Category Archives: Books & Reading

Focus on Nebraska authors: Kent Haruf

Kent Haruf (rhymes with sheriff) graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 where he later taught as an assistant professor. He earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. These are only a few of his credentials but he came to my attention when his book Plainsong was announced as the very first One Book One Lincoln in 2002. That book marked the beginning of my own book group and a relationship with the One Book One Lincoln program that remains to this day.

Plainsong takes place in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado and is based on the town of Yuma where Mr. Haruf lived in the ‘80s. In a Newsweek review, Jeff Giles called the book “a moving look at our capacity for both pointless cruelty and simple decency, our ability to walk out of the wreckage of one family and build a stronger one where it used to stand.” Many local readers were miffed at the lack of quotation marks throughout the book and this caused a bit of kerfuffle. As I listened to the audio version, it wasn’t an issue.  Another Haruf title follows some of the same characters in Holt and is entitled Eventide.

Kent Haruf died at the age of 71 in November of 2014. To honor this writer, you may wish to select some of his titles in our collection: Eventide, Plainsong, The Tie That Binds and Where You Once Belonged

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Friday Reads: Fables

FablesFables is a multiple Eisner Award-winning comic book series written by Bill Willingham. It tells the story of characters from fairytales, folklore, and mythology who have been ousted from their homelands by the mysterious Adversary. They have been living in hiding in New York City for centuries, attempting to blend in with the non-magical human population. They stick together as a tight-knit community called Fabletown. Many of them live in an apartment building called the Woodland Luxury Apartments, which also houses the Business and Security offices of Fabletown, their own town hall and sheriff’s station. Any Fables who are unable to pass as human, such as animals or monsters or giants, live on The Farm in Upstate New York. Spells are in place to keep it hidden from Mundys, short for Mundane, the human natives of this world. People like you and me.

Well-known characters appear in the books, but with slightly different histories than you may remember. And of course, these tales take place long after the time of the stories we know, so things have changed quite a bit. Snow White and Prince Charming are divorced (he’s just TOO charming…and can’t resist sharing that charm with all the women he can); she is the Deputy Mayor of Fabletown, handling the day-to-day operations for the Mayor, King Cole; Bigby Wolf, aka the Big Bad Wolf, is the Sheriff. And we can’t forget Bufkin, the flying monkey librarian from Oz.

In the first collected volume, Legends in Exile, Snow White’s rebellious sister, Rose Red, has been murdered. So, the series introduces us to these unique characters through the telling of a complicated murder mystery, with the classic surprise ending.

A bit of a warning: these are not fairy tales for small children – there is a very bloody murder, sexual situations, and adult language. These books are definitely for a mature audience, teens and older.

The series isn’t new – it started in 2002 and is currently ongoing with monthly issues of the comic. Sadly, Willingham has announced that he will be ending Fables this year, with issue #150. But, it has been released in collected volumes, 20 so far. Each volume collects 5-12 issues of the comic book, making it very easy to start and catch up.

I’ve not caught up myself yet. But, I am really enjoying this interpretation of traditional fairy tales and stories. The characters are well developed and the writing makes you want to learn more about who they are and how they got where they are today. The artwork is very good, and incredibly detailed in many places. I may have spent way too long on the pages in the Business Office of the Woodland Apartments, which is magically larger on the inside than you would expect, trying to find every little detail of the accessories that the Fables brought from their Homelands to our world. I think that’s Excalibur in the stone back there…behind the Magic Mirror…and is that Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger floating by?

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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 April 2015.  Included are titles from Nebraska Colleges and Universities, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, the Nebraska Fire Marshal and University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Friday Reads

Baseball season is underway and many of us head out to the ball park when we can.  Along that line of thought, the 2016 Summer Reading Program topic is about being active, with slogans “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!,” “Get in the Game: Read” and “Exercise Your Mind – Read.”
  (I know, the 2015 summer reading program is just getting underway, I am reading ahead now.)  All of this brought me to read Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick.

Casey Snowden’s father and grandfather run a sanctioned school for baseball umpires, and Casey (12) and his best friend Zeke help each fall.  This September they have only 80 students instead of the usual 100 and Casey begins to worry about the future.  He wants to be a sports writer, not run the camp, but he knows it is his father’s calling.  As the school gets underway, Casey realizes one instructor is not teaching this year.  He was usually in charge of the culminating event: “You Suck, Ump! Day” where many people from the town gather to yell at the students to help them learn to deal with noise and irritated fans.  So this year Casey and Zeke will organize the day.  Though I am not first in line for sports books, this one grabbed me, especially its title.  A fun look inside the mind of a twelve-year-old boy, and at what it takes to be an umpire.

After reading the book I enjoyed looking over this page to find out more about actual umpire schools.

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Friday Reads: Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing


Despite being two years old this book by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman is a great introduction to all of the major concepts behind 3D printing. Not only does it explain the technology but looks at different types of printing materials from ABS plastic to shortbread and 3D printing’s impact on everything from education to architecture.

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Focus on Nebraska authors: Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser served as the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004–2006 and spoke in many venues around the state and the country during his tenure. I heard him speak at the Lied Center in Lincoln, NE and I recall him sharing that he had been compared to a hobbit. In fact, one of his speeches at Wartburg College in 2012 was entitled: American Hobbit or a Great Storyteller. In 2003, I helped select his title Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, for the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction and as a One Book One Lincoln finalist in 2005. It was also selected as One Book One Nebraska for 2011. I have given copies of this book to many friends and family members. Here is my favorite quote from that book:

If you can awaken inside the familiar and discover it new you need never leave home. Local wonders.

I remember Ted sharing how he hoped to make poetry more ubiquitous and approachable to readers. If you reread the line above it may not register as poetry or at least, not the kind you dealt with in your high school or college literature classes. If your book group would like to branch out and read something besides a fiction or non-fiction selection, try Local Wonders. Have your readers pick their favorite parts and read them aloud at your discussion. You may do the very thing Kooser hoped he could accomplish and make a poetry lover out of you.

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Friday Reads: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

FridayReads Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreRobin Sloan has written a yarn that stretches from books to technology to ancient knowledge, typography to coded secrets, intrigue to cults, friendship to love. He uses historical facts combined with present day real life ‘Google” to take our champions on a quest for the “key to life”. Our main character, Clay Jannon, needs a job, and where does he land but the strangest bookstore he has ever set foot in. In the beginning Clay does what he’s told, but we all know rules need to be broken, the books must be read, so he does, and read them he cannot do. The bookshelves in this store are lined with volumes coded with puzzles, and Clay must find the key to solving them. He finds that the important codex vitae is 500 years old and is stored in a “cave” below a New York City corporation complete with black robes and solemn ceremonies. The capable Clay really does know where to find resourceful & talented friends, backers, and hackers. Together they form the Rebel Alliance as they become the warrior, the wizard, and the rogue.

“You know, I’m really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.” –Clay Jannon, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Robin Sloan indicates that he is a media inventor. In his own words, he says a media inventor is “someone primarily interested in content—words, pictures, ideas—who also experiments with new formats, new tools, and new technology…. Media inventors feel compelled to make the content and the container.”

Do fantasy novels intrigue you? Does solving puzzles fit right up your alley? Do you want to go on your own quest? Have we maneuvered you into checking this out? Then our goal here is met.

Annette Hall & Janet Greser

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Focus on Nebraska authors: Alex Kava

Alex Kava writes full-time and lives in Omaha, Nebraska and Pensacola, Florida. She is a bestselling author known for her psychological suspense series featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell. Fans of Maggie O’Dell will be interested in Kava’s new spinoff series featuring Ryder Creed, a retired marine dog handler. Creed’s investigative and rescue work with his dogs leads him to team up with O’Dell in both Breaking Creed, the first book in the Ryder Creed series, published in January 2015, and Silent Creed, the second book, scheduled for publication in July 2015.

Kava’s book One False Move was selected as the One Book One Nebraska for 2006. My book group read this title, much to the delight of one member who is an avid mystery reader, and had a good discussion about genre books as well as the book itself. As often happens when readers have first-hand knowledge of the location where a book’s actions take place, the familiar Nebraska setting also stimulated discussion.

We have several of Kava’s books in our book club collection including: At The Stroke of Madness, Black Friday, Fireproof, Hotwire, A Necessary Evil, One False Move, A Perfect Evil, The Soul Catcher, and Split Second. If you are concerned about reading the books in order – here is the series listing. Perhaps for the summer you may want to select several from her Maggie O’Dell series? Visit our book club kit page to make your selections!

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The Data Dude – Wednesday Watch: Lilyhammer

dvd_holdings_netflixThis week will be the beginning installment of Wednesday Watch. At first, the Dude was going to focus exclusively on what he’s currently watching, namely: (1) Lilyhammer (Netflix streaming); and (2) Boardwalk Empire (HBO via DVD from the local public library). And while the focus will be (yes, I did in fact start this sentence with And, and I did read Richard Miller’s Friday Reads post last week about the Grammar Lady—sorry, Richard, this is a low-brow column) on Lilyhammer, I decided to take a look at Nebraska public library holdings (at least those cataloged on WorldCat) of the top original series DVD’s from Netflix, HBO, and Showtime. The reason for this is that while streaming services are becoming more and more affordable, many (including the Dude) still simply cannot afford to buy subscriptions to premium content, including the newly available HBO Now. The chart includes the four Netflix original dramas (Hemlock Grove, Lilyhammer, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards), and two of the most viewed drama series offerings from both HBO (Sopranos and Game of Thrones) and Showtime (Dexter and Homeland). But let’s first turn our attention to some filler material.

Lilyhammer, billed as a Netflix original drama series, is actually part drama part comedy (just like some of the others in the chart). The main character, underboss Frank “the Fixer” Tagliano (played by Steven Van Zandt –Silvio Dante from the Sopranos), flips on his mob boss and enters the witness protection program. As a part of the deal, he requests to relocate to Lillehammer, Norway. The show originally aired on Norwegian TV, even though it is generally known as the first Netflix original series. It’s probably more appropriate to label this as a joint venture between Norwegian TV and Netflix. Anyway, Frank adopts his new identity as Giovanni “Johnny” Henriksen (born to Italian and Norwegian parents). The show is as much about his integration into the Norwegian town and culture as it is about Johnny’s criminal ways. As Jimmy Darmody said in Boardwalk Empire: “You can’t be half a gangster.” The Dude would venture to say that in Lilyhammer (at least at the point where he is at in the series) Johnny has more relatable than detestable qualities, if that is possible for a gangster. The show is a mix of Norwegian and English languages, so expect many subtitles. While the typical comedic mafia elements exist, it doesn’t come across as completely recycled, and the Norwegian elements add a freshness that is, well, refreshing. The Dude finds himself nodding at times during Boardwalk Empire; he hasn’t had that problem with Lilyhammer. One thing to note, though, is that the budget for Lilyhammer (16 million per season) is obviously much less than say House of Cards (60 million per season), and that is apparent.

dvd_bookOK, so I extracted the holdings figures from Worldcat for the chart to at the top right. HBO’s Game of Thrones tops the list. Surprisingly, (at least to the Dude) House of Cards (tied with Homeland – another great offering from Showtime) beats HBO’s the Sopranos and Showtime’s Dexter for the number of holdings by Nebraska libraries. I also extracted the holdings information for the corresponding books (see the chart to the right of this paragraph). House of Cards is the only one where the DVD holdings exceed book holdings, with DVD holdings 3 times more than the book.

The Dude should mention that sans Hemlock Grove (he gets a little skittish with Horror) he’s seen and recommends all the series titles mentioned in the charts. He’s only read some of the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) books (got bored about midway through A Feast for Crows), and frankly, does not have the desire to read on, or any of the other titles mentioned. And that’s OK. All in all, any of these DVD series titles would be a welcome addition to your library collection. Shaka.

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NCompass Live: Every Hero Has A Story: Summer Reading Program 2015

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “Every Hero Has A Story: Summer Reading Program 2015″, on Wednesday, April 8, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services at the Nebraska Library Commission, will give brief book talks of new titles pertaining to the 2015 Summer Reading Program themes: Every Hero Has A Story (children’s theme) and Unmask! (teen theme).

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • 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: Wreck the Library: How to Host a Tech Take Apart

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 Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person

BookCoverThe Grammar LadyOK. I admit it – I’m a bit of a grammar snob. I know I’m opening myself up to criticism if I were to make a mistake. [Notice how I used the subjunctive – “were” not “was,” just now.] I ask for your sympathy. I attended a high school in eastern Pennsylvania that, in English classes from grades 9 through 12, we learned grammar, spelling, diagramming sentences, and vocabulary every year. The point I’m making here is, we had all this drummed into our wee heads, so we could not help but become somewhat obsessive about it. However, when I taught ninth-grade English in a high school in western Pennsylvania just  four years later, there was no place in the curriculum for grammar – that’s how quickly matters had changed. (I taught some grammar anyway.)

If you are interested in learning more about English grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and usage – and learning about these in a way that is perhaps more fun than the methods my classmates and I were exposed to – you couldn’t do much better than acquiring a copy of The Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person, by Mary Newton Bruder.  Starting a Web site in Pittsburgh entitled, “The Grammar Lady,” the author set herself up to answer any question that might be thrown at her related to grammar, whether directly or tangentially. I think she realizes that she is a bit of a grammar snob too, but she delivers her message in amusing ways with laugh-out-loud examples of how grammatical, spelling, vocabulary, and language usage mistakes can get in the way of communicating what one really wants to get across.

Bruder begins the book by laying out why grammar is important. Some of the major reasons:

  • It can save time by keeping us out of situations (through misunderstanding or offense) that we later have to apologize for. [Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition – excuse me!]
  • It enhances communication.
  • People are judged on the basis of their grammar (especially important during job interviews).

The author makes the point that students should be taught the basics of grammar by the third grade, and after that spend time refining that knowledge and learning vocabulary and more complex sentence structure. She also says it’s a waste [not “waist’] of time diagramming sentences. I disagree with that. [I really enjoyed learning to diagram sentences. I learned parts of speech by that method which, I think, helped with foreign languages too.]

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the amusing examples she offers of unintentional mistakes she sees in advertisements, company memos, school assignments, with many of these sent to her Web site. Here are a few:

  • From a government-contract proposal: “We have ascertained that the project will require 66 man-moths of experience.”
  • “The guest book is in charge of Mary Jane,” rather than as it should be, the other way around.
  • “They referred a woman with a broken exhaust pipe and three flat tires.”
  • “Hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow,” rather than “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.” [Later in the book she describes this development as a battle that may already be lost.]
  • The bugaboo of the parts of speech related to the verbs “lie” (meaning to recline), and “lay” (meaning to place something on a table, for example).
  • A sportscaster and weatherman on a local television station described what they called a “heart-rendering” story.

In one sense I do the author a disservice. She may be a bit of an elitist, but she does allow for the fact that the English language does change, and that there is a difference between the written and the spoken language. However, there are some things she cannot abide, one of them being overuse of the word “like,” in a sentence such as, “It was . . . like . . . cold.” She refers to this as, an “inarticulate stutter,” all the while admitting that she has never seen it in print since it is mostly a bothersome habit of some speakers.

I recommend that you pick up this book – if you want to learn about grammar, spelling, vocabulary, language usage, and so forth, or if you just want to be amused at the many ways that we can mess up what it is we are trying to say to each other. For those who are interested, you may also want to look up another related book – Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.


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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition


FOR MORE INFORMATION: Mary Jo Ryan 402-471-3434 800-307-2665

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

Young Nebraska writers will receive Letters about Literature award certificates from Gov. Pete Ricketts on April 8, 2015 at a proclamation-signing ceremony celebrating National Library Week, April 12-18, 2015. 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. 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:


  • Emma Harner, Lincoln, for a letter to Karen Hesse
  • Owen Morrow, Omaha, for a letter to Mike Lupica
  • Ashley Xiques, Omaha, for a letter to Leigh Bardugo

 Alternate Winners  

  • Grace Gutierrez, Omaha, for a letter to Deborah Wiles
  • Clio Reid, Lincoln, for a letter to Lewis Carroll
  • Morgan Curran, Arapahoe, for a letter to Beatrice Sparks

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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Nebraska Learns 2.0: Memes & Doormice

jihz9The Nebraska Learns 2.0 Thing for April is All Your Memes Are Belong to Us.

This month we’re going to take a look at memes; those wonderful “viral ideas” that get passed around online every day. We’re focusing on tools that allow you to create image-based memes but also a great source for explaining those ones you just can’t seem to make sense of.

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.

What-the-Doormouse-Said-196x300The BookThing for April is What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff.

Nebraska Learns 2.0 is the Nebraska Library Commission’s ongoing online learning program. 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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New Government Publications Received at the Library Commission

NEState SealNew state government publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for March 2015.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Foster Care Review Board, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, and University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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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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