Category Archives: Books & Reading

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!


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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.
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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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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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