Friday Reads: Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show

I miss the Las Vegas of old. The endless submersion in Kitch (perhaps only bested by the highly recommended House on the Rock), cheap eats and drinks, low stakes table games, cigarillo smoke, and copious amounts of prime opportunities for people watching. Much of this existed historically, or at least to a greater extent by comparison, Downtown. I remember the draw to Downtown, before the gaudy “Fremont Street Experience” was installed in 1995. Less walking for sure, not to mention a much better value. A place where you could traverse across 4 or 5 casinos in a matter of just a few minutes. Where you could play 25 cent craps at the Golden Gate or $1 tables at the Four Queens, California, Las Vegas Club, Union Plaza, or the Horseshoe. If you were highbrow, you went to the $5 tables at the Golden Nugget. The dice go cold? Pick up your cocktail and head next door. You had options. For hungry gamblers, a trip over to the El Cortez or Lady Luck always offered excellent value, just off the main drag, but it was always advisable on the walk back (especially at night), to never, under no circumstances ever, stop. Always keep moving. These days, unfortunately, on the main drag downtown, you have hustlers in outlandish costumes (or virtually no costume at all) hassling you every ten seconds under that Fremont Street canopy that reeks of Commercialism.

Out on the strip, you used to have classics such as the Aladdin, Dunes, Riviera, Sands, Sahara, and while the Tropicana is still there (technically), the Moai are unfortunately long gone. The Moai most likely were too large to move at 35 feet tall, made outta solid concrete, and weighing 300,000 pounds each (they should’ve just left them there). While the Aku Aku restaurant in Las Vegas closed before my time, I did visit the Stardust on numerous occasions before it was imploded in 2007. Nothing would beat a cocktail stop at Slots-A-Fun when strolling the strip on hot summer days. Always ice cold and always just 75 cents, purchased from the guy standing across from the open door, insulated by the blaring casino air conditioning. Now we have the godawful Margarita by the Yard, at the low low price of (roughly) $35. The quantity may be there, but the value and quality sure ain’t. The authorities did keep one Aku Aku Moai, from the restaurant at the Stardust, (smaller than the ones at the Tropicana) moving it to Sunset Park, so there is that I suppose. Some of the local old timers may remember the Aku Aku lounge in Lincoln, inside the Villager Motel on O Street. Swank at a level only matched by its obvious equal, The Brothers Johnson. Unfortunately, like almost every other good thing around, the establishment tore down the Villager. The Tropicana will soon be demolished to make way for a baseball stadium, as many other icons have likewise succumbed to destruction. Anti-depressants were undoubtedly popped by any rational person after the announcement that the Mirage was sold and its iconic volcano will (eventually) be torn out to make way for a guitar shaped hotel (the property is now operated by Hard Rock International). What is the matter with these people? We should be discussing restoration of these gems to what they once were, instead of demolishing them in favor of something “new” that lacks any ounce of character. While I’m on the subject, I’d add that in almost all cases, demo and rebuild is more expensive than renovate and restore. However, the architects, designers, and consultants (and the politicians being greased by them) don’t make as much money taking that train, which is why the conductors ain’t selling it.

This book is more than merely the story of the revival of Elvis Presley’s career by virtue of his 636 sold-out shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. It tells a much broader story of the other performers and the history of those performances in the city. The set-up leading to the resurgence of Elvis is a worthwhile read. Yes, there is much focus on the Rat Pack and other Vegas essentials such as Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Liberace, and Don Rickles (just to name a few), as well as the numerous all night long lounge acts. Takeaways: Most were great performers, but Frank Sinatra was a tyrant of legendary magnitude, directing his outbursts to almost all, but especially Sammy. The writing in this book is filled with all sorts of nuggets. As evidence, describing the comeback of Elvis, and the success of his first show, Zoglin summarizes:

“The show lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, and Elvis worked himself to a frazzle: pacing the stage like a panther, crouching, lunging, leaping, doing karate kicks and punches. He was audibly huffing and puffing after just a few minutes. He gulped water and Gatorade and mopped his sweat with towels handed to him by Charlie Hodge, or handkerchiefs and napkins tossed onstage by women in the audience.”

And, the downfall:

“His performances first began to be affected, by most accounts, during his August 1971 engagement. Elvis looked puffy and seemed listless onstage. His sets were rarely longer than forty-five minutes, and filled with so many fits and starts and distracting karate displays that some audience members actually walked out.”

Overall, Zoglin’s book is a formidable history of entertainment in the city of Las Vegas. Don’t be fooled by the title, it only partially describes the comeback (and downfall) of Elvis. In reality, it’s a much broader history of showbiz in Las Vegas, and the longing for those good ol’ days.

Zoglin, Richard. Elvis in Vegas. Simon & Shuster, 2019.

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Throwback Thursday: Col. Prebble and Army Staff

Happy #ThrowbackThursday from Nebraska Memories!

This 7” x 5” black and white formal photograph was taken in 1944. It shows the first commanding officer of the Sioux Army Depot, Colonel Prebble, along with his staff, which includes two women in uniform sitting in the front row. The Sioux Army Depot was established March 23, 1942 about seven miles west of Sidney, Nebraska. The depot was responsible for warehousing and distributing ammunition and general supplies. It was eventually deactivated on June 30, 1967.

This image is published and owned by the Cheyenne County Historical Society and Museum, located in Sidney, Nebraska. Their collection holds many historical photographs of people and places in Sidney, Fort Sidney, Potter, Dalton, and other communities and sites in the county.

See this collection and many more on the Nebraska Memories archive!

The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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“Abandoned Prayers” Now Available on BARD!

“Abandoned Prayers” by Gregg Olson is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. BARD is a service offered by the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

Eli Stutzman was born and raised in one of Ohio’s strictest Amish communities. But behind the peaceful facade was a quietly tormented rebel. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman abruptly severed his ties with the Amish. Taking his young son Danny with him, he embarked on a cross-country spree of compulsive pickups, rampant drug abuse and violence.

TBBS borrowers can request “Abandoned Prayers,” DBC01998, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

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Friday Reads & #BookFaceFriday – “Fourteen Days: A Collaborative Novel” by The Authors Guild

We’ve reached the point in our “post-pandemic world” (or as close as we have come to being post-anything) where it seems every book set in the current time period mentions COVID-19. For example, my two most recent juvenile fiction reads were set in mid-2020, when masks were common and the death toll still sky high (“Wrecker” by Carl Hiaasen, and “Invisible Son” by Kim Johnson). “Fourteen Days” by The Authors Guild (edited by Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston) takes place in New York City, in April 2020, just as it seems all hell has broken loose.

The new superintendent of the rundown Fernsby Arms apartment building finds herself responsible for maintaining a property with no way to procure supplies and no landlord to call for help; anyone with means has fled the city to hide from the novel coronavirus. With no cell reception in her basement apartment, she ventures onto the roof, where she encounters other residents looking for fresh air. A regular gathering of tenants begins, first to bang pots and pans at sundown to cheer the city’s essential workers, and then just for the socialization they are sorely lacking due to the lockdown. One by one, over the course of two weeks, the residents begin to share stories to entertain themselves. Virtually strangers before now, they find themselves bound together by both the current circumstances and by the (often tragic or bizarre) tales of how they came to reside in this dilapidated building.

I will admit that I was initially drawn to this book because they slapped Margaret Atwood’s name on the cover, but as you can see, she is only one of the well-known voices that contributed to this work. From the book description:

Includes writing from: Charlie Jane Anders, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Cassara, Jennine Capó Crucet, Angie Cruz, Pat Cummings, Sylvia Day, Emma Donoghue, Dave Eggers, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen, John Grisham, Maria Hinojosa, Mira Jacob, Erica Jong, CJ Lyons, Celeste Ng, Tommy Orange, Mary Pope Osborne, Douglas Preston, Alice Randall, Ishmael Reed, Roxana Robinson, Nelly Rosario, James Shapiro, Hampton Sides, R.L. Stine, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Monique Truong, Scott Turow, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rachel Vail, Weike Wang, Caroline Randall Williams, De’Shawn Charles Winslow, and Meg Wolitzer!”

The Authors Guild. (2024). Fourteen Days. Harper.

You can find “Fourteen Days: A Collaborative Novel” by The Authors Guild as both an eBook and Audiobook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 194 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,174 audiobooks, 36,611 ebooks, and 5,210 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? 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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Throwback Thursday: First British Edition “A Lantern in Her Hand” by Bess Streeter Aldrich

Its another #ThrowbackThursday!

“A Lantern in Her Hand” was written in 1928 by Bess Streeter Aldrich, one of Nebraska’s most widely read and enjoyed authors. Pictured here is the book cover and inside flap of the first British edition of the book. The inside cover has a brief description of the book and lists the price as “8s. 6d.”

This image is published and owned by the Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation. All items in their collection are on display at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House and the Bess Streeter Aldrich Museum in Elmwood, Nebraska.

See this collection and many more on the Nebraska Memories archive!

The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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E-rate Form 471 Deadline: Two weeks left to file for FY 2024

The deadline to submit the second form in the E-rate process, Form 471, for Funding Year 2024 is Wednesday, March 27. The application filing window for Form 471 opened on January 17.

However, we do not recommend waiting until the last day to submit your Form 471! If there are any issues that day, like the E-rate servers are slowed down because it is the last day to submit, or you can’t submit the form due to reasons on your end, such as illness, weather, power outage, etc., then you could miss the deadline and lose out on E-rate altogether.

So, log into your E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) account and submit your Form 471 as soon as you are allowed!

IMPORTANT: Before you file your Form 471, check your Form 470 Receipt Notification for your Allowable Contract Date – the first date you are allowed to submit your 471. Do not submit your 471 before that date! Remember, after you submit your Form 470, you must wait 28 days to submit your Form 471. You can find your Notification within the EPC portal in your News feed.

Do you need help completing your forms? Do you have questions about E-rate? You’re in luck!

Today’s E-rate News Brief has last-minute tips and links to instructional videos. USAC also conducted a series of webinars focused on E-Rate topics related to FCC Forms 470 and 471 – you can watch the recordings on the USAC Webinars webpage. To keep up on E-rate news, subscribe to the USAC E-rate News Brief.

USAC has a series of video tutorials on the FCC Form 471 at: https://www.usac.org/e-rate/learn/videos/#FCC-Form-471

And more recorded webinars, demos, and training materials are available on the NLC E-rate webpage.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your E-rate forms, please contact the State E-rate Coordinator for Public Libraries in Nebraska, Christa Porter, 800-307-2665, 402-471-3107.

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Book Club Spotlight – A Beautiful Poison

Cover for A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang. A triangular vile covered in yellow jewels against an art deco styled background

Happy Women’s History Month! This month we’ll be featuring incredible women authors, and today’s Book Club Spotlight is written by none other than the brilliant Lydia Kang, MD. Author of numerous Adult, Young Adult, Non-Fiction, and Star Wars novels, Kang, an internal medicine physician in Omaha, combines her passion for medicine and literature in her award-winning historical/medical mysteries. Her debut novel, A Beautiful Poison, takes place in New York City, where she studied medicine at Columbia University and the New York University School of Medicine. 

In the upper echelon of 1918 New York City, everyone has secrets. In a society stuck between the Gilded Age and the Jazz Age, Americans are gripped by war, and the looming influenza outbreak, while Allene is chasing after her past. A past where she, Jasper, and Birdie were together. And finally, when they are all together again, Florence Waxworth gets herself poisoned in the middle of Allene’s engagement party! As the murdered bodies continue to fall around them, their hot-headed group is the only one who can solve the mystery. Torn apart by their whims and desires, the trio must face the influenza, a killer, and each other to make it out alive. 

“It was a fresh new day, served with a glorious sunrise and of course Florence’s untimely death to solve.”

Lydia Kang

For mature teens or adult book club groups looking for fast-paced mysteries to keep you on your toes, and mixed with the incredible setting, A Beautiful Poison is a joy to experience and try to solve alongside the characters. As a former resident and student, Kang’s heart shows when describing New York City and specifically Bellevue Hospital, which features heavily in the novel and includes the real pioneers of forensic medicine as integral figures in solving the medical mystery. The characters of Allene, Jasper, and Birdie are complicated and compelling, as they try to mend a friendship and deep love that may be too far gone.

Related Readings:

Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum

If you’re interested in requesting A Beautiful Poison for your book club, you can find the Request Form here. There are 3 copies available. (A librarian must request items)

Kang, Lydia. A Beautiful Poison. Lake Union Publishing. 2017

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NCompass Live: Winning Grants for Your Library Programming

While every library is unique, they all seem to share one thing in common: they could use more money! Get tips for ‘Winning Grants for Your Library Programming’ on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, March 13, at 10am CT.

Grant funding might be the just thing to help buy technology for STEM programming, get a new service initiative off the ground, or complete a renovation. But applying for grants can be overwhelming – and that’s assuming you can even find one for which you qualify. This session aims to introduce you to the tools to make the grant application process more easily navigable. In this session, Kathryn will provide tips for putting your best foot forward when it comes time to submit your proposal. Handouts include a roadmap to success and descriptions of various sections of the application.

Presenter: Kathryn Brockmeier, Grant Consultant.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • March 20 – No More Summertime Blues: Shaking Up SRP to Make It Work for YOU!
  • March 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech: Computers in Libraries 2024 Highlights & Trends
  • April 3 – Improving the Quality of Childcare Through STREAM
  • April 10 – Program Planning with a Marketing Mindset

To register for an NCompass Live show, or to listen to recordings of past shows, 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 GoTo Webinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoTo Webinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Friday Reads: Tasting History by Max Miller

In February 2020, Max Miller posted his first Tasting History video to YouTube. A week later COVID-19 hit, and he was furloughed from his job. As the world entered the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, people went online, looking for entertainment, distraction, and connections. Tasting History was there. And the rest is, well, history.

Now, his viral video series has become a cookbook, Tasting History, Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes. Full disclosure: I haven’t cooked anything from this cookbook yet, I’ve just been enjoying reading through it so far.

We have been watching the Tasting History videos almost from the beginning, so when Max announced there would be a cookbook coming out, I knew we had to have it. And I was not disappointed.

The videos are a combination of recipe demo and history lesson, and that format has been carried over into the cookbook.

The book is arranged by geographic area: The Ancient World, The British Isles, Continental Europe, The Near & Far East, and The New World. Within each section the recipes are from oldest to newest. The oldest being Stew of Lamb, from Babylon, c. 1740 BC. The most recent recipes are both from 1914: Simnel Cake from England and Pecan Pie from Texas. Each recipe includes a few paragraphs about the history of the dish and the area of the world it originates from.

Since many old recipes do not provide precise measurements, or ingredients that we may recognize or have access to today, Max has re-created them as best as he can, based on his own cooking and historical knowledge. If you watch his videos, he does taste each dish, and he doesn’t always like them. But, that’s part of the fun and experimentation.

I think Tasting History, both the cookbook and the video series, is perfect for foodies, history buffs, or foodie history buffs. Max is still making videos, and I look forward to watching the new ones every week. A fun tip: he is a big Pokemon fan, and there is always a figure or plush in the background of each video that relates to the dish he is making. See if you can find them all!

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#BookFaceFriday “No Summit Out of Sight” by Jordan Romero

Off we go, into the wild blue #BookFaceFriday!

Get ready to climb every mountain with this week’s #BookfaceFriday,”No Summit Out of Sight: the True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits” by Jordan Romero (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014)!

This title is available as a book club kit, and fits right into the theme of the the 2024 Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP): “Adventure Begins at Your Library.” You can find even more tales of adventure and survival by choosing that genre in the drop-down menu on our Book Club Kit page – just right for those young readers looking for a vicarious thrill!

Our Youth Services Librarian, Sally Snyder, has been traveling all across Nebraska in recent weeks presenting Summer Reading Program (SRP) workshops for librarians. Didn’t make it to a workshop? Check out Sally’s NCompass Live: Summer Reading Program 2024: Adventure Begins at Your Library and learn about nature- and adventure-themed books perfect for your library’s SRP.

“The emotional pitch of the story remains high as Romero contends with extreme weather, frustration, exhaustion, and homesickness to reach, with almost palpable exhilaration, each peak.”

—Publishers Weekly

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

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. 194 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,174 audiobooks, 36,611 ebooks, and 5,210 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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Throwback Thursday: Immanuel Deaconess Institute Greenhouse and Garden

Hey #ThrowbackThursday, spring is just around the corner!

This week we have a 5.5” x 3.5” colortone postcard from 1937 picturing the beautiful greenhouse and garden area of the Immanuel Deaconess Institute campus located in Omaha, Nebraska. The Nazareth Home, which can be seen on the right, was the original hospital and was renamed when the Immanuel Hospital was built.

This image is published and owned by the Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center, located in Bellevue, Nebraska. They have a mission to preserve, collect, display, and document objects and records related to the history of Sarpy County.

See this collection and many more on the Nebraska Memories archive!

The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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NewsBank Trial Access Through April 6, 2024

NewsBank is a web-based subscription service that offers library access to current and archival content from newspapers, newswires, transcripts, and other publications. They have agreed to offer Nebraska librarians trial access to the following resources that they market to K12 libraries:

Trial access instructions, including product login URLs and a temporary username and password, were distributed via a March 6, 2024 message to the TRIAL mailing list. Nebraska librarians who didn’t receive this information or who would like to have it sent to them again can email Susan Knisely

Note: If you are a Nebraska librarian and you’d like to receive future database trial announcements directly in your email inbox, please make sure you are signed up for the Nebraska Library Commission’s TRIAL mailing list.

This trial runs through April 6, 2024.

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United for Libraries Learning Live: Media and Crisis Communications for Trustees & Friends

All Nebraska public libraries are members of United for Libraries through the Statewide Group Membership purchased by the Nebraska Library Commission. The Commission provides this membership to ensure that public library staff members, Friends, Trustees, and Foundations can take advantage of United for Libraries’ services to enhance fundraising, advocacy, and public awareness.

United for Libraries Learning Live: Media and Crisis Communications for Trustees & Friends

Tuesday, March 12, 1:00 PM (CST)

“Is your library’s Board of Trustees and/or Friends of the Library group prepared for a crisis? How can you support your library’s communications policies and procedures? This session, presented by longtime senior communications and marketing executive Kathleen McEvoy, will go over how to develop a solid communication plan, what to know about working with the media, tips on communicating the library’s value, how to respond to inquiries about book bans/censorship, and more. This program will offer tips for board members and Friends, as well as those who work with them.”

Registration and Details

Statewide Group Members receive FREE registration for the live webinars and on-demand access for the duration of the active statewide group membership. These “Learning Live” sessions are recorded and can be accessed through the United for Libraries eLearning course.

For more information about previous sessions, please visit: Previous “Learning Live” Sessions

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New Book Available on BARD!

“A Rose is a Rose” by Ruth Richert Jones is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. BARD is a service offered by the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

Kelley stopped believing in God when she stopped believing in Santa Claus. And she’s managed just fine without Him. She has a good career, a handsome man who wants to marry her, and now an exciting trip to England to fill her life. But suddenly everything falls apart. She meets Ian Stewart in England, and she begins to question her feelings for Charles, the man waiting for her in America. Shadows surround Ian, though, and Kelley is afraid to trust him. As the days go by, she realizes that either Ian or Charles is involved in the theft of a valuable microchip. One of the men who loves her is a thief. What’s more, the authorities suspect that Kelley was also involved in the robbery. Kelly is in danger of losing her career, her good name, maybe even her life. Where can she turn of help, when she doesn’t know whom she can trust? But, Kelley’s great aunt promises Jesus is a Friend one can always trust, for He never fails. What would it be like, Kelley wonders, to have a Friend like that?

TBBS borrowers can request “A Rose is a Rose,” DBC01994, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

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Big Talk From Small Libraries Presentation Rescheduled

Good News! We have a new date for the Big Talk From Small Libraries 2024 presentation that was canceled at the last minute, “No More Summertime Blues: Shaking Up SRP to Make It Work For YOU!”.

Chelsea Price has graciously agreed to do their presentation on March 20 on NCompass Live from 10-11am Central Time. This is the Nebraska Library Commission’s weekly webinar series. The presentation will be recorded if you are unable to watch it at the scheduled time.

This was one of the 10 minute Lightning Round sessions for the conference, but will be expanded to fit the longer, hour-long, NCompass Live format.

You can register for this new date at No More Summertime Blues: Shaking Up SRP to Make It Work For YOU!.

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Friday Reads: The  Misfits: A Royal Conundrum by Lisa Yee 

Olive Zang (almost 12) doesn’t really fit in – at school, with friends (what friends?) or even with her mom and dad. They are always gone on a trip for work, and seem to not really notice her.  This time, before they leave again, they put her in a boarding school located on an island in San Francisco Bay.     

Once she arrives at RASCH (Reforming Arts School) she undergoes an unusual set of tasks as an aptitude test for placement in the school.  Once placed with Pod 101 she is surprised at how quickly the group of five bonds.  They are hastily put into training to prepare them to be a contributing group for a secret crime fighting organization.  Soon the very existence of the school (the first one where Olive feels connected and appreciated) is on the line, can The Misfits (her group) help capture a jewel thief?  Will they help or hinder the effort?     

As Kirkus says, “A fantastical blend of quirky characters and goofy adventures.” (11/1/23) Includes occasional black and white drawings by Dan Santat. This is the first book of a new series aimed at grades 3-6 or so.

Yee, Lisa. The  Misfits: A Royal Conundrum. Random House, 2024.  

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#BookFaceFriday “Among the Bros” by Max Marshall

Dude, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

No cap, bro – this really happened! Fans of true crime and nonfiction storytelling are in for a wild ride

in this week’s #BookFaceAmong the Bros: A Fraternity Crime Story” by Max Marshall (HarperAudio, 2023.) This title is available as an audiobook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! This week’s title fits into several different subject genres in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries including True Crime, Sociology, Autobiography & Biography, and Nonfiction. Depending on what you have a penchant for, you can search the entire digital collection by subject, whether it’s as broad as Nonfiction, or as niche as True Crime.

“Through chilling, candid conversations with his sources, Marshall convincingly illustrates how these young men allowed greed to wreck their lives. The result is a fast-paced and frightening campus crime saga.”

—Publishers Weekly

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. 194 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,174 audiobooks, 36,611 ebooks, and 5,210 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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Throwback Thursday: Banking House of A.W. Clarke 1909 Calendar Plate

It’s a #ThrowbackThursday leap year!

While 1909 was not a leap year, this calendar plate was likely created in the year prior 1908 which was a leap year. This decorative plate was given to customers of the Banking House of A.W. Clarke, which was the first bank in Papillion, Nebraska. The printing at the bottom of the plate reads “Compliments of Banking House of A.W. Clarke; Papillion, Nebr.”

This image is published and owned by the Sarpy County Historical Museum, located in Bellevue, Nebraska. They have a mission to preserve, collect, display, and document objects and records related to the history of Sarpy County.

See this collection and many more on the Nebraska Memories archive!

The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Book Club Spotlight – Hector’s Bliss

A unique aspect of our Book Club Collection here at the Commission is our focus on Nebraska authors, settings, and stories, housing the hidden gems of Nebraska literature and history! Today’s pick for the Book Club Spotlight, in particular, focuses on a relatively unknown part of Nebraska’s Black History. While we know the story of white pioneers and homesteaders, there was also the incredible journey of formerly enslaved people who became landowners, farmers, and a community in the Sandhills. Hector’s Bliss: Black Homesteaders at Goose Lake, Nebraska, by Dennis Vossberg, is a historical fiction novel based on the incredible history of Black Homesteaders, who, under false pretenses, persevered in the harsh farmland until drought and the Dust Bowl overcame the whole region.

In the late 1800s, at the height of legalized racial segregation, just south of O’Neil, Nebraska, there was the short-lived story of Bliss, and the Black community members who called it home. During the economic downturn caused by the end of the Civil War, the newly freed people were looking for a reliable place to land. As newly married Hector and Julia Dixon were floundering in a small mining town, land promoters arrived, falsely promising flourishing farmland and untapped coal veins awaited them in the far reaches of the Nebraska Sandhills. The Dixons and 13 other families unknowingly move to the desert-like plains to start anew. Besought by harsh conditions, poverty, and rural isolation, their community works hard to create a solid foundation for the future despite the conditions. As one of the more educated residents, Hector Dixon finds himself wearing many hats in Bliss, as a farmer, the integrated school’s teacher, the justice of the peace, and eventually a milk road delivery man, all to support his growing and tenacious family. Striving to find a balance between the life his children dream of and the one he has worked so hard to build.

He took a lingering gaze over the peaceful countryside, thinking of how transient were the human inhabitants of this land, and how triumphantly enduring was the land itself

Dennis Vossberg

Hector’s Bliss is a moving historical fiction crafted with love and respect for the subjects, and Book Club Groups will find value in learning about this little-known Nebraska history. They may even be encouraged to learn more. Covered in the Nebraska Public Media story, “Looking for Bliss,” the story of the Dixons and Bliss is virtually unknown. Hector’s Bliss brings to light Black history that has been erased from cultural memory, revealing a more full and beautiful world. We won’t really ever know how the Black Homesteaders were treated by their white compatriots as those details have been lost to time. So, while prejudice and racism are addressed, Vossberg chooses to focus the limited peril on the indomitable human spirit and the life these people worked to build after slavery. 

If you’re interested in requesting Hector’s Bliss for your book club, you can find the Request Form here. There are 4 copies available. (A librarian must request items)

Vossberg, Dennis. Hector’s Bliss. Morris Publishing. 2006

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech: Evolve Project: Shaping the Libraries of the Future

Brian Pichman of the Evolve Project will be Amanda’s guest on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, February 28, at 10am CT.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Brian Pichman of the Evolve Project is the man behind the scenes, transforming how libraries engage with technology. Here at the Commission, he helped a lot with the Tech Kits Through the Mail. If you’ve gotten a kit from us, it’s because he tracks tech trends, works with tech gadget startups, and helps build solid strategies to connect communities with transformative technology.

Honestly, he’s helped me a lot over the years. But I can’t be selfish. I decided to share his expertise with you all! Turns out Brian does way more than I ever knew possible.

In this session we will get Brian talking about all the cool things he has going on:

  • Explore how his pilot programs of new games & gadgets are shaping the future of libraries through makerspaces, innovation spaces, and leading edge programming
  • Learn how Brian helps libraries embrace AI, VR and AR to revolutionize library services and enhance accessibility and engagement for all.
  • Discover his passion for open-source solutions to drive positive change, and his recent endeavors with ByWater Solutions, a leading provider of open-source library software.
  • Dig into his work with libchalk, a web hosting platform designed specifically to help libraries host digital content, websites, courses, and online resource libraries.

The real question is, what doesn’t he do? He can help your library too. Find out how.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • March 13 – Winning Grants for Your Library Programming
  • March 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • April 3 – Improving the Quality of Childcare Through STREAM

To register for an NCompass Live show, or to listen to recordings of past shows, 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 GoTo Webinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoTo Webinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

Posted in Education & Training, Pretty Sweet Tech, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment