eden juxtaposes the before-the-hole world, with its rules and protocols, shame and inhibitions, with the terrifying, unstructured freedom offered by the after-the-hole world. In Eden, Arek’s grandmother, Wendy–“SPEAKER OF LAWS” (20), believer in following instructions, and segregator of the sexes—represents the pre-hole world. The promise of the post-hole world, on the other hand, is captured most powerfully by a line from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, recited by Arek’s father, Austin, after he and Arek finish reading the book aloud to each other: “In landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God” (244).

At one point, Austin tells Arek “you and Mel are like the first humans on earth. You are the new people, without the baggage everyone carried with them, without end, from before” (188). Indeed, after months outside the hole, Arek describes Mel and himself as “joined to the world outside, not as pieces of a model, but as the thing itself” (347).

In the final chapter, when he and Mel finally reunite with Austin and Robby, Arek, channeling Melville, describes himself as “Shoreless Man.” And when Austin asks how he likes it outside the hole, Arek replies “There are no rules, and it’s wild” (353). Based on the premise set up throughout the book, this is a good thing and a happy ending.

Smith, Andrew. Exile from Eden. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2019.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Curmudgeons, Drunkards, & Outright Fools by Thomas P. Lowry

As you prepare to ring in the new year, don’t get caught in a compromising position like those in our #BookFaceFriday, Thomas P. Lowry’s “Curmudgeons, Drunkards, & Outright Fools: Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels” (Bison Books, 2003). Lowry details the misdeeds and misfortunes of fifty colonels and lieutenant colonels during the war between the North and South. This title is published by Bison Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state documents program.

Lowry has taken the genre of the historical underside to its proper scholarly limits; he has coupled the lurid and the weird with excellent research and analysis. – Civil War Times

This week’s #BookFace model is neither curmudgeon, nor drunkard, nor fool. It’s Matt Hier, our new Audio Production Studio Manager!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Mr. Dickens and His Carol” by Samantha Silva

Bah! Humbug! and Happy Holidays from #BookFaceFriday!

Don’t let the ghost of Jacob Marley get you down! A good book, a cozy blanket, something warm to drink. This is the perfect recipe to put any Scrooge into the holiday spirit. We have ten copies of “Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel” by Samantha Silva (Flatiron Books, 2017) and an audio version for our TBBS users as well. Reserve it for your book club to read next holiday season! You should also take a peek at all of our holiday-themed book club kits!

In the collection we have 114 holiday titles, 81 of which have 4 or more copies. If a library is looking to weed some of their holiday titles – they can think of us because we’re always happy to add to this particular collection!

These titles are very popular in November and December, with some book club groups reserving their choices up to a year in advance! NLC staff keep their eyes peeled for holiday-themed books year-round in order to meet the demand come the first snowfall.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a charming, comic, and ultimately poignant story about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written. It’s as foggy and haunted and redemptive as the original; it’s all heart, and I read it in a couple of ebullient, Christmassy gulps.”
―Anthony Doerr

This week’s #BookFace model could be considered by some, our very own office Scrooge, but with a heart of gold. It’s Jerry Breazile, our Business Manager!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Nebraska During the New Deal–The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State by Marilyn Irvin Holt

I don’t generally read a lot of non-fiction, but occasionally I come across a title that really catches my Nebraska history eye: Nebraska During the New Deal : the Federal Writers Project in the Cornhusker State. And for those not already familiar with the writing of Marilyn Irvin Holt (The Orphan Trains, Children Of the Western Plains, and others), her meticulous research and insightful writing never disappoints. I highly recommend her newest title as another excellent example of the history of Nebraska and the Nebraska spirit.

As a New Deal program, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) aimed to put unemployed writers, teachers, and librarians to work. The contributors were to collect information, write essays, conduct interviews, and edit material with the goal of producing guidebooks in each of the then forty-eight states and U.S. territories. Project administrators hoped that these guides, known as the American Guide Series, would promote a national appreciation for America’s history, culture, and diversity and preserve democracy at a time when militarism was on the rise and parts of the world were dominated by fascism.

Marilyn Irvin Holt focuses on the Nebraska project, which was one of the most prolific branches of the national program. Best remembered for its state guide and series of folklore and pioneer pamphlets, the project also produced town guides, published a volume on African Americans in Nebraska, and created an ethnic study of Italians in Omaha. In Nebraska during the New Deal Holt examines Nebraska’s contribution to the project, both in terms of its place within the national FWP as well as its operation in comparison to other state projects.  (University of Nebraska Press)

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