Category Archives: General

A History of the Census in the United States : Part 11

The Eleventh Census: Census Day was June 2, 1890.

Benjamin Harrison was President of the United States on Census Day, June 2, 1890.

Authorizing Legislation

An act signed into law March 1, 1889 authorized the census of 1890, which was modeled after the 1880 enumeration.

Enumeration

Because June 1 was a Sunday, the 1890 enumeration began on June 2. The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, except Alaska and the Indian Territory. Subdivisions assigned to a single enumerator were not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. In cities designated by 1880 census results to have populations under 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.

The 1890 questionnaire retained almost all of the inquiries from the 1880 census, and a few new questions were added. The 1890 census included a greater number of subjects than any previous census and more than would be included in those immediately following. New entries included questions about ownership and indebtedness of farms and homes; the names, as well as units served in, length of service and residences of surviving Union soldiers and sailors and the names of the widows of those who had died. Another new question dealt with race, including “Japanese” as a category for the first time, along with “Chinese,” “Negro,” “mulatto,” “quadroon,” “octoroon,” and “white.”

The population schedule was changed so that a separate sheet was used for each family, irrespective of the number of persons included.

As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations of manufactures, Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education, insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by experts and special agents.

For the first time, enumerators were given detailed maps to follow so they could account for every street or road and not stray beyond their assigned boundaries.

Technological Advancement

The 1890 census was notable as the first in which the electric tabulating system, invented by former Census Office employee Herman Hollerith, was used. Tabulation of the 1880 census results took almost a decade to complete, and officials hoped Hollerith’s machine would alleviate delays caused by relying on hand counts and rudimentary tallying machines to process data.

Hollerith’s machine required information from the census questionnaires to be transferred to a card, which was hole-punched at various places to indicate the characteristics – age, sex, color, marital status, etc. – of a person enumerated. The cards were then run through an electronic tabulating machine, which, using metal pins to complete circuits through the punched holes, counted or cross-tabulated different characteristics.

Intercensal Activity

Robert P. Porter served as superintendent of census until his resignation on July 31, 1893. On October 3, 1893, Congress enacted a law that directed census-related work to continue under the direction of the commissioner of labor. On March 2, 1895, a further act of Congress closed the Census Office and transferred the unfinished work to the office of the secretary of the interior, where it continued until July 1, 1897.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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#BookFaceFriday – “Curmudgeons, Drunkards, & Outright Fools by Thomas P. Lowry

As you prepare to ring in the new year, don’t get caught in a compromising position like those in our #BookFaceFriday, Thomas P. Lowry’s “Curmudgeons, Drunkards, & Outright Fools: Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels” (Bison Books, 2003). Lowry details the misdeeds and misfortunes of fifty colonels and lieutenant colonels during the war between the North and South. This title is published by Bison Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state documents program.

Lowry has taken the genre of the historical underside to its proper scholarly limits; he has coupled the lurid and the weird with excellent research and analysis. – Civil War Times

This week’s #BookFace model is neither curmudgeon, nor drunkard, nor fool. It’s Matt Hier, our new Audio Production Studio Manager!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Throwback Thursday: Omaha Community Playhouse

Happy #ThrowbackThursday from Nebraska Memories!

This week’s #throwback features an 8.5″ x 11″ black and white glossy photograph of the east side of the Omaha Community Playhouse in 1976.

From 1928 until 1959, the Omaha Community Playhouse occupied a building at 40th & Davenport. In 1959, it moved to a bigger and newly-constructed building at 69th and Cass, where it currently resides. The theater was renovated after a tornado hit in 1975. The renovations resulted in a second story and new glass-fronted lobby.

This image is provided and owned by the Omaha Community Playhouse. Their collection includes digitized images of the Playhouse and some of its performances. Some of the actors included in these images are Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Dorothy McGuire. Check out this collection on the Nebraska Memories archive.

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 this project, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Machine Learning on Code.org

Happy holidays everyone! This post will be short and sweet as we get ready for the holiday week. I stumbled across this Machine Learning activity on Code.org to help kids learn about the impact of artificial intelligence. The lesson has eight sections and is jam-packed with good information!

It starts with a video from two practitioners in the field, speaking without jargon for a younger audience. Honestly, this activity is fun and informative for adults as well!

You’ll learn how machine learning learns how to read data to make predictions about incoming data. The activities in this set are all ocean themed! Start by teaching the AI algorithm how to tell the difference between what is a fish, and what isn’t a fish to sort pollutants out of our water. Then, move on to find out how bias can enter the equation.

Eight sections later, and you will have learned the basics of how machine learning works, along with some of the pitfalls. Extend the activity by trying to apply it to other situations. Which occasions work best for machine learning in the real world? What doesn’t work as well?

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#BookFaceFriday – “Mr. Dickens and His Carol” by Samantha Silva

Bah! Humbug! and Happy Holidays from #BookFaceFriday!

Don’t let the ghost of Jacob Marley get you down! A good book, a cozy blanket, something warm to drink. This is the perfect recipe to put any Scrooge into the holiday spirit. We have ten copies of “Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel” by Samantha Silva (Flatiron Books, 2017) and an audio version for our TBBS users as well. Reserve it for your book club to read next holiday season! You should also take a peek at all of our holiday-themed book club kits!

In the collection we have 114 holiday titles, 81 of which have 4 or more copies. If a library is looking to weed some of their holiday titles – they can think of us because we’re always happy to add to this particular collection!

These titles are very popular in November and December, with some book club groups reserving their choices up to a year in advance! NLC staff keep their eyes peeled for holiday-themed books year-round in order to meet the demand come the first snowfall.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a charming, comic, and ultimately poignant story about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written. It’s as foggy and haunted and redemptive as the original; it’s all heart, and I read it in a couple of ebullient, Christmassy gulps.”
―Anthony Doerr

This week’s #BookFace model could be considered by some, our very own office Scrooge, but with a heart of gold. It’s Jerry Breazile, our Business Manager!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Nebraska During the New Deal–The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State by Marilyn Irvin Holt

I don’t generally read a lot of non-fiction, but occasionally I come across a title that really catches my Nebraska history eye: Nebraska During the New Deal : the Federal Writers Project in the Cornhusker State. And for those not already familiar with the writing of Marilyn Irvin Holt (The Orphan Trains, Children Of the Western Plains, and others), her meticulous research and insightful writing never disappoints. I highly recommend her newest title as another excellent example of the history of Nebraska and the Nebraska spirit.

As a New Deal program, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) aimed to put unemployed writers, teachers, and librarians to work. The contributors were to collect information, write essays, conduct interviews, and edit material with the goal of producing guidebooks in each of the then forty-eight states and U.S. territories. Project administrators hoped that these guides, known as the American Guide Series, would promote a national appreciation for America’s history, culture, and diversity and preserve democracy at a time when militarism was on the rise and parts of the world were dominated by fascism.

Marilyn Irvin Holt focuses on the Nebraska project, which was one of the most prolific branches of the national program. Best remembered for its state guide and series of folklore and pioneer pamphlets, the project also produced town guides, published a volume on African Americans in Nebraska, and created an ethnic study of Italians in Omaha. In Nebraska during the New Deal Holt examines Nebraska’s contribution to the project, both in terms of its place within the national FWP as well as its operation in comparison to other state projects.  (University of Nebraska Press)

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Throwback Thursday: “A Christmas Carol”

Christmas is right around the corner and we thought this photograph was perfect for this week’s #ThrowbackThursday!

The Omaha Community Playhouse put on its first production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in 1976. The novella was adapted for the stage by Charles Jones, one of the Playhouse’s directors.

This color photograph from the late 1970s or early 1980s is provided and owned by the Omaha Community Playhouse. The Omaha Community Playhouse collection includes digitized images of the Playhouse and some of its performances. Some of the actors included in these images are Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Dorothy McGuire.

Check out this collection and many more on the Nebraska Memories archive.

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. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Emerging Tech Changes Fake News

For those who have built good digital literacy habits, it is becoming second nature to check your sources, find out when the article was published, verify sensationalist headlines, check facts, and double check the URL.

There are an abundance of tools and resources available to help us discern real from fake news. This fake news infographic from the International Society for Technology in Education outlines some of the best strategies.

This is how we interact with news online. What happens when we ask Alexa for a highlight reel of today’s news? We tend to keep ourselves busy and it can be nice to check the news while on the run. A digital personal assistant like Alexa or Siri are a great, hands-free option to stay up to date.

There is a downside though. How can we verify sources in an audio-only delivery system? Have you ever asked Alexa to provide three sources to verify the news article? I did. It doesn’t work so well.

Are you able to detect spelling errors when a long URL is spelled out to you letter by letter? Personally, I don’t always do so well with that task. I prefer to have things written out so I can verify and process information.

Will we go back and check the news later in the day to verify on a desktop? Can we tell the difference between real and satirical information when we can’t see the pictures to go with the words?

Do we know which other sources are out there if an algorithm chooses what we see? How do we know which decisions went into the algorithm? Do we really want to be that reliant upon a personalized digital assistant?

We are all already struggling to keep up with digital skills and to establish positive digital literacy habits. Perhaps we should all take a step back here and re-evaluate the way we are implementing digital skills.

Are the tools we are building going to help us with Internet of Things powered devices, Artificial Intelligence powered services, and immersive digital worlds? Can we identify the deep fakes generated by artificial intelligence?

I don’t have the perfect solution for this. Especially since Twitter and abbreviated news sources can be an equally big problem. But it is something to think about when you ask Siri for answers.

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 10

The Tenth Census: Census Day was June 1, 1880.

Rutherford B. Hayes was President of the United States on Census Day, June 1, 1880.

Authorizing Legislation

The act authorizing the 1880 census gave supervision of the enumeration to a body of officers, known as supervisors of the census, who were specifically chosen for work on the census. The superintendent of the census and all supervisors were to be presidential appointees, subject to Senate confirmation. The terms of both were to expire when the census results were compiled and published.

Enumeration

Each supervisor was responsible for recommending the organization of his district for enumeration, choosing enumerators for the district and supervising their work, reviewing and transmitting the returns from the enumerators to the central census office, and overseeing the compensation for enumerators in each district.

The census act required each enumerator “to visit personally each dwelling house in his sub-division, and each family therein, and each individual living out of a family in any place of abode, and by inquiry made of the head of such family, or of the member there of deemed most credible and worthy of trust, or of such individual living out of a family, to obtain each and every item of information and all the particulars.” In case no one was available at a family’s usual place of abode, the enumerator was directed by the law “to obtain the required information, as nearly as may be practicable, from the family or families, or person or persons, living nearest to such place of abode.”

The census act also provided for the collection of detailed data on the condition and operation of railroad corporations, incorporated express companies, and telegraph companies, and of life, fire, and marine insurance companies (using Schedule No.4 – Social Statistics). Fines were to be imposed on officials of “every corporation…who shall…willfully neglect or refuse to give true and complete answers to any inquiries authorized by this act.”

In addition, the superintendent of census was required to collect and publish statistics of the population, industries, and resources of Alaska, with as much detail as was practical. An enumeration was also made of all untaxed Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States.

The 1880 decennial census was taken on five schedules: “Population,” “Mortality,” “Agriculture,” “Social Statistics,” and “Manufacturing.”

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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#BookFaceFriday – Holiday Collection

We’re rockin’ around the Christmas tree with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

Our holiday books are right at home among the twinkle lights and sparkling ornaments! Reserve a holiday read like “The Christmas Train” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, 2014) or “The Christmas Thief” by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, 2004) for your book club! Take a peek at all of our holiday-themed book club kits today!

In the collection we have 114 holiday titles, 81 of which have 4 or more copies. If a library is looking to weed some of their holiday titles – they can think of us because we’re always happy to add to this particular collection!

These titles are very popular in November and December, with some book club groups reserving their choices up to a year in advance! NLC staff keep their eyes peeled for holiday-themed books year-round in order to meet the demand come the first snowfall.

“David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief…and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.” – book jacket

“Mary Higgins Clark, America’s Queen of Suspense, and her daughter, bestselling mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, have again joined forces to create a suspenseful and humorous holiday tale. The Christmas Thief is filled with suspense, comic characters, and holiday cheer, and is sure to delight its readers.” – book jacket

This week’s #BookFace model is Aimee Owen’s Christmas tree, she’s NLC’s Information Services Librarian.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Throwback Thursday: Immanuel Children’s Home at Christmas

It’s time for another Christmas themed #throwback!

This week’s #ThrowbackThursday is a black and white photograph that was taken during the Christmas season at the Immanuel Deaconess Institute’s Children’s Home.

This image is owned and published by the Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center. The rich and well documented history of Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska is shown in these images of early buildings, people and artifacts. An 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.

Are you interested in Nebraska history? If so, check out the Nebraska Memories archive!

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. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 9

The Ninth Census: Census Day was June 1, 1870.

Ulysses S. Grant was President of the United States on Census Day, June 1, 1870.

Authorizing Legislation

The 1870 Census was conducted under the authority of the Census Act of 1850. A new law, approved on May 6, 1870, called for two procedural changes: The marshals were to submit the returns from the population questionnaire to the Census Office by September 10, 1870; all other questionnaires were due by October 1, 1870. Additionally, penalties for refusing to reply to enumerator inquiries were expanded to cover all questions asked on all questionnaires.

Enumeration

The Census Office, and the position of superintending clerk were abolished in May 1865. A portion of the clerks engaged in census work transferred to the General Land Office, where work of the 1860 census was completed under the direction of the commissioner of the General Land Office

After the Civil War, the decennial census questionnaires were reordered and redesigned to account for end of the “slave questionnaire.” The schedules for the 1870 census were: “General Population,” “Mortality,” “Agriculture,” “Products of Industry,” and “Social Statistics.”

The secretary of interior selected General Francis A. Walker as superintendent of the ninth census on February 7, 1870. At the time of his appointment General Walker was chief of the Bureau of Statistics – an agency within the Treasury Department – and was one of several experts who had participated in the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee deliberations on the 1870 census. A capable administrator, Walker introduced examinations to test the qualifications of those applying for positions with the Census Office. Walker remained as superintendent until November 1871, when Congress’s failure to appropriate funds for his salary caused him to resign. Nevertheless, he continued overseeing census work as commissioner of Indian Affairs. Later, he resumed his duties as superintendent of the census, working without compensation.

The 1870 enumeration was completed by August 23, 1871.

Technological Advancement

By 1870, the job of tallying and tabulating questionnaire responses was becoming overly burdensome for the Census Office. This problem was partially alleviated with the use of a rudimentary tallying machine, invented by the chief clerk of the Census Office, and later superintendent, Charles W. Seaton.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 8

The Eighth Census: Census Day was June 1, 1860.

James Buchanan was President of the United States on Census Day, June 1, 1860.

Authorizing Legislation

The 1850 Census Act was the authorizing legislation for the 1860 census. That act had stipulated that, according to the recommendation of the secretary of the interior, its provisions were to be adhered to for all future decennial censuses if no new authorizing legislation was passed by January 1 of the year in which the census was required.

Intercensal Activity

The Census Office, and the position of superintending clerk were abolished in May 1865. A portion of the clerks engaged in census work transferred to the General Land Office, where work of the 1860 census was completed under the direction of the commissioner of the General Land Office

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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A History of the Census in the United States : Part 7

The Seventh Census: Census Day was June 1, 1850.

Zachary Taylor was President of the United States on Census Day, June 1, 1850.

Authorizing Legislation

The Census Act of 1840 (signed into law on March 3, 1839 and amended by an act of February 26, 1840) authorized establishing a centralized census office during each enumeration. Congress left the design of the questionnaire to the discretion of the secretary of state, but specified that inquiries be made of each household. Subjects among the inquiries were to include “the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country.” New population inquiries included questions about school attendance, literacy, and vocation. In March 1849, Congress enacted a bill establishing a census board whose membership consisted of the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the postmaster general. The law authorized this board to prepare and cause to be printed such forms and schedules as may be necessary for the full enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States; it also authorized the board to prepare forms and schedules for collecting information on mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education, and other topics, as well as “exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country.”

The seventh census was governed by the provisions of an act of May 23, 1850 that directed that six schedules be used to collect the information requested by the Congress. The act directed enumerators to return their results to the secretary of the interior by November 1, 1850.

Enumeration

The number of population inquiries grew in the 1850 census. Every free person’s name was to be listed, not just the head of the household. The marshals also collected additional “social statistics,” including information on taxes, schools, crime, wages, value of the estate, etc. and data on mortality.

Each marshal was also responsible for subdividing his district into “known civil divisions,” such as counties, townships, or wards, and ensuring that his assistants’ returns were completed properly.

Further Information

Information provided from Census.gov

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Pretty Sweet Tech: STEM Reading Lists

Happy Friday! This is going to be a short post because I just wanted to share a few of my favorite sites for STEM books and resources:

STEM Recommended Reading List for Coding & Robotics: This list from Make Wonder, the company that makes Cue, Dash and Dot robots, curates this awesome collection of books, separated by age range.

The National Science Teaching Association also has a list of books and resources for K-12. This list is curated by “volunteer educators, identified in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council”.
We Are Teachers offers a list of 50 STEM Books to teach science, technology, engineering and math.

Goodreads has a set of Listopia collections for STEM and STEAM fiction in just about every category you can imagine. This isn’t a professionally curated list, but there are some good picks with reader reviews available.

I’ll stop here because if I add more list options, you tend to see the same books over and over on every list. Happy reading everyone!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Christmas Lights”

It’s the hap-hap-happiest #BookFaceFriday!

Looking for a heart-warming Christmas tale, a holiday romance, or a good Yuletide murder mystery? Take a peek at all of our holiday-themed book club kits!

These titles are very popular in November and December, with some book club groups reserving their choices up to a year in advance! NLC staff keep their eyes peeled for holiday-themed books year-round in order to meet the demand come the first snowfall. Reserve a holiday read like “Christmas Lights: A Novel” by Christine Pisera Naman ( Skyhorse, 2017) for your book club!

Christmas Lights is an inspiring, warm and tender read which could set your mood for the upcoming holiday.” —The Lakeland Times

This week’s #BookFace model is Kayla Henzel, NLC’s Administrative and Communications Staff Assistant.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Throwback Thursday: Christmas Wish

We’re getting into the Christmas spirit with this week’s #ThrowbackThursday!

The young girl in this photo was a resident at the Nebraska Children’s Home Society. Her wish was for a family before Christmas and her wish was granted as she was adopted a week before the holiday.

This 3-3/4″ x 5-3/4″ black and white photograph is published and owned by the Nebraska Children’s Home Society. The NCHS was chartered September 1, 1893 by founders who had a vision for a better future and believed that every child deserved a family.

If you’re interested in seeing more Nebraska history, check out the Nebraska Memories archive.

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. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Broadband Facts for Your County

Is your community wanting to work to improve the broadband speed in your library? Often times, library speeds lag behind what the community really needs, or the community might not understand how impactful improving the library internet might be. Sometimes, it is difficult to even determine what your community needs might be. One first step in having these conversations is to look over our now available broadband fact sheets. These are available for every county in Nebraska, and are intended to be used to help start community, county-wide or regional discussions about broadband availability, adoption, and digital inclusion. More information, including data sources and suggested discussion questions are also included. To view or download these, go to the main broadband page on the data services portion of our website. From there, you have the option to select by county, or pull up a map and click on a county for the fact sheets. The main page also has a broadband discussion guide, to help you with these conversations.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Sport, Philosophy, and Good Lives”

Get your fat pants on and get ready to yell at the TV! It’s a football #BookFaceFriday!

Today, all across the state, families will get out the Thanksgiving leftovers and settle in to watch some football! And for those of you who aren’t, may we suggest settling in with a good book, like “Sport, Philosophy, and Good Lives” by Randolph Feezell (University of Nebraska Press, 2013.) The author is a professor of philosophy at Creighton University, who posits, “There’s more to sports than the ethos of competition, entertainment, and commercialism.” As part of our permanent collection, it’s available for check out to anyone. Just ask our amazing Information Services staff! This title is published by the University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program.

Sport, Philosophy, and Good Lives provides illuminating discussion for those in sport studies (both undergraduate and graduate students, and scholars too) as well as general readers interested in reflecting on the meaning of sport.”—Douglas Hochstetler, Journal of Sport History

This week’s #BookFace model is Bruce Oorlog, NLC’s Mail/Material Specialist. He also happens to be quite the sports junkie, so we thought he was the perfect choice for this week’s model.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: A Keeper by Graham Norton

I discovered Graham Norton watching his talk show on BBC America many years ago. I downloaded his latest novel, A Keeper, looking forward to another story set in Ireland where Norton was born and raised. A Keeper begins with Elizabeth Keene, a college professor living in New York City, separated from her husband, raising their 17-year-old son on her own. She returns to the house of her recently deceased mother in a small Irish village. While sorting, she discovers a group of letters that begin to reveal more questions than answers about Elizabeth’s uncertain paternity. The letters tell a story of Elizabeth’s mother Patricia, forty years earlier, communicating with a man named Edward Foley through a lonely-hearts ad in the Farmers’ Journal. When Elizabeth inherits a property that belonged to Edward Foley, she begins a journey to gather more information.

The novel weaves two stories labeled – NOW and THEN – with Elizabeth and Patricia respectively navigating their lives through difficult if not perilous circumstances. Elizabeth’s conversations with those who knew her mother and Edward Foley provide some never known information and with each new fact, there are more questions. A young Patricia arrives for a visit to meet Edward for a second date and his overbearing if not mentally deranged mother creates a scenario that is both unexpected and terrifying.

What Norton does so well in his books is reveal family secrets that are often difficult with deftness and humor. The inner thoughts of characters and dialog are strengths of his writing. Thinking I might be alone in my appreciation of his latest two fiction novels, I discovered A Keeper was shortlisted for in the fiction category for the National Book Awards and his first novel, Holding won an Irish Book Award for Popular Fiction. Graham Norton shows us his comic talent on his talk show but there is much more to him than witty banter. His writing and narration skills are also laudable.

Norton, Graham. A Keeper. Atria Books, 2019.

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