Category Archives: General

2019 Libraries Visiting Scholar lecture: “Academic Freedom: The Key Role of Archival Records”

April 18, 2019, 11 am – Noon, Nebraska Union Auditorium

Tanya Zanish-Belcher, the Director of Special Collections & Archives at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is the 2019 Visiting Scholar for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. Her public presentation on “Academic Freedom: The Key Role of Archival Records,’ is scheduled for April 18, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. in the Nebraska Union Auditorium (1400 R St., Lincoln).  The event is free and open to the public.

Zanish-Belcher’s presentation will address research, and the broadest sense of the historical record, which is based on, or depends upon, the quality and amount of historical records available for the types of stories we can tell. The expansion of the documentary record, particularly (1) the creation of materials giving a much-needed view of marginalized groups long silenced, (2) the explosion of community-based archives, and (3) the digitization of materials from the past all provide rich new sources for exploration. What impact does this growing plethora of information and data have on our efforts to describe, contextualize, and share the various elements of our complicated histories? At the same time, a growing lack of access to the public record, whether by cost, censorship, a decrease in public funding, or a narrowing view of American citizenship, challenges us. How can archivists, researchers, and scholars reverse this trend and ensure the continued preservation and access to the historical record which defines who we are?

Zanish-Belcher received her M.A. in Historical and Archival Administration from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and her B.A. in History from Ohio Wesleyan University. Prior to her appointment as director at Wake Forest in 2013, she was the Head of Special Collections & Archives at Iowa State University Library between 1998-2013, and was also a Special Collections Archivist at the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History between 1989-1994.

Her publications include Perspectives on Women’s Archives (edited, with Anke Voss) for the Society of American Archivists (2013) and author of one of its chapters, “’A Culture of Concealment’: Revealing the Records of Human Reproduction.” Tanya has taught workshops on archival reference for the Midwest Archives Conference and has given many presentations at the state, local, and national levels. She has published articles on women’s archives and women in science, and has served on and chaired various SAA committees, including the nominating committee, Committee on the Status of Women, and the Membership Committee. She was named a Society of American Archivists (SAA) Fellow in 2011, the highest accolade given by the Society. She is a Past President of Midwest Archives Conference, member of the SAA Council (2012-2015), and was elected Vice-President/President Elect for SAA in 2016. Zanish-Belcher served as the 73rd President of the Society of American Archivists in 2017-2018.

Posted in Education & Training, General | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Nebraska Library Commission Awards Grants for Youth Library Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:NLC Logo
March 19, 2019

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sally Snyder
402-471-4003
800-307-2665

 

Nebraska Library Commission Awards Grants for Youth Library Service

 The Nebraska Library Commission recently awarded $23,254 in grants for Excellence in Youth service. Of the grants awarded to twenty-five Nebraska libraries, several addressed the need for materials like LEGO® and other activities to encourage creativity in young people. The Nebraska Library Commission congratulates the public libraries listed below as they develop new and innovative programs to ensure excellence in library service for Nebraska young people.

The recipients are:

  • Atkinson Public Library, Preschool learning materials, books, and activities
  • Blue Hill Public Library, LEGO® kits
  • Butler Memorial Library, Cambridge, Breakout EDU Platform Kits for Kid Book Club
  • Central City Public Library, Bring Edgerton Exploit Center to the library for a community day
  • Columbus Public Library, Promote literacy and musical interests
  • Wilson Public Library, Cozad, Cozad Biz Kidz Camp
  • Creighton Public Library, LEGO® Club
  • Fairbury Public Library, 3-D Printer and other makerspace equipment
  • Franklin Public Library, LEGO® Club
  • Fullerton Public Library, Programming to promote literacy and reading
  • Genoa Public Library, Toddler Concept Bags
  • Gering Public Library, Toddler Story & Playtime
  • Grand Island Public Library, SAC Museum Space Program Day, LEGO® Guy Program Day, and SAM Labs Classroom Kit
  • Imperial Public Library, K through 4 after school programs
  • Kimball Public Library, Creative program expansion
  • Louisville Public Library, Teen programming
  • Mead Public Library, 1,000 Books before Kindergarten
  • Jensen Memorial Library, Minden, Preschool programming
  • Morton-James Public Library, Nebraska City, Materials encouraging learning and creativity
  • Plainview Public Library, LEGO®s
  • Plattsmouth Public Library, Busy Bags
  • Shelby Community Library, Children activities
  • Lied Lincoln Township, Wausa, Youth games
  • Maltman Memorial Public Library, Wood River, LEGO® Club
  • Yutan Public Library, American Girl Kit’s Klub

Youth Grants for Excellence are made available by the Nebraska Library Commission with funding from the State of Nebraska. 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, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

Posted in General, Grants, Youth Services | Leave a comment

Virtual Reality Uses and Pitfalls

For a while now, I’ve been gathering different resources about virtual reality and how it can be used in different industries. Here’s some cool collections of VR inspiration for your library:

Beyond Gaming: 10 Other Fascinating Uses for Virtual-Reality Tech (Live Science)

Applications of Virtual Reality (Virtual Reality Society)

25 Best Google Cardboard Apps for iOS and Android (Think Mobile) This is a good, low-cost way to test out VR if you’re just getting started. Just get a Google Cardboard for about $10 and download some apps on your phone.

If you’re looking for more advanced options, here are some things to watch out for as you’re searching for VR opportunities:

1. If you’re using a mobile app with Google Cardboard or another headset designed to use a smartphone as a screen, think about which smartphones you’re going to use. There will be different apps for iPhone and Android. Not all are created equally.

2. Using a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for smartphones to be used in headsets can be tricky. Some apps don’t work with different phone models. You might want a library device available for patron use when their own phone isn’t compatible.

3. When choosing a more expensive headset like the Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Playstation VR, or another headset, consider additional hardware expenses. Headsets like the Oculus Rift need to be hooked up to a computer with a really good graphics card. This graphics card can get pricey.

4. Not all games for the more expensive sets will work for every set. When games are designed, they are generally designed for a specific platform. So if you tested out National Geographic apps on Oculus Go, they won’t necessarily be available on every other headset. If you need a specific app, keep that in mind.

5. Many headsets have free options. You might want to start out with these and only add in a few paid options as you go along. This can keep costs down and allow your VR library to scale slowly.

VR is pretty awesome, so don’t let the potential pitfalls get in your way. It is just something to keep in mind as you’re choosing VR options and working out budgets. Feel free to email me at amanda.sweet@nebraska.gov if you have any VR questions.

Posted in General, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

What do our parents really leave us? Is it money, or a house? Seeing my father’s eye’s when I look in the mirror or my mother’s nose? Is it memories, the good and the bad? What if you found your dad wasn’t your biological father? That all the family history, the aunts and uncles, the cousins and grandparents, that they didn’t really belong to you. At least not in the way you thought. This is the basis for Dani Shapiro’s poignant and timely memoir, “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love.” This is not just the tale of the author’s search for her biological father, but her desire to know the secrets her parents kept.

I listened to the audiobook, published by Random House, and narrated by the author herself. Listening to the author tell her own story, hearing her voice and emotion as she recounts the journey she takes after this discovery made the experience even more enjoyable. I choose this book in my attempt to read more non-fiction this year, and it didn’t disappoint.

Shapiro, D. (2019). Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love.

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Girls Resist!”

A is for Activism, B is for #BookFace!

#BookFaceFriday this week is highlights our “Who Runs the World?: Women’s History” collection on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution” by KaeLyn Rich (Author), Giulia Sagramola (Illustrator) (Quirk Books, 2018) is an ebook available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! Explore this title and the 142 in the collection as you celebrate Women’s History Month! 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 12,407 audiobooks and 24,143 eBooks, with new titles added weekly. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this brand new title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“An inspiring and practical handbook for meaningful resistance…This pertinent and bold guide—featuring Sagramola’s warm illustrations rendered in blue and orange tones—is likely to become a go-to resource for young activists.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

This week’s #BookFaceFriday models are NLC’s Talking Book & Braille Service Library Readers Advisor, Holly Atterbury; and our Interlibrary Loan Staff Assistant, Lynda Clause!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available at Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

 

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where is the Humanity in STEAM?

A push to add Art to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning took storm a while ago. Then technology took over the world. But what about the humanities? The study of people is what made most technology possible. Ethnography, anthropology, psychology, linguistics, literature, and ethics are the driving force behind how and why technology is created, marketed, and how technology influences society as a whole.

Natural language processing would not be possible without breakthroughs in linguistics. Virtual reality games wouldn’t be very interesting without a good plot line to draw in gamers. Video game designers use psychology to study their target market and cater their product to the needs of the gamer. The internet is changing the way people think and interact with the world at large. To steer technology creation and use towards a positive impact on humanity, the humanities must be considered.

That is what we are doing with digital citizenship. We are asking people to look at how technology impacts themselves and others. We are asking people to look at the world today and ask themselves if their actions are making a positive impact on those around them. That is the core of ethics. What is the world today, and what do we want the world to be? How can we make a change towards the better? Can we agree on what makes life better, then work together to build a movement towards positive change?

Ethics teaches us to look at the complex nature of humanity and decide where we want to fit in the world. Are we making a positive contribution to our friends and community? What happens when everyone goes along with the status quo? What makes us do the things we do and how can we identify the need for change. Ethics.

Digital literacy will require us all to ask ourselves some hard questions. We are teaching kids to build an online identity that will make them look good to their friends and future employers. But what is their identity after they log off the computer? Making a positive impact in our small corner of the world means building introspection, empathy, and deciding who we are as individuals. How does an individual fit into their community? How does our community fit into the world? What can one human do?

There is no simple worksheet or lesson plan that will instill this thinking into growing learners. This will take large scale change in the world. It will mean looking at how technology affects us as individuals. It will mean guiding the use and creation of technology towards a greater purpose. There are no easy answers here.

Knowing how to use a tablet, a smartphone, a computer, and choosing the best device to suit your purpose is a good start. It opens doors to endless possibilities. But using that technology to shape yourself and the world into a better place is the real challenge.

The humanities are the beating heart of digital literacy. Humanity can exist without technology. But technology shouldn’t exist without humanity. And right now, it seems like the H in STEAM is silent.

Posted in General, Technology | Leave a comment

What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for January and February 2019.  Included are reports from a variety of Nebraska state agencies:  Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy, Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance, Nebraska Public Power District, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service,  University of Nebraska-Omaha Center for Applied Urban Research, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972, a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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

Friday Reads: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a necessary and fascinating read for anyone who has used a library—even more so for anyone who works in a library. Orlean tells the story of the Los Angeles Central Library, its founding and its operation, and about a dramatic 1986 fire and the following investigation. Of special interest to Nebraskans, the building itself was designed by Bertram Goodhue, who was also the architect for another building you might be more familiar with: the Nebraska State Capitol building.

The way Orlean tells the story is as interesting as the investigation itself. The book is true crime, history, biography, and homage. She describes her own emotional connection to visiting her hometown library with her mother as a child, and then returning to libraries much later, after having a child of her own, and she begins to appreciate what an incredible societal wonder the modern library is.

Orlean also tells the stories of pioneers, free thinkers, and risk takers who made the Los Angeles Central Library possible, like Mary Foy, who became the head librarian of the Los Angeles Central Library in 1880, when men still dominated the field—and when she was only eighteen years old. With thoughtfulness and sensitivity, she talks about the emotional aftermath of the 1986 fire, for the workers and patrons of the Central Library, with personalized detail. She addresses the realities of the twenty-first century public library with respect and without sentimentality.

I dragged my feet finishing this book, because I didn’t want it to end. I knew from the formatting of the first page—I won’t give away how each chapter is introduced—that I was reading a book about libraries by someone who knew them and loved them.

If you’re old enough to remember 1986, but you don’t remember the Los Angeles Central Library fire, it might be because another catastrophic event happened a few days before in Chernobyl, which overshadowed the fire in the news. After you read the book, you might want to watch news clips and video of the time—and view other reactions to the book. The story told by the book has encouraged a reckoning and remembering by those affected, and it is powerful.

I took my copy of the book on a field trip to another library designed by Goodhue—in the aforementioned Nebraska State Capitol building. Pretty library photos will be on social media soon, and I will add a link here when that happens.

Orlean, S. (2018). The library book.

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Webinars from WebJunction

 

Strategic Planning in a Deeply Weird World: The Flexible Roadmap Field Guide Approach

DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, March 26, 2019:  2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

REGISTER

Join us to learn about Salt Lake City Public Library’s new ground-breaking approach to strategic planning, focused on human-centered service design.

It’s a big task to define the library’s future over the next three or five years, and strategic planning is becoming less and less effective in a rapidly changing world. The Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) has created a new approach that is flexible, staff-driven, and human-centered. SCLPL’s Strategic Roadmap is not a 100-page plan in a binder-on-a-shelf; it’s an experiential learning tool that invites all staff to participate in the co-creation of meaningful outcomes and experiences for the community. The Roadmap focuses less on planning and more on building the capacity of staff to adopt a human-centered service design mindset and skillset. SLCPL staff are adopting a new perspective, continually experimenting with and adapting spaces, collections, services, programs, and their own roles, to responsively address community needs and aspirations in an ever-changing landscape. Join us for this webinar to learn how to cultivate new skills to help bring the Roadmap to life for your library’s strategic planning.

Presented by: Peter Bromberg, Executive Director; and Marilee Moon, Assistant Director of Customer Experience, at Salt Lake City Public Library

The Power of Small: How Rural Libraries Help Their Communities Thrive

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, April 18, 2019: 2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

REGISTER

Learn how any tiny library can find more ways to support the needs of their community by thinking strategically and creating new connections.

All libraries provide vital services to their communities, but libraries that serve small, rural populations have the potential to go beyond providing information and access—they can inject the vitality that will help their communities thrive. Addressing the challenges faced by rural areas may seem daunting to a library with few staff and limited resources, but any tiny library can find more ways to support the needs of their community by thinking strategically and creating new connections with their stakeholders, patrons, and other library staff. Learn how small library director and 2018 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, Allie Stevens, applied the concept of growth mindsets to set her priorities, use resources and volunteers smartly, and avoid burnout as a solo librarian. Follow her lead to turn your library into a powerhouse for your community.

This webinar is presented in collaboration with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Presented by: Allie Stevens, Director, Calhoun County Library & Museum, Hampton, Arkansas

The Library as Social Connector: Forging Community Connection

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, April 25, 2019: 2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

REGISTER

This webinar will explore how libraries play a role in creating social connection and identify ways to more intentionally facilitate stronger community bonds.

Strong social cohesion is a crucial factor in a community’s resilience in times of stress and disruption. Unfortunately, studies show that our communities are experiencing a steady erosion of social cohesion, pointing to an increase in loneliness, depression, and separation because of too much time spent online and too little time spent in the community. Libraries have the position and the power to rebuild social bonds, offering that sense of community and shared place that humans crave. Active learning programs that bring people together for participatory, shared experiences are a boost to community strength, but they could go even further to amplify social connection and build social infrastructure. Join us as we explore library programs through the lens of social possibilities and devise strategies to be more intentional about forging stronger community bonds.

Presented by: Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager, OCLC; and Jennifer Peterson, WebJunction Community Manager, OCLC

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

#BookFaceFriday “Gossamer”

Have you been dreaming of #BookFaceFriday?

Gossamer by Lois Lowry Bookface image

“An owl called, its shuddering hoots repeating mournfully in the distance. Somewhere nearby, heavy wings swooped and a young rabbit, captured by sharp talons, shrieked as he was lifted to his doom. Startled, a raccoon looked up with bright eyes from the place where he was foraging. Two deer moved in tandem through a meadow. A thin cloud slid across the moon.”

I’ve always loved the way Lois Lowry writes. To me, it’s almost lyrical, and the vocabulary she chooses always makes me smile.  #BookFace this week is “Gossamer” by Lois Lowry (Yearling, 2008). This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and would be a fantastic choice for any book club!

“Lowry’s prose is simple and clear. This carefully plotted fantasy has inner logic and conviction. Readers will identify with Littlest, who is discovering her own special talents. . . . A beautiful novel with an intriguing premise.”–School Library Journal, Starred

This week’s #BookFace model is NLC’s Director of Library Development, Christa Porter!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  The UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians in Nebraska.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in February:

The Dakota Sioux Experience at Flandreau and Pipestone Indian Schools 

The Dakota Sioux Experience at Flandreau and Pipestone Indian Schools illuminates the relationship between the Dakota Sioux community and the schools and surrounding region, as well as the community’s long-term effort to maintain its role as caretaker of the “sacred citadel” of its people.

Cynthia Leanne Landrum explores how Dakota Sioux students at Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota and at Pipestone Indian School in Minnesota generally accepted the idea that they should attend these particular boarding institutions because they saw them as a means to an end and ultimately as community schools. This construct operated within the same philosophical framework in which some Eastern Woodland nations approached a non-Indian education that was simultaneously tied to long-term international alliances between Europeans and First Peoples beginning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Landrum provides a new perspective from which to consider the Dakota people’s overt acceptance of this non-Native education system and a window into their ongoing evolutionary relationships, with all of the historic overtures and tensions that began the moment alliances were first brokered between the Algonquian Confederations and the European powers.

The Image of Elizabeth I in Early Modern Spain  (Series: New Hispanisms)

Queen Elizabeth I was an iconic figure in England during her reign, with many  contemporary English portraits and literary works extolling her virtue and political acumen. In Spain, however, her image was markedly different. While few Spanish fictional or historical writings focus primarily on Elizabeth, numerous works either allude to her or incorporate her as a character.

The Image of Elizabeth I in Early Modern Spain explores the fictionalized, historical, and visual representations of Elizabeth I and their impact on the Spanish collective imagination. Drawing on works by Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Pedro de Ribadeneira, Luis de Góngora, Cristóbal de Virués, Antonio Coello, and Calderón de la Barca, among others, the contributors to this volume limn contradictory assessments of Elizabeth’s physical appearance, private life, personality, and reign. In doing so they articulate the various and sometimes conflicting ways in which the Tudor monarch became both the primary figure in English propaganda efforts against Spain and a central part of the Spanish political agenda.

This edited volume revives and questions the image of Elizabeth I in early modern Spain as a means of exploring how the queen’s persona, as mediated by its Spanish reception, has shaped the ways in which we understand Anglo-Spanish relations during a critical era for both kingdoms.

One Nation Under Baseball

One Nation Under Baseball highlights the intersection between American society and America’s pastime during the 1960s, when the hallmarks of the sport—fairness, competition, and mythology—came under scrutiny. John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro examine the events of the era that reshaped the game: the Koufax and Drysdale million-dollar holdout, the encroachment of television on newspaper coverage, the changing perception of ballplayers from mythic figures to overgrown boys, the arrival of the everyman Mets and their free-spirited fans, and the lawsuit brought against team owners by Curt Flood. One Nation Under Baseball brings to life the seminal figures of the era—including Bob Gibson, Marvin Miller, Tom Seaver, and Dick Young—richly portraying their roles during a decade of flux and uncertainty.

 

This Fish Is Fowl (Series: American Lives)

In this volume, Xu Xi offers the transnational and feminist perspective of a contemporary “glocalized” American life. Xu’s quirky, darkly comic, and obsessively personal essays emerge from her diverse professional career as a writer, business executive, entrepreneur, and educator. From her origins in Hong Kong as an Indonesian of Chinese descent to her U.S. citizenship and multiple countries of residence, she writes her way around the globe.

Caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s in Hong Kong becomes the rhythmic accompaniment to an enforced, long-term, long-distance relationship with her partner and home in New York. In between Xu reflects on all her selves, which are defined by those myriad monikers of existence. As an author who began life as a novelist and fiction writer, she also considers the nature of genre, which snakes its way through these essays. In her linguistic trip across the comic tragedy that is globalism, she wonders about the mystery of humanity and the future of our world at this complicated and precarious moment in human existence.

This Fish Is Fowl is a twenty-first-century blend of the essayist traditions of both West and East. Xu’s acerbic, deft prose shows her to be a descendant of both Michel de Montaigne and Lu Xun, with influences from stepparent Jonathan Swift.

A Year with Mordecai Kaplan : Wisdom on the Weekly Torah Portion (Series:  JPS Daily Inspiration)

You are invited to spend a year with the inspirational words, ideas, and counsel of the great twentieth-century thinker Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, through his meditations on the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and eleven Jewish holidays.

A pioneer of ideas and action—teaching that “Judaism is a civilization” encompassing Jewish culture, art, and peoplehood; demonstrating how synagogues can be full centers for Jewish living (building one of the first “shuls with a pool”); and creating the first-ever bat mitzvah ceremony (for his daughter Judith)—Kaplan transformed the landscape of American Jewry. Yet much of Kaplan’s rich treasury of ethical and spiritual thought is largely unknown.

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, who studied closely with Kaplan, offers unique insight into Kaplan’s teachings about ethical relationships and spiritual fulfillment, including how to embrace godliness in everyday experience, our mandate to become agents of justice in the world, and the human ability to evolve personally and collectively. Quoting from the week’s Torah portion, Reuben presents Torah commentary, a related quotation from Kaplan, a reflective commentary integrating Kaplan’s understanding of the Torah text, and an intimate story about his family or community’s struggles and triumphs—guiding twenty-first-century spiritual seekers of all backgrounds on how to live reflectively and purposefully every day.

Your Body is War (Series: African Poetry) 

Your Body Is War contemplates the psychology of the female human body, looking at the ways it exists and moves in the world, refusing to be contained in the face of grief and trauma. Bold and raw, Mahtem Shiferraw’s poems explore what the woman’s body has to do to survive and persevere in the world, especially in the aftermath of abuse.

A groundbreaking collection, the poems in Your Body Is War embody elements of conflict, making them simultaneously a place of destruction and of freedom.

Pictures and synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

 

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Information Resources, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | Leave a comment

Raspberry Pi: An Expected Discovery

I’ve had a Raspberry Pi and a mess of electronics components sitting on my desk for several months. My original Pi plan was to demonstrate how Raspberry Pi could be used in a functional project that could be actively used in the library. So I set it up using Python Programming’s Raspberry Pi Tutorial series. I’ve dabbled in Python before, but not extensively. It was kind of fun to play in the terminal again.

For those who haven’t used Python or Raspberry Pi, the Pi is a little $35 computer. But you do have to add your own monitor, keyboard, mouse, power supply and SD card. I use ‘$35’ loosely here. The Pi also has a set of GPIO pins that will let you add on motors, sensors, LED lights, and various other bits of electronic goodness. Python is a programming language that can be used for robotics, computer programming, machine learning, and many other things.

If you Google ‘Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners’, you’ll get an overwhelming number of ideas. My problem was finding one that wouldn’t just be another cool thing sitting on my shelf. Finding the motivation to learn as an adult is drastically different than when you’re a kid. To devote the amount of time necessary to learn more complex electronics, I needed a project that would motivate and mean something to me personally.

Then I got to a tutorial in the series that told me to uninstall Wolfram Engine to save space. This isn’t the first tutorial that has recommended doing this, and nobody seemed to really know what Wolfram Engine is. So, being a good librarian, I looked it up.

From their website, “the philosophy of the Wolfram Language is to automate as much as possible, so programmers can concentrate on defining what they want to do, and the language will automatically figure out how to do it”. Stephen Wolfram explains it better in his explanatory video on the site’s homepage.

Anyway, the language is fascinating, but what really interested me were the demonstrations of use that were categorized by subject. The demonstrations on this page show how math can make the real world come to life in a visual, sometimes interactive, diagram.

I discovered that Wolfram can be used in machine learning. So I waded into Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course to learn more. After going through a good chunk of that crash course, I returned to the demonstrations available on Wolfram’s website and explored them through a different lens.

You can learn a lot about how artificial intelligence works by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with AI Player. This player is found in the Life Sciences- Psychology section of the demonstrations. Machine learning looks for patterns the developer tells the program to look for and learn from. If you look in the “details” section below the player, you can see the factors that went into the algorithm behind the AI Player.

These factors are rooted in psychology. Other developers might place emphasis on different factors. This is a good reason to question the basis of machine learning algorithms. Depending upon the application for machine learning, we might all want to start looking deeper into the patterns these algorithms are told to look for in the data.

I digress. After returning to Wolfram, I then returned to the Pi. From a $35 computer, I discovered a fascination with machine learning. That led to a fascination with robotics and augmented reality. I returned to the Pi and still couldn’t find a project that really interested me for the library. It’s difficult to force learning when there is no real interest. But without the Pi, I would never have discovered a fascination with those other topics.

So what did I learn? Sometimes your learning outcome is drastically different from what you set out to learn. If you follow your natural curiosities and let them lead you where they may, you can discover a depth of passion that was previously unimaginable.

Given the right tools and information paths, your patrons could use the Pi to learn the basics of computing and pair it with other information sources and subject matter experts to create something the world has never seen. You can’t force learning, but you can encourage self-discovery.

Posted in General, Technology | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Carry On”

Who needs space when you’ve got #BookFaceFriday?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell bookface image

Magic school, love trouble, political intrigue, and monsters running around, this week’s #BookFace really does have everything. Nebraska author, Rainbow Rowell delivers with New York Times bestseller  “Carry On” by (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015). This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is a great choice for any book club!

“It’s a brilliantly addictive, genuinely romantic story about teenagers who can’t be neatly sorted into houses, coping with stress and loss and the confusion of just trying to be who they are. It’s as if Rowell turned the Harry Potter books inside out, and is showing us the marvelous, subversive stuffing inside.” ―Time Magazine

This week’s #BookFace models are NLC’s Computer Services Director, Vern Buis and his partner in crime, Janet Greser, our Computer Help Desk Support. These two don’t need wands to make magic, they do it every day by just by touching our computers!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Nebraska Center for the Book | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Everyone Need to Learn Coding?

It has been well established that everyone can learn to code. But “coding” is a very broad term that can apply to a lot of different things. Coding skills are used in web development, robotics, software development, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet of Things, and much more. But if a student is going to become an artist, graphic designer, marketer, sports therapist, or any other profession under the sun, why do they need to learn coding? How will technology affect their chosen professions?

Honestly, many learners may never go in-depth into the coding process. But it helps to have the exposure. How does anyone know they like something unless they try it first? That being said, even if everyone doesn’t learn coding, they should know about technology. All of the tech I mentioned will have a huge impact on every profession. We’re already starting to see that happen.

Internet of Things is working towards making smart cities and communities. Machine learning is powering many popular search engines. Virtual reality is becoming more popular to train new employees across industries. Augmented reality is being used in manufacturing and other industries to label parts and pieces for assembly. That is just a drop in the bucket of examples.

Different professions are also inspiring the design and creation of new technology. There is now a robot that is folded like a piece of origami. When the material is heated, it unfolds itself. This is being used for internal medication delivery in experimental medicine.

The study of animal locomotion and biomechanics has been used in robotics for quite some time. If a robot needs to thrive in a desert, why not give it the attributes of an animal that thrives in the desert? Computer networking is inspired by how bees communicate.

Psychology and sociology comes in handy when designing a virtual world that will not harm the user, whether mentally or physically. Those two fields also comes in handy when marketing the finished product for commercial use. Historians and ethnographers may be interested in how technology has shaped or will shape individuals and society as a whole.

Long story short, everyone may not need to know coding, but  in the near future, every profession will likely need to collaborate with someone who does code. This means having knowledge of how technology works, how to break information down into steps, and how to provide useful information during the design and iteration process.

Having at least minimal understanding of HTML and CSS may go a long ways towards walking a mile in a coder’s shoes. Knowledge of how technology works will also help individuals seek new and innovative ways to help shape the future of their chosen profession. Learning ethical, responsible use of technology early on will help guide users towards positive applications of technology later in life. These decisions affect us all.

Posted in General, Technology | Tagged | 1 Comment

#BookFaceFriday “A Factory of Cunning”

Who’s up for a little #BookFace intrigue?

Take a trip to eighteenth-century England with this week’s #BookFace title. Get to know Mrs. Fox as she navigates upper class society after escaping her scandalous past in France in “A Factory of Cunning” by Philippa Stockley (Harcourt, 2005). This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is the perfect selection to get your book club through the winter doldrums!

“The pages of this unscrupulous story are lined with lace, silk and muslin — all of it stitched together in a fabric of shimmering deceit.”– The Washington Post Book World

This week’s #BookFace model is Kay Goehring, NLC’s Talking Book & Braille Service Library Readers Advisor/Senior. We thought she was the perfect seductress to bring this book to life.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Block-Based Computer Programming

If you’re looking for ways to introduce beginners to computer programming, block-based programming is a great place to start. These programming languages use graphical, drag-and-drop interfaces that make it easier to understand, develop, test, and tweak programs. In the case of Lego Mindstorms EV3 software, this program can control a robot made of Lego pieces that look similar to Knex pieces. Users just drag blocks into the programming area and change the settings to make the robot move, interact with sensors, display text or images on the screen, and more. This video made by Lego Discover will show you how to build your first program.

Lego Mindstorms is a more expensive option that the Library Commission uses through the Library Innovation Studios project. If your library wants to test out a powerful, free block-based programming interface, check out Scratch, made by MIT Media Lab. Scratch will let you program online stories, games, and animations. For free.

When learners want to expand their coding capabilities, they can transition over to text-based coding. Some good beginner options to look into are HTML and CSS coding to make a standard website from scratch. Add in Javascript to add more interactive features to the website. These links will send you to a YouTube video for freeCodeCamp.org, each video has a link to a written curriculum option as well.  There are a lot of other coding languages out there, but it’s difficult to choose a language until you know what you want to do with it.

Rather than get bogged down in which language to learn, libraries can focus on how to learn. The best thing we can all learn is how to break complex information into smaller, more manageable steps to learn from the ground up. After people learn how to think like a programmer, they can decide what they want to learn more about.  When people know where their interests lie, they can choose a program to suit their needs. Choosing a language without a purpose is a great way to quit before you start.

To encourage people to learn to code, try to connect them with good reasons to code. Technology is being used in multiple industries right now. People of any age or subject interest have a reason to learn programming. I will talk about more motivations to learn coding in future posts. Stay tuned.

 

Posted in General, Technology | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf, unread, for about a decade. I bought it because a few friends had raved about the life-altering, mind-bending power of this book. Needless to say, I was skeptical.

I didn’t say anything back them, but I suspected the only reason my friends enjoyed the book is because they were already in the middle of changing their own lives when they happen to stumble upon the book. The Alchemist has the ability to pour gas on a lit fire to make the flames explode upward. But it cannot apply spark to the flint over dead leaves.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is the story of a young man named Santiago who wants to see the world. He starts out as a shepherd who quietly enjoys what he does. But the endless horizon calls out to him. Thus his journey begins. Along the way, he meets a variety of mystically inclined individual(s) who provide him with endless philosophical advice to drive him towards his own Personal Legend.

He winds up in pursuit of treasure near the pyramids in Egypt. It’s a wild ride. When I tried to read this book the first time, I was turned off by phrases like ‘Personal Legend’, ‘Soul of the World’, and other over-the-top phrases. Ten years later, when the book called to me again, I realized that these are just phrases.  Depending on your own personal beliefs, you can mentally exchange these phrases for words that speak to you. The book was already translated once from the Brazilian author’s native Portuguese.

For me, this book was a way to see myself from a more global perspective. We will all travel through life, meeting different people who will teach us different things. As I learn more about how people in other parts of the world live, I find my own Personal Legend shifting. The small irritations in life don’t seem to matter quite as much. I have food, clean water, access to learning tools, plenty of books, all things necessary to a good life. Why not help those who don’t have access to that already?

If you’re ready to change your life, or are open to seeing other ways of life, this could be a good book. It’s a quick read, and can be a great catalyst for change. As you’re reading your own meaning into the book, keep in mind that sometimes the journey is vastly more important than the end goal.

Maybe I will pick up this book in another ten years and see a completely different story.

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital literacy has taken the library world by storm! What is digital literacy, you may ask. You will likely get a slightly different answer from every person you ask. The concept has also been called multiple literacies, technology literacy, 21st Century Skills, and similar.

What it all boils down to is that we are all trying to prepare students and all library patrons for the rapidly evolving digital world. There are 81 years left of the 21st Century. Nobody knows what the future will hold. But experts in digital and technology literacy have an educated guess as to the skills people will need going forward.

Here’s what the International Society for Technology in Education has come up with after working with a variety of leaders in education (excerpted from this table):

  1. Empowered Learner
  2. Digital Citizen
  3. Knowledge Constructor
  4. Innovative Designer
  5. Computational Thinker
  6. Creative Communicator
  7. Global Collaborator

For a description of what all of those mean, check out the ISTE Standard’s website. This will provide information for what students should know, how educators can prepare, and how coaches/ professional development assistants can prepare for the future. There is also information about Computer Science Standards on this website for those who want to dive a little deeper into the wonderful world of coding and the process of creating or adapting technology. Be forewarned, it’s a lot. And it won’t all happen overnight.

We all have a long way to go before we’re all ready for the rest of the 21st Century, but we’ll get there eventually. As we move forward into the technology revolution, take a moment to think about how much technology is too much technology. Be selective about what is probably just a fad and which tools might gain momentum and be worth your time and effort. Do the best you can, mistakes will happen, and the world will keep on turning. Keep in mind that just because a new technology exists, doesn’t mean we have to use it.

Students will still need to know how to use a paper and pen by the end of all this.  Soft skills and social skills will be more important than ever as people become tempted to isolate themselves in a digital world. It’s time to find a happy medium between digital and physical tools. We’re only human.

 

Posted in General, Technology | Leave a comment

Nebraska Library Commission Announces Public Library Accreditation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 12, 2019NLClogo

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Christa Porter
402-471-3107
800-307-2665

Nebraska Library Commission Announces Public Library Accreditation

Nebraska Library Commission Library Development Director Christa Porter recently announced the accreditation of Sixty-three public libraries across Nebraska. Porter stated, “We are dedicated to helping Nebraska libraries meet Nebraskans’ information needs, opening up the world of information for citizens of all ages. The Library Commission continues to work in partnership with Nebraska libraries and the regional library systems, using the Public Library Accreditation program to help public libraries grow and develop.”

Public libraries in Nebraska are accredited for a three-year period. To learn more about this process and to see a complete list of all accredited Nebraska public libraries, go to http://nlc.nebraska.gov/LibAccred/Standings.asp.

The Nebraska Library Commission congratulates the public libraries listed below as they move forward toward the realization of this vision for the future: “All Nebraskans will have improved access to enhanced library and information services, provided and facilitated by qualified library personnel, boards, and supporters with the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes necessary to provide excellent library and information services.”

Nebraska Public Libraries Accredited through December 31, 2021

Ainsworth Public Library
Arlington Public Library
Auburn Memorial Library
Alice M Farr Library (Aurora)
Bayard Public Library
Beatrice Public Library
Karlen Memorial Library (Beemer)
Bennington Public Library
Broadwater Public Library
Broken Bow Public Library
Central City Public Library
Clarkson Public Library
Clearwater Public Library
Crawford Public Library
Culbertson Public Library
Bob and Wauneta Burkley Library (DeWitt)
Elmwood Public Library
Emerson Public Library
Fairbury Public Library
Genoa Public Library
Gibbon Public Library
Gothenburg Public Library
Grand Island Public Library
Sioux County Public Library (Harrison)
Hartington Public Library
Hastings Public Library
Hildreth Public Library
Holdrege Area Public Library
Hooper Public Library
Lied Imperial Public Library
Kimball Public Library
Lincoln City Libraries
Loup City Public Library
Madison Public Library
Jensen Memorial Library (Minden)
Mitchell Public Library
Morton-James Public Library (Nebraska City)
Newman Grove Public Library
Norfolk Public Library
O’Neill Public Library
Oshkosh Public Library
Palisade Public Library
Sump Memorial Library (Papillion)
Pilger Public Library
Plainview Public Library
Ponca Carnegie Library
Schuyler Public Library
Scotia Public Library & Heritage Center
Lied Scottsbluff Public Library
Scribner Public Library
South Sioux City Public Library
Stromsburg Public Library
Superior Public Library
Raymond A Whitwer Tilden Public Library
Valentine Public Library
Gardner Public Library (Wakefield)
Weeping Water Public Library
John A Stahl Library (West Point)
Struckman-Baatz Public Library (Western)
Dvoracek Memorial Library (Wilber)
Lied Winside Public Library
Maltman Memorial Public Library (Wood River)
Yutan Public Library

The Nebraska Library Commission would also like to congratulate six of these libraries on earning accreditation for the very first time. Those libraries are:

Arlington Public Library
Bayard Public Library
Sioux County Public Library (Harrison)
Scotia Public Library & Heritage Center
Maltman Memorial Public Library (Wood River)
Lied Winside Public Library

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, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Public Library Survey Deadline Friday February 15, 2019

The deadline for the annual (2017-2018 fiscal year) IMLS public library survey (submitted via Bibliostat) is Friday, February 15, 2019. Completion of the survey is required for your library to receive state aid if you are accredited. If you aren’t accredited, you still have an incentive to complete the survey ($200), called Dollar$ for Data.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions throughout the process. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Posted in General, Library Management | Leave a comment