Category Archives: Uncategorized

Reopening Your Library During the Pandemic

Is your library reopening to the public, or looking for guidance on reopening?

We’ve compiled recommendations and guidance from local and national organization, as well as example of policies and procedures being used by other Nebraska libraries here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/pandemic4libraries.aspx

If you’ve not yet told us that your library is reopening or modifying services for the pandemic, please fill out our form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5AurxbSHsu5gy5sig7uHWkkQYeRG3EfT7l2ArfmbPTtlx-A/viewform.

A spreadsheet of Nebraska libraries closing, reopening, and modifying services can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQhzPpcpf_BAB_7wbDegLdjvfFX84AbGgRVAcIzrp-DYBIJUnKIaake5d1jKIRcFVW4qTPVwchtK5SV/pubhtml

And don’t forget our other resources for libraries and their patrons during this time: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/pandemic.aspx
The Central Plains Libray System (CPLS) has resources too!
http://libraries.ne.gov/cpls/

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Building Media Literacy

PEN America and the EveryLibrary Institute are offering a Train the Trainer workshop to help librarians teach media literacy on May 27 and May 28 at 1pm Central. The toolkit they offer is versatile, however these resources are especially important as COVID-19 misinformation runs rampant, potentially endangering our communities.

As technology grows more complicated, so do the scams. In a world of social distancing, we are all becoming more reliant on technology to communicate, make purchases, and more. This workshop is about finding information online in a world filled with misinformation.

I just registered for the workshop myself. It is free and runs through Zoom. Before the workshop, take a sneak peek at Pen America’s Guide on COVID-19 and Disinformation.

Some of these tips are tried and true, others are borrowed, or might make us feel blue. But the information is necessary, helpful and timeless. Give it a try, you might learn something new!

If you want to see what the Nebraska Library Commission is doing to help build digital skills, check out my new Digital Literacy Guidebook.

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Throwback Thursday: Glimpses of Omaha

Look what we found on the Nebraska Memories archive!

This week’s #ThrowbackThursday features four views showing glimpses of Omaha, Nebraska. The top left image shows a birds-eye view of Capitol Avenue looking east from 16th Street. The top right image displays Farnam Street looking east. The bottom left picture shows Douglas Street looking east from 15th Street and the bottom right picture shows a birds-eye view of downtown looking northwest.

This image is provided and published by the Omaha Public Library. The items in this collection include early Omaha-related maps as well as over 1,100 postcards and photographs of the Omaha area. See everything in this collection on the Nebraska Memories archive.

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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Throwback Thursday: C.B.&Q. Railroad Engine #2810

All aboard for this week’s #ThrowbackThursday!

This week’s #throwback features a 8×4″ black and white photograph of engine #2810 at a dirt road crossing. This image is owned by the High Plains Historical Society and Museum and is published to Nebraska Memories by the McCook Public Library.

The High Plains Historical Society and Museum worked in partnership with the McCook Public Library to digitize photographic images from the society’s collection. These images document the growth of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in McCook, Nebraska, and the surrounding area. The collection spans a time period from the early 1880s to the 1960s.

Want to see more Nebraska history? Check out all the collections on the Nebraska Memories archive! It’s 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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A Phased Library Reopening Plan

Many Nebraska libraries have closed their buildings to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic; some stopped all physical services completely, and others developed alternative services. The Nebraska Library Commission has put together some guidance of how libraries can begin to reopen their buildings and restore services.

Phased Plan for Reopening Nebraska Libraries

This plan will provide a phased outline of how full services could be restored as the health crisis eases and social distancing measures end. It can be used as a starting point for library directors and their boards to determine the specific course of action their library will take to serve their community during and after the pandemic.

Disclaimer: This document is intended as guidance only. The Nebraska Library Commission does not have the authority to mandate that libraries close or open in any capacity. Library directors should work with their library boards, local government, and local health departments to determine their course of action. Libraries may modify this plan to suit their needs.

We will continue to update this plan as new information is available. See all of our COVID-19 resources for libraries and Nebraskans here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/pandemic.aspx

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Friday Reads: Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Tightrope, by married, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, is one of a number of recent books spotlighting the hopelessness and dysfunction that have decimated working-class America. In the 1970s, when Kristof was growing up in Yamhill, Oregon, working-class parents with good-paying union jobs had better lives than their parents did; everyone anticipated their children, with more education, would do better still. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. And, as the authors argue, this squandered potential hurts not just individuals who find themselves on a downward trajectory; it hurts the country as a whole.

Kristof and WuDunn document this reversal of fortune with extensive data, tracking declining median wages, life expectancy, educational achievement, and more. Citing the Social Progress Index, they point out that the United States now “rank[s] number 32 in internet access, number 39 in access to clean drinking water, number 50 in personal safety and number 61 in high-school enrollment…. Overall, the Social Progress Index ranks the United States number 25 in well-being of citizens, behind all the other members of the G7 as well as significantly poorer countries like Portugal and Slovenia” (13-14).

Kristof and WuDunn approach this topic not just through statistics, though. They humanize the crisis by sharing stories of friends and neighbors Kristof grew up with in Yamhill, Oregon, many of whose lives unraveled due to poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, incarceration, and despair. Here’s one stark metric they use to illustrate the extent of the problem: “About one-fourth of the kids who rode with Nick on the [school] bus are dead from drugs, suicide, alcohol, obesity, reckless accidents and other pathologies” (8).

Because Kristof grew up with many of his subjects and has had a lifelong relationship with them, he sees and portrays them as individuals possessing strengths and weaknesses. He acknowledges the bad choices they’ve made, but he’s also aware of their talents, their untapped potential, and the points at which their families, their schools, and punitive social policies let them down. Based on this insight, Kristoff and WuDunn contend that to address this crisis, we need to “transcend the customary narrative that focuses only on ‘personal responsibility’ and on glib talk about lifting oneself up by the bootstraps” (19). Additionally, we need to consider seriously what our collective responsibility is and should be.

Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope. New York. Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Will Giraffe Laugh?”

It’s basically a zoo in here for #BookFaceFriday.

We’re taking a walk on the wild side with this week’s #BookFace. Take your virtual storytime to a whole new level with “Will Giraffe Laugh?” by Hilary Leung (Cartwheel Books, 2019) and a virtual field trip to the zoo. This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“A clear and winning guide to a key social grace; share and repeat as necessary.” — Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

This week’s #BookFace model is, well, a giraffe. I didn’t get a name, but you can still visit the giraffes at the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium with their “Do the Zoo at Home” program. Looking for other things to do with your kids from the living room? Check out the list of resources we’ve put together for families!

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

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Online Storytimes To Share With Your Littlest Patrons

Storytime is a beloved library tradition for many of our youngest patrons and their parents. With libraries closing their doors to in-person gatherings, many storytimes are going online. We are rounding up resources to help you find online storytimes or create your own.

Many publishers are relaxing their permissions during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow books to be read aloud online, in addition to the numerous authors and celebreties sharing videos of themselves reading.

Please visit our new page for links to read-alouds and publisher information, plus sources of free ebooks and audiobooks for all ages. If you have additional resources we should list, please let us know!

Read Online: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/readonline.aspx

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.

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COVID-19 Data and Maps

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

As a result of COVID-19, we are collecting data about library closures, modified schedules, and alternative services. For updates to your schedule, submit this form. The data is available here.

Additionally, we are updating maps with this data (every few days).

Nebraska Libraries With Modified Services

Nebraska Libraries Offering Wi-Fi During Closures

Finally, there are some questions about collecting data and statistics for the next public library survey. Undoubtedly, there will be declines in some numbers (visits) and likely increases in others (electronic circulation). One common question thus far is how to count online or virtual programs. If the online program is a planned event, then you count it as a regular in-person program. Count everyone in virtual attendance. If other services are offered remotely, those might be counted as reference transactions, depending on the nature of the Q&A.

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Continuing Education: COVID-19 and Emergency Planning

Below is a short list of free resources related to the current difficulties of COVID-19, including the sudden shift to online or distance services and managing anxiety and stress. Following this list, there are upcoming webinars discussing online library instruction, copyright, how other librarians are navigating this crisis, and frauds and scams to watch out for. Additionally, there are several recorded webinars focusing on emergency and disaster planning. These webinars are all eligible for continuing education (CE) credit for the Public Librarian certification program and for library board members. If you have any questions, please contact Holli Duggan, CE Coordinator.

Resources:

Pandemic Preparedness (Nebraska Library Commission) – some guidance and resources collected, includes several example policies and restrictions from Nebraska libraries

Libraries and the Coronavirus: Evolving Information and Resources (WebJunction) 

OCR Short Video on Online Education and Website Accessibility (U.S. Department of Education)

Virtually Virtual Hangouts for Educators (Media Education Lab) – daily live hangouts with educators to discuss COVID-19 with different discussion leaders and curated resources

Managing Anxiety and Stress (CDC) – short article with resources

Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself (CDC) – short articles with resources

COVID-19 Webinars:

Information Literacy at a (Social) Distance: Strategies for Moving Online (ACRL) – archived from March 17th

Pandemic Pedagogy: Resources for Library Instruction at a Distance (ACRL) – archived from March 18th

Navigating the Impact of Coronavirus – discussion panel with library professionals of Seattle Public Library Foundation, King County Library System Foundation, Toronto Public Library, and The Public Library Fundraising Forum – recording 

Professional Convention and Management Association is hosting a series of webinars in March on how business events around the world are being affected 

March 20: Copyright for Campus Closures: Exploring Copyright Issues around Moving Instruction and Reference Online (ACRL) – will be archived after the live session

March 20: Libraries and COVID-19: Managing Strategies and Stress (American Libraries Live)

March 26: Librarians Respond to Coronavirus and Other Pandemics (Library 2.0) – recording will be available, register for a free Library 2.0 account to login

April 8: Coronavirus Frauds and Scams: What You Need to Know (Federal Depository Library Program) – register to attend live session or to receive recording

Emergency/Disaster Planning Webinars and Courses:

From Facilities to Trauma: Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency at Your Library (WebJunction) – archived recording

NCompass Live: Emergency and Disaster Response Planning for Libraries (NLC) – recording

Are You Ready? Essential Disaster Health Information Resources for Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe (NNLM) – archived course

In Case of Emergencies: Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning (NNLM) – online course

Making Sense of Numbers: Understanding Risks and Benefits, Learning How to Communicate Health Statistics (NNLM) – archived recording


From Problem to Prevention: Evidence-Based Public Health (NNLM) – archived recording

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Statewide COVID-19 Information Line Opens for Residents

Lincoln –As Nebraska continues to adjust to a new normal as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on the state, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) information line that will allow residents to get answers to general questions and receive information on resources available. That number is (402) 552-6645; hours of operation are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CST, 7 days a week.

”DHHS is working hand in hand with local health departments and the federal government to ensure that we stop the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer for DHHS. “Keeping Nebraskans safe and illness-free is our top priority. Our info line will be a crucial part of that effort by allowing us to swiftly answer questions about how the state is responding to the needs of its residents and share the latest information and resources to help keep Nebraskans informed.”

If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, it’s important to remember to call ahead to your healthcare provider to be screened over the phone. The provider can evaluate and determine if testing is necessary. Flu activity is also still high in Nebraska. Flu tests should be considered as a first test option before considering a COVID-19 test.

The Department urges you to self-monitor and contact your health care provider (via phone or email) first to discuss if your symptoms are significant enough to warrant a trip to the medical office. Following this guidance will allow those with the imminent need to get treatment, reduce your potential exposure and minimize the load on health care providers.

In addition to the state’s information line, some counties have also established hotlines. They include:

  • DOUGLAS COUNTY/OMAHA: Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 Information Line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (402) 444-3400 to answer general questions about this new disease. The line is answered in English and Spanish. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information line is also taking calls when the DCHD line is closed.
  • LANCASTER COUNTY/LINCOLN: The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has established a hotline for self-reporting, guidance and next steps. (402) 441-3400

Local health departments are also a helpful resource.  A map of Nebraska’s local health departments can be found here – http://dhhs.ne.gov/CHPM%20Maps/NE_Health_Dept_Map_Dec_2016.pdf.

Visit the DHHS COVID-19 webpage at http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/covid19

DHHS will continue to update Nebraskans through the DHHS website and on Facebook and Twitter as we have new information. The CDC’s website is also a good resource for COVID-19 information – https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.

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#BookFaceFriday – “No Truth Without Ruth”

Dissent is patriotic, and so is this #BookFaceFriday.

Nothing says Women’s History Month like the notorious R.B.G. so settle in for storytime with “No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Quill Tree Books, 2018.) This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“Large, colorful illustrations complement and highlight the text. Zhang captures the look and style of each era in Ginsburg’s life. Employing a strongly admiring tone and accessible language, the author emphasizes Ginsburg’s struggles, strengths, and triumphs. Informative, well-told biography.” (Kirkus Reviews)

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Geibel, our Information Services Technician!

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

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COVID-19 and Pandemic Resources for Libraries

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Concerned about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in your library or wondering what to tell your patrons? We’ve put together some guidance and resources for libraries.

If your library is looking for information on pandemic preparedness, including the current COVID-19 outbreak, check out our page of resources: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/pandemic.aspx.

If your library is closing due to local outbreaks (or has reopened since) please let us know by filling out this form. If you need help with due dates of book club kits or ILL items due to patron illness, please contact us.

Here is a list of libraries we know are closed, have reopened, or are offering modified services: http://bit.ly/NebraskaLibraryClosuresCOVID-19. We will update this list as we hear of changes.

We have also assembled an interactive map of Nebraska libraries offering modified services during the pandemic: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/stats/covid19map.aspx.  A map of libraries offering external WiFi is here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/stats/covid19mapwifi.aspx.

We are always updating our pages, so if you notice that we are missing a crucial resource, please reach out to us.

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#BookFaceFriday – Comedy & the Woman Writer: Woolf, Spark, & Feminism

Who’s afraid of #BookFaceFriday?

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re kicking things off with “Comedy & the Woman Writer: Woolf, Spark, & Feminism” (University of Nebraska Press, 1983) by Judy Little. This title is published by the University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program.

“This attractive and engaging work begins with a consideration of the sometimes dark, but profound comedy of Virginia Woolf, proceeds to an appreciation of the neglected humorous fiction of Muriel Spark, and concludes with a final chapter on that kind of “Feminist Comedy” that celebrates a ‘radically overturned world, a world in which Orlando shrugs off civilization after civilization.'”—Journal of Modern Literature

This week’s #BookFace model is Lynda Clause, our Interlibrary Loan Staff Assistant!

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!

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Friday Reads: All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton (with Ken Gire)

All the Gallant Men is the Nebraska Center for the Book’s 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection. Donald Stratton’s memoir stems from his remarkable experience as a naval seaman serving on the USS Arizona. Stratton was among the survivors from the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The book is the only memoir written by a USS Arizona survivor.

Stratton’s book is not one that I would have selected to read on my own. I read it because of its nomination for the One Book One Nebraska program. It didn’t take many pages before appreciating Donald Stratton’s story. It is remarkable and inspiring. The book is much more than an account of the Pearl Harbor attack. Donald Stratton’s life is chronicled from his early years growing up in Red Cloud, Nebraska, joining the Navy following high school, military experience as a seaman. Later, Stratton traveled the world as a skilled commercial diver in the oil industry.

Stratton was severely burned during the Pearl Harbor attack but managed, along with a few others, to climb hand-over-hand on a rope to an adjacent ship, an astonishing feat considering the 70 feet length and the burned hands of the seamen and the fires burning below. The rope was thrown by Joe George, a sailor from the other ship. The rope throw was a heroic act that was never fully rewarded because George disobeyed an order to cut the lines that tied the two ships. Without the rope, these sailors would have perished. Stratton had a long and painful recovery. Even so, he endured and with determination reenlisted in the Navy. Offered a non-combat post, he instead chose to return to a battleship and rejoin the war in the Pacific. 

Donald Stratton’s story is dedicated to preserving the memory of the men aboard the USS Arizona – those that died and those that survived. In Stratton’s words: “I have tried my best to express what I could about what I experienced that day. It isn’t enough, though, because it is only one side of the story. The other side lies an ocean away. When you read a statistic, like 2,403 dead, it says so little. A statistical death is only the skeletal remains of a life. Without flesh and blood; its beating heart or its winking eye; its quick wit or its contagious laugh.”

I hope that many Nebraskans will read All the Gallant Men and that the book will lead to more stories about the experiences and sacrifices of those who serve and have served.

Ken Gire deserves recognition for his collaboration with Don Stratton to bring Stratton’s story to print. How that came about is an interesting story in itself (see writer’s postscript).

Described by family members as a humble and generous man, Donald Stratton passed away on February 15, 2020.

Donald Stratton and Ken Gire. All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor. HarperCollins. 2016.  

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Listened to a good book lately?

Narrator Lois Crandall prepares to narrate a magazine.

This article was originally published in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Nebraska Talking Book and Braille Service uses newly developed technology to supply audio books to individuals with print disabilities. As books are requested, they are duplicated and mailed to the borrower’s home. Duplication-on-demand has eliminated waiting lists for popular books. Borrowers are also able to download reading materials and listen to them on their phone.

Talking Book and Braille Service is available to Nebraskans with print disabilities. These include visual impairments, dyslexia, and disabilities that make holding a book difficult. Talking Books is part of the Nebraska Library Commission and works in collaboration with the National Library Service.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled works with Talking Book libraries across the nation to provide audio books, magazines, and special book players. The National Library Service has also paid for mailing the materials back and forth to homes, so that there is no cost at all to borrowers to use the service.

To supplement the bestsellers and national books and magazines, the Talking Books audio studio records 21 magazines of specific interest to Nebraskans. Volunteers narrate the text as a second person follows along and handles the recording equipment. The team’s goal is to make a recording that is word perfect. Experienced volunteers might also narrate books about Nebraska or by Nebraska authors. To audition to be a narrator, or if you or someone you know would like to sign up to use the service, please contact the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service at 402-471-4038 or 800-742-7691.

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Friday Reads: The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home

In addition to the history of the Biltmore estate, this book also covers the Vanderbilt family. After a bit of background into the wealth inherited by George Washington Vanderbilt, the youngest son of William Henry “Billy” Vanderbit, the book focuses its attention mostly on the life of George, the building of the Biltmore estate, his wife, Edith Dresser, and the chronology of their lives and the evolution of the Biltmore estate. The Vanderbilt wealth was expanded through railroads and shipping and increased through inheritances. In 1877, Billy inherited nearly $100 million from his father, and when he died in 1885, his wealth had doubled to over $200 million. George was the youngest son of Billy, with seven siblings. Being the youngest, his inheritance was less than his siblings, although still in the millions of dollars. George was an eccentric cat, introverted with interests in art and books. Longtime bachelor until his marriage to Edith at age 37. In many ways, the book is also about Edith and her relationship with the Biltmore, especially since George died at the age of 51.

At any rate, the book covers interesting background information about the Vanderbilts, their fortune, philanthropy, and super-rich lifestyles. The book details George’s vision for the Biltmore, and its construction and maintenance. The estate was built from 1889 to 1895. Some of the statistics are staggering; especially considering this was pre-1900:

  • A woodworking factory and brick kiln was produced on site, generating 32,000 bricks per day;
  • 175,000 total square feet, with more than 4 acres of floor space;
  • 250 rooms in the house, including 35 guest rooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens;
  • Over 100,000 acres of surrounding area, including a robust forestry program (after George’s death Edith sold over 85,000 acres back to the federal government); and
  • A library with over 10,000 volumes, many rare and collectible.

The Biltmore has been open to the public since 1930, with a brief hiatus during World War II, when various paintings and sculptures were moved there from the National Gallery of Art to protect them in the event of an attack on the U.S. The home continues to be owned by a private company ran by the Vanderbilt heirs. The Last Castle is overall an interesting read, not only pertaining to the construction and maintenance of the Biltmore estate, but also the Vanderbilt family and surrounding Asheville community.

Kiernan, Denise. The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s largest Home. Atria Books, 2017.

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Value Line Library Database Trial (through 2/29/20)

Value Line is offering Nebraska libraries trial access to their online investment research service during the month of February.

Description: Value Line Library Research Center is a single, cost-effective research package covering multiple asset classes, combining the built-in speed, convenience, accuracy, and functionality that can transform an average investor into an extremely profitable one. Contains research on stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, Options, and a special investment portfolio model. Read more about Value Line Library Research Center online, or view a video.

Trial access instructions (URL, username, password) were distributed via a January 31, 2020 message to the TRIAL mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or would like to have it sent to them again may contact Susan Knisely.

Note: Not all trial announcements are posted to this blog. If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s Trial mailing list.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Voice Assistant Lesson Plan

This is a quick and easy lesson plan I put together to demonstrate how searching for information online is vastly different from using a voice command to retrieve information via Amazon Echo, Google Home Mini, or another voice assistant. How do we determine which information is best when we can’t see it to verify?

Lesson Duration: 45-60 minutes

Audience: Adults, Teens, 6-8th grade

Prerequisites:

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how voice controlled technology impacts the understanding and selection of information.
  2. Brainstorm new ways to analyze information using voice commands.
  3. Understand why we need to verify sources.

Materials:

  • Computers with internet access
  • Smart device with voice assistant enabled (ex. Amazon Echo, Google Home, smartphone)
  • Notebook & Pen, or Electronic note-taking device

Lesson Preparation:

  • Set up all computers and devices. Make sure the internet is connected on all devices.
  • Charge devices before class, or have outlet access.
  • Make sure devices have microphone and voice assistant enabled, if using a device other than Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Lesson Outline:

Voice command devices like Amazon Echo are getting more popular by the day. Do we know how this new convenience will affect information seekers? Let’s find out. This activity is designed to compare the different between looking up information online versus finding and retrieving information verbally. We will explore the pros and cons to accessing information using voice commands.

Introduction (5-10 minutes):

  • Introduce instructor
  • Explain the popularity of voice-command enabled devices.
  • Show examples of devices and how they are used in the world.
  • Warm-Up Activity: Ask if anyone has used voice commands in their everyday life to find information, control devices, or otherwise interact with the world. Have voice commands ever given you an unexpected result?

Finding Information Online Activity (10 Minutes):

Whether it’s a recipe, the latest news headlines, a DIY video, or information about a health concern, we all find information online every now and again. I would like you to find a current events headline. When you find it, jot down how you know the information is real.

Discussion:

  1. How did you decide this information was real?
  2. What is your source?
  3. Can you find another article reporting similar information?

Guidelines for Real vs. Fake (5 Minutes):

Take a look at this Real or Fake infographic from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to see how the experts spot fake news. Did your news story prove to be real or fake? How can you tell? Have a brief discussion.

Voice-Command Information (15-20 Minutes):

Take out your voice-command device. Use the wake word and ask the device to find information about a current events topic. Find an article and look back at that Real or Fake inforgraphic.

Discussion:

  1. Using only voice commands, how can you tell if this is real?
  2. Can you find all the verification information listed on the infographic?
  3. Was it easy or difficult to find information to verify the source?
  4. Would you use voice commands as your only way to find information?
  5. What do you think will happen as more people find information using voice-command enabled device without a screen?

Conclusion (5 Minutes):

  • Sum up what the learners discovered during the activities.
  • Ask the learners if they have any questions or would like to learn more about any of the topics covered.
  • Remind everyone to search safely and find good information!
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Friday Reads: The Little Book of Big Feelings: an Illustrated Exploration of Life’s Many Emotions by Maureen “Marzi” Wilson

Being the good reader that I am every holiday season I make sure to include books on my gift list. (Yes, my family still does Christmas lists but that’s a story for another time.) Sometimes I’ll ask for the latest hot fiction title, or I might want a larger coffee table book that I’ve had my eye on but couldn’t justify the price. This year though I went with something small enough to fit in my stocking.

The Little Book of Big Feelings is authored and illustrated by Marzi Wilson, creator of “Introvert Doodles”. If you’ve ever wondered about the care and feeding of your fellow introvert, or are one yourself, I highly recommend checking her out. She has a lovely little Instagram page, perfect material to scroll through when that party gets to be a bit to much and you’re taking a moment to yourself behind a potted plant. She has three other books, as well, including an activity book!

This latest book takes a look at those big feelings we all get, joy, sadness, anger and so on, how they may look different to an introvert and, greatest of all, how to deal with them. Reading this book is a great way to get perspective on those emotions and even to start processing and accepting them. Each section deals with one particular emotion in small cartoons as well as meatier parts dealing with they psychology behind them. This is a fun and easy to grasp little book that, while slightly geared towards adults, would totally be useful for those fun balls of emotions that are teens.

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