Author Archives: Laura Johnson

Vote for Your Favorite Library Reads

LibraryReadsLogoLet your voice be heard!  To celebrate their 1-year anniversary, Library Reads is asking librarians to vote on their Favorite  of Favorites from the last year.  The top ten list will be released December 1.

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This Friday – Talk Like a Pirate Day!

jollyrigerIt’s here!  The day we’ve waited all year for!  Friday it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day.  There probably isn’t time to order one of the official t-shirts, and maybe making customers with overdue books walk the plank might be a little extreme,  but surely we could all set sail for adventure with a crackin’ good book display or some buried (book) treasure.  Have a fun day!

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NYTimes Revamps Best Sellers Lists

Today the New York Times Book Review announced that it is adding 12 new monthly lists: Travel; Humor; Family; Relationships; Animals; Religion, Spirituality and Faith; and Celebrities, with more to come next year.  The paper is also redesigning its print best sellers page.  All the best sellers lists are available at:

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Infographic Promotes Libraries

Have you seen the great new infographic on libraries? It’s titled Checking Out America’s Libraries. Check it out!


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“Technology for Librarians 101” Comes to 7 Sites

“Technology for Librarians 101” is a hands-on training classes which will cover the computer essentials that will help you to help your library users more effectively.  The class will be held in three sessions, from 9:30 to 3:30 each session. Class participants will need to attend all three sessions.

Workshops will be held in seven locations around Nebraska, so travel times remain reasonable:

  • Alliance 9/11, 10/16, 11/6
  • Atkinson 9/24, 10/22, 11/19
  • Kearney 9/19, 10/24, 11/21
  • Lincoln 9/17, 10/15, 11/5
  • Norfolk 9/18, 10/23, 11/20
  • North Platte 9/17, 10/15, 11/5
  • Omaha 9/16, 10/21, 11/18

The class will be small, and hands-on.  Every participant will have a computer at her disposal to practice skills the class is covering.  Mentors will be available in class and later to answer questions.  Lunch will be provided and mileage will be reimbursed.

Register at:    Each class is listed under “Tech 101 – (location).” Registration for the first session covers registration for all three sessions.

These events are offered as part of the Nebraska Broadband Initiative. This Broadband Mapping and Planning Initiative is funded through a grant to the Nebraska Public Service Commission by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and aims to increase broadband adoption and use. Project partners include the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Information Technology Commission, Nebraska Public Service Commission, and the AIM Institute.  For more information, check

If you have any further questions, contact Laura Johnson.

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RITA Awards Presented

The 2014 Romance Writers of America’s RITARitastatuette Awards for best romances of 2013 were presented Saturday night at the RWA Annual Conference. The winners are:

The 2014 RWA Librarian of the Year was Sean Gilmartin, The Anythink Library, Thornton, Colorado.

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Friday Reads: Eat Pray, Love: one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert

eatprayloveaudiocoverGilbert’s story of her travels in Italy, India, and Indonesia searching for renewal and enlightenment originally came out in 2006 to acclaim (it was the New York Times Notable Book of the Year). Generally, tales of other people’s spiritual quests set my skepticism meter aquiver, and I didn’t read the book, or see the movie back when. But I’m an audiobook buff, and I was looking for something a little different, so I decided to try it. Gilbert reads the book herself, a real asset for such a personal, first person story. Her unaffected enthusiasm and her way with words are winning me over.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat Pray, Love: one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. Penguin Audio, 2006. CD.


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Benches Encourage Reading

benchSeussFifty “book benches” are illustrating the joys of reading on the streets of London this summer.  Each book-shaped bench is covered with a colorful picture.  The benches are part of the National Literacy Trust’s Books about Town campaign  to celebrate books and reading.  Benches feature Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Mary Poppins, the works of Dr Seuss, and many others. This fall, the benches will be auctioned off to raise funds for the NLT.  It’s an impractical wish, but wouldn’t it be great to have one of them?

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Who’s Most Likely to Speak Up?

Governing magazine answers that question and provides some interesting insights on getting participation and feedback from community members.  “The Citizens Most Vocal in Local Government,” by Mike Maciag, discusses the results of a survey by the National Research Center on the demographics of people who participate in discussion and debate of local issues.  It offers helpful info for library directors and boards who are working on strategic planning and looking for community input.

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Free Webinars List

The list of Free Webinars for July includes 43 different programs.  But if none of them do it for you, did you know that you could check  on programs offered in previous months?  Most Webinars are archived, and their shelf life is at least a few years, so why not view some not-so-oldies but goodies?  Just take the URL of the current Free Webinars list ( and after the character string “webinars” add the date in the format yyyymm.  So the URL for April’s list of Webinars, for example, is .  Last November’s list is at  Listings go back to October 2011.

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Literary Sneakers

American literature is claimed as the inspirliterarysneakersation for a new line of shoes from New Balance.   The collection will be introduced in three waves starting July 1:  First, the “Bespoke Authors,” which run around $300.  Second, the “Distinct Authors Collection” out in August will cost about $240 and third, the “Connoisseur Authors Collection,” about $150, will be out in September.  Maybe they’d be good for a “run while you listen” audio book promotion?  More info at SneakerNews via Buzzfeed.

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Charles Wright New Poet Laureate

Charles Wright, a retired professor at the University of Virginia, is named the new U. S. Poet Laureate by  James Billington, the librarian of Congress.  The Poet Laureate has few official duties, but generally promotes poetry, and develops his or her own outreach projects, usually for a one year term.  Previous Poets Laureate have included Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Ted Kooser.  Read a sample of Wright’s poetry.

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Storytelling through digital and traditional media

Harlequin publishers has begun an experimental project, spinning a romance through ebooks, video, mobile and social media.

The fictional Chatsfield hotel, based in London, is the setting for stories that will “develop the characters that the consumers interact with most.”  Four main characters will tell their stories using multiple digital, social and mobile channels – including their own Facebook, YouTube, blogs and Twitter accounts, as well as traditional publishing.  It is up to the reader to gather various parts of the stories as they unfold.

The Chatsfield miniseries begins with prequel novella Engaged at The Chatsfield, currently available for download and with the novel Sheikh’s Scandal by Lucy Monroe. Monthly novels through November are listed at

The Chatsfield will also have a Lounge where readers can contribute their own stories and hotel adventures.

Harlequin UK Managing Director, Tim Cooper says, “We don’t really know how this project will end or where it will take us – but isn’t that the whole point of a great story?” The aim of The Chatsfield is to attract a younger audience which is already involved with social media.

Over the next three months, Harlequin plans to distribute more than 800 pieces of content involving the four character storylines over multiple platforms.

You can check in to the Chatsfield and check it out.

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Hugo Award Finalists Announced

The Hugos are awarded for excellence in the field of science hugologofiction and fantasy.  This year’s finalists for Best Novel are:

  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
  • Neptune’s Brood, by Charles Stross
  • Parasite, by Mira Grant
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, by Larry Correia
  • The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Finalists in other categories are available at the Hugo Awards Site. The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon“), who are fans.  The Awards will be presented at Loncon 3, on August 17, 2014.

The Hugo is one of the major U.S. awards for SF&F: the other is the Nebula, voted on, and presented by active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in May.  The 2013 Nebula Nominees for Best Novel are:

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
  • Fire with Fire, by Charles E. Gannon
  • Hild, by Nicola Griffith
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
  • The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata
  • A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar
  • The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker.
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Celebrate National Poetry Month with the National Poetry Out Loud Competition

poetryoutloudlogoAmanda Pohlman, a freshman from Skutt Catholic High School, Omaha, will compete for the National Poetry Out Loud championship in Washington, D.C. April 29-30, 2014. Amanda, who won the won the Nebraska state championship earlier this spring, is one of nearly 3,000 Nebraska students from 25 high schools that participated in Poetry Out Loud this year.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.  The program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. It helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Now in its ninth year, Poetry Out Loud has grown to involve millions of students across the country.  To be eligible to participate, a high school must be registered with the state coordinator.  For more information on Nebraska’s Poetry Out Loud program, contact Anne Alston, EducationManager at the Nebraska Arts Council, at 402.595.2122 or

Poetry Out Loud offers educators free curriculum materials, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation.  Download these resources and find out more about this program at

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Wimpy Kid Webinar

coverwimpykidJeff Kinney and his publisher are celebrating “Wimpy Kid Month” and offering a Webinar on April 28 from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. This will include a review of the Wimpy Kid books, an interactive quiz, a draw-along, and sneak peeks at book #9, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck.  Kinney will be answering fans’ questions throughout the webcast. Kids can also download a drawing prompt to create and submit their own renditions of Wimpy Kid covers.  Register at the Wimpy Kid Website, which offers additional W.K. material.  If you cannot make the live ‘cast, it will be available later at Wimpy Kid Videos.

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Rita Award Finalists Announced

RitastatuetteThe Romance Writers of America (RWA) have announced the finalists for their annual RITA awards for best published romances.  The RITAs are awarded in 9 categories:

  • Best First Book
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Erotic Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Inspirational Romance
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Romance Novella
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Short Contemporary Romance.

This year the lists comprise 77 titles.  The award winners will be announced at the RWA annual conference in San Antonio on July 26.

According to the RWA, romance made up the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2012 at 16.7 percent, and romance was the top-performing category on the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists.  That’s a lot of romance between the covers, and a few hints about what to select for the collection, such as these award nominations, are handy.

The Nebraska Library Commission will be discussing romance fiction during our August 13 NCompass Live Webinar.

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If you could share just one book…

What would it be?  The Davenport (IA) Public Library is collecting pictures of people who work in libraries and the books they’d like to share with the world.  They say that “ aims to help library staff around the world share the amazing items all around them.”   What book would you like to share?  (Thanks to Denise for the tip.)

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There Are 65 Entries on the April Free Webinars List

See the cpennant graphic (2)hronological list of Webinars and a subject guide on the Free Webinars page.   By the way, the lists from previous months are available.  So if you want to find a program from a previous month that you just didn’t have time to watch, you can.  Just add the 6 digits of yyyymm to the URL for the current list.  For example, the address for the December 2013 list is

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Bookopotamus Free App for Audio Lovers



Audiobook trivia in an app!  Now that we hear about it, you have to wonder, “why didn’t we think of that?”  Findaway World, manufacturers of  Playaways is offering a free game for both Apple and Android users.  They say ““In each round of Bookopotamus trivia, the player is offered with an audible audiobook quote and is asked to guess, against the clock, which book the quote is from. The earlier the answer is provided, the higher the score for the game. As they play, users evolve from a curious little Bookworm into a Bookopotamus with an insatiable appetite for books.”

In addition to the fun of the game, through next Monday, Findaway World will donate Playaways to First Book.

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