Category Archives: Books & Reading

Recently on the NCompass Podcast

Podcast IconHave you listened to the NCompass Podcast lately? Here are the episodes from March 2015. To get all of the episodes delivered to you automatically be sure to subscribe via RSS or iTunes.



Episode 326: Thirteen Things You Might Not Know About National Library of Medicine Resources

Episode 327: Bethany Book Talk

Episode 328: Getting More $$ from Your Book Sales OR Is This Old Book Valuable?

Episode 329: The Little Library that Could (and did!)

Episode 330: Hack the OPAC: How to Create a Free Online Library Catalog

Episode 331: Discount Shopping with the NLC

Episode 332: Tech Talk with Michael Sauers: Alexa, what’s an Amazon Echo?

Episode 333: Reaching Out: Fighting back against a bad public image

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Focus on Nebraska authors: Roger Welsch

I’m not sure many of us could remember who gave our high school commencement address, but I do remember that Roger Welsch spoke at my Senior Honor Banquet. What’s more, I still remember one of the jokes he told; still use it too. I also have fond memories of living in Texas and relishing Roger’s Postcards from Nebraska on CBS Sunday Morning News. And, after working my way straight through college and graduate school with no break and no time for reading anything other than what was assigned,  I remember the first book I really enjoyed reading after graduation; It’s Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here, by Roger Welsch.

We often hear that book clubs are looking for a break from serious titles. If you’re familiar with Welsch’s style, you know that his works might be just the ticket! You can find the following Welsch titles in our book club collection: Catfish at the Pump: Humor and the Frontier, Everything I Know About Women I Learned From My Tractor, From Tinkering to Torquing: A Beginner’s Guide to Tractors and Tools, It’s Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here: Tales of the Great Plains, A Life With Dogs, and Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies. Please consider selecting one of these books for your book club and let us know when we can reserve them for you.

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Nebraska Memories: A Collection of Collections

Nebraska MemoriesDid you know that Nebraska Memories is a collection of Nebraska cultural heritage collections?  When you visit Nebraska Memories, instead of searching for a particular item or person, try clicking on “View Collections.”  As a result, you will find Nebraska historical collections from (almost) A-Z.  The histories of Nebraska hospitals, cities, towns, counties, public schools, colleges, libraries, musicians, authors, sports and historical events are all represented in the collections found in Nebraska Memories.

ImmanualFor example, the first collection listed is the Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center.  The rich and well documented history of Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska is shown in the images of the early buildings, people and artifacts. The archive of thousands of photos, papers and items has been maintained for over 120 years, carefully stored and currently housed at the Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center campus.

Other collections in Nebraska Memories include city and county historical societies, such as the Crawford, Fairmont/Filmore County, Hastings, Antelope County, Butler County, and Phelps County, to name a few.

Lincoln High


Historical materials related to the Lincoln Public Schools have been collected and saved in some form in various offices, library sites, and schools since the inception of the first school in Lancaster county.  Over the years, LPS Library Media Services has made great progress in collecting, preserving, and archiving the history of LPS for the staff and the public.

PlayhouseThere are other unique collections in Nebraska Memories as well: the Omaha Community Playhouse (pictured right), that includes digitized images of the Playhouse and some of its performances; the Lincoln Police Department, that includes digitized images of police officers from 1885-1907; the Durham Museum in Omaha, with the William Wentworth Collection that consists of 4663 negatives of images that document life in Omaha, Nebraska from 1934 through 1950; and the Bess Streeter Aldrich House and Museum in Elmwood, Nebraska (pictured below), images of which have been selected to give the viewer a deeper understanding of the influences and inspirations that Bess Streeter Aldrich drew upon when writing the 1928 novel “A Lantern in Her Hand.

QuiltVisit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see Introduction to Participating in Nebraska Memories for more information, or contact Beth Goble, Historical Projects Librarian, or Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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NCompass Live: How to Kill Your Book Club (or never be asked back again)

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “How to Kill Your Book Club (or never be asked back again)”, on Wednesday, April 1, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

On this April 1st, we take a light-hearted look at the many ways you can bring your book group to a grinding halt or never be invited again. Enjoy our tips, tricks, and techniques for book club doom! Join Vicki Wood, Library Youth Services Supervisor at Lincoln City Libraries, Ceri Daniels, former librarian at Cline Williams and Doane College, and Lisa Kelly, Nebraska Library Commission – as they present lessons learned (and wish they hadn’t learned) from leading book groups.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • April 8 – Every Hero Has A Story: Summer Reading Program 2015
  • April 15 – What We’ve Learned: Tips & Tricks for Webinars That Deliver The Goods
  • April 22 – Explore Wearable Technologies and Book Connections for Youth
  • April 29 – Tech Talk with Michael Sauers

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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What’s Sally Reading?

A Few Web Sites on Reading Aloud …

Here are some web sites with helpful information to share with parents.

Mem Fox & her “Ten read-aloud commandments” also her talk about books and television, to name only two of the valuable things one her web page.  Her book Reading Magic is in the Commission collection for loan to librarians.

Nebraska has its own group, Read Aloud Nebraska, which offers occasional workshops by nationally known speakers, the opportunity to sign-up to be a Read Aloud Community or a Read Aloud School (sign-up will begin again on April 1), and then the chance to ask for books free to you to give to the students or children who come into your library.

Read To Them is a national organization that currently is promoting the great idea of “One School, One Book.”  Families read a chapter a night at home and students answer the trivia question(s) about it the next day.  Everyone talks about the same book!

Bahk220Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk:  Juna and her best friend Hector take her kimchi jar to the park every day and find things to put in it.  A caterpillar, rocks or bugs.  But one day Hector and his family have moved away.  She then has a series of adventures with the different things she puts in her jar.  Her older brother bought her a fish, and Juna swims with it in the ocean that night.  The night she rides a cricket she caught, they stop at Hector’s new house, and she sees he is all right—then she is happy.  This is another good read-aloud for Story time.

(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: Eat and Run

eatandrunA few years back I discovered a documentary movie called Running on the Sun, about a brutal footrace called the Badwater 135 (that’s a 135 mile run through Death Valley, CA, in mid-July, often referred to as “the world’s toughest foot race”). If you have a chance, check it out. You can watch it all online, complete with German subtitles. It is a bit dated and there are other videos out there that might also be of interest (just do a search). Let’s just say up front that I never had any desire for these kinds of things, but after watching Running on the Sun, I became moderately interested in ultramarathon runners (defined as any running event that is longer than a marathon). My own running has waxed and waned over the years, settling on moderate amounts of mileage and hit and miss unstructured workouts. My interest in these ultra-events (sans particpation in them) extended to books and documentaries, including the self-promoting “Ultramarathon Man” Dean Karnazes. I don’t know if I’d describe him as outright arrogant or a just a peacock – the term given to guys who frequent running races or triathlons and strut around with their shirts off. I heard about another ultra guy named Scott Jurek when I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, which seemed much less arrogant and peacock free.

Jurek has written a book called Eat and Run. The appeal of Jurek is that he comes across as a down to earth modest guy, the antithesis of Karnazes. Jurek writes about his upbringing in Minnesota, candidly describing the care he gave to his mother during her suffering from multiple sclerosis. He also describes how he got started in the world of ultramarathon racing, and his climb to the near top, if not the top. The stories are entertaining, not just for the incredible racing feats, but because of the authenticity and humility that bleeds through in his writing. The other piece to Eat and Run is that Jurek only eats plant based foods, and some of his favorite vegan recipes are scattered throughout the book. Even if you are carnivorous and have no desire to change that fact, you might be motivated to try some of his recipes. I liked the Holy Moly Guacamole and  Hemp Milk. Like many endurance athletes, Jurek has a great philosophy of life. A couple of notables:

“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish. It can be running a mile, or a 10K race, or 100 miles. It can be changing a career, losing 5 pounds, or telling someone you love her (or him).”


“We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It’s not the losing that defines us. It’s how we lose. It’s what we do afterward.”

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Edible Books Contest Begins

ediblebooks2015_300Library Thing is sponsoring their 4th annual edible books contest.  If you’d like to show off your baking prowess, get a chance at winning some books, and have a lot of fun, see Library Thing’s blog.  The deadline is April 19.  The picture is of last year’s winning entry, inspired by the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

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Book Fest Highlights Nebraska Authors

2015_NBF_Poster_8 5x11The 2015 Nebraska Book Festival, April 25 at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Weitz Community Engagement Center, will feature ten Nebraska authors. Public admission is free.

The festival begins at 9:30 a.m. with writing workshops:

  • Lucy Adkins: “Poetry and Inspiration: Imaginative Ways to Write Your Best”
  • Mary Avidano: “Poems by You.” Attendees are invited to bring a poem they’ve written.
  • Traci Robison: “From Draft to Digital: How to Prepare and What to Expect as a Self- Publisher”
  • Laura Wiseman: “You’re No Body Until Some Body Loves You: Writing the Body”

Workshop seating is limited and early arrival is recommended. Advance registration is not necessary.

Readings, book sales, and book signings will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. Authors will read and discuss their work, allowing time for questions. Scheduled authors include:

  • Mark Langan, Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night
  • Marsha Davis, One Man’s Voice
  • Sydney Olson, The Curse of the Fates
  • John Price, The Tallgrass Prairie Reader
  • Timothy Schaffert, The Swan Gondola: A Novel
  • Karen Shoemaker, The Meaning of Names

Prior to a 3:45 p.m. reception, the Nebraska Center for the Book will announce the 2015 recipient of the Mildred Bennett Award, recognizing an individual who has made significant contributions to fostering literary tradition in Nebraska.

The festival concludes, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. with the NeBooks Project Student & Teacher Showcase. The NeBooks Project is a partnership between schools, state agencies, and non-profit organizations across Nebraska to provide quality instructional materials. Nebraska students and teachers developed eBooks this school year, with the goal of becoming published authors in the NeBooks Project eBook Library. Attendees will spend the evening learning from these newly published authors, along with special guests. Hear directly from Nebraska students and teachers how they created their iBooks, the struggles that they faced, and what it means to be a published author.

The Bookworm and University of Nebraska Press will offer books by Nebraska authors for sale throughout the event. The Nebraska Book Festival is presented by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. Visit for a complete schedule of free readings and workshops and other information.

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Friday Reads : The Meaning of Names

Meaning of NamesLast year the nation recognized the centennial of the First World War. The sacrifices of men and women on the home front, as well as the violence and hatred that swept across America during World War I (WWI) are addressed in The Meaning of Names.

Stuart, Nebraska is a long way from the battlefields of Western Europe, but it is not immune to the horrors of the first Great War for Peace. Like all communities, it has lost sons and daughters to the fighting, with many more giving themselves over to the hatred only war can engender.

Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatens to consume the whole world.

The Meaning Names is the 2014/15 Omaha Reads selection.  While I am only half-way through it, I completely agree that this is a must-read about what life was like in the Midwest during World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919.

Nebraska author Karen Gettert Shoemaker is a faculty mentor with the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she and her husband own and operate Shoemaker’s Truck Stop and Travel Center.

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Friday reads: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

hundred thousand kingdomsIt’s a Greek god like rollercoaster, with the politics of nations, the politics of gods (a family), and the politics of the emperor’s family and succession, and all of it interrelated and convoluted. All of it in a city created by magic in a palace that resembles a rose which towers far above the capital city. Into all of this you follow the trajectory of Yeine Darr (a forgotten, dismissed, “half breed” heir, but ruler of her own country in the heretical North), from the start, plunging into this seeming tranquil pool, to plunge through its roiling depths.
Yeine, also has her own agenda, to discover why her grandfather, the emperor killed her mother, after letting her live for 20 years in a foreign land. Not to mention why she’s now an acknowledged heir, and competitor for the throne (excuse me, stone chair.)
And of course, there’s magic and gods. But the gods are bound, and living at the palace, doing the ruling family’s every whim. No matter who gets hurt, including themselves, or entire nations.
Watching Yeine try to manage her way through all the protocols, snares, and attacks, without injuring the innocent, is worth the read. A fresh voice, and a very different world view. This is the first book of The Inheritance Trilogy.
Reviews & an excerpt:

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Free Unshelved Ebooks for Libraries

Unshelved+1Thanks to the generosity of our Kickstarter backers, Unshelved is allowing libraries to circulate DRM-free ebooks of its first eleven collections to their patrons absolutely free.

We’ve offered to make these books available for circulation by all library ebook vendors.

The first vendor who has taken us up on this is Mackin. Go Mackin! Information on how to access the ebooks can be found on this page. Anyone with questions about how to access the ebooks can contact Mackin directly at or 800-245-9540.

We’ll update this page as others take us up on this offer. If your ebooks vendor isn’t listed here, please let them know you’d like them to carry the Unshelved ebooks (they can contact Gene for more information). That may be the push they need!

Meanwhile you are also welcome to circulate our ebooks to your patrons directly. Read the following license, then sign up and we’ll send you download instructions.

In addition to the free books, our cataloger Emily has made MARC records available for these titles, all ready for you to download and import into your OPAC.

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Focus on Nebraska authors: Timothy Schaffert

Timothy Schaffert teaches in the English Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the director/founder of the (downtown) Omaha Lit Fest, and is a contributing editor to Fairy Tale Review. He grew up in rural Nebraska near the city of Aurora and I had the good fortune to meet him at my neighbor’s house and talk with him about his books. Timothy has written five novels, all of which we own in our Book Club collection. I read the first chapter of each book and one thing was evident in all of them, Nebraska settings and very quirky characters. Timothy writes the kind of literary fiction that book groups are always looking for because they provide rich discussion and strongly-felt opinions. His latest book, The Swan Gondola, is set during the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair and has recently been described as a costume-drama novel every intelligent woman needs to read. The best thing to know about this Nebraska author is that he has attended book group discussions in the past and would consider your invitation if you would like to include him in your discussion. Timothy makes for charming company, so please think about selecting one of his titles and perhaps scheduling an author visit for your group!

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New Government Publications Received at the Library Commission

NEState SealNew state government publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for February 2015.  Included are titles from Administrative Services, Colleges and Universities,  Education, and Public Power, to name a few.

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Friday Reads

brown2Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown is graphic nonfiction, a biography of Andre Roussimoff told in graphic novel format with black, white, and grey art.  I picked this up wondering both about Andre’s life and how the author/illustrator would choose to present it.  Brown opens with a three-page explanation of professional wrestling as it was during Andre’s time in the World Wrestling Federation.

Andre had gigantism, the result of an excessive production of growth hormone during his childhood.  During his adult life Andre suffered pain, his brow became more pronounced, his joints were affected, and he had back surgery to ease his pain.  He was presented as a kind and considerate person, but he could get upset at times and not many people wanted to push the point with him.  Not surprising, I also learned that Andre enjoyed drinking and partying.  While reading about specific wrestling matches and heavy drinking is not my usual reading choice, I also learned about his life, how tired he became of people gawking at him, and the difficulties of being so large.

This title will appeal to older teen and adult fans of wrestling, graphic novels, and of “The Princess Bride.”

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Nebraska Learns 2.0: QR Codes and Cyberbooks

The Nebraska Learns 2.0 Thing for March is QR Codes

For this month’s Thing, we’re going to explore QR Codes, those square barcodes that you can scan with your mobile phone. QR codes are useful IF your library patrons know what to do with them and if your staff knows how to generate them to connect your physical and online spaces.

Another facet of Nebraska Learns 2.0 is BookThing. Each month we pick a single title that we feel has relevance to librarianship and/or information theory. Some of the titles will be very obviously related, while others may not seem so on the surface but there is a connection. Your assignment will be to read the book and create a blog post answering some questions about the title.

The BookThing for March is Cyberbooks by Ben Bova.  

Nebraska Learns 2.0 is the Nebraska Library Commission’s ongoing online learning CarhengeCrop5program. It is a self-discovery program which encourages participants to take control of their own learning and to utilize their lifelong learning skills through exploration and PLAY.

Each month, we offer you an opportunity to learn a new Thing (or lesson). You have all month to complete that Thing and receive one CE credit. You may choose which Things to do based on personal interest and time availability If the Thing of the month doesn’t interest you or if you are particularly busy that month, you can skip it.

If you are new to Nebraska Learns 2.0, your first assignment is to sign up to participate. This program is open to ALL Nebraska librarians, library staff, library friends, library board members and school media specialists.

We hope you’ll join your library colleagues in the fun as you learn about new and exciting technologies!

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Focus on Nebraska authors: Mary Pipher

If your book group would like to select a nonfiction title to read, let me suggest getting to know Mary Pipher. Mary lives in Lincoln with her husband Jim and has written 9 books – four of which we have in our Book Club collection. My book group read The Middle of Everywhere a few years ago and as the setting for the text is Lincoln, many people recognized several locations and people mentioned. That is always an intriguing element of a book with a local author. The book is also informative as Mary presents Lincoln as a refugee relocation center and illustrates how new citizens of Lincoln need assistance. She coins the expression cultural broker and explains the sorts of ways she provides help to refugees earnestly trying to make the United States their home. My group had an excellent discussion with this title and I think yours could too.

A colleague and I both read Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World at the same time and had great discussions. With this book we learned about Mary’s background and her personal life especially in terms of negotiating balance between her family and promoting her books. Mary read from this book at the Nebraska Book Festival sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and it was a pleasure hearing her voice present her own text.

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What’s Sally Reading?

Amelia Bloomer Project Announces the 2015 Booklist

As part of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association, the Amelia Bloomer Project focuses on feminist books for readers age 0-18.  Each year the committee creates a booklist to recommend to librarians and others.  The 2015 list also includes a Top Ten list selected by the committee.  I hope you all have a few of these titles in your collections, and maybe you will find another one or two to add.

MiddletonElya012Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya is a good picture book choice for the upcoming summer reading program.  When the wolf tricks Roja into picking some flowers for her grandma, he sneaks off with her red cape to visit grandma.  Can Grandma and Roja handle a wolf and save the day?  The sprinkling of Spanish words are understood within the context of the story, and the author has included a pronunciation guide and translation of each in the front of the book.  Watch the pages for the Three Blind Mice and a couple of tiny troublemakers:trickster elves.  A good read-aloud for Story time, and a 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor 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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Booklist Reader Discusses Hi – Lo Books

BooklistReaderLogoDo you read the Booklist Reader blog?    Recently, it included a short survey of some good hi-lo books–sometimes tough things to find.  Check out “High Interest-Low Vocab Books: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

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Recently on the NCompass Podcast

Podcast IconHave you listened to the NCompass Podcast lately? Here are the episodes from February 2015. To get all of the episodes delivered to you automatically be sure to subscribe via RSS or iTunes.



Episode 321: Youth Coding Resources – Programs and Resources for Youth in Your Community

Episode 322: Strategic Planning in a Nutshell

Episode 323: Fun with Friends: Integrating Programming for Adults with Special Needs Into Your Library

Episode 324: Anatomy of an Ad Campaign

Episode 325: Tech Talk with Michael Sauers: Adding True SMS Service to an Integrated Library System (ILS)

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Friday Reads: Weird Fiction Review

Weird Fiction Review #5From the publisher:
“The Weird Fiction Review is an annual periodical devoted to the study of weird and supernatural fiction. It is edited by S.T. Joshi. This fifth issue contains fiction, poetry, and reviews from leading writers and promising newcomers. It features original stories and essays by Jason V Brock, Dennis Etchison, John Butler, Sherry Austin, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Darrell Schweitzer; a lengthy interview with Michael Aronovitz and one with Ray Bradbury; an 8-page full-color gallery of art by Travis Louie; regular columns by Danel Olson and John Pelan and much more.”

This wonderful journal from Centipede Press, a small publisher located in Colorado, generally runs about 300 pages and contains fiction, poetry, articles and interviews. At $35 per copy and with a limited print run of just 500 copies per issue, it isn’t available in most libraries but there are a few that do have it in their collections.

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