Friday Reads – “Says Who?” by Anne Curzan

Sometimes I reserve books from my public library and by the time they become available, I have completely forgotten why I was interested. One such book was Anne Curzan’s “Says Who? A Kinder, Funner Usage Guide for Everyone Who Cares About Words.” It fell to the bottom of my library bag and I almost returned it unopened. Fortunately, I decided to skim the introduction and held onto it, and I’m so glad I did.

Curzan’s new book discusses the various linguistic pet peeves she is regularly questioned about as an English professor, radio show host, and member of the Usage Panel for the American Heritage Dictionary. (Did you know this was a thing? It’s quite the who’s who of the “Masters of the English Language.” Go check out the list – I’ll wait!)

Each chapter dives into a common complaint or point of confusion about the use of a word, part of speech, or punctuation, and how the grammar rules most of us learned in school came to be (spoiler alert – it was usually just one guy’s opinion). Curzan also talks about the evolution of common word usage, and the acceptance of those changes into standard usage over time.

Some of my favorite examples Curzan presents include:

  • Mark Twain using the adverb “literally” in a way that would make most English teachers want to literally throw their copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the wall (and Louisa May Alcott does it as well!) (p. 69);
  • The incongruity behind why few people notice when the * symbol is pronounced “asteriks” (instead of “asterisk”) but many are agitated when they hear “aks” in place of “ask“. In fact, William Chaucer used both “ask” and “axe” interchangeably in his writing – neither are incorrect, just examples of dialectal differences (p. 92).
  • “They” has functioned as a singular gender-neutral pronoun for at least 8 centuries – Shakespeare used it, as did Jane Austen (p. 144).

Through the book, Curzan challenges the reader to step back from their inner “grammando” (a long-overdue replacement for “grammar Nazi”) and embrace their inner “wordie”- to be curious, not judgy, and find joy in the ever-changing English language and its many dialects and variations.

Curzan, Anne. (2024). Says Who? Crown.

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Throwback Thursday: Epworth Lake Park

Hope you’re keeping cool this #ThrowbackThursday!

This 14 x 9 cm color postcard shows a view of Epworth Lake Park in Lincoln, Nebraska from around 1901-1907.  In the lake are people in a row boat near a dock and wooden house to the right. The lake is surrounded by trees and other buildings are seen beyond the trees. The name Epworth is misspelled on the card as “Epsworth Lake Park, Lincoln, Nebr.”

The Epworth Association was formed in 1897 with ties to the Methodist Church and patterned after the program and meeting grounds at Lake Chautauqua, New York. A large area southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska, along Salt Creek was purchased and Epworth Lake was dredged near its center and filled by the creek. Buildings erected included a dormitory, hotel, four restaurants, post office, an amphitheater seating 500, and a huge, roofed, open-sided amphitheater which seated between 2,500 and 3,000 people. Many small cabins and 857 wooden, raised tent bases were also built to accommodate vacationing families. The park could provide accommodations for 2,500 and by 1910-11 it was in full swing. The Burlington Railroad built a spur line from Lincoln to the park offering summer specials. Because evening programs and Chautauqua were popular, it was common for 25 railroad cars to wait outside the gates to return attendees to Lincoln after the shows. Daily admission was 25 cents or an 8-day pass for $1. Speakers included Booker T. Washington, Enrico Caruso, Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, and Howard Taft. During the summer daily attendance ran from 2,000 – 2,500. With the advent of the automobile and the ability of city dwellers to go anywhere, in 1930, only 13,682 admissions were recorded for the entire year. In 1935 torrential rains nearly destroyed the camp grounds and in 1940 the Epworth League moved its programs to Bethany Park. In about 1966 the land was willed to the City of Lincoln and became Wilderness Park.

— McKee, James L. “Remember When: Memories of Lincoln”. Lincoln: J & L Lee Co., 1998, p. 17.

This image is published and owned by the Omaha Public Library. They have a large collection of 1,100+ postcards and photographs of the Omaha area.

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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Fern V. Heim Trustee Scholarship: Applications Open!

Apply for an individual $500 scholarship to attend either the NLA 2024 Conference in Kearney on October 9th-11th or to the ARSL 2024 Conference in Springfield, MA on September 11th-14th!

The Fern V. Heim Scholarship for Trustees was established by her friend, Mary Louise Dutcher, to honor Fern’s dedication to small public libraries and their trustees. Although Fern’s library career began in special libraries (Head of the UNL Chemistry Department Library, Serials and Circulation Departments of UNL Love Library, and then Director of the Research Library at Goodrich Tire and Rubber in Akron, Ohio), her work at the Nebraska Library Commission was devoted to public libraries. Recognizing that few small library budgets could provide support for librarians, let alone their volunteer trustees, to attend professional meetings, she encouraged them to go whenever possible (at their own expense) if only for a portion of the meeting. As her legacy, it is fitting to assist those trustees through this scholarship program.

The Fern V. Heim Scholarship Award was established to provide assistance to current public library trustees with preference to members of the Nebraska Library Association Public Library and Trustee Section (PLTS) for attendance at the Nebraska Library Association Conference or the Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference.

Applications due by August 16, 2024!

For more details and application:

Please submit all grant application forms and questions to:
Holli Duggan

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Nebraska Book Now Available on BARD!

The “Catfish at the Pump” by Roger L. Welsch, with Linda K. Welsch, 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.

Were our forefathers liars? “You bet they were,” says Roger Welsch, “and damned fine ones at that.” The proof is in “Catfish at the Pump”, a collection of the kind of humor that softened the hardships of pioneering on the Great Plains. From yellowed newspapers, magazines, and forgotten Nebraska Federal Writers’ Project files, the well-known folklorist and humorist Roger Welsch has produced a book to be treasured. Here are jokes, anecdotes, legends, tall tales, and lugubriously funny poems about the things that preoccupied the pioneer plainsman: weather extremes; soil quality; food and whiskey; an arkload of animals, including grasshoppers, bed bugs, hoop snakes, the ubiquitous mule, and some mighty big fish; and even sickness and the poverty that would inspire black laughter again in the Great Depression.

“The book is more than a collection of good tales and jokes; it is, in fact, a serious study about humor. . . . well documented and well written.”

Nebraska History

TBBS borrowers can request the “Catfish at the Pump,” DCB02038 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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Visit the Tech Playground @ALA

If you’re going to ALA in San Diego this week, visit our Tech Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet at the Tech Test Pilot Playground in the Exhibit area. Get some hands-on exploration to test out robots, AI, and all that techy goodness. This is a collaboration between Amanda and Brian Pichman from the Evolve Project. It’s time to play!

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech: Geocaching Summer Adventures: Librarians Gone Wild

Dig into the wonderful world of geocaching to send kids, teens and adults on treasure hunts on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, June 26 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.

This session will help you dig into the wonderful world of geocaching to send kids, teens and adults on treasure hunts! You don’t even have to hide the things yourself because the Geocaching community has already hidden little trinkets and treasures all over the world. Though you can add more stuff to the shared treasure map if you’re so inclined.

Learn how to leverage existing resources to get a geocaching adventure up and running for free or low cost using geocaching.com and the associated app on your smartphone, with the option to go all out and build a custom, themed geocaching adventure for your community. By the end of this session you will have:

  • Guide to set up geocaching adventures for all ages
  • Complementary summer reading, STEM & STEAM activities for kids
  • Complementary material displays, STEM & STEAM activities for teens & adults
  • Known geocaching trails across Nebraska & beyond

While the examples are from Nebraska, geocaching adventures are for everyone, everywhere!

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • July 3 – Helping Students Be Google Aware
  • July 17 – Think Outside the Box: Transformative Training with Breakout Challenges
  • Aug. 14 – Operating a Culture of Belonging: Personal Librarian 2.0

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: ‘Bookshops & Bonedust’ by Travis Baldree

High fantasy, first loves, and secondhand books.

Bookshops & Bonedust is a prequel to Legends & Lattes, which was a previous NLC Friday Reads.

Both of these cozy, fantasy novels follow Viv, an orc barbarian, as she has not your typical barbarian adventures. Although, her barbarian skills do play a part, just in more unusual ways.

In this novel, Viv’s leg has been injured too badly to continue questing with her group of mercenaries, so she must take a break to heal up and recuperate. She is left behind in Murk, a quaint ocean town. At first, she is understandably angry and frustrated about her situation.

But, Murk isn’t as sleepy and boring as she assumes. Viv befriends the owner of a bookshop, helping her revive her struggling business, and falls in love with reading in the process. Perhaps this plants the seeds of what happens when Viv decides to retire from adventuring in Legends & Lattes?

But it’s not just a relaxing break for Viv. There’s the mystery of a necromancer, skeletons popping up everywhere, and a summer romance. Readers of Legends & Lattes will enjoy learning more about the history of Viv’s sword and her future friendships.

If you enjoyed Legends & Lattes, as I did, you will definitely feel the same about Bookshops & Bonedust. I hope the author has more stories about Viv to tell. I’d love to learn more about her past adventuring days or her life after settling down.

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#BookFaceFriday “Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds

This #BookFaceFriday will really push your buttons!

This week’s #BookFace, “Long Way Down” by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds, is a Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

This electric YA novel is available as a part of our Book Club Kit collection, along with five other books written by Jason Reynolds.

“Spanning a mere one minute and seven seconds, Reynolds’ new free-verse novel is an intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger. Reynolds’ concise verses echo like shots against the white space of the page, their impact resounding. He peels back the individual stories that led to this moment in the elevator and exposes a culture inured to violence because poverty, gang life, or injustice has left them with no other option. In this all too real portrait of survival, Reynolds goes toe-to-toe with where, or even if, love and choice are allowed to exist.”

Booklist, 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

This title is also available as an Audiobook through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. You can find ten other books by Jason Reynolds in our Kids and Teens collection! 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 26,898 audiobooks, 36,794 ebooks, and 5,133 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: Welcome Sign, Crawford NE

Take some time to enjoy the great outdoors this #ThrowbackThursday!

This 4″ x 6″ black and white postcard shows the now-famous sign that was erected at the entry of Pinney Ranch along White River in Dawes County. It reads, “Notice: Hunt and Fish all you Damn please! When the bell rings come to dinner. B.G. Pinney, First Erected in 1887.” Just below the sign the postcard reads “Greetings from Crawford, Nebr.” The ranch was owned by Bailey G. (“BG”) Pinney from 1864-1938.

This image is published by the Crawford Public Library, and owned by the Crawford Historical Society and Museum. They partnered together to digitize a number of images of the Crawford area in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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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United for Libraries Virtual 2024: Statewide Registration

2024 United for Libraries Virtual: Trustees, Friends, Foundations

Tuesday July 30 – Thursday, August 1

Congratulations! The Nebraska Library Commission has purchased statewide registration! All library directors/staff, Trustees/board members, and Friends of the Library and Foundation representatives receive FREE live registration and/or on-demand viewing – a value of $149 per person. 

Registration includes live attendance and on-demand access to three full days of programming, keynote featuring author Eric Klinenberg, and the virtual Gala Author Tea. Individuals may attend any/all sessions live and/or watch on-demand.

This interactive three-day virtual event will feature expert speakers on current topics facing library Trustees, Friends, Foundations, and staff who work with them.

  • Participate in live Q&A sessions with presenters
  • Enjoy exclusive access to keynote speakers and authors
  • Receive a certificate of attendance (for live participation or on-demand viewing)

Programming runs from 10:00 am CST to approximately 3:00 pm CST daily with scheduled breaks. Registrants may participate in some or all program sessions live, and/or watch recordings on-demand.

Sessions include:

Tuesday, July 30th – Trustee Day

  • “Rising to the Challenge: The Trustee’s Role in the ‘Culture Wars'”
  • “Securing Tomorrow: Effective Succession Strategies for Library Boards”
  • “Valuing Your Library: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis”

Wednesday, July 31st – Foundations & Fundraising Day

  • “Donor Engagement: Acquiring and Inspiring Committed and Faithful Supporters”
  • “Enhancing the Story – Developing a Smaller-Scale Capital Projects Fundraising Campaign”
  • “Fundraising Tips and Tricks: Some Novel Ideas”
  • “Marketing is the Future: How to Build a More Sustainable Library Foundation Model by Integrating Marketing in the Organizational Culture, Strategy, and Practice”

Thursday, August 1st – Friends Day

  • “An Extravaganza of Literary Events for Your Library”
  • “Championing Library Freedom: How Friends Groups Can Fight Back When Our Library is Under Attack”
  • “Libraries are Better with Friends: How to Foster a Strong Group of Advocates”
  • “Smooth Sailing with Library Trustees and Staff”

Registration Options

Choose *one* of the following options below to register for the virtual conference:

  • ALA eLearning Website
  • Statewide Free Registration Form
  • Email United for Libraries
    • Email united@ala.org
    • Include your full name, email address, library, and primary library role
    • Allow one business day for registration
  • Bulk Registration
    • Library Directors may email united@ala.org
    • Include full names, email addresses, and primary library roles for each individual to register
    • Allow two business days for registration.

If you have any questions, please contact Holli Duggan.

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Book Club Spotlight – Funny Boy

Cover for Funny boy by Shyam Selvadurai. A Young Sri Lankan Boy in a bridal veil looks pensively over a background of burning palm trees.

June 28th will be the 54th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Although we have come so far in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to remember our history and those who came before us as we celebrate Pride Month. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai is a historical fiction novel taking place in Colombo, Sri Lanka when the Tamil diaspora was the target of racism and violence leading to the Black July pogroms and the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983 to 2009). Funny Boy is a work of courage in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Sri Lanka, that author Selvadurai faced before he emigrated to Canada to escape persecution. His novel portrays love and humanity in a time of violence, and was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction and the Books in Canada First Novel Award.

In the politically strife 70s and 80s Sri Lanka, a young boy must come to himself in his queerness as political and ethnic tensions threaten him and his affluent Tamil family. Though he is not aware of it himself, Arjie’s supposed homosexuality labels him as “funny” when he shows his feminine side and dreams often about the romance of true love. When he meets soon-to-be bride Radha Aunty, Arjie’s perception of love shifts as she falls for a Sinhalese man and their relationship threatens the family. As he matures, Arjie also falls for a Sinhalese boy and has to look past the shame to find himself as the ambivalent world violently crashes around them.

“For how could loving Shehan be bad? Yet if my parents or anybody else discovered this love, I would be in terrible trouble”

Shyam Selvadurai

This coming-of-age novel reminds us that the personal is political, and even in these war-torn and horrifying situations, queer people and love still exist and persevere. Like recent spotlight, Pachinko, Funny Boy follows international history and how it affects everyday people. Book Groups can discuss and learn Sri Lankan history and the story of human perseverance in the face of deadly circumstances, as well as the many themes and critiques of racism, class, gender discrimination, patriarchal structures, and, of course, homophobia. Selvadurai has had a lasting impact as a post-colonial author, with not only Funny Boy having both radio drama and movie adaptations but also having a species of spider named after him by Sri Lankan researchers (Brignolia shyami) which he expressed gratitude for the recognition from his homeland and for his work for reconciliation.

For more information on the history of Sri Lanka, the Civil War, and Tamil persecution:

To see more of our LGBT+ & Queer book club titles, visit the link here.

If you’re interested in requesting Funny Boy for your book club, you can find the Request Form here. There are 10 copies available. (A librarian must request items)

Selvadurai, Shyam. Funny Boy. McClelland and Stewart. 1994

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Public Library Accreditation 2024 Workshop Recording now available

The recording of the Nebraska Library Commission’s ‘Public Library Accreditation 2024’ online workshop is now available on the Accreditation webpage.

The purpose of Nebraska Public Library Accreditation is to encourage excellent library service in Nebraska communities. The guidelines used to evaluate libraries and their services are community-based, so libraries need to know their communities’ needs in order to provide appropriate library services that meet those unique needs. That’s where Community Needs Response Planning comes in!

In this workshop, Christa Porter, NLC’s Library Development Director, will answer all of your accreditation questions, such as:

  • What is Nebraska Public Library Accreditation?
  • What are the benefits of accreditation?
  • How does my library become accredited?
  • What’s a Community Needs Response Plan? And why does my library need one?

Public Library Directors, Staff, and Library Board Members are encouraged to attend.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your Accreditation or Community Needs Planning, please contact Christa Porter, 800-307-2665, 402-471-3107.

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Is Your Public Library the ‘Best Small Library in America’?

Calling all libraries serving communities of 25,000 or less!

Library Journal is now accepting applications for the Best Small Library in America Award, made possible by Ingram. Library Journal‘s annual award for the Best Small Library in America was founded in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of these libraries. It honors the U.S. public library that most profoundly demonstrates outstanding service to populations of 25,000 or less.

The deadline to nominate your library is June 26, 2024.

This is an amazing opportunity to show off your great rural or small library. Anyone can nominate a library – the library administration itself, patrons, members of the community, library peers, etc.

Judges want to hear about how, in the last two years, you have raised the profile of the library in your community, reached out to new users and remote users, impacted literacy in the community, and used technology to support and grow patron access to materials and information. Share your innovative approaches to traditional problems, including seemingly small fixes that work, and specific innovations that can be readily adopted by other libraries of all sizes.

The winner will be presented at the 2024 Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference, September 11-14, 2024 in Springfield, MA, and will have the opportunity to speak there.

The winning library will receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalist libraries will receive $1,000 each. All three will be featured in the September 2024 issue of Library Journal and online.

Nominate your favorite Nebraska library today! Learn more about the guidelines and submit your nomination on the Best Small Library in America Award website.

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ARSL 2024 Early Bird Conference Registration is NOW OPEN!

Registration for both in-person and virtual attendance at the 2024 Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference is open!

The in-person 2024 ARSL Conference will be held at the MassMutual Center, Springfield, Massachusetts, from September 11-14, 2024.

This year’s conference theme is “Libraries are (r)Evolutionary.” Our conference provides an opportunity to explore the transformative power of rural and small libraries in our communities. Like chrysalises of change, these libraries nurture revolutionary ideas and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our patrons. Let’s embrace the (r)Evolutionary spirit of libraries and inspire each other.

Early Bird pricing for in-person attendance will be available through July 16.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit the 2024 Conference Homepage.


ARSL Member Rates

  • Base Conference Attendance
    Early Bird – $295
    Regular – $380
    On-site – $380 + $25 admin fee
  • Preconference Workshops**
    3-Hour Workshops – $60
    4-Hour Workshops – $75
    7-Hour Workshop – $160
  • Virtual Attendance
    $55

Student, Advocate & Retiree Rates*

  • Base Conference Attendance
    Early Bird – $250
    Regular – $290
    On-site – $290 + $25 admin fee
  • Preconference Workshops**
    3-Hour Workshops – $60
    4-Hour Workshops – $75
    7-Hour Workshop – $160
  • Virtual Attendance
    $30

Nonmember Rates

  • Base Conference Attendance
    Early Bird – $390
    Regular – $460
    On-site – $460 + $25 admin fee
  • Preconference Workshops**
    3-Hour Workshops – $85
    4-Hour Workshops – $100
    7-Hour Workshop – $205
  • Virtual Attendance
    $80

*Must be an ARSL Advocate, Student, or Retiree member. **Preconference Workshop fees are charged in addition to Base Conference Registration and are available for in-person conference attendees only.

Posted in Education & Training, Information Resources, Library Management, Programming, Public Library Boards of Trustees, Public Relations, Technology, Youth Services | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice” by Elle Cosimano

Feel the wind in your hair with #BookFaceFriday!

You know what every good road trip needs? A great read, like this week’s #BookFace, “Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice: A Novel” by Elle Cosimano (‎ Minotaur Books, 2024.) The fourth book in Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series, it’s available for checkout as an eBook and as an Audiobook from Nebraska Overdrive Libraries, along with the first three books in the series. This oddball adventure, featuring themes of friendship, motherhood, and complicated relationships keeps Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero’s story rolling.

“Cosimano’s fourth Finlay Donovan novel is brilliantly plotted, bringing the witty humor and thrilling, nail-biting action the series is known for while also tackling emotional family dynamics. Cosimano knocks this one out of the park. Highly recommended for all fans of the series.”

— Booklist (starred review)

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 26,898 audiobooks, 36,794 ebooks, and 5,133 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: “Orris and Timble: The Beginning” by Kate DiCamillo

Book 1 in a new series, Orris, a rat, lived in an abandoned barn.  He was happy there. One of his prized possessions was an old sardine can.  It had a picture of a sardine king on the can, and the king said, “Make the good and noble choice.”  He contemplated this advice regularly.

One evening Orris hears a horrible screech and a cry for help.  Orris looked out from his nest to see a young owl caught in a mousetrap.  The rat is not planning on helping his natural enemy until he recalls the sardine king’s advice.  Slowly he moves towards the owl, asking him to stand completely still.  Next to the talons, Orris pulls on the metal of the trap and tells the owl to move.  When the owl is free, Orris is terrified and cowers, then creeps slowly to his nest. 

But, rather than prey, the owl, Timble, thinks of Orris as a friend.  Orris tells Timble the fable of The Lion and the Mouse.  Soon they plan to meet every evening for more stories. 

A marvelous introduction to the two main characters and the wonder of storytelling. “Make the good and noble choice” could show up again in future titles of the series. 

This is an early chapter book aimed at readers who are ready for something longer than a beginning reader but not ready for a full-fledged novel, though many readers will enjoy it.

Orris and Timble: The Beginning, by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, 2024.

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Throwback Thursday: Linotype NPG

We’re back with another #ThrowbackThursday!

This 8” x 10” glass plate negative was taken in June of 1915, as shown by the calendar in the back of the room advertising the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln. The negative shows off a wooden room with two linotype machines, one currently in use.

This image is published and owned by Townsend Studio, which has been in continuous operation since its foundation in 1888 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The studio holds a collection of glass plate and acetate negatives of early Lincoln and its residents.

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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New Book Now Available on BARD!

The “The Battle of the Little Bighorn” by Mari Sandoz, introduction by Elaine Marie Nelson, 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.

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.

“Mari Sandoz’s beautifully written account of the battle in which General George Armstrong Custer staked his life in 1876-and lost it-reveals on every page the author’s intimate knowledge of her subject. Historian Elaine Marie Nelson introduces this iconic work to a new generation.”

—Bison Books

TBBS borrowers can request the “The Battle of the Little Bighorn,” DCB02003 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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#BookFaceFriday “Miss Morissa” by Mari Sandoz

We’ve struck gold this #BookFaceFriday!

This week’s #BookFace is “Miss Morissa: Doctor of the Gold Trail” by Nebraskan author Mari Sandoz; it tells the story of a young pioneering woman doctor on the Nebraska frontier in the 1870’s as rumors of gold strikes begin to spread. This dramatic and moving historical fiction novel is available as a part of our Book Club Kit collection, along with eight other books written by Mari Sandoz.

“Beautifully written and full of striking images and masterful descriptions.”

New York Times

This week’s model is model is our brand-new Computer Help Desk Support, Kim Ramsey! Kim recently transferred to the Library Commission from Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services. She reached 25 years of state employment in May and most of that time has been providing computer and technical support to state employees and other agencies. Kim lives in Lincoln with her husband Mike, and their two cats, Mei and Juno, who are their entertainment and sometimes their alarm clock. Science fiction is her favorite genre and she is currently re-reading “The Expanse” series by authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Gardening and reading are her stress relief, and garden/plant talk is probably the best way to distract her from whatever she’s supposed to be doing. If you get the chance, say hello to Kim!

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

While we don’t have this particular title available through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, we do have a significant number of the author’s other works available. You can find eleven books by Mari Sandoz, including the 2007 One Book One Nebraska selection “Crazy Horse” on 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 26,898 audiobooks, 36,794 ebooks, and 5,133 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: Poor Deer by Claire Oshetsky

Perhaps what is most important is not the truth of our lives, but the stories we tell.  

Or, as Poor Deer might argue, that’s a pretty saying that liars might repeat in an attempt to absolve themselves of guilt; nothing is more important than the truth.

Poor Deer is a quick-read of a novel. It is the confession and story of Margaret Murphy, who experienced an unthinkable tragedy when she was four years old. It is a strange literary punch of a novel, pirouetting on the incredible mutability and haze of a young child’s memory.  

I won’t spoil the central event of Poor Deer; what really happened the day of the schoolyard flood in that small mill-town is not definitively admitted until the final pages of the novel. But it is a tragedy regardless of what happened, and the confusing swirl of emotions and accusations, memory and blame, sweeps poor little Margaret away and drowns her life in guilt.

There is a fascinatingly light-touch to the story; Oshetsky relies on an older Margaret’s narration of the story – flipping back between third and first person perspective — and in doing so avoids the common, belief-breaking pitfall of “a child would not think or speak like that.” The language and tone of the novel itself is childlike and ephemeral, straightforward and naïve, poetic and blunt, and it softens the blow of what is a very depressing story. Don’t get me wrong: it still is a depressing story, in which awful things happen. It is depressing in the way that classic fairytales are depressing, and I think that was Oshetsky’s intent. But it is not entirely depressing, nor is it unrealistic or cruel. Oshetsky does not batter Margaret beyond the possibility of recovery, or beyond redemption.  

Margaret, who is now a young woman on the eve of another tragedy, is an unreliable narrator kept in check by the titular “Poor Deer” — an apparition who has been following Margaret since her childhood, who will not be dismissed until Margaret faces the truth. There are delightful and heartbreaking passages in which Poor Deer commands, “Again, again,” and Margaret starts again and tells her story honestly. “Is she real?” Margaret asks as she writes her confession under the weepy, vengeful gaze of the deer. “Does is matter? She is part of who I am.” 

Oshetsky, Claire. Poor Deer: A Novel. Ecco, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2024.

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