Author Archives: Laura Johnson

New Pew Study on Libraries

Yesterday, Pew Research Center released “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond,” a study that concentrates on how people feel about and interact with public libraries.   The report creates a typology which “describes nine groups of Americans that reflect different patterns of public library engagement” from Library Lovers, about 10% of the population, and Information Omnivores, 20% of Americans, to Off the Grid, 4%.

The “Summary of Findings” offers a quick look at the typologies and some conclusions about broader trends, such as:

  • most Americans do not feel overwhelmed by information,
  • that library use is often tied to life stage or circumstance, and
  • that many people need and want trusted helpers in finding information.

This report is the third in a trilogy of studies on libraries.  The first report, “The Rise of e-reading” was released in April 2012, the second, on library services, came out in January 2013.



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Edgar Nominees Announced

Sunday, January 19th, is Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday.  To celebrate, the Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2013 Edgar Awards, “honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television.”  The Awards will be presented at a banquet on May 1.  Meanwhile, the lists of nominees in many categories, including Best Novel, Best Young Adult, and Best Juvenile, include some mighty fine reading.  See all the lists at

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Get a Downton Abbey Readalike poster

Random House will send you a “Keep Calm and Read On” Downton Abbey Read Alike Poster and enter you in a drawing for a Downton Abbey Prize Basket, if you sign up at  Sure, it’s a RH marketing ploy, but it could make for a fun display or even an interesting book group.

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Nominate Your Favorite Films for Preservation

The Library of Congress is encouraging people to nominate films to add to the National Film Registry, a “list of films deemed ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant’ that are earmarked for preservation.”   To be eligible for the list, a film must be at least 10 years old.  The guidelines for nominating are available from LC.

The newly announced list of films added to the Registry in 2013 include among others “Mary Poppins,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Right Stuff,” and “Roger and Me.”  Wouldn’t they make a great film series in the library this winter?

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Libraries Matter to Americans, According to Pew

The top three library services among Americans 16 and older who have used the library are: Books and Media, having a quiet, safe place, and librarian assistance.  90% of people surveyed thought that closing the library would have an impact on the community, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

This study, “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communitites,” released today offers this information and more on Americans’ views on the public library.  Over 6000 people over the age of 16 answered a 35 question survey about libraries to provide the data for the report.  A number of reports on public libraries, reading, and the use of information are available from Pew.

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NPR’s Book Concierge

As the year draws to a close, the Best Books, Movies, Apps, Music, etc. lists will start appearing thick and fast.  National Public Radio is offering a new twist on “Best Books” with a Web site and mobile app that help the user sort through over 200 recommended titles from 2013 by  title or by category.  Some of the categories are fun–see “Eye Opening Reads.” Or what about “It’s All Geek To Me?”  Check it out at NPR’s Book Concierge.

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Remembering the Gettysburg Address

Next Tuesday November 19 is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.  To commemorate the address, Ken Burns is starting a project to have everyone in America video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.  People participating in this project include President Obama, Louis C.K., Taylor Swift, Martha Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.  Hear Librarian of Congress James Billington recite the speech at the Library of Congress Blog.  For more info on the project, visit Learn the Address .  To read more about the speech, see the Library of Congress’ online exhibit.

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Win a Visit from Author Alexander McCall Smith

Send  photos to Random House of a library holiday display featuring Alexander McCall Smith’s books , and you may win a visit from the author during his November 2014 tour.  The deadline to enter the contest is January 3.  See the rules and details at:

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The Power of Story and One Rural Library

Turning A Page Inside A Rural One-Room Library,” by Jennifer Davidson, is the latest addition to the NPR series on libraries.  The story, about the Myrtle, MO (pop. 300) Public Library, is of interest for two reasons:  1. because it’s nice to see small rural libraries get a pat on the back, and 2. because it illustrates how effective a story can be in advocating for the library.  Lots of nice comments on the story are listed.  The story aired on Morning Edition and was posted October 21, 2013.

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NPR Celebrates Libraries

Have you been following the National Public Radio special series on libraries?  So far, they’ve taken a look at Andrew Carnegie, discussed the portrayal of libraries (and librarians) in drama and song, and investigated ebooks.  Being spotlighted like this makes me feel like a star!

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ARSL Conference Scholarships Now Available from the Nebraska Library Commission

Nebraska public librarians have a terrific opportunity to attend a national professional conference this fall–right in their own backyard!  Because we think this is such a great opportunity, the Nebraska Library Commission is offering grants to Nebraska public library staffers to attend the Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference, September 25-28 in Omaha.  The grants will cover virtually all the expenses of attending the conference—registration, mileage, lodging, and meals.

Grant applications are due by July 3 changed to July 12, and we’ll let you know by July 19 if you’ve received a grant, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan.  Apply as soon as you can at:

If you have any questions, please contact  Laura Johnson 800-307-2665, 402-471-2694.

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New Guidelines for Accreditation

The new Nebraska Guidelines for Public Library Accreditation will be used for the first time for 2013 accreditation/reaccreditation. That process will begin in July when letters are sent to the 51 public libraries up for reaccreditation and to libraries that have not been previously accredited. Completed Accreditation Applications will be due in October.

The Guidelines have many new features.
• Accreditation and levels of accreditation are based on a point system. Instead of having to meet each requirement in a list, a library simply needs to accrue points. A total of 275 points may be earned.
• Instead of Essential, Enhanced, and Excellent levels, the three levels of accreditation are Bronze (175 points), Silver (200 points), and Gold (250 points).
• The new guidelines are community-based, so that each library determines its own priorities based on community needs. This requires each library to have or to create a strategic plan that addresses the unique needs of its community. A separate set of planning templates and guides has been developed to aid libraries in planning, if they wish to use them.
• Statistics that have been reported by the library in the Public Library Statistical Report will be automatically filled in on the online accreditation application form, so the library will not have to double-report statistical measures. Each library will have a password to access its own application form.
• Peer comparisons will be used for nine of the guidelines. Each library will be compared with libraries of similar size rather than being slotted into a predetermined population group as in past guidelines.
• A library seeking accreditation for the first time or one that is up for reaccreditation in 2013 will first need to meet the 12 minimum qualifications before it can seek accreditation. These include: having a governing or advisory library board, a certified board, certified library director, local funding; annually submitting statistics to the Commission; active use of an e-mail address by the library director; and presenting an annual report to the local governing body.
• The guidelines are organized into five categories:
o Governance/Planning;
o Resources;
o Services;
o Cooperation/Collaboration; and
o Communications.

A group of eleven librarians worked for more than two years to revamp the guidelines. The group was co-chaired by Stan Schulz from York and Joan Birnie from Broken Bow.

The text of the guidelines is now available on the Nebraska Library Commission Website. The interactive accreditation application—available in July–will include text prepopulated with statistics unique to each library applying. It will have “radio buttons” for those questions requiring a “yes” or “no” answer; it will have space for notes where required; and it will require a library to list which part of its strategic plan relates to each guideline listed.

For questions, contact Richard Miller at 800.307.2665, or

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WorldCat Reaches 2 Billion

WorldCat, the OCLC database of library holdings, has received its 2 billionth entry. The bouncing baby record was added by the University of Alberta in Edmonton last Saturday.

“Saturday’s child works hard for a living” according to the old poem, and WorldCat’s records work hard to provide information about the contents of libraries world wide. Nebraska libraries can search WorldCat through FirstSearch in NebraskAccess.

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Casey Strikes Out at the Commission

Hear “Casey at the Bat” read by NLC staffers—one line at a time.  Inspired by Bob Barringer’s presentation at Big Talk from Small Libraries, and because April is National Poetry Month, and this is National Library Week, and, even if the weather isn’t cooperating, it’s spring, we decided to try out a group poetry reading.  The technique could make a terrific library program—fun, funny, inexpensive, and involving lots of community members of all ages.  We uncovered some unexpected thespian talent here at the Commission.  I hope you enjoy our 4 ½ minute video.


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Become an Expert Romance Reader’s Advisor

Find out more about the best Romance novels and authors to recommend to your library users.  Romance is one of the most popular genres in modern publishing, and after all, who couldn’t use a little Romance in their life?

Romance Writers of America’s new series of weekly interactive video chat events features  RITA nominated authors discussing their books.

The next session will be about Paranormal Romance, on Thursday April 18, at 7:00 p.m. CDT.  Participating authors are Kristen Callihan, Cynthia Eden, Angie Fox, J.T. Geissinger, Larissa Ione, and Maggie Shayne.

For a complete list of events, and to register (only 1000 seats are available each week) see:


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Census Changes Highlighted in Demo

The U.S. Census Bureau will hold a demonstration of new data access tools live online via the Census Bureau Ustream channel on Thursday, January 31 at 1:00 p.m. (CST). The demo will include new and enhanced features in American FactFinder, such as Community Facts and Guided Search as well as provide a look at other new data access tools, including Easy Stats, developed from the Census Bureau’s Application Programming Interface, and the America’s Economy mobile app.  Viewers will be able to ask questions, either by phone or asking via the Census Bureau’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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What Books Did You Think Were “Best?”

‘Tis the season for “Best Books” lists.  Publishers Weekly offers their list of the 10 best books of 2012.  The New York Times provides their annual list.  Library Journal gives us LJ’s Best Books and Media of 2012, and School Library Journal also offers Best Books of 2012Maybe we should have a contest to see who can find the most lists on the Web.  Does your library have a list of “Best Books” or “Most-Often Checked Out Books of 2012?”  These lists can offer some great Christmas gift suggestions to harried readers.

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Continuing Education & Training Grants Available to Accredited Nebraska Public Libraries

The C.E. Grants are now available at    As they did last year, this year’s grants come in three categories:  funding to take an online class, funding to attend a out-of-state professional conference, and funding for a continuing education project.  Last year a number of librarians attended conferences–and some reported on PLA in an NCompass Live presentation.

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Romance Awards 2012

The 2012 Rita Awards, for outstanding romances, were announced at the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference.  Two of the awards went to digital-first publications, I Love the Earl published by Avon Impulse, and Boomerang Bride  published by Harlequin’s Carina imprint. This is the  first time that digital-first titles have won RITA awards. The winners were:

Paranormal Romance:  Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison

Romance Novella:  I Love the Earl, by Caroline Linden

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:  How to Bake a Perfect Life, by Barbara O’Neal

Best First Book:  First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones

Historical Romance:  The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne

Inspirational Romance:  The Measure of Katie Calloway, by Serena Miller

Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure:  Soldier’s Last Stand, by Cindy Dees

Contemporary Single Title Romance:  Boomerang Bride, by Fiona Lowe

Regency Historical Romance:  A Night to Surrender, by Tessa Dare

Young Adult Romance:  Enclave, by Ann Aguirre

Contemporary Series Romance:  Doukakis’s Apprentice, by Sarah Morgan

Romantic Suspense:  New York to Dallas, by J.D. Robb.

A list of all the award finalists is available at the RWA Website.

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Best Sites for Learning About the Olympics

A nice list of “The Best Sites For Learning About The London 2012 Olympics“, has been compiled by Larry Ferlazzo, a high school teacher from Sacramento, CA.

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