Category Archives: Books & Reading

#BookFaceFriday “Private Way” by Ladette Randolph

We’re all wrapped up in this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

We like everything about this week’s #BookFaceFriday, the book, the author, the publisher, and the model! “Private Way: A Novel is the latest book by famed Nebraska author, Ladette Randolph (University of Nebraska Press, 2022). One of the most prestigious academic presses in the country, the University of Nebraska Press sends us around 75 select titles per year, which are added to the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse, also known as the Nebraska State Documents Collection. This collection is comprised of publications issued by Nebraska state agencies, ensuring that state government information is available to a wide audience and that those valuable publications are preserved for future generations. University of Nebraska Press books, as well as all state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons. Our model this week is a new addition to the Nebraska Library Commission! Welcome to Mackenzie Marrow, our new Information Services Technician. They completed their Masters in Library and Information Science from Simmons University last August. When asked about what they like to read, Mackenzie says, “I love any book that has an ensemble cast that is really fleshed out, especially if it’s sci-fi or fantasy.” Mackenzie’s two favorite series right now are “The Locked Tomb” by Tamsyn Muir and “Wayfarers” by Becky Chambers, “I could talk for ages about either one!” Outside of reading, their hobbies include playing DND, and trivia nights at The Happy Raven. They also recently adopted an 11-year-old cat named Mittens! “She’s my first cat, I grew up with dogs, and I love her to death.” So if you get the chance, say hello to Mackenzie!

“A wonderfully wise, vividly written, and deeply absorbing novel that delves into Willa Cather’s question about what is required of ‘a civilized society.’ By turns funny, reflective, and harrowing . . . Private Way is that rare novel that acknowledges the real hazards of civic life while also celebrating its transformative power.”

Suzanne Berne, author of The Dogs of Littlefield: A Novel

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

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Farewell, #BookFaceFriday, parting is such sweet sorrow…

Alas, our beloved #BookFaceFriday series has come to an end.

We hope you will enjoy our new photo series, #MicroficheMonday, in which we explore the depths of the Nebraska Library Commission’s state document collection preserved on microfilm prior to 2005. We will examine these fascinating artifacts piece-by-piece every Monday for the next 5 years. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

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“…what fools these mortals be . . .”

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Happy April Fool’s Day! Scroll down for this week’s actual BookFace!  “Fools and Mortals: A Novel” by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2018) is available as an eBook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author, seven of his books are also available for readers in OverDrive. Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Marvelous…. Full of drama, both on- and offstage, and with numerous delightful, laugh-out-loud moments, this novel is an absolute joy. A must-have for anyone who loves the theater, this is easily the best book this reviewer has read this year.”

Library Journal, starred review

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

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Friday Reads: The Four Winds: A Novel by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds is a historical novel with true to life elements from a period of deep despair. Kristin Hannah’s book is about hard times, America in the 1930s – the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, with millions of people unemployed and struggling to meet day-to-day needs. It is a book about survival, family relationships, courage, and endurance.

The Four Winds reminded me of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a book I read many years ago and among the most disturbing I’ve ever read. In Hannah’s book, it is the Martinelli family. In Steinbeck’s, it is the Joads.

The Four Winds is told mostly through the eyes and voice of Elsa Martinelli. The story begins in the Texas Panhandle, a rural community – a typical small town with surrounding farms. The story moves from the prosperous times preceding the Great Depression to years of poverty and hardship as drought and dust storms transform millions of acres of landscape and turn the economy upside down. Martinelli, married with young children, struggles to overcome life-robbing elements. Family relationships are tested. There is betrayal, and there are strained relationships between Elsa and her headstrong teenage daughter Loreda. Tension grows with the seemingly never-ending drought and the prospects of leaving the farm to join the thousands migrating westward for a perceived better life in California.

Readers describe the book as depressing, but it presents a compelling and difficult to forget story. Libraries and librarians contribute to the story, and in a positive way.  

The audiobook (Macmillan Audio) includes an interview with Kristin Hannah and skilled narrator Julia Whelan. The interview offers interesting and helpful historical background – the author’s research and approach to writing the novel, and the narrator’s preparation and narration methods.

Among Kristin Hannah’s books are the notable The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and Winter Garden.

Hannah, Kristin. The Four Winds: A Novel. William Morrow. 2021.

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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for January, February, and March 2022.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972 as a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in January, February, and March 2022:

An Otherwise Healthy Woman

An Otherwise Healthy Woman, by Amy Haddad; Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Honorable Mention

The poems in An Otherwise Healthy Woman delve into the complexity of modern health care, illness, and healing, offering an alternative narrative to heroics and miracles. Drawing on Amy Haddad’s firsthand experiences as a nurse and patient, the poems in this collection teach us to take a moment to stop and acknowledge the longing for compassion in each of us, what ought to be the immediate human response to suffering. The poet isn’t afraid to explore her own fears and failures or to find joy and humor in the many roles women play. An Otherwise Healthy Woman presents the intimate experiences of a nurse, the vulnerable perspective of a patient, and the lessons of caring for family.

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival : A History of the Stewart Indian School, 1890-2020, by Samantha M. Williams; Series: Indigenous Education

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival illustrates how settler colonialism propelled U.S. government programs designed to assimilate generations of Native children at the Stewart Indian School (1890–1980). The school opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1890 and embraced its mission to destroy the connections between Native children and their lands, isolate them from their families, and divorce them from their cultures and traditions. Newly enrolled students were separated from their families, had their appearances altered, and were forced to speak only English. However, as Samantha M. Williams uncovers, numerous Indigenous students and their families subverted school rules, and tensions arose between federal officials and the local authorities charged with implementing boarding school policies.

The first book on the history of the Stewart Indian School, Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival reveals the experiences of generations of Stewart School alumni and their families, often in their own words. Williams demonstrates how Indigenous experiences at the school changed over time and connects these changes with Native American activism and variations in federal policy. Williams’s research uncovers numerous instances of abuse at Stewart, and Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival addresses both the trauma of the boarding school experience and the resilience of generations of students who persevered there under the most challenging of circumstances.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, 2nd Edition, by Mari Sandoz

Mari Sandoz’s beautifully written account of the battle in which General George Armstrong Custer staked his life—and lost it—reveals on every page the author’s intimate knowledge of her subject. The character of the Sioux, the personality of Custer, the mixed emotions of Custer’s men, the plains landscape—all emerge with such clarity that the reader is transported to that spring in 1876 when the Army of the Plains began its fateful march toward Yellowstone.

The background of the tragedy is here: the history of bad blood and broken treaties between the Indigenous nations and the United States, the underlying reason for Custer’s expedition and for the convocation of Indians on the Little Bighorn that particular year. Sandoz’s final book was the first analysis of Custer’s motives and political ambitions to shed light on an old mystery that was hotly disputed by the general’s admirers.

Historian Elaine Marie Nelson introduces this iconic work to a new generation and details the long, challenging road this book took to publication. Sandoz raced against time to complete the volume while undergoing cancer treatments, and the book was published just three months after her death. The Battle of the Little Bighorn is widely considered the apex of her writing.

Birthing the West

Birthing the West : Mothers and Midwives in the Rockies and Plains, by Jennifer J. Hill

Childbirth defines families, communities, and nations. In Birthing the West, Jennifer J. Hill fills the silences around historical reproduction with copious new evidence and an enticing narrative, describing a process of settlement in the American West that depended on the nurturing connections of reproductive caregivers and the authority of mothers over birth.

Economic and cultural development depended on childbirth. Hill’s expanded vision suggests that the mantra of cattle drives and military campaigns leaves out essential events and falls far short of an accurate representation of American expansion. The picture that emerges in Birthing the West presents a more complete understanding of the American West: no less moving or engaging than the typical stories of extraction and exploration but concurrently intriguing and complex.

Birthing the West unearths the woman-centric practice of childbirth across Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming, a region known as a death zone for pregnant women and their infants. As public health entities struggled to establish authority over its isolated inhabitants, they collaborated with physicians, eroding the power and control of mothers and midwives. The transition from home to hospital and from midwife to doctor created a dramatic shift in the intimately personal act of birth.

Choosing Hope

Choosing Hope : The Heritage of Judaism, by David Arnow; Series: JPS Essential Judaism

Throughout our history, Jews have traditionally responded to our trials with hope, psychologist David Arnow says, because we have had ready access to Judaism’s abundant reservoir of hope.

The first book to plumb the depths of this reservoir, Choosing Hope journeys from biblical times to our day to explore nine fundamental sources of hope in Judaism: 

  • Teshuvah—the method to fulfill our hope to become better human beings
  • Tikkun Olam—the hope that we can repair the world by working together
  • Abraham and Sarah—models of persisting in hope amid trials
  • Exodus—the archetype of redemptive hope
  • Covenant—the hope for a durable relationship with the One of Being
  • Job—the “hard-fought hope” that brings a grief-stricken man back to life
  • World to Come—the sustaining hope that death is not the end
  • Israel—high hope activists work to build a just and inclusive society for all Israelis
  • Jewish Humor—“hope’s last weapon” in our darkest days
     

Grounded in a contemporary theology that situates the responsibility for creating a better world in human hands, with God acting through us, Choosing Hope can help us both affirm hope in times of trial and transmit our deepest hopes to the next generation.

In the Net, by Hawad; Series: African Poetry Book Series

In the face of amnesia, how does one exist? In this poem, Hawad speaks directly to Azawad, a silent figure whose name designates a portion of Tuareg lands divided among five nation-states created in the 1960s. This evanescent being, situated on the edge of the abyss and deprived of speech, space, and the right to exist, has reached such a stage of suffering, misery, and oppression that it acquiesces to the erasure implicit in the labels attached to it.

Through an avalanche of words, sounds, and gestures, Hawad attempts to free this creature from the net that ensnares it, to patch together a silhouette that is capable of standing up again, to transform pain into a breeding ground for resistance—a resistance requiring a return to the self, the imagination, and ways of thinking about the world differently. The road will be long.

Hawad uses poetry, “cartridges of old words, / a thousand and one misfires, botched, reloaded,” as a weapon of resistance.

Knocked Down

Knocked Down : A High Risk Memoir, by Aileen Weintraub; Series: American Lives

Aileen Weintraub has been running away from commitment her entire life, hopping from one job and one relationship to the next. When her father suddenly dies, she flees her Jewish Brooklyn community for the wilds of the country, where she unexpectedly falls in love with a man who knows a lot about produce, tractors, and how to take a person down in one jiu-jitsu move. Within months of saying “I do” she’s pregnant, life is on track, and then wham! Her doctor slaps a high-risk label on her uterus and sends her to bed for five months. 

As her husband’s bucolic (and possibly haunted) farmhouse begins to collapse and her marriage starts to do the same, Weintraub finally confronts her grief for her father while fighting for the survival of her unborn baby. In her precarious situation, will she stay or will she once again run away from it all?  

Knocked Down is an emotionally charged, laugh-out-loud roller-coaster ride of survival and growth. It is a story about marriage, motherhood, and the risks we take.

Let Me Count the Ways

Let Me Count the Ways : A Memoir, by Tomas Q. Morin; Series: American Lives

Growing up in a small town in South Texas in the eighties and nineties, poverty, machismo, and drug addiction were everywhere for Tomás Q. Morín. He was around four or five years old when he first remembers his father cooking heroin, and he recalls many times he and his mother accompanied his father while he was on the hunt for more, Morín in the back seat keeping an eye out for unmarked cop cars, just as his father taught him. It was on one of these drives that, for the first time, he blinked in a way that evolution hadn’t intended.

Let Me Count the Ways is the memoir of a journey into obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mechanism to survive a childhood filled with pain, violence, and unpredictability. Morín’s compulsions were a way to hold onto his love for his family in uncertain times until OCD became a prison he struggled for decades to escape. Tender, unflinching, and even funny, this vivid portrait of South Texas life challenges our ideas about fatherhood, drug abuse, and mental illness.

Making a Modern U.S. West : The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940, by Sarah Deutsch; Series: History of the American West

To many Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the West was simultaneously the greatest symbol of American opportunity, the greatest story of its history, and the imagined blank slate on which the country’s future would be written. From the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the Great Depression’s end, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, policymakers at various levels and large-scale corporate investors, along with those living in the West and its borderlands, struggled over who would define modernity, who would participate in the modern American West, and who would be excluded.

In Making a Modern U.S. West Sarah Deutsch surveys the history of the U.S. West from 1898 to 1940. Centering what is often relegated to the margins in histories of the region—the flows of people, capital, and ideas across borders—Deutsch attends to the region’s role in constructing U.S. racial formations and argues that the West as a region was as important as the South in constructing the United States as a “white man’s country.” While this racial formation was linked to claims of modernity and progress by powerful players, Deutsch shows that visions of what constituted modernity were deeply contested by others. This expansive volume presents the most thorough examination to date of the American West from the late 1890s to the eve of World War II.

Managing Sex in the U.S. Military

Managing Sex in the U.S. Military : Gender, Identity, and Behavior, Edited by Beth Bailey, et al; Series: Studies in War, Society, and the Military

The U.S. military is a massive institution, and its policies on sex, gender, and sexuality have shaped the experiences of tens of millions of Americans, sometimes in life-altering fashion. The essays in Managing Sex in the U.S. Military examine historical and contemporary military policies and offer different perspectives on the broad question: “How does the U.S. military attempt to manage sex?” This collection focuses on the U.S. military’s historical and contemporary attempts to manage sex—a term that is, in practice, slippery and indefinite, encompassing gender and gender identity, sexuality and sexual orientation, and sexual behaviors and practices, along with their outcomes. In each chapter, the authors analyze the military’s evolving definitions of sex, sexuality, and gender, and the significance of those definitions to both the military and American society.

Modern Musar: Contested Virtues in Jewish Thought, by Geoffrey D. Claussen; Series: JPS Anthologies of Jewish Thought

How do modern Jews understand virtues such as courage, humility, justice, solidarity, or love? In truth: they have fiercely debated how to interpret them. This groundbreaking anthology of musar (Jewish traditions regarding virtue and character) explores the diverse ways seventy-eight modern Jewish thinkers understand ten virtues: honesty and love of truth; curiosity and inquisitiveness; humility; courage and valor; temperance and self-restraint; gratitude; forgiveness; love, kindness, and compassion; solidarity and social responsibility; and justice and righteousness. These thinkers—from the Musar movement to Hasidism to contemporary Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Humanist, and secular Jews—often agree on the importance of these virtues but fundamentally disagree in their conclusions. The juxtaposition of their views, complemented by Geoffrey Claussen’s pointed analysis, allows us to see tensions with particular clarity—and sometimes to recognize multiple compelling ways of viewing the same virtue.

By expanding the category of musar literature to include not only classic texts and traditional works influenced by them but also the writings of diverse rabbis, scholars, and activists—men and women—who continue to shape Jewish tradition, Modern Musar challenges the fields of modern Jewish thought and ethics to rethink their boundaries—and invites us to weigh and refine our own moral ideals.

Murder, Inc.

Murder, Inc. : The CIA Under John F. Kennedy, by James H. Johnston

Late in his life, former president Lyndon B. Johnson told a reporter that he didn’t believe the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Johnson thought Cuban president Fidel Castro was behind it. After all, Johnson said, Kennedy was running “a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean,” giving Castro reason to retaliate. 

Murder, Inc., tells the story of the CIA’s assassination operations under Kennedy up to his own assassination and beyond. James H. Johnston was a lawyer for the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, which investigated and first reported on the Castro assassination plots and their relation to Kennedy’s murder. Johnston examines how the CIA steered the Warren Commission and later investigations away from connecting its own assassination operations to Kennedy’s murder. He also looks at the effect this strategy had on the Warren Commission’s conclusions that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that there was no foreign conspiracy.

Sourced from in-depth research into the “secret files” declassified by the JFK Records Act and now stored in the National Archives and Records Administration, Murder, Inc. is the first book to narrate in detail the CIA’s plots against Castro and to delve into the question of why retaliation by Castro against Kennedy was not investigated.

The Places of Modernity in Early Mexican American Literature, 1848-1948, by Jose’ F. Aranda, Jr.; Series: Postwestern Horizons.

In The Places of Modernity in Early Mexican American Literature, 1848–1948, José F. Aranda Jr. describes the first one hundred years of Mexican American literature. He argues for the importance of interrogating the concept of modernity in light of what has emerged as a canon of earlier pre-1968 Mexican American literature. In order to understand modernity for diverse communities of Mexican Americans, he contends, one must see it as an apprehension, both symbolic and material, of one settler colonial world order giving way to another more powerful colonialist but imperial vision of North America.

Letters, folklore, print culture, and literary production demonstrate how a new Anglo-American political imaginary revised and realigned centuries-old discourses on race, gender, class, religion, citizenship, power, and sovereignty. The “modern,” Aranda argues, makes itself visible in cultural productions being foisted on a “conquered people,” who were themselves beneficiaries of a notion of the modern that began in 1492. For Mexican Americans, modernity is less about any particular angst over global imperial designs or cultures of capitalism and more about becoming the subordinates of a nation-building project that ushers the United States into the twentieth century.

Private Way

Private Way : A Novel, by Ladette Randolph; Series: Flyover Fiction

In 2015, when cyberbullies disrupt her life in Southern California, Vivi Marx decides to cut her cord with the internet and take her life offline for a year. She flees to the one place where she felt safe as a child—with her grandmother in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nevermind that her grandmother is long dead and she doesn’t know anyone else in the state. Even before she meets her new neighbors on Fieldcrest Drive, Vivi knows she’s made a terrible mistake, but every plan she makes to leave is foiled. Despite her efforts to outrun it, trouble follows her to Nebraska, just not in the ways she’d feared. With the help of her neighbors, Willa Cather’s novels, and her own imagination, Vivi finds something she hadn’t known she was searching for.

Shadow Migration

Shadow Migration : Mapping a Life, by Suzanne Ohlmann; Series: American Lives

With her feet firmly rooted on the plains of Nebraska, Suzanne Ohlmann launches the reader into flight over miles and decades of migration: from an apple-pie childhood in America’s Fourth of July City to the dirt floors of a cowshed in rural India, we zigzag across time and geography to see the world through Ohlmann’s eyes and to discover with her the pain she’d been avoiding through her boomerang travels away from her native home.

Through incarnations as a musician, arts manager, and registered nurse, Ohlmann finally lands in Texas, buys a house, and gets a dog. But her house is haunted, and so is she. In the dark solitude of Ohlmann’s basement the vision of a dead child presents her with a harrowing choice: she can go home to Nebraska and seek the truth of her biological past, or, like the boy, surrender to the depths of her own darkness. With honesty, compassion, and a sense of humor, Ohlmann recounts her tenacious search into the shadows of her life.

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities, by Marco Caracciolo; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities investigates how the experience of slowness in contemporary narrative practices can create a vision of interconnectedness between human communities and the nonhuman world. Here, slowness is not a matter of measurable time but a transformative experience for audiences of contemporary narratives engaging with the ecological crisis. While climate change is a scientific abstraction, the imagination of slowness turns it into a deeply embodied and affective experience. Marco Caracciolo explores the value of slowness in dialogue with a wide range of narratives in various media, from prose fiction to comic books to video games. He argues that we need patience and an eye for complex patterns in order to recognize the multiple threads that link human communities and the slow-moving processes of climate and geological history. Decelerating attention offers important insight into human societies’ relations with the nonhuman materialities of Earth’s physical landscapes, ecosystems, and atmosphere.

Caracciolo centers the experiential effects of narrative and offers a range of theoretically grounded readings that complement the formal language of narrative theory. These close readings demonstrate that slowness is not a matter of measurable time but a “thickening” of attention that reveals the deeply multithreaded nature of reality. The importance of this realization cannot be overstated: through an investment in the here and now of experience, slow narrative can help us manage the uncertainty of living in an era marked by dramatically shifting climate patterns.

Uphill Both Ways

Uphill Both Ways : Hiking Toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail, by Andrea Lani

One grouchy husband. Three reluctant kids. Five hundred miles of wilderness. And one woman, determined to escape the humdrum existence of modern parenting and a toxic work environment and to confront the history of environmental damage wreaked by westward expansion and the Anthropocene.

In Uphill Both Ways Andrea Lani walks us through the Southern Rockies, describing how the region has changed since the discovery of gold in 1859. At the same time, she delves into the history of her family, who immigrated to Leadville to work in the mines, and her own story of hiking the trail in her early twenties before returning two decades later, a depressed middle-aged mom in East Coast exile seeking happiness in a childhood landscape.

On the 489-mile trek from Denver to Durango on the Colorado Trail, Lani’s family traveled through stunning scenery and encountered wildflowers, wildlife, and too many other hikers. They ate cold oatmeal in a chilly, wet tent and experienced scorching heat, torrential thunderstorms, and the first nip of winter. Her kids grew in unimaginable ways, and they became known as “the family of five,” an oddity along a trail populated primarily by solo men. As they inched along the trail, Lani began to exercise disused smile muscles, despite the challenges of hiking in a middle-aged body, maintaining her children’s safety and happiness, and contending with marital discord. She learned that being a slow hiker does not make one a bad hiker and began to uncover the secret to happiness.

**Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022 Recordings Now Available

Recordings of all Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022 sessions are now available!

You will find the recordings and presentations at http://nlcblogs.nebraska.gov/bigtalk/previous-conferences/2022-recordings-presentations/

Don’t forget to complete the conference Evaluation! We’re looking for input from people who attended the live conference and watched the archived recordings.

And mark your calendars now – Big Talk From Small Libraries will be back in 2023! Next year’s conference will be on Friday, February 24, 2023!

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Friday Reads: Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir

In Nebraska, the comedic figure and dramatic actor Bob Odenkirk exists only in black and white. His two roles that are set in the cornhusker state – Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska and the Omaha vignettes of the popular television series Better Call Saul – are presented on a screen devoid of color. These hardscrabble visuals are in stark contrast to the majority of Odenkirk’s work recounted in his new book, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir. This is a variegated trail of memories, from the earliest days as a comedy student loitering around Chicago’s Second City to an unlikely turn as a bone-crunching action star in last year’s Nobody.

The Comedy Comedy Comedy portion of the memoir establishes Odenkirk as a one-man U.S. history of alternative comedy. Starting out as a writer, Odenkirk penned some of the more innovative sketches that appeared on Saturday Night Live from 1987 – 1995, and he regularly worked for shows too ahead of their time to commercially succeed in mainstream television, such as the meta-sitcom Get a Life and The Ben Stiller Show.

These jobs would lead to roles in The Larry Sanders Show and a project he co-created, wrote, and performed: Mr. Show, a kaleidoscopic sketch comedy series that continues to influence entertainment and uncannily forecast real life. Some of the current spate of dueling campaign commercials for Nebraska governor, for example, would not seem out of place in the absurd Mr. Show universe.

Comedy…Drama also documents Odenkirk’s journey into more “serious” acting roles that mine the pathos always near the heart of even his silliest giggle-getters. The author’s down-to-earth and consistently funny tone does much to convince the reader of something lofty – that Odenkirk is on an artist’s journey full of risk and uncertainty. For those familiar with his comedy career, the book is a great resource for information about lesser known and unknown projects, like the sketch group The Birthday Boys, the 1989 one-man show Half My Face Is a Clown, and a number of failed pilots for series that never happened.

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir arrives right as Odenkirk’s most well-known role begins its denouement in the last season of Better Call Saul. Saul Goodman, the crooked lawyer from Breaking Bad, is now Gene, disguised and working as a manager at a Cinnabon in Omaha. It will be fascinating to watch Bob Odenkirk inhabit this character one last time. Saul has always seemed compelled beyond his will to make decisions that will inevitably lead to tragedy. Is it an unavoidable fate, or can he re-saturate his world with color?           

Odenkirk, Bob. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 2022.

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#BookFaceFriday “Moving Out: A Nebraska Woman’s Life” by Polly Spence

 This #BookFace is all about the good life!

Honor the rich history of women in our state with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Moving Out: A Nebraska Woman’s Life (Women in the West) by Polly Spence, edited by Karl Spence Richardson (Bison Books, 2002). This book is one of the hidden treasures of our collection, it’s “an intimate portrait of small-town life in the mid-twentieth century,” written by a native Nebraskan about her own life. Bison Books is an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, they send us around 75 select titles per year, which are added to the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse, also known as the Nebraska State Documents Collection. This collection is comprised of publications issued by Nebraska state agencies, ensuring that state government information is available to a wide audience and that those valuable publications are preserved for future generations. University of Nebraska Press books, as well as all state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“Not only does Spence relate her own story, but also the stories of people around her, making Moving Out a collection of humorous and touching narratives.”

Utah Historical Society

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

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#BookFaceFriday— “Gemma and the Giant Girl” by Sara O’Leary

It’s a wee little #BookFaceFriday for you!

Sometimes good things come in small packages, like this week’s BookFace. “Gemma and the Giant Girl” written by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Marie Lafrance (Tundra Books, 2021) is available as an eBook in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries collection.  This adorable children’s picture book is one of four titles by author Sara O’Leary that we have in our OverDrive collection. EBooks and audiobooks aren’t just for adults, we have an entire collection just for kids and teens. Explore Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Kids & Teens today, it’s a great way to expand your collection!

“Sara O’Leary’s empathetic text, and Marie Lafrance’s imaginative pictures, transport young readers to Gemma’s world from outside in and inside out. . . . [A] gentle exploration of childhood.” —Imaginary Elevators

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

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

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Friday Reads: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

As a long-time fan of the murder mystery genre, I have come to love a certain trope of the genre: closed circle mysteries. In these stories, only a limited number of suspects could possibly have perpetrated the crime, and they often take place in isolated or small settings. Classic examples of this trope include Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile where the murders take place on a train and a steamer boat respectively. Lucy Foley has become a modern master of the closed circle mystery trope and her most recent release, The Paris Apartment, does not disappoint.

At the start of The Paris Apartment, we find our main character, Jess, arriving at an upscale Paris apartment building late at night to visit her half-brother, Ben. When he is not there in his third floor apartment to greet Jess upon her arrival, she embarks on a dangerous investigation to find her missing brother. Each resident of the building knows something and each of them has something to hide. There is an angry alcoholic, the quintessential nice guy next door, a sheltered young woman and her party animal roommate, a steely socialite, and an observant and ever-present building concierge.

Foley’s writing takes you through the mystery at a breakneck pace, expertly exposing twists and revealing secrets. Although on a few occasions the characters are in other locations around Paris, the setting of the apartment building is so eerie and claustrophobic that it feels almost like a character itself playing a major role in the unfolding of the mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie novels or movies like Knives Out will delight in the fast-paced mystery with a cast of questionable characters in Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment.

Foley, Lucy. The Paris Apartment. New York: William Morrow, 2022.

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NCompass Live: Can you see me? Collection Development for Marginalized Communities

Making sure that all people are reflected in books on library shelves is important to both collection development and patron participation. Learn best practices for developing your collections and resources on next week’s NCompass Live webinar, ‘Can you see me? Collection Development for Marginalized Communities’, on Wednesday, March 16 at 10am CT.

All people, regardless their sexual orientation, religion, and race, should see themselves reflected in the books that they can check out. Often times, small libraries find a lot of challenges making sure that these books are present in the collection, either due to cost issues, budget changes, staff self-censorship, and challenges from patrons.

This session will discuss issues related to collection development for marginalized communities (LGBTQIA, African American, Native American, Indigenous, etc.), provide library staff with best practices to develop collections and resources to combat pushback that might take place from patrons or community members who do not approve of certain books on the shelves. This session will present preliminary findings from research on this topic and look forward to coming research to assist small and rural librarians with ways to better develop book collections for marginalized communities.

Presenter: Laura Pitts, Director, Scottsboro (AL) Public Library.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • March 23 – If You Build it, Will They Come? Makerspaces Work in Small, Rural Libraries
  • March 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – 3D Room Design Activity with TinkerCAD & Thingiverse
  • April 6 – Expanding the Health Information Landscape In Your Public Library
  • April 13 – Tweak Your Library’s Social Media
  • April 20 – Starting a Board Game Club at a Small Library
  • April 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech – The 40 Day Challenge Initiative

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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#BookFaceFriday “Votes for Women!” by Winifred Conkling

 A #BookFace’s place is in the House. And the Senate.

As Women’s History Month continues we’re finding all the gems in our Book Club Kit Collection, like this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot” by Winifred Conkling (Algonquin Young Readers, 2018). Our Book Club Kits have more than just the latest bestsellers, but a wide selection of nonfiction as well. This week’s #BookFace can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage. The Book Club Kits service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. Reserve one of our biography, memoir, or nonfiction titles for your book club today!

“Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement . . . Conkling delivers a tour de force.”  

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

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

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Friday Reads: Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of the Sopranos

There are very few guys (even the pacifists), if they are really being honest with themselves, who would disagree with the notion that at least sometimes they think or wish they could handle disputes like they do on The Sopranos. Very few. And by stating this reality, I’m not saying that those individuals actually would; I’m just saying they wish they could. Argument with some Putz at the store? Traffic road rage? Disagreement at work? Who doesn’t daydream about handling such disputes in the same fashion that Furio Giunta would?  There are also other examples besides the “Furio way” that an average Joe might imagine he could handle conflict resolution, of course. Cliff Booth from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood most certainly comes to mind as such a role model. The point is not the ultra-violent acts, but rather the calmness and confidence that accompanies the action. Now, enough of this tangent, let’s get to the book.

Many of you may have at least heard of Talking Sopranos, a podcast started by actors Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Steve Shirripa (Bobby Baccalieri), and this book (Woke Up This Morning) is basically the condensed highlights version of the podcast. If you don’t want to take the time to wade through each of the podcasts, I’d recommend this book. Easy to read and entertaining. Frequent guests on the podcast include the series actors, writers, set designers, and others that worked on the show’s production. Some quick highlights:

  • Steve Shirripa is not nearly as big as Bobby Baccalieri. He wore a fat suit for most episodes, and during the show was actually about the same size as James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano). Around 230 pounds. Ginny Sack (played by Denise Borino-Quinn) also wore such a suit.
  • Furio, played by Federico Castelluccio, while born in Napes, Italy, grew up in Patterson, NJ (since he was 3).
  • Tony Sirico (Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri) is shockingly similar in real life to the character he played. When an episode was set to take place in Paulie’s apartment, the directors went to Tony’s actual apartment, then re-created it for the show.
  • The episode “A Don Doesn’t Wear Shorts” was written after James Gandolfini received a phone call on his cell phone from an unknown number, and the caller said, mysteriously, “A Don never wears shorts”.
  • Matthew Weiner wrote for The Sopranos from 2004-2007, before Mad Men.

I intend to watch some of these podcasts at a future date. The book (and likely the podcast) sometimes comes across as highbrow back patting about this and that (actors and their “art”); however, overall there is many interesting things to be learned by this behind the scenes book and corresponding podcasts.

Finally, for the record, I’m disappointed by David Chase using The Sopranos theme song, and actors Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano) and Robert Iler (AJ Soprano) to peddle on behalf of Chevrolet. Watch the show (or re-watch it), not the commercial. And to David Chase: You don’t need the money, so why would you do it? To summarize this, I must quote Tom Waits (substitute “song” for “show” in the passage below):

“It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well.

When I was a kid, if I saw an artist I admired doing a commercial, I’d think, “Too bad, he must really need the money.” But now it’s so pervasive. It’s a virus. Artists are lining up to do ads. The money and exposure are too tantalizing for most artists to decline. Corporations are hoping to hijack a culture’s memories for their product. They want an artist’s audience, credibility, good will and all the energy the songs have gathered as well as given over the years. They suck the life and meaning from the songs and impregnate them with promises of a better life with their product.”

Imperioli, Michael and Shirripa, Steve. Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of the Sopranos. William Morrow, 2021.

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Remembering Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer, age 62, died this past week. He was a man who dedicated his life to improving health care for impoverished people in the world. He came to my attention watching CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend. I want to learn more about him and realized we have a book about him in our book club collection, Mountains Beyond Mountains, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder. It’s always been on my list of titles to read and I realize it’s time to move it to the top of the list. You may want to consider this selection for your book club’s next read.

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Friday Reads: Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

I first read Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake last winter with my kids, who both enjoy humor and talking animals (who doesn’t, right?). A story of an unlikely friendship, Badger and Skunk must learn to co-exist in Aunt Lula’s brownstone. Quiet Badger has lived contentedly alone, doing Important Rock Work, when a knock on the door heralds the arrival of his new roommate, Skunk. An arrival Badger would have foreseen had he checked his mail more often and read Aunt Lula’s letter informing him of her decision to invite Skunk into the house. Alas, he had not and the knock is an unpleasant surprise. Now Badger’s world is chaos: no quiet time for reflection and Important Rock Work, piles of dishes to scrub after Skunk cooks them both delicious meals, an errant potato left in the corner of the kitchen. And the chickens! It’s too much for one Badger to bear. Change is hard, but sometimes even the most stubborn of Badgers will realize that life is better with a good friend.

This book was reread this past week by my 11-year-old to present as a book report, and an Important Brownstone Diorama is in the works on our kitchen table. We both highly recommend this first book in the series, as a read-aloud if you are more like Skunk, or as a quiet read-alone if you are more Badger-like. We are currently awaiting the arrival of the sequel in the mail, which we check about as often as a certain Badger.

Timberlake, Amy. Skunk and Badger. ‎ Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Young Readers, 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday “Women Made Visible” by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda

 #BookFaceFriday, we see you!

Start your Women’s History Month with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Women Made Visible: Feminist Art and Media in Post-1968 Mexico City by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). One of the most prestigious academic presses in the country, the University of Nebraska Press sends us around 75 select titles per year, which are added to the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse, also known as the Nebraska State Documents Collection. This collection is comprised of publications issued by Nebraska state agencies, ensuring that state government information is available to a wide audience and that those valuable publications are preserved for future generations. University of Nebraska Press books, as well as all state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“Timely and necessary, Women Made Visible advances the field of Latin American, Chicanx, and Latinx art history.”

—Teresa Eckmann, Woman’s Art Journal

This week’s #BookFace was shot on location at the Nebraska Library Association‘s annual Library Advocacy Day. This event gives Nebraska librarians an opportunity to meet with their state legislators to showcase the outstanding work done in Nebraska libraries!

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

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#BookFaceFriday “Run, Hide, Fight Back” by April Henry

 This #BookFaceFriday isn’t for the faint of heart!

Run, don’t walk, to check out this week’s BookFace! It’s the teen thriller, “Run, Hide, Fight Back” by April Henry (Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 2019) and it’s available as an eBook and Audiobook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Kids & Teens collection. This title is a part of the “Best Children’s & Young Adult Books of 2021” curated collection compiled from various end-of-the-year lists. April Henry is a New York Times bestselling author; we have six of her books available for readers in OverDrive, and three titles in our Book Club Kits collection.

Two of her titles were also chosen in past years for the One Book for Nebraska Teens reading program, designed to get young adults across the state reading and discussing the same book. You can find the current and past selections for this free program (plus the companion One Book for Nebraska Kids program), along with activities and resources for each title on our One Book for Nebraska Kids/Teens page.

Well-done character development, even pacing, and the gripping premise will keep teens turning pages. VERDICT Purchase multiple copies of this timely thriller.

School Library Journal

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

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

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Friday Reads: Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook

From the Wizards of the Coast description of Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook, by Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Michael Witwer:

“80 recipes inspired by the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons – perfect for a solo quest or a feast shared with fellow adventurers.”

This cookbook “invites fantasy lovers to learn about their favorite fictional cultures through their unique cuisines and lifestyles. With this book, you can prepare dishes delicate enough to dine like elves and their drow cousins or hearty enough to feast like a dwarven clan or a boisterous orcish horde. All eighty dishes – developed by a professional chef from one of the country’s top test kitchens – are delicious, easy to prepare, and composed of wholesome ingredients readily found in our world.”

Being long-time D&D players, my husband and I just had to have this cookbook. Sometimes you take a risk with these themed books. But, in this case, it was worth it.

The book is divided into six sections. First there are the five Cuisines: Human, Elven, Dwarven, Halfling, and Uncommon, followed by the final chapter, Elixirs & Ales.

Each section begins with a deep dive into that particular culture. At the beginning of each individual recipe, there is a short explanation about it or suggestions on how to use it. The writers are D&D experts, and it shows. They really know how to pull you into the realms and the fare of each of these peoples.

The first recipe my husband tried was the Yawning Portal Buttermilk Biscuits. This was actually his first time ever making buttermilk biscuits. And they were a huge success! Very moist and with a great flavor.

So, the recipes in this cookbook are legitimately good. I can’t wait to try more!

Of course, anyone who has played D&D before will enjoy Heroes’ Feast. But, with all of the lore that’s included, it’s also a good introduction for those who are curious about this world. So, roll your D20, grab a plate, and dig in!

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Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022 is tomorrow!

Small libraries! Awesome ideas! FREE!

Join us tomorrow for the 2022 Big Talk From Small Libraries online conference. Registration is still open, so head over to the Registration page and sign up!

We have a full agenda for the day, with speakers from academic, school, and public libraries presenting on a wide variety of topics: managing staff conflicts, serving LGBTQ+ patrons and families, genrefying library collections, university research and citation support, genealogy and local history, and much more.

This event is a great opportunity to learn about the innovative things your colleagues are doing in their small libraries.

And, Nebraska library staff and board members can earn 1 hour of CE Credit for each hour of the conference you attend! A special Big Talk From Small Libraries CE Report form has been made available for you to submit your C.E. credits.

So, come join us for a day of big ideas from small libraries!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Furious Cool” by David Henry and Joe Henry

#BookFaceFriday celebrates Black History Month!

Laugh and cry with this week’s #BookFaceFriday,Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him” by David Henry and Joe Henry (Workman Publishing, 2013.) You can find this title in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries curated collection “Black Voices and Black History,” created to help users find great reads to celebrate Black History Month. Its 195 titles consist of literature, fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, and biographies.

“Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he’s likely to change you, too.” ―Gloria Steinem

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

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

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