Category Archives: General

Nebraska USDA Rural Development Announces Funds Available for Low Interest Home Repair Loans and Grants









The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has announced adequate funding remains available to assist very low income households with home repairs.   For those who own and occupy homes in need of essential repairs and who are wondering how to get financing, USDA Rural Development can help with grants and low-interest loans for homeowners in rural communities. All communities in Nebraska are eligible for housing programs with the exceptions of Fremont, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha and South Sioux City/Dakota City.

Applicants must own and occupy the home and not exceed income guidelines established by county and household size. The family’s income must below 50 percent of the county median income.  For many counties in Nebraska, the income limit for a one person household is $21,350; two person, $24,400; three person, $27,450; four person, $30,500 and five person, $32,950.  However, some counties may have higher income limits.  Please contact your USDA Rural Development office for the details in your county.

Available Low-interest Loans:

Rural Development’s Home Repair Loan program offers low-interest (1 percent) loans, up to $20,000, to very low income rural homeowners. Loans may be used to repair, improve or modernize homes or to remove health and safety hazards.  Homeowners must meet household income guidelines, have an acceptable credit history and show repayment ability for the loan based on a household budget.

The USDA repair loan may be made up to $20,000 at a 1% interest rate, with a repayment term up to 20 years.   Loans of less than $7,500 may not require a mortgage against the property.  The low interest rate and extended terms of the loan make repayment more affordable for households with limited income.  For example, a $10,000 loan at 1% interest for 20 years would have a monthly payment of $46, compared to a conventional loan with an interest rate of 5% for 10 years, with a monthly payment of $106.

Available Grants:

Rural Development’s Home Repair Grant program is available to owner-occupants of a rural home, who are 62 years of age or older, are very low income and are unable to repay a loan. Grant funds may only be used to remove health and safety hazards, such as replacing a roof, electrical and plumbing repairs, sanitary disposal systems and accommodations to make the home handicap accessible.  Maximum lifetime grant assistance is $7,500.

Eligibility for the program is based on household income and applicants must be unable to repay a loan.  If applicants can repay part, but not all of the costs, applicants may be offered a loan and grant combination.

For more information, go to the Nebraska RD website at  You may also contact Single Family Housing Specialist Krista Mettscher at 402-437-5518,

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.  USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

Helping people stay in their home and keep it in good repair helps families and their communities.  Households interested in affordable home improvements may contact their local USDA Rural Development office or visit the Agency website at for additional information.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, General, Information Resources, Library Management, Programming, Technology, Uncategorized, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | 1 Comment

What’s Sally Reading?

Malinda Lo’s Four-Part post of “Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews”

Take some time to read and think about the things Malinda Lo has to say to us all.  You will have to scroll down to read the posts in order since the web page has them lined up with the fourth post first and so on.  While she is specifically addressing phrasing in book reviews, her message is well worth consideration.  I intend to reread this often as I write my blurbs for presentations on recent books I recommend to Nebraska librarians.  I am certain that in the past I have made similar assumptions and I hope to stop it completely.  If you are interested in following Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon on their blog, it is located here.

Applegate219Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla  by Katherine Applegate is a nonfiction picture book that tells the story of Ivan, who was the main character in the author’s Newbery Medal winning title, The One and Only Ivan.  Here she tells of his capture in Africa and travel in a crate with another baby gorilla named Burma.  The man who owned a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington had paid for their capture in 1962.  He eventually put him on display at the mall and Ivan was there for 27 years until a protest by the people of the area convinced the owner to send Ivan to Zoo Atlanta.  There he once again walked on green grass and met other gorillas.  A two-page spread at the back of the book tells older children and adults more about Ivan and has a couple of photographs.  This book is great for kindergarten through third grade children.

(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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Throwback Thursday: Old vs New, 1979

Microfiche Project012

In the background is the Nebraska Union Catalog card catalog while in the foreground is NEUCAT COM microfiche reader, the new and improved replacement for the catalog cards, 1979.

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The Data Dude on Smartphone Use

Gold Guy Surfing On Business ReportsThis week, the Dude takes a look at a recent Pew Internet report on smartphone use. First, let’s first not assume everyone knows what is generally meant when referring to a smartphone. A smartphone (or smart phone, if you prefer), is a device that functions as a phone (you can call or send text messages to other dudes) but also has additional capabilities. For example, it allows a person to browse the web, take photos and video with its camera, GPS navigation, and run a whole host of additional apps and games, either online or offline. Smartphones have various sized touchscreens. While these devices provide the user with the capability to get online with Wi-Fi (if available), most also allow mobile web use if you pay for a plan that has it (such as 4G) when you aren’t near a place that has Wi-Fi.

OK, so here are some facts from the report:

  • Nearly two-thirds of all Americans now own a smartphone
  • 10% of Americans that own a smartphone do not have any other form of high-speed internet access at home beyond their phone’s data plan
  • 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
  • 57% have used their phone to do online banking.
  • 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
  • 43% to look up information about a job.
  • 40% to look up government services or information.
  • 30% to take a class or get educational content.
  • 18% to submit a job application.
  • 56% use their phone at least occasionally to learn about community events or activities, with 18% doing this “frequently.”
  • 49% of smartphone owners experience content that they are trying to access not displaying properly on their phone at least on occasion, with 10% saying that this happens to them “frequently.”

So what can we take away from these stats (especially for libraries)? For one, that people are using their smartphones, and using them to get online. Public Wi-Fi is important to enable them to get online, because no one has an unlimited amount of data in their plan to use. Finally, because there is an increasing amount of smartphone use, it is more important than ever to have functional websites that display well on these devices. I’ve seen some really great ones and some awful ones. Essential information should be there and be easy to find. Have you looked at your website recently on a smartphone? Shaka.

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Nominate Books Now for the 2015 Nebraska Book Awards

NCB logo

May 5, 2015

Mary Jo Ryan

Nominate Books Now for the 2015 Nebraska Book Awards

The 2015 Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB) and Nebraska Library Commission, will recognize and honor books that are written by Nebraska authors, published by Nebraska publishers, set in Nebraska, or relate to Nebraska.

Books published in 2014, as indicated by the copyright date, are eligible for nomination. They must be professionally published, have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and be bound. Books may be entered in one or more of the following categories: Nonfiction, Fiction, Children/Young Adult, Cover/Design/Illustration, Anthology, and Poetry. Certificates will be awarded to the winners in each category. Award winners will be presented at the Fall 2015 Nebraska Center for the Book’s Book Awards Celebration and Annual Meeting in Lincoln.

The entry fee is $40 per book and per category entered. Deadline for entries is June 30, 2015. For more information, including entry forms, see or contact Mary Jo Ryan, 402-471-2045, 800-307-2665, for print information. Enter by sending the entry form (, three copies of the book, and the entry fee to NCB Book Awards Competition, Nebraska Library Commission, The Atrium, 1200 N Street, Suite 120, Lincoln, NE 68508-2023.

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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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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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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Throwback Thursday: book stack area of NLC in the Capitol building, 1959


Book stack area of the Nebraska Library Commission located at the Nebraska State Capitol building, 1959.

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How to help in Nepal

I asked Barbara Cornelius, our colleague from Nebraska Wesleyan University for her council on giving to Nepal because she has studied and lived there. Here are the places she recommended:

Verified list of earthquake response initiatives for Nepal

Manjushree Thapa (Nepali author living in Canada now) tweeted this yesterday:

Facebook initiative for International Medical Corps:


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The Data Dude – 2014 Survey Data Now Available

IMLSShaka. The 2014 FY survey data is now available. There are a few different files, all of which can be downloaded here. The complete statistics are available in excel or .csv format. There is also a “Data Dashboard” that summarizes the statistics from the survey. If you notice any errors in your report, please let me know and I will get them corrected. Thank you all for submitting your surveys. Historical data files (back to FY 1999) are also available on the Nebraska Library Commission website.

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Friday Reads: Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick

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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Thanks for the Memory

With my retirement near,  I decided to devote my  last Nebraska Memories blog posting to reminiscing about  some of the visits I made to organizations that are participating in Nebraska Memories.  Mutton tallow lanternIn 2008 I visited the  Bess Streeter Aldrich House & Museum  with  Devra Dragos and Lori Sailors.   We toured the home that Bess and her family lived in, and saw memorabilia and documents related to her writing.  I remember seeing  her writing desk, typewriter,  the original typed manuscript of A Lantern in Her Hand, and the Mutton Tallow Lantern that Bess’s mother and her family carried with them on their journey to Iowa were on display.   Lori and Devra returned later to take photographs.

Also in 2008, Lori and I  visited Wanda Marget at Fairmont Public Library, who gave us a great tour of the Fillmore County Museum, located in a building donated by the Ashby family.   One room featured a restoration of Dr. Ashby’s medical clinic,  including the appendix of one of his patients preserved in a jar!  Another room featured many photographs and documents related to  the Fairmont Army Airfield during World War II.  In 1944 Lt. Colonel Paul Tibbets came to the Airfield and picked several crews and their support personnel for a secret mission –  the atomic bomb dropped oFairmont Army Air Fieldn Hiroshima.  The crews were taken from the  Airfield in the middle of the night for training.   The Fillmore County Historical Society also owns the old drug store building, complete with the original soda fountain.   Lori returned to scan the items now in the  Fairmont Public Library — Fillmore County Historical Society  collection.

The Durham Museum in Omaha is a fascinating place.   The restored train station housing the museum is spectacular.  I remember the stunning interior with a beautifully tiled floor,  a functioning soda fountain,  and an entire restored railroad car in the lower level.  It is a popular event venue – several years later I attended a wedding there.    The Museum  owns a large photograph collection.  Devra and I visited the Museum in late 2008.  The Museum scanned and contributed images from the William Wentworth photography studio collection to Nebraska Memories.   This 1939 photograph of a Car jumping flatbed trucksCar jumping flatbed trucks  is a great example of the commercial work Wentworth did for business clients.

Students at Haywood SchoolIn 2009 Lori and I visited  Lincoln Public Schools to see their collection of historical photographs.  Lori returned later to scan some of them.  We were delighted to add the images  to Nebraska Memories, and later very thankful that we could provide them with copies of their  images after the LPS building was mostly destroyed by fire on May 30, 2011.   I find this photograph of Students at Hayward School  rather poignant.   At the top are the words “The growing Citizens  Better schools, Better Citizens”. The three boys and one of the girls are barefoot.   Were they too poor to have shoes?  Were they recent immigrants?

Easter egg huntAnother collection featuring photographs of children is from the  Nebraska Children’s Home Society  in Omaha.   The Society became a  particpant after Lori and I visited  in 2010.  Lori scanned photographs, brochures and newsletters that the Society used to raise funds for care of the children and to ecourage adoptions.    The children in this photograph of an  Easter Egg Hunt on the grounds of the Home look like they are having a great time.

Lincoln Trction Comopany streetcar on College AvenueAnother 2010 visit  was to the Union College, Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library with Devra, to see photographs in the College archives.    The  collection consists primarily of  photographs of students and buildings on the College campus.  There are also some photographs of the College View neighborhood,  including this one of the Lincoln Traction Company streetcar on College Avenue.  Evidently streetcars occasionally got a little too close for comfort.   In 1910, a streetcar ran off the track and pushed the College View bandstand at the corner of 48th and Prescott Streets  off its foundation!

Samuel W. Rising and Polly RisingThe last site visit I made was to the Rising City Library with Devra in 2013.   Library board members showed  us photographs of businesses on Main Street, the depot, church, post office, a major fire, and portraits including this one of founders Samuel W. Rising and Polly Rising .   They generously allowed us to bring the photographs, some of which were framed and on display in the library,  back to the Library Commission for scanning.   Lori was able to scan the framed photographs without removing them from their frames.

Visiting museums, libraries and archives  has been a wonderful way to find out more about Nebraska’s history.  It’s been great fun.   As Bob Hope and Shirley Ross sang in 1938, Thanks for the Memory !

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 for more information, or contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.



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Throwback Thursday: card catalog at the Columbus Public Library, 1978

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Librarian searching through the card catalog at the Columbus Public Library, 1978.

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Wednesday Watch – Ray Donovan and the Wire

filmreelI recently concluded that I need to take a bit of a break from watching Boardwalk Empire. I will return to it at some point, but for now, it’s on the shelf at the beginning of season 4. Perhaps with so many things on my list, it may be that the standards are a bit higher. Whatever the reason, I turned my attention to the Showtime series Ray Donovan. I just finished season 1, and it passed the stay awake late at night test that Boardwalk Empire failed more than once. One of the things I like about Ray Donovan is that it seems to hit a modern day noir sweet spot. You see, the Dude has an affinity for nostalgic things, kitschy things, and things that are direct, to the point, and no nonsense. Liev Schreiber plays the main character, Ray Donovan, a “fixer” working for a high powered L.A. law firm. Think Olivia Pope from Scandal (I only made it through a couple of those) only Ray and his crew are the adults-only, California via South Boston versions.  Yet, despite Ray’s methods and questionable moral choices, I’ve developed a fondness for his character. I’ve asked myself why – why am I (and others) drawn to these types of characters? Why are we empathetic towards the Don Draper, Tony Soprano, and Ray Donovan? Well, I think it’s because even though they ain’t perfect, they know and accept who they are and their place in the world. As Rust Cohle said in True Detective:  “I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.” I think it’s also about the allure of their self-confidence and the fact that they take no crap from any other man, and their take no crap-ness seems to be (at least in principle) guided by doing the right thing. But we’ve seen most of these questionable but likeable characters on other shows unravel in front of us. Undoubtedly, it will probably happen eventually with Ray Donovan.

Much of the appeal about Ray Donovan is the look and feel of the show. I’ve always liked the classics of California Noir (Chinatown, LA Confidential, Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, and of course all the oldies), and especially writing by the likes of James Ellroy and Raymond Carver (that’s Carver, not Chandler). Ray Donovan seems to aptly capture a fast forwarded version of these (with the aforementioned South Boston tint), and I dig it. Only 2 Nebraska libraries have season 1 of Ray Donovan in their collection, according to WorldCat. The supporting cast includes John Voight, who brilliantly plays Ray’s sleazy (again, with periods of doing the right thing) dad Mickey. The show provides way more depth than Ray’s “fixing” with the story of the family dynamic between Mickey, Ray, Ray’s brothers, and their sordid past.

Now, when watching Ray Donovan, it made me think of something I watched a few years ago, one of the best crime drama series, ever, HBO’s The Wire. I wondered why. Perhaps it is due to the recent news involving the Baltimore Po-lice. Six Nebraska libraries have The Wire DVD in their collection (WorldCat). The reason The Wire is so far up on the list is how it absolutely nails many of the real but dysfunctional aspects of our lives and society, some of which are now starting to be covered in depth by mainstream media. From police to news reporters to criminals to politicians to institutions (including prisons, the legal system, and public schools) The Wire gets most of it right in the bleak and depressing reality. We probably could add libraries to the list, even though they do not appear on the series. Sure, there is some comic relief provided here and there (mostly at the expense of the cops), but this is a serious drama. For you Mystery fiction fans, the writers for The Wire include George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and Dennis Lehane. The series takes place in inner city Baltimore.

Finally, a somewhat lengthy but relevant quote from The Wire creator David Simon, summing up the show (and our current state of affairs):

“And so in my country you’re seeing a horror show. You’re seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you’re seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You’re seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs … And that’s what The Wire was about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow … And they realized it’s not just about race, it’s about something even more terrifying. It’s about class. Are you at the top of the wave or are you at the bottom? So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody’s going to get left behind.” Shaka.

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See You at the NLA Public Library and Trustee Section Spring Meetings!

NLC Logo 500x500

Nebraska Library Commission staff look forward to joining Nebraska librarians at the upcoming NE Library Association Public Library and Trustee Section Spring Meetings: April 22 in Alliance, April 23 in Kearney, and April 24 in Columbus. Presenter Valerie Gross, President and CEO of the Howard County Library System in Maryland, will help us examine the strategy of aligning our libraries with the educational mission of our communities to help us tell the story of “Who We Are, What We Do, Why It Matters: Why Nebraska Needs Libraries More than Ever!”

We’ll be staffing a table to share materials to help you reposition your library as a community education resource and your library staff as educators, including:

Books Are Just the Beginning…check out this blog that can direct any Nebraskan to your library and help illustrate the many ways libraries function as educational resources at

Online Self-Directed Education…learn about Skillsoft online classes funded by the Nebraska Library Commission to help train library staff to serve as community educators (, United for Libraries ( resources funded by the Nebraska Library Commission for training Trustees/Friends/Foundations, and the Nebraska Library Commission budget request to provide self-directed education programs for all Nebraska residents through their local library (

Nebraska eReads…pick up materials to tell your community about downloadable eBook and audio book resources ( or print your own at

Nebraska Memories…find out how these digitized historical and cultural resources can illustrate the role of the library in assisting a variety of learners and researchers of all ages, see

NebraskAccess…check out the posters and business cards that you can print with your library password and share with learners in your community to help reinforce the message of how integral libraries are to the community learning environment—customize and print at

Nebraska Public Libraries are Equalizers…see how statistics can be used to tell the story of how your public library responds to the needs in your community and serves specific target audiences with educational resources, along with instructive and enlightening experiences, see

NCompass E-Newslist…Keep up with news from the Nebraska Library Commission to help you enhance your library’s visibility by signing up to receive our short weekly email at


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Award for Promotion of Literature to be Presented at April 25 Nebraska Book Festival

NCB logo

April 16, 2015

Mary Jo Ryan

Award for Promotion of Literature to be Presented at April 25 Nebraska Book Festival

The Nebraska Center for the Book will present the Mildred Bennett Award to Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner. The award, to be presented at the April 25 Nebraska Book Festival, honors Wagner for his many years of service to Nebraska’s readers and writers. This award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska. The 2015 award is a framed photograph by Steve Ryan entitled, “Woodcliff Lakes, NE.05.”

The award is named for Mildred Bennett, the charismatic founder and long-time president of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation. Bennett could have literally stepped out of a Willa Cather novel. Like some of Cather’s heroines, she was a strong, fiercely independent, intelligent woman, who loved the land and planted her roots deeply in the soil of Webster County, Nebraska. During her lifetime, Mildred Bennett was recognized as a foremost authority on Willa Cather by literary organizations and universities across the country.

The award is presented annually at the Nebraska Book Festival. This year the festival will be held on Saturday, April 25 at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Weitz Community Engagement Center. Public admission to the Festival is free. It will feature writers workshops in the morning and author readings/talks in the afternoon. In the evening, the student/teacher writing teams of the NeBooks Project will present an iBooks Showcase. The Bookworm and University of Nebraska Press will offer books by Nebraska authors for sale throughout the event. The Nebraska Book Festival is presented by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Friends of the University of Nebraska Press and the NeBooks Project. Visit for a complete schedule of free readings and workshops and other information.

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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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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Throwback Thursday: Johnny Cash receiving award, 1981


Award from the Nebraska Department of Education given to Johnny Cash for appreciation of his promoting the needs of illiterate adults, 1981.

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The Data Dude – PLS Wi-Fi

wifiThe Dude has been busy cleaning up data files from the public library survey (PLS) for submission to IMLS. Once the data is cleaned up, it will be posted on the NLC website. In the meantime, let’s review the new data element on this year’s public library survey that asked about the number of Wi-Fi sessions annually provided by Nebraska libraries. I know that reporting this data was problematic for many of you, so I appreciate you taking the time to collect and report it. The total number of Wi-Fi sessions for Nebraska libraries reported was 967,657. The Dude doesn’t have the complete data from this year’s survey, but for the sake of comparison, the total number of wired public computer uses in libraries last year was more than 2.2 million. It’s probably safe to assume the reported Wi-Fi number is much lower than reality. So, how do we get more accurate data collection next year? Some of you are already looking into technological solutions or methods to capture this data for next year’s survey. Thank you for doing that. Even if a technological solution (e.g. from your router or other software installed) is implemented, it is acceptable to take samples throughout the year (try and do it for different seasons of the year) and average them. Count what you see. In other words, if you see a couple of Dudes outside during the summer with tablets, laptops, or a tablet and a laptop, count both of them. Mobile devices make this a bit tricky – do you count someone using a smartphone or not? Well, it really depends. If the evidence from your observation leads you to believe they are online, then yes, count them. If not, don’t. Someone typing erratically is most likely texting and not surfing, so you wouldn’t count that. Make a judgment call. It doesn’t have to be an exact science, unless you do have one of these technological solutions in place, such as a log from your router or other software installed to capture each and every session. For more reading, see some of these links: Google Analytics (requires a captive portal or splash page), Cisco Meraki, Aerohive, Pfsense, and Who’s on My WiFi. The Library network’s Best Practices for Wireless Statistics also offers helpful guidelines to assist with capturing this data. Shaka.

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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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