Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy

Talk about “johnny-come-lately,” just last week I picked up a paperback copy of this title at a used-book sale at Greenwood Public Library. I had gone there on a trip back from Papillion to see the renovation completed in Greenwood, partly with money from the Kreutz Bennett Donor Advised Fund. I’d been meaning to read something by Maeve Binchy for years but hadn’t, fascinated as much by her name as anything. I’m sure Binchy fans are probably appalled that I’d waited so long. Now, as it turns out, this title is the very last one she wrote; she died shortly after finishing this book.

A Week in Winter tells the charming story (actually many stories) of a host of eventual guests at Stone House, a new guest house located in what had been a run-down mansion on the west coast of Ireland, high overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Three elderly sisters, had lived a “beans-and-toast” existence there, with Queenie the only survivor. The proprietress of this venture is a former resident of Stoneybridge, the town in which the place is located. She has returned from a long stay in the States with some money to invest in her hometown. Her story is that she is returning following the death of her spouse in a car wreck. As with many of the characters in this story, however, her biography is not quite as presented to the world.

A cast of characters descends upon Stone House during its first week in business, from many venues – the U.S., Sweden, England, Ireland (of course), and so forth. The author sets the scene with each one coming to this “restful place for a holiday by the sea” for quite different reasons. One guest couple wins second place in a travel contest (and they’re not happy about not going to Paris instead). One of the staff is sent there following a reform school stint. Another guest arrives following a devastating affair. (She’s the librarian!) Another received her stay as a retirement gift from teaching. (She is probably the only character who is not rejuvenated by her stay.) Still another — the one from Sweden – is faced with taking over his father’s button-down business, while he’d rather be playing music in local Irish pubs.

My guess is that Binchy fans will love this book. It felt to me a bit like what one of the characters says: “Problems don’t solve themselves neatly like that, due to a set of coincidences.” It does appear that the circumstances in which each character finds herself or himself are too easily “wrapped up” in the story. However, the author is such a good writer that I think I’ll try at least one more title. Any suggestions out there about which of her other nineteen titles is worth a go?

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Friday Reads : The House Girl

HouseGirlThe House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Conklin’s use of alternating chapters weaves together the story of an escaped slave in pre–Civil War Virginia, and a determined junior lawyer in present-day New York City. The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.  While retracing Josephine’s often-elusive path, she also uncovers some troubling facts about her own life and parents, and the startling lie that formed the basis of her childhood and young adulthood.

I started listening to The House Girl on audio, then was so caught up by the story, that I checked out the book from Lincoln City Libraries.  Definitely a good read!

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Nebraska Libraries Invited to Host Readathon Event on May 21

50204652016readathonSaturday, May 21 is National Readathon Day, a day dedicated to the joy of reading and giving, when readers everywhere can join together in their local library, school, bookstore, and on social media (#Readathon2016) to read and raise funds in support of literacy. Nebraska libraries are invited to partner with the American Library Association (ALA), Penguin Random House, and libraries across the country by hosting events to benefit ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, a program that supports the early literacy development of children from birth to age five in libraries across the nation. For more information see

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Friday Reads: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

ruthThis book came to my attention after I listened to Debra Winger read My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia precipitated selecting this title from my queue since Ginsburg and Scalia were known to have been fast friends despite their ideological differences. I am ashamed to confess how wholly unaware I was of the tremendous gender inequity around me as a younger woman.  Like watching episodes of Mad Men it is an all too visceral reminder of just how far we’ve come and how much we’ve yet to accomplish.

One reviewer wrote “her appointment to the Court by Bill Clinton will be seen as one of his greatest accomplishments” and I’m inclined to agree. Her quiet and pragmatic work on issues of equity and equality have made the world a little better and a little freer. Her uncanny ability to know which cases were ready to go forward and those that were not is helpful to think about as I examine current issues being debated in state legislative houses.

Learning about RBG’s marriage was a revelation of both envy and delight. I’ve always admired those kinds of partnerships and this book made me appreciate Marty as much as Ruth. Supporting Ruth and her career was his proudest accomplishment. It reminded me of Paul and Julia Child’s marriage.

The life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one worth knowing and one easily presented in this quick read. I don’t believe this book is meant to be a definitive biography of RBG but it is a tremendous introduction.

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New Nebraska State Agency Publications

Nebraska StatehoodNew Nebraska State Agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for March 2016. Included are Annual and Audit reports, publications from the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Roads, Nebraska Public Power District, the Nebraska Legislature, and new titles from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

ramonaWhile we are celebrating National Library Week, we can also celebrate an author many of us have cherished – Beverly Cleary – who turns 100 tomorrow. My neighbor sent me the following article from the New York Times and I was delighted to learn how she got started writing and also to learn that she was a librarian! One of Cleary’s quotes from the article is worth sharing: “As a child, I very much objected to books that tried to teach me something … I just wanted to read for pleasure, and I did. But if a book tried to teach me, I returned it to the library.”

If you would like to check out copies of Cleary’s books for your book group, here are the titles we own: The Mouse and the Motorcycle (8 copies); Ramona and Her Father (5 copies); and Ramona and her Mother (5 copies). As the article indicates, Ramona is her favorite character but isn’t directly modeled on her. “I was a well-behaved girl,” she said, “but I often thought like Ramona.” Happy Birthday Beverly, we are grateful for the wonderful characters you gave us.

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Friday Reads: “Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health,” by B.K.S. Iyengar,

iyengaryogabookcoverIf you know me, you will not be surprised to hear that I’m obsessed with a book about yoga. The thing is, it’s not just a book about yoga; it is THE book about yoga. I’ve borrowed it from (several) libraries dozens of times, bought it for myself and others, and talked about this book to so many people that, frankly, people are starting to drift away at cocktail parties when I bring it up. But since I assume that most of the readers of this post are librarians, I’ll continue on.

If you’ve appreciated the proliferation of yoga classes in contemporary culture, you might have this author to thank for it. Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.) Iyengar is considered the father of modern yoga and the teacher that opened the door to yoga to the Western world. Called “Guruji” by millions of devoted followers, he was honored with a Google doodle showing him in yoga poses last year on what would have been his 97th birthday to celebrate his practicing, teaching and writing about yoga for more than seventy-five years. It has been said that B.K.S. Iyengar could hold a headstand for nearly half an hour well into his eighties. He died in 2014 at the age of 95.

This book provides concise information on the history and philosophy of yoga, but the bulk of the book is devoted to photos and text on how to practice the classic yoga postures (asanas). The book promises: “Yoga is for everyone. You do not need to be an expert or at the peak of physical fitness to practice the asanas described in this book…This book focuses on techniques, so that even a beginner will have a thorough understanding of how to practice the asanas in order to obtain the maximum benefit. By using a few simple props, students with different capabilities can gradually build up strength, confidence, and flexibility without the threat of strain or injury.” And it delivers on this promise with step-by-step instruction on each asana, featuring photos from different angles. The instruction stresses proper alignment and breathing, with variations from beginner to advanced practitioner. The section on Yoga Therapy offers specific asanas to treat specific ailments by rejuvenating the body and then addressing the cause of the ailment. I can attest to the fact that I have come to the mat with a backache and left without it, but the book stresses the importance of steady, consistent, sequential practice—no quick fixes here.

Whether you only have one book on yoga in your collection, or dozens, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar, is one you’ll want to review. And the best way to review it is to try it out on the mat. Namaste…mjr

PS: If you wonder why I have had to borrow it from several libraries, it’s heavy (large format, 400+ pages, 4.2 pounds) and I don’t take it with me when I travel—but I can’t seem to go more than a few sessions on the mat without referring to it. So wherever I travel, I have to have it. Thank you public libraries across the country for loaning me this great book.




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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

April 1, 2016

Mary Jo Ryan

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

Young Nebraska writers will receive Letters about Literature award certificates from Gov. Pete Ricketts on April 6, 2016 at a proclamation-signing ceremony celebrating National Library Week, April 10-16, 2016. Letters about Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program. Nearly 50,000 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, and Houchen Bindery Ltd.

Young Nebraska writers to be honored are:

Conleigh Hemmer, Lincoln, for a letter to Patricia McKissack
Madeline Walker, Lincoln, for a letter to Ray Bradbury
Colette Mahr, Chadron, for a letter to Laurie Halse Anderson

Alternate Winners
Carson Bredemeier,
Falls City, for a letter to Laura Hillenbrand
Janna Marley, Lincoln, for a letter to Kate DiCamillo
Julia Briones, Lexington, for a letter to Khaled Hosseini

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 will be honored at a luncheon and receive cash prizes and gift certificates. Their winning letters will be 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 see

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.


The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website,


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NCompass Live: NLC’s Library Development Sampler

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “NLC’s Library Development Sampler”, on Wednesday, April 6, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

The Nebraska Library Commission’s Library Development Services department has gone through some big changes in the last year, and we’d like to update you on what we’ve been up to. Join the Library Development Team to meet our new Continuing Education Coordinator, Holli Duggan, and hear her ideas for the CE Program, learn about the many grants we provide for Library Improvement and Youth Services, find out what’s in the works for future Summer Reading programs, catch up on Librarian and Board Certification and Library Accreditation, get an update on the E-rate program, and much, much more!

Presenters: Richard Miler, Library Development Director; Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services; Holli Duggan, Continuing Education Coordinator; Christa Burns, Library Development Consultant; Linda Babcock, Staff Assistant, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • April 13 – Innovation on a Shoestring: Free & Cheap Tools
  • April 20 – Collaborative Community Outreach for Local History and Genealogy
  • April 27 – Lessons Learned Establishing a Technology Makerspace
  • May 4 – Welcome the World to Your Library: Creating a Multilingual Library Introduction Video

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: Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

tellthewolves_I think my colleagues will be glad that I’m finished with this book, as I’ve been an emotional wreck every afternoon after listening to another installment over my lunch hour. The story is set in 1987, in and around New York City, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.  Several chapters in, 14-year-old June Elbus’s beloved uncle and godfather, Finn, dies of the disease. Fractures between June and her 16-year-old sister, Greta, which began prior to Finn’s death, open further, leaving each alone with her unique pain. And June’s mother, Finn’s sister, is so caught up in her own grief and resentment that she doesn’t see how her personal issues have contributed to her daughters’ crises.

A major catalyst for the emotional drama of the story is the secret June’s mother forced Finn to keep from June as a condition of him being allowed to be a part of her life: the very existence of his beloved partner Toby, with whom he shared his apartment and life. June learns of Toby’s existence at Finn’s funeral, when her mother spots him outside the funeral parlor, and her father tells June and Greta to alert him if “that man” tries to enter the building.

Several weeks after the funeral, Toby contacts June with a gift from Finn and a request to meet secretly, as she is, according to his note, “perhaps the only person who misses Finn as much as I do…” Thus begins a tentative and covert friendship, orchestrated in part, we find out, by Finn, which brings both comfort and additional pain to June.

What totally guts me about this book is the degree to which pain begets pain, especially between people who love each other. Greta’s pain, an outgrowth of her growing estrangement from June, along with pressure from her mother to not pass up any opportunities, even those she’s not ready for, leads her to cruelly and repeatedly lash out at June – behavior that, counterproductively, just causes more pain and further estrangement.

Similarly, the pain June and Greta’s mother holds on to from her own past – the abandonment she felt when Finn left home at seventeen; her jealousy and regret over the fact that he became the famous artist in New York City, while she wound up an accountant in the suburbs – leads to her irrational ultimatum about Toby, and its cascade of consequences. Her goal may have been to hurt Toby and teach Finn he “couldn’t have everything,” but her daughter June suffers significant collateral damage. Disoriented upon learning how much she didn’t know about Finn, June questions the very foundation of their relationship – essentially losing him twice. And even though she gets some of Finn back through Toby, she struggles with feelings of humiliation at having thought herself the most important person in Finn’s life at a time when everyone else knew he had Toby.

While this book doesn’t come with a “happily ever after” ending, it does suggest that, moving forward, there is hope for redemption and reconciliation for June, Greta, and their mother. Perhaps more significantly, it serves as a powerful reminder to those of us muddling through the mess of our own lives to resist acting out of pain and instead choose love.

Brunt, Carol Rifka. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. New York: Dial Press, 2012.

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NCompass Live: Womb Literacy: a Parent-to-be-Program

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “Womb Literacy: a Parent-to-be-Program”, on Wednesday, March 30, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Womb Literacy is a cutting edge initiative at North Liberty (IA) Community Library that encourages expecting families to learn about early literacy skills and develop daily literacy routines like reading to their child while they are still in the womb. Parents will feel more confident as their child’s first teacher and better prepared to continue those habits after their child is born. Womb Literacy includes three programs: a Baby Fair, Stork Storytime Podcasts and Read to the Bump. Just as it’s never too late to develop a love of reading, it’s never too early either.

Presenter: Jennifer Jordebrek, Assistant Director, North Liberty (IA) Community Library.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • April 13 – Innovation on a Shoestring: Free & Cheap Tools
  • April 20 – Collaborative Community Outreach for Local History and Genealogy
  • April 27 – Lessons Learned Establishing a Technology Makerspace

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: The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz

the girl in the spider's webAs a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series I was curious to find whether David Lagercrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web would be a worthy continuation of Larsson’s work. Labeled as the fourth book in the series, Lagercrantz, in my view, extended the series with notable success. While a number of readers have posted comments that the book doesn’t have the suspense of Larsson’s books, among other things, I wasn’t disappointed in this one.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web includes a mix of high level intellectual property theft, corruption, Lisbeth Salander’s evil twin sister, a Mikael Blomkvist perceived as a no longer revered investigative reporter, a rogue National Security Agency security chief, the usual police suspects, and an autistic child with a genius for math and drawing. Add in a number of familiar characters from Larsson’s earlier works plus several new ones, and plenty of bad guys. Most interesting is always the girl – Lisbeth Salander – a legend among hackers, fearless, clever, fiercely independent, and unhinged.

I borrowed both hard copy and the audiobook from Lincoln City Libraries. Now I’m ready for the movie. Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara?

Lagercrantz, David, and George Goulding. The girl in the spider’s web. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf). 2015.

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Friday Reads: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Cover Art

I have had this on my list for a while. Since I am not a dog person, nor a car person, I overlooked it until now. I have already recommended it to friends of the 2-legged variety (dog-owning, car-driving or otherwise) because it isn’t a dog story or a car story…it’s a life story.

Enzo, a Lab-Shepherd-Doodle mix and the narrator of the story, would agree he is man’s best friend. When up-and-coming racecar driver Dennis brings him home as a puppy, their friendship and Enzo’s life lessons begins. As the mostly silent partner in the relationship, we are taken inside Enzo’s head to analyze the action taking place as Denny meets and marries his wife, Eve, and they add little Zoe and they struggle with the curves in their road of life. As the old boy ages, he looks back in this memoir of a 4-legged friend who is more compassionate then some humans, understands more than you realize, and looks forward to a applying the lessons he learned in a future life as a man.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so

I listen very well. I never deflect the course of the conversation with a

comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the

direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like being a

passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns

you down a side street…”

Enzo’s listens and learns from all his humans as well as the television, which Denny leaves on for him during the day. All this information will help prepare himself for his next life on two legs. As Denny shares his successes or losses on the track, and they review race video, his dog learns how the art of racing and navigating life lessons overlap.  Humor of life as a dog is interwoven with these because, of course, a dog can’t know everything and be everywhere. The author cleverly inserts that fact into Enzo’s stream of consciousness as he tries to share with us what he has pieced together about life and about the story’s action involving his family for which he wasn’t allowed to be present.

I am an audiobook reader and have recently discovered the art of downloadable collections from my local library. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was hearing Enzo “speak,” given voice by actor Christopher Evan Welch (1965-2013); you are just listening to a friend share his trials and tribulations. I hope you will love it as much as I did, and maybe you will learn some lessons along the way that you can apply in your next life—as a dog.

PS—Garth Stein, the author, has also adapted this for youth under the title Racing in the Rain.

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Resources for Financial Literacy Month


April is Financial Literacy Month – a great time to think about money programs and displays. And, the last week of April is Money Smart Week, a national financial education recognition week. Here are some things you can consider as we head into this big money month:

Webinar: CFPB: Partnering with Libraries to Financially Empower Patrons

The CFPB has two webinars planned for later this month. The first will be hosted by the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Federal Depository Library Program. The CFPB will be providing an overview of our Community Financial Education Libraries Initiative. If you’re new to this program, or just want a refresher on what the program offers and how to access the free resources we provide, then register today.

The 60-minute webinar will begin at 2 p.m. (EDT) on March 23. The webinar is free, but you must register.

Webinar: Financial education resources for parents

The second webinar will focus on new resources we’ve developed just for parents and children. Parents and caregivers want to get their children off on the right financial footing, but many times don’t know where to start. So, we’re introducing the CFPB’s new Money as You Grow website, which provides the framework and resources to help.

This 60-minute webinar will start at 2 p.m. (EDT) on March 24. To join, access the webinar login page at the day and time of the event. For audio, dial 888-795-5920 and enter participant passcode 7173562.

Order free money books, brochures, worksheets and more

Now’s the time to place your orders for free money guides, worksheets and other materials from the CFPB and other government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Social Security Administration, Department of Labor and others.

Plus, if you’re hosting a Money Smart Week event at your library, you can order free posters, bookmarks and more.

Need money related program ideas?

Stumped over what to do for Financial Literacy Month or Money Smart Week? Take a look at our list of program ideas for suggestions on topics, resources, partners and more.

Our webinar archive can also help you generate ideas. We have more than a dozen to choose from, including:
Retirement planning tools and resources
Helping patrons spot and avoid fraud
New home-buyers (and owners) toolbox
How to promote your financial education program

National my Social Security Week

One of our national partners, Social Security Administration (SSA) will hold National my Social Security Week April 4 – 13, 2016, during Financial Literacy Month.

To help raise awareness, SSA provides a toolkit that includes web graphics, social media posts, web banners, and other ready-to-use content to help us spread the word about the importance of opening a my Social Security account.

Creating a my Social Security account gives workers access to their personalized Social Security Statement. It’s free, fast, and secure. The Statement provides estimates of future benefits to help with financial planning. Workers can also use it to check their earnings information. This is important because we base benefit calculations on a worker’s earnings.

As an added feature this year, we are setting aside Thursday, April 7, 2016 as Check Your Statement Day, during which time we will encourage workers to access and review their Social Security Statement and join the millions who regularly check their Statement.

Digital resources

Promote financial education digitally with our free electronic graphics and marketing materials. Add financial screen savers to your computers or web banners to your website. Plus, access the CFPB’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages to share our posts, info-graphics and videos with your patrons, like this video from CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

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Friday Reads: Carsick by John Waters

carsick“It wasn’t until I started reading and found books they wouldn’t let us read in school that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.”
― John Waters

Let’s just say right off the top, if you’ve already heard of John Waters and have seen and didn’t care for his movies, you probably will not like this book. If you weren’t offended by his films (Ok, if you might have been just a bit moderately offended but not totally disgusted to the point that you could no longer watch), this book could be right up your alley. For me, it certainly was! I loved it, laughing harder than I have in months. Maybe even years! Crammed full of carnival oddities, raw direct adult language, filth (both general and specific), the grotesque, and other assorted deviances, this book is definitely not for the squeamish. Consisting of various explicit stories told in the most humorous of fashions, the basic premise is that Waters (often called the Pope of Trash or the People’s Pervert) hitchhikes from his home in Baltimore to his second home in San Francisco and then details his experience on the road. The first two parts of the book are fiction and are told in a fashion very Waters-esque, living up to his aforementioned unofficial titles. Part one is a chronicle of what his journey across the country would be like from a best case scenario perspective; part two from a worst case perspective. The final third of the book details what actually happened in his hitchhike across the country. We salute and thank you, John Waters (and my local library for including this book in the collection), for feeding the soul of the low brow reader.


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What’s Sally Reading?

School Library Journal’s “Battle of the Kids Books” and

28th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

School Library Journal’s “Battle of the Kids Books” began on March 7th. Find out more here or go here to learn the results of Round 1, Match 1.  I just have to say that the term “kids’ books” that School Library Journal is using is a bit misleading. The first match was between The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman… decidedly not kids’ books (depending on how you define “kids”). Otherwise, enjoy the contests!

The 28th annual Lambda Literary Awards, often call the “Lammys,” “celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2015.”  A total of 321 publishers provided a record-breaking 933 submissions for the various categories this year.  Scroll down the list on the web page and within the 25 categories of finalists you will find the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category which lists eight finalists.  Winners will be announced on June 6, 2016.

Harper007 A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper is a picture book I predict many public libraries will add to their collections.  Little Card was trained to be a birthday card, but learns there was a mix-up and now he is to be delivered to a library – where he runs in the door and shouts “Happy Birthday!”  Little Card soon learns his new duties and becomes the library card for a girl.  Imagine his glee when he learns that while birthdays only happen once a year a library card can be used almost every day!  It is fun to see things from a different perspective, that of the new library card.  Another good choice for preschool through grade 1.

(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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New Nebraska State Agency Publications

Nebraska StatehoodNew Nebraska State Agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for February 2016. Included are Annual and Audit reports, publications from the Department of Natural Resources, Local Emergency Operations Plans from various Nebraska counties, reports from the Nebraska Legislature, and new titles from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Friday Reads: The Library of Shadows

I discovered The Library of Shadows, by Mikkel Birkegaard, while browsing the shelves of a Borders store that was having a Going Out of Business sale. Of course, it caught my eye because of the word Library in the title. And the cover looked kind of supernatural, which definitely made it even more attractive to me. I wasn’t completely sure about it though, when I saw that it was translated from the Danish. But, I’m glad I picked it up, because it ended up being a really good story!

LibraryofShadowsAs it turns out, there are people in the world who, when they read books aloud, can control how others feel and think – manipulating listeners and immersing them completely into the story. They are called Transmitters. On the other side, there are also people who can connect with a Transmitter, called Receivers. They can focus the energy of a Transmitter, enhancing their storytelling ability, making the effect of their reading even stronger. Together, they are part of a secret society who’s original goal was to help people develop a better enjoyment and understanding of literature. But, as happens with powers like these, there are other factions who have used these abilities for nefarious purposes.

As you read the book, you are discovering this strange new world along with Jon Campelli, who has inherited a bookshop from his father, which just happens to be a secret gathering place for people with these talents. Jon’s father has most likely been murdered and then the shop is fire bombed, forcing him to explore this mysterious society as he tries to solve his father’s murder and find out what the shadowy group who committed these crimes is really up to.

Since Jon knows just as much as you do about these people, meaning absolutely nothing, a reader can easily identify with him and understand his confusion and awe as he learns more about them. It’s a very original story concept, at least I’ve never heard of anything like this. In between the fast-paced action scenes, and many cliffhanger chapter endings, the history and workings of this ancient organization are very well developed. If you are a fan of mysteries, magic, and reading, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

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NCompass Live: What is this New Adult Fiction: A new category of literature or stepped up YA novels?

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “What is this New Adult Fiction: A new category of literature or stepped up YA novels?”, on Wednesday, March 2, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

In the last few years we’ve witnessed a boom in Young Adult literature both in the marketing of books and its readership. YA literature includes many firsts such as: first crush, first kiss, first love, first moral dilemma. The birth of New Adult literature takes it one step further. As the YA readers age out publishers are seeing New Adult as the next, new step. But what does New Adult literature mean for editors, publishing companies and librarians? A few years ago, editors at St. Martin’s Press held a contest. The results helped them to coin the term New Adult Fiction. What were they thinking when they came up with the term? And who did they think the readership would be? How did Indie authors impact the market? And where do you place these works of fiction in your collection? In this presentation we will: define New Adult Fiction and explore its history, identify books and publishers, and analyze its fast-paced success. At the end of the session, participants will: understand the significance of New Adult Fiction, identify motivated readers, and consider innovative ways to promote and integrate New Adult Fiction into their collections.

Presenter: Ann Matzke, former Children’s Director, Wilson Public Library, Cozad, NE.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • March 9 – Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides
  • March 23 – Beyond the CMS: From to SOPAC3, new technologies at work
  • March 30 – Womb Literacy: a Parent-to-be-Program
  • April 20 – Collaborative Community Outreach for Local History and Genealogy

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: Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary, by Gail Jarrow

Jarrow213As a child I first heard the term “Typhoid Mary” as a term, not a person, and did not think much more about it until I read Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. The author provides clear and concise information about the disease and how it is spread. She then focuses on Mary Mallon and the effort that went into identifying and locating her.

The author gives a brief history of typhoid fever, noting that is has been around since prehistoric times. Then she brings the reader to January of 1903 in Ithaca, New York, where typhoid fever infected a number of local citizens as well as Cornell University students. The author tells of the disease, how it was transmitted, and efforts to reduce the possibility of contracting it. The New York State Commissioner of Health contacted George Soper, a sanitary engineer, who had helped Galveston, Texas deal with sanitation issues and disease following a deadly hurricane. The clean-up of the wells, cesspools and outhouses in Ithaca, along with the installation of a filtration system took several months.

Determined to prevent future outbreaks Soper was soon on the trail of one individual he felt was responsible for spreading the disease in 1906 and beyond. His efforts, along with assistance from others, and Mary Mallon’s viewpoint that she was being harassed for no reason, are documented throughout the rest of the book.  Mary continued to assert she had never contracted typhoid fever and thus could not infect others. Mr. Soper insisted that she must have had a light case that was not diagnosed and continued to carry the disease, his opinion eventually being verified after she was detained and tested.

This account reads like a detective novel and a tragedy. One person feeling persecuted and other people suffering from a terrible disease. Reading this put in my mind a real person who was appalled when the name “Typhoid Mary” first appeared in the newspaper. She had always been honest and worked hard and couldn’t understand why people were so convinced she was spreading disease.

The book includes period photographs, posters, cartoons, and newspaper items that convey the living conditions of the time and the suggestions for avoiding disease. Source notes, a bibliography, and an index are also included.

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