Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: Disrupted

disrupted_coverIn Disrupted, Dan Lyons tells the story of his time working as a writer (mostly blogs) for the tech startup company HubSpot. Prior to working at HubSpot, Lyons had a number of writing gigs and most of them were technology related. His previous work included writing for Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired, and writing the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog. When his position at Newsweek was eliminated, he found himself looking for work at the age of 50, while married with two kids to take care of (his wife had medical issues and was not working at the time). He started the search for new employment and eventually landed at HubSpot, a company that provides software for “inbound marketing.” Disrupted tells the story of Lyons searching for and then subsequently obtaining new employment (and the challenges that go with that) as an “older” adult (and with much younger colleagues), but also his general experience working within the unique tech environment. While not geographically Silicon Valley (HubSpot is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts) Lyons provides an apt description of an insider’s view from within a tech startup.

Lyons, albeit somewhat reluctantly, accepted the job at HubSpot for a few different reasons. For one, it was geographically close to home and his family. Secondly, he had a number of friends who reaped large financial benefits from working in tech startups (and had vouched that HubSpot was indeed legit), so there was a motivation of financial self interest. And thirdly, after writing about tech issues and companies for so long he was curious about experiencing the culture from an insider’s perspective. His experiences, as Disrupted details in often humorous and depressing fashion, were overall less than stellar. As he became immersed in the HubSpot culture, the realism of the organization he now was a part of settled in:

“This is the peppy, effervescent, relentlessly positive, incredibly hubristic and overconfident attitude that everyone in the HubSpot marketing department exudes from [the head] on down. These people are super cheery cheerleaders. The whole world of online sales and marketing is filled with people who listen to Tony Robbins audiobooks on their way to work and dream of unleashing the power within themselves, people who love schmaltzy, smarmy motivational-speaker guff about being passionate, following your dreams, and conquering fear.”

Lyons has now moved on from HubSpot, subsequently writing for HBO’s Silicon Valley (a gig he started while still at HubSpot). The thing that Lyons nails is his apt portrayal of the culture, including how these startups often don’t really make money, the lack of diversity (and apparent non-concern about it), sexism and ageism (Mark Zuckerberg once said that “Young people are just smarter”), and more concern with the fact that employees have bean bag chairs, ping pong tables, and unlimited supplies of beer, candy, and hype than actually producing a decent product that the average person understands. Lyons sums this up when mentioning the co-founders of Twitter (incidentally, Twitter hasn’t ever turned a profit), specifically Biz Stone, who has an estimated net worth of $200 million. Since leaving Twitter, Stone started two companies, Jelly and Super. As Lyons notes, no one understands what the companies actually do, including Stone himself:

“I know this is eye-rollingly, hallucinogenically optimistic…but our mission is to build software that fosters empathy.”

If you are interested in an insider’s view of tech startups, Disrupted is an easy and most entertaining read. If you liked HBO’s Silicon Valley, you would also like this book. And for the record, if you want to foster empathetic relationships, begin with your day to day interactions with real life human beings. Start with Hi. You don’t need software for that.

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NCompass Live: 2016 One Book One Nebraska: The Meaning of Names

Join us for next week’s NCompass Live, “2016 One Book One Nebraska: The Meaning of Names“, on Wednesday, June 22, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

In this twelfth year of One Book One Nebraska, Nebraska libraries and other literary and cultural organizations continue to plan activities and events to encourage all Nebraskans to read and discuss the same book. Join us to hear more about this statewide reading promotion activity, sponsored by the Nebraska Library Commission, Humanities Nebraska, and the Nebraska Center for the Book.

We are very pleased to announce that our featured guest will be Karen Gettert Shoemaker, author of the 2016 selection, The Meaning of Names.

Join Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner and Nebraska Library Commission Communications Coordinator Mary Jo Ryan to:

  • Learn about how to create a successful local reading promotion using Nebraska’s year-long, statewide celebration featuring The Meaning of Names, by Karen Gettert Shoemaker.
  • Brainstorm strategies to read and discuss The Meaning of Names, a Nebraska-set novel with a World War I backdrop, which follows a German-American woman trying to raise a family in the heartland and keep them safe from the effects of war and the influenza panic, as well as from violence and prejudice.
  • Find tools to help engage your community in local activities to encourage them to come together through literature to explore this work in community-wide reading programs.
  • Learn about the Celebration of Nebraska Books, set for October 29, which will celebrate this book, along with the winners of the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • June 29 – Innovating Access to Information with Libraries Without Borders
  • July 6 – Making Your Catalog Work for Your Community: How to Develop Local Cataloging Standards
  • July 13 – Libraries on the Edge

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: Seneca Falls Inheritance

For this weSenecaFallseks’ Friday Reads, I’ve decided to share a book related to my chosen craft, librarianship – Seneca Falls Inheritance, by Miriam Grace Monfredo.

As a historian and former librarian, Monfredo definitely has the skills and knowledge to write a fun and clever historical murder mystery. The story takes place in 1848 in upstate New York State during the first Women’s Rights Convention, and is the first in a series featuring librarian Glynis Tryon.

The feminist in me loves this book for the independent Glynis, who has been asked by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to help organize the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. The fact that Glynis is a librarian doesn’t hurt either. She’s a smart, stubborn, educated woman struggling to solve a woman’s murder in her small town. The New Yorker in me feels very much at home in Seneca Falls, a city I have actually visited myself.

I’ve re-read Seneca Falls Inheritance at least three times now, and I still find it both educational and entertaining. There are five more titles in this series, so once you’re hooked on Glynis and her adventures, there’s plenty more to read.

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Doc Spot : Firearm Laws in Nebraska–A Legislative Research Office Backgrounder

                                                                                             Firearm Laws in Nebraska–A Legislative Research Office BackgrounderCoverL3800B039-2016 provides an overview of laws  governing firearms in Nebraska. It also describes federal firearm laws to the extent they constitute a framework for state law.

Firearms are governed by myriad laws at the state and federal level. For purposes of this Backgrounder, we focus on laws pertaining to buying handguns, carrying concealed handguns, criminal history background checks, and the role of federally licensed firearms dealers. We also provide a reference guide to Nebraska’s other firearms laws, a chronology of significant federal law, and supplemental firearms information in a “Q and A” format.

This Backgrounder is not intended to take a position on the ownership, possession, sale, or use of firearms—issues many find polarizing—nor to offer legal advice. In writing this report, we have endeavored to be neutral on firearms while providing information during a time when the debate over firearms has intensified.

As evidence, at least 20 proposals pertaining to firearms were pending before the Legislature in 2016. (A list of the proposals can be found in Appendix B.) We hope senators and the public, in debating firearm issues, will find the information contained in this report to be a useful, introductory guide to Nebraska’s firearm laws.

The content of this report relies on state and federal laws and supplemental material produced by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

In addition, several individuals aided our understanding of the nuances of firearm laws. In particular, we would like to thank Nebraska State Patrol Captain Mike Jahnke and Jeff Avey, records analysis supervisor, criminal identification division of the patrol.

If you have further questions about firearms, or any area of legislative interest,
please contact the Legislative Research Office, 402-471-2221.

This publication can be printed out by clicking the picture or title link above.
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Friday Reads: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo


Longo055Harper (17) and her best friend Kate have held to the plan for their futures since sixth grade: to become ballerinas and share an apartment in their home city of San Francisco. Then things fall apart. Kate is on her way to their dream, Harper is not. Her body cannot do what Kate can do. With her dream lost, Harper goes to Antarctica to “winter over” for six months as a research assistant (and to patch herself back together). Told in alternating chapters of “Antarctica” and “San Francisco” the book slowly reveals what Harper should have seen coming but chose to ignore. Booklist says, “An adventure story with lots of heart.”

I found this book interesting because Harper knew little about Antarctica or the science studies connected with wintering over, but she lucked into a lesser assistant position. The reader learns about Antarctica and what Harper’s strong points are as Harper learns them (though a couple of times I did want to whack her upside the head). Still, people have to learn in their own time and way – and that does happen for Harper. I liked that Harper was good at her job, organizing the scientist’s notes and data. Ultimately she is generous to an unlikable member of the winter over team.

An unusual setting for a teen novel, it features two people who were dedicated to their futures and approached them with unfailing intensity and effort.  To lose that would be devastating, and it does take Harper quite a while to move ahead.

Longo, Jennifer. Up to This Pointe. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016.

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Friday Reads: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

eligibleYou may be familiar with Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia; their mother desperate to make them good matches, and their father smart enough to try to stay out of the way.  But what if Liz Bennett was a magazine writer, Jane a yoga instructor, Mary focused on her online degree, Kitty and Lydia into CrossFit, and the family lived in Cincinnati circa 2013?

Meet Curtis Sittenfeld’s 21st century Bennett family.  In this retelling, Liz and Jane have moved to New York City to pursue their careers, but the rest of the girls still live at home in Ohio, where Mr. and Mrs. Bennett belong to the local country club and ignore the decay of their Tudor home, their rapidly dwindling fortune, and the failing state of Mr. Bennett’s health.  After their father ends up hospitalized, the older daughters return home, and Mrs. Bennett wastes no time in trying to set up one of her girls with reality television star-slash-ER-doctor Chip Bingley.

While a romance blossoms between Chip and Jane, Liz finds herself fending off advances from tech-whiz Cousin Willie and trying to save her family members from themselves.  Enter neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy and…well, if you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, you already know how this one goes…

Sittenfeld, Curtis. Eligible. New York: Random House, 2016.

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New Government Publications Received at the Library Commission

Nebraska StatehoodNew state government publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for May 2016.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, the Nebraska Criminal Justice Partners, the Nebraska State Electrical Division,  Mid-America Transportation Center, and the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Eleanor & Park to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

June 1, 2016

Mary Jo Ryan

Eleanor & Park to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

The Nebraska Center for the Book selected Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) to represent Nebraska at the 2016 National Book Festival. The book is the state’s selection for the National Book Festival’s “Discover Great Places through Reading” brochure and map. Each state selects one book about the state, or by an author from the state, that is a good read for children or young adults. The brochure and map will be distributed at the Festival on September 24 and featured in the “Great Reads about Great Places” links on the websites of both the National and Nebraska Centers for the Book.

Set over the course of one school year, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—outsiders that meet on the school bus who are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but are brave enough to try. Nebraska’s “Great Reads about Great Places” book is chosen from former Nebraska Book Award winners and this book was awarded the 2014 Nebraska Book Award in the Young Adult Fiction category. Entries for this year’s Nebraska Book Awards will be accepted until June 30—see

The National Book Festival will feature presentations by award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Festival goers can meet their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with mascots and storybook characters, and participate in a variety of learning activities. States will staff exhibit booths to promote reading, library programs, and literary events. Find out more about the 2016 National Book Festival (including a list of featured authors) at

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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Friday Reads: The Reckoners (series)

Action! Adventure! Supervillains!

An unknown Calamity has caused certain people to develop all sorts of extraordinary superpowers. With their new abilities, these Epics have also become quite corrupted and seemingly invincible. Using their powers for destruction and control, the world has become fractured with people living under the Epics’ rule. The good guys are a small band of ordinary people called the Reckoners who are fighting back against the Epics with the help of Prof and his fantastic technology.

The series begins with our scrappy (and sometimes awkward) protagonist, David, in his obsessive quest to join the Reckoners and take down one of the most powerful Epics, Steelheart, who killed his father ten years earlier. Twists and turns move the story along very quickly as David and the Reckoners face the war that they’re about to start.

In all of his writing, Brandon Sanderson’s world-building and magic (or superpower) systems are incredible. He’s a favorite. I haven’t listened to any of the audiobook versions, but according to other reviews, MacLeod Andrews does a wonderful job with narration.

Random House Kids. (2013, September 5). Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Leave a comment : Recovering from identity theft is easier with a plan…

IdentityTheft.govWhere do identity theft victims turn for help?  For many, it’s the same place they turn whenever they’re stumped — their local library.  They know a librarian will find the right resource to help them recover from a crime that affects millions of people every year. is that resource, a free government site to report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, build a step-by-step personalized recovery plan, and put that plan into action.


How it works:

Go to and answer some questions about what happened.  The site will:

  1. Build your customized recovery plan
  2. Walk you through each recovery step
  3. Track your progress and adapt to your changing situation
  4. Pre-fill letters and forms that you can use to deal with businesses, debt collectors, and even the IRS.

How libraries can use

  1. Use it to give your patrons advice.  If your library has a secure network, help them report the theft and and open an account.  If not, give them an fact sheet and suggest they visit the site from a secure network or using their mobile phone’s cellular data.
  2. Order free bookmarks and factsheets!  Visit Bulkorder and order as many bookmarks and fact sheets as you need for FREE.
  3. Visit  Get more consumer tips and tools; they’re free and in the public domain.  You can use the content in your library’s newsletters, share them online, and even put your library’s logo and branding on them.

Please use these materials to empower yourself and your community to fight back against identity theft!


Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, General, Information Resources, Library Management, Programming, Technology, Uncategorized, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Fold, by Peter Clines

The FoldThey tried to create a teleportation machine (a transporter, if you’re familiar with Star Trek), but after much study, came to the realization the present technology can’t support the theory. So they moved the project and attempted a different approach.   This team of  DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) scientists in the California desert who believe they have created a portal that “folds” dimensions so a traveler may move hundreds of miles with one step. At budget time the agencies involved aren’t getting the information they believe they should. And even the head of their project in Washington is getting some odd vibes from the group, so he sends his own form of investigative team in to check on everything. A high school English teacher, Leland “Mike” Erikson, who looks like Servius Snape, college edition.

Mike, as he prefers to be known, had an eidetic memory, and an extremely high IQ. The combination makes him a perfect fit for the  Sherlock Holmes role. Mike is interesting, and the way he handles his memory makes the concept approachable. It also adds an interesting dimension to some of the things we take for granted, like forgetting painful experiences, and the immediacy of grief.

And yet, even for Mike, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with the Albuquerque Door, as they’ve named this machine that fold space. There have been nearly 400 human tests, without an injury. “Nine people, two hundred and sixteen rats, six cats, and a chimpanzee,” (p.49) have been through the door, and not one lost. And yet all the scientists, engineers, and programmers, who have been the test subjects are uneasy, and want to continue to do tests. Until something does go wrong. Of course, it goes so badly wrong that everyone is stunned, and someone dies.  This group is small, again, just six people, who outsource for medical or any other services.

Oh, yes the secret comes out, and the situation goes downhill fast. This becomes on of those Nantucket sleigh rides, and with very interesting twists. Just as you think you understand what’s going on, Mr. Clines throws you a curve, some from left field. And in the end, some logic, luck, and fast thinking saves the day. Just not neatly, cleanly, and with some odds and ends.

It is definitely an adult work of Science Fiction, Fantasy/Horror, some parts are not for the squeamish, and it is thriller territory. But it is a fun, and satisfying read, with quips, humor, and interesting characters.

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Helping Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students… U.S. Department of Education: Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students

DEdlogoThe U.S. Department of Education is committed to providing schools with the information they need to provide a safe, supportive, and nondiscriminatory learning environment for all students. It has come to the Department’s attention that many transgender students (i.e., students whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth) report feeling unsafe and experiencing verbal and physical harassment or assault in school, and that these students may perform worse academically when they are harassed. School administrators, educators, students, and parents are asking questions about how to support transgender students and have requested clarity from the Department of Education. In response, ED has developed Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students.
To see, and/or print this 25 page report, click on the title above.
Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, General, Information Resources, Library Management, Programming, Uncategorized, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | Leave a comment

NEST 529, College Savings Plan Scholarships!

We are excited the NEST 529 contest continues for this year’s summer reading program. It is the opportunity for children and teens, ages 3-18, to have their names entered into a drawing for a $529 scholarship. Fifteen names will be drawn, five each from our three Congressional Districts.  In order to be included in the drawing, children and teens need to complete their library’s summer reading program, as determined by each individual public library.  Additionally, each winner’s home library will receive $250.

Information, Official Rules, and a sample file for name submissions can be found here.

Instructions included on Tab 1 of the sample submission file are:

  • Please inform parents or guardians of the library’s intention to submit the children’s names for the drawing.  The parent or guardian has the right to exclude their child from the drawing.
  • Print out and post the Official Rules for the NEST 529 drawing.
  • As stated in the Official Rules — “Eligibility: Participation is open only to individual, legal Nebraska residents 3 to 18 years of age as of the date of entry.”
  • Include a phone number &/or email address to contact each child/teen. (Space for these is included on Tab 2 of the Excel file designed for submission.)
  • Libraries must submit contestant information electronically to the Library Commission.
  • If you do not have Excel or another spreadsheet program, send us the names electronically in an email.
  • In order to receive the scholarship, after the drawing the parents of the winners must agree to establish a 529 College savings account.
  • Email the completed file to Sally Snyder by the Deadline of 11:59:59 p.m., CT, on August 25, 2016.
  • Visit this Library Commission web page for links to the complete rules and a poster to display in your library.

Have a fun summer!

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NCompass Live: University of Nebraska Press Collection at the Nebraska Library Commission

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “University of Nebraska Press Collection at the Nebraska Library Commission”, on Wednesday, May 18, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Mary Sauers and Allison Badger, from the Nebraska Library Commission, will be talking about the history of the University of Nebraska Press, a history of Nebraska Press books at the Nebraska Library Commission, and many examples of the wide variety of titles in our collection. They will also talk about the monthly blog posts showcasing individual state documents and new NE Press books.

Presenters: Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian, and Allison Badger, Cataloging Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • May 25 – Creating a Blended Learning Space in Your Library
  • June 1 – The Librarian as Candidate: Activating Activists for Funding, and Election Day Outcomes – Details
  • June 8 – Why Use Google Books?
  • June 15 – Passport to Vermont Libraries
  • June 29 – Innovating Access to Information with Libraries Without Borders

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 Disaster Artist, by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

tdaNo one would seek out a bad meal. If you heard a friend rant about an awful vacation, you wouldn’t check prices for the next flight there. But art is different: it can entertain and stimulate even when it fails to accomplish its goals. Sometimes especially when it fails. “Bad art” is not always bad—under the right conditions, it can be sublime. And if it’s entertaining, is it really bad?

The Room has been called “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”. Written and directed by Tommy Wiseau, a shadowy character of unknown origin, the film is essentially a tragic love triangle involving a banker, his unfaithful fiancée, and the banker’s best friend. It seems to be standard fare, but The Room delivers this routine story through a narrative that’s full of quickly-dropped disease and drug subplots, continuity errors, and astonishingly incoherent dialogue (“You don’t understand anything, man! Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!”). If aliens who had never interacted with humans tried to stage an episode of Melrose Place, it would feel like The Room. One early review described it as “like getting stabbed in the head.” Some films leave you with questions about existence, ethics, art—the first question that comes to mind after viewing The Room is “how could this happen?”

This book explains how. Some things are outlined in more detail than others, as Sestero respects Wiseau’s famous reluctance to discuss his past. In fact, the book’s strongest moments capture the friendship between Sestero and Wiseau. I was concerned that The Disaster Artist would be full of jabs at Wiseau’s hubris and that sometimes happens, but the book generally presents him as a sometimes kind and warm, if very naïve and very, very strange, person. It’s rather analogous to the Tim Burton biopic about Ed Wood in its loving treatment of an outsider. And it’s surprisingly well-written, given that it’s ostensibly a book about a baffling cult film. The narrative is split between Sestero’s real life adventures with Wiseau and a day-by-day account of the film’s production, but its back-and-forth structure never becomes confusing. Unlike The Room itself.

It’s the perfect time to see The Room and read this book, as there are two related films set to be released this year—a mockumentary starring most of the original cast and a posh studio adaptation of The Disaster Artist featuring Bryan Cranston and Sharon Stone, among others. You will probably never surpass me in terms of Room fandom (so don’t worry), but you will be ahead of the curve if 2016 turns out to be a year of Room fever. And you will also know all about the flying vampire car that didn’t make into the final version of the film. Yes, really.

In my opinion, a bad film is a boring film (oh, hi, The English Patient). The Room and its brethren (like Troll II and Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam) are endlessly entertaining and rewatchable. The Disaster Artist captures the energy and atmosphere that make these films unique. They’re surreal and special. Not bad.

Sestero, G., & Bissell, T. The disaster artist: My life inside The Room, the greatest bad movie ever made.

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What’s Sally Reading?

A Great Resource: Disability in Kidlit

The Disability in Kidlit web page offers the opportunity to look beyond stereotypes to the reality of disabilities. The “About” section on their web page states, “Disability in Kidlit is dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. We publish articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective.”

The book reviews presented on the site are of titles that feature a child or teen with a disability, reviewed by people who often also have that disability, to give librarians and others a better idea of what to look for when selecting books for their collections or recommending titles for readers.

Heling062Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play by Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook will draw in young listeners during story time.  Each two-page spread features a clothesline holding things like a shirt, shorts, maybe gloves, a hat, or such, with an item or two on the ground that correspond to a particular sport.  It then asks “What sport does he (or she) play?”  The kids will shout the answer, and the next page also tells the answer.  This is a title I missed for my 2016 summer reading program booklist so I am happy to let you know about it now.  An earlier title by the same authors and illustrator is Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do, which I also recommend.  Thank you to Sandy at Lincoln City Libraries for bringing these books to my attention.

(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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Reading List Released for Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Erin Willis, Lincoln City Libraries, 402-441-8516

Reading List Released for Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial

The Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, in partnership with the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Nebraska Library Commission, has released the Nebraska 150 Book List, the authorized reading list for the celebration of Nebraska’s 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial in 2017. The list of 150 books can be found at, and the Nebraska Library Commission will mail reading resources to libraries, museums, historical societies and bookstores statewide.

The Nebraska 150 Book List is an ongoing statewide community reading initiative endorsed by the Nebraska 150 Commission. The purpose of the book list is to represent the spectrum of Nebraska books; to increase the understanding of the different cultural aspects of the state, past and present; to inform Nebraskans of the literature of the state; and to encourage readership of books from the list in preparation for the celebration activities.

Nebraska 150 Books is one of many programs funded by Humanities Nebraska, which awards about $300,000 in grants each year. Created in 1973 as a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Nebraska is an independent, nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of public and academic members. Humanities Nebraska funds programs that explore Nebraska’s heritage, build community awareness and strengthen our ties to cultural traditions at home and abroad.

The Nebraska Cultural Endowment is a public/private partnership that allocates funds to Humanities Nebraska for programming and grant making. For a copy of Humanities Nebraska grant guidelines, visit; call 402-474-2131; or email The address is 215 Centennial Mall South, Suite 330, Lincoln, NE, 68508.

Additional support for the Nebraska 150 Book List is provided by Firespring, the Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln City Libraries and the Nebraska 150 Commission. For more information on the sesquicentennial celebration, visit

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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Friday Reads: The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma Obioma’s book, The Fishermen, is one of those novels that’s perfect for book groups or for individual reading, because you can feel through it, or think through it, or both. This compelling page-turner has characters that the reader will be emotionally invested in, but it’s also a novel that’s good for discussion for groups who want to take more time with the unpacking. It’s a good recommendation for the reader wanting a straightforward narrative, as well as the reader looking for symbolism, mythic undertones, and classic themes, all written with a fresh voice.

The story is set in 1990s Nigeria, and our narrator is Benjamin, one of four young brothers in a loving family. When their father’s job takes him to another city away from the family home, the brothers must navigate growing up and being young, with each other as role models. Their relationship with their mother is strong, and tender, but they want to grow up as much as they want her acceptance and affection. After a man in their town makes a prediction about their future, their love is tested—and there is a battle of wills, within and among the brothers, to see if the prophecy can be ignored.

Because the story is from a child’s point of view, you don’t need have any previous knowledge about Nigeria or the 1990s in order to enjoy the book. Some details of the story might inspire you to do more research, but all the reader needs to know is in the book. The author includes a few words of the vernacular languages, but the meanings of those words are clear from the context. The themes of the story would work whether the setting was Nigeria or Nebraska: how much we can love and despise our siblings, how mistakes made by the people we look up to can shake our security in the world, and how the sacrifices parents make for their children are often misunderstood by those children.

The Fishermen was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and received glowing reviews from the New York Times, here; and The Guardian, here; and from many other publications. The author is currently living in the United States and teaching at the University of Nebraska.

Obioma, Chigozie. The Fishermen: A Novel. , 2015. Print.
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What’s Sally Reading?

 The 2016 Teens Top Ten Nominees Announced

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has officially announced the nominees for the 2016 Teens Top Ten.  It is a teen choice list containing titles recommended by teens and voted on by teens across the country.  Teen readers are encouraged to read as many of the nominees as they can, and vote for their favorites starting on August 15th through Teen Read Week (October 9-15, 2016).  The final Top Ten will be announced the week following Teen Read Week.  For an annotated list of the nominees, go to this PDF and share it with your teens!

Johnson004To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson is the sequel to The Great Greene Heist which came out in May of 2014.  Jackson Greene (8th grade) has again promised no more schemes or pranks, and stuck with it.  He is surprised when the principal calls him into his office and accuses him and Charlie (his best friend) of flooding the school over the weekend.  There is even video evidence they did it.  They did not do it.  Now they need to discover who doctored the video, and what can be done to clear their names.  The con they concoct will do the trick, if everyone can stick to their task.  Great for middle school readers who love teens getting one over on scalawags.

(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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Download 67,000 Historic Maps

rumsey-map-e1461133111206If you love looking at maps as much as I do, you and your patrons will really enjoy the website I’m sharing with you today.  Please read on…

Stanford University is excited to announce the arrival of the David Rumsey Map Center in April. While these kinds of university improvements are rarely of much interest to the general public, this one highlights a collection worth giving full attention. Well, for those of us, that is, who love maps.

You do not need to be a Stanford student or faculty or staff member to access the vast treasures of the Rumsey Map collection, nor do you need to visit the university or its new Center. Since 1996, the Rumsey collection’s online database has been open to all, currently offering anyone with an internet connection access to 67,000 maps from all over the globe, spanning five centuries of cartography. Rumsey’s holdings constitute, writes Wired, “the dopest map collection on Earth,” and though its physical housing at Stanford is a huge boon to academic researchers, its online archive is yours for the browsing, searching, and downloading, whoever and wherever you are.

Pages like the 1867 map “Twelve Perspectives on the Earth in Orbit and Rotation,” contains detailed publication information, the ability to zoom in and examine the tiniest details, and an “export” function allowing users to download a variety of resolutions up to 12288 pixels. (The same holds true for all other maps.) There’s also a new feature for many maps called “Georeferencing” (see a short introductory video here), which matches the map’s contours with other historic maps or with more accurate, modern satellite images.

In the case of “Twelve Perspectives on the Earth in Orbit and Rotation,” the georeferencing function returns an error message stating “this is not a map.” But in terrestrial images, like the topographical map of the Yosemite Valley above, we can choose specific portions to georeference, use the “visualize” function to see how they match up to contemporary views, and conduct an accuracy analysis. (Georeferencing requires sign-in with a free account, or you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter log-ins.) Georeferencing is not available for all maps, yet. You can help the Rumsey collection expand the feature by visiting this page and clicking the “Random Map” link.

The Rumsey Collection contains a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cartographic images, such as the colorful aerial view of New York City from 1900, above, and the 1949 composite map of the Soviet Union, at the top of the post. In addition to the maps themselves—most works of art in their own right—the database is full of other beautiful images related to geography, such as the fabulous, full-color title page below for the 1730 Atlas Novus sive Tabulae Geographicae by Matthaeus Seutter.

David Rumsey—currently President of the digital publishing company Cartography Associates—began collecting maps and “related cartographic materials” in 1980. Since then, his physical collection has grown to include over 150,000 maps, to be housed at the Stanford Center that bears his name, and he has received several awards for making his collection available online. The cartography enthusiasts among us, and the hardcore scholars, can likely look forward to many more maps appearing in the web archive. For now, there’s no shortage of fascinating material.

On the site’s homepage, they highlight these areas worth exploring:

The historical map collection has over 67,000 maps and images online. The collection includes rare 16th through 21st century maps of America, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific, and the World.

Popular collection categories are celestial, antique atlas, globe, school geography, maritime chart, state, county, city, pocket, wall & case, children’s, and manuscript maps. Search examples: Pictorial maps, United States maps, Geology maps, California map, Afghanistan map, America map, New York City map, Chicago map, and U.S. Civil War maps. Browse  map categories: What, Where, Who, When. The collection is used to study history, art, genealogy, explorations, and family history.


Reprinted from Open Culture : the best free cultural & educational media on the web, April 20th, 2016.

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