Tag Archives: Nebraska Author

A Fantastical Book on BARD!

Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History” by Paul and Karin Johnsgard 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.

Is it generally safe to walk by dragon weyrs on sunny days? Do dragons really lay golden eggs? Do dragon teeth have any medicinal value? And what about unicorns: Do some rare ones have two horns, and when aren’t unicorns white? What is a unicorn “sneeze call,” and what exactly is the best way to capture a unicorn, anyway? Find the answers to these and other questions in this charming and carefully researched book that presents the first scientific look at two of the earth’s most mysterious and elusive creatures.

TBBS borrowers can request “Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History,” DBC02037 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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New Book on BARD!

The Cutters” by Bess Streeter Aldrich 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.

All Unhappy families are alike, to invert Tolstoy, but each happy family is happy in its own way. Take the Cutters. Although they live in a rambling white house in a midwestern town called Meadows, the Cutters are too irreducibly real to stand in for the average all-American family created by pollsters, popular magazines, and television sitcoms. Witty Nell Cutter is not a Good Housekeeping model with lacquered hair. Big Ed Cutter is a lawyer not destined for Easy Street. There are three sons and a daughter-not the right number of children. Gramma, who lives with them, is inimitably Gramma. They compete for the reader’s attention, pursuing happiness in human ways that have not changed since 1926, when The Cutters was first published. But it is Nell Cutter who best illustrates Bess Streeter Aldrich’s strength in drawing memorable characters. Whether she is decorating the house on a budget for wealthy guests or testing child-raising theories or trying to make the daily loaf a little more yeasty. Nell Cutter is not afraid to experiment. She may go out on a limb, but it is seldom a dead one.

“The Cutters is well conceived and written. It is piched in a light, pleasant key and…comes as a welcome relief from adventure yarns and tales of mooncalf love. “

Literary Review

TBBS borrowers can request “The Cutters,” DCB02017 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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New Nebraska Book on BARD!

In Reachby Pamela Carter Joern 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.

In Reach” was chosen as one of the 150 notable Nebraska books to highlight for the Nebraska 150 Celebration. These books represent the best literature produced from Nebraska during the past 150 years and highlight the varied cultures, diverse experiences and the shared history of Nebraskans.

In writing both rich and evocative, Pamela Carter Joern conjures the small plains town of Reach, Nebraska, where residents are stuck tight in the tension between loneliness and the risks of relationships. With insight, wry humor, and deep compassion, Joern renders a cast of recurring characters engaged in battles public and private, epic and mundane: a husband and wife find themselves the center of a local scandal; a widow yearns for companionship, but on her own terms; a father and son struggle with their broken relationship; a man longs for escape from a community’s limited view of love; a boy’s misguided attempt to protect his brother results in a senseless tragedy. In the town of Reach, where there is hope and hardship, connections may happen in surprising ways or lie achingly beyond grasp.

“Pamela Carter Joern’s fictional village of Reach, Nebraska, is populated by people you have known, or known of, all your life. In these glimpses of life as it is really lived, you will encounter your aunt Ella, your grandfather Leland, even the uncle no one mentions. You may agree that God is not absent if you are there. You will never forget Marlene and Vernon. Each character is doing “the best he can do” to harvest satisfaction from their lives. Searching for connections, you will find these folks in reach of your heart.”

—Linda M. Hasselstrom, author of “No Place Like Home” and “Dirt Song”

TBBS borrowers can request “In Reach,” DBC01891 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 “Red Stilts” by Ted Kooser

Relax and read a verse this #BookFaceFriday.

April is National Poetry Month, and we wanted to celebrate by highlighting Nebraskan poet Ted Kooser. Pulitzer Prize winner, 04-06 U.S. Poet Laureate, and winner of many awards including four Nebraska Book Awards and 2011’s One Book One Nebraska; Kooser’s poetry has touched the hearts of many. Each poem in this week’s #BookFace, “Red Stilts” (Copper Canyon Press, 2022), strives to reveal the complex beauties of the ordinary, of the world that’s right under our noses. It’s available for checkout as an ebook from Nebraska Overdrive Libraries, along with several other Ted Kooser titles.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, take a look at the poetry genre from the drop-down menu on our Book Club Kit page. There are also a handful of Kooser’s titles available for request as well.

“Red Stilts” demonstrates that poets, like fine wines, continue to improve with age… Those familiar with Kooser’s work will recognize his skill at connecting the ordinary events of daily life to the sublime.”

Lincoln Journal Star

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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#BookFaceFriday “It’s a Question of Space” by Clayton C. Anderson

Ground Control to Major #BookFace!

This #BookFace Friday is out of this world! We love featuring Nebraska authors and this week it’s a real life astronaut to boot. Astronaut Clayton Anderson is the author of five books including “It’s a Question of Space: An Ordinary Astronaut’s Answers to Sometimes Extraordinary Questions” (University of Nebraska Press, 2018.) This title as well as his memoir “The Ordinary Spaceman” are available as eBooks in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. This week’s model is Clayton Anderson himself! He was in the office this week dropping off posters for Nebraska Libraries! We’ll be getting these posters to your Nebraska Regional Library System Directors at the spring Systems Meeting so librarians can let their local Systems know if they are interested in a free poster.

“Clay Anderson dispels myths and simplifies complex subjects for the reader and with examples from his personal experiences provides insight into the daily life of an astronaut. As a teacher trying to fuel the curiosity of and relate relevant topics to students, I would keep a copy of this book on my desk.”

—Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, earth scientist, educator, and retired astronaut

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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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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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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2024 One Book One Nebraska: Now Available on BARD!

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crimeby Debora Harding 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.

This memoir of native Nebraskan, Debora Harding, is all about a traumatic childhood event, the aftereffects of which would change her family forever. Harding expertly weaves the past with the present in a riveting story of survival and family dynamics.

“With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability.”

BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs

This title has been selected as the 2024 One Book One Nebraska. The program is now in its 20th year of bringing Nebraskans together for the reading and discussion of one great book written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. Nearly every One Book One Nebraska winner is available on cartridge and for download on BARD.

The narration was done by Connie Healey, who has been volunteering for Talking Book and Braille for 10 years and received a Nebraska Library Association Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2022. The recording took over 30 hours in the studio and an additional 20 hours of post-production to prepare for our patrons. Connie has now read three One Book One Nebraska selections, the other two beingThe Bones of Paradiseby Jonis Agee andPrairie Forge by James J. Kimble.

TBBS borrowers can request “Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime,” DBC02052, 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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Book Club Spotlight – The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut 

Cover for The Ordinary Spaceman by Clayton C. Anderson.
Anderson, a white man in a training space suit solemnly salutes the camera.

Four years after what would be his final voyage into space, retired astronaut Clayton Anderson of Ashland, Nebraska, released his tell-all memoir of his 30 years at NASA, comprising 167 days living in space, working on the International Space Station and performing nearly 40 hours of spacewalks. Now, when I say this is a “tell-all” memoir, I don’t mean it in a way to dramatize or bring to mind a TMZ article. I mean it literally. Because today, our Book Club Spotlight The Ordinary Spaceman, is genuinely one of the most unflinchingly honest, funny, and candid stories about what it takes to be a NASA astronaut. Anderson’s insistence on being “an ordinary guy” might feel strange when reading a book by someone who has been to space, but it’s also his wholehearted truth. 

Clayton and his mother have different ideas about when he decided to be an astronaut. He argues it started with watching the Apollo 8 mission at the age of nine, and his mom, however insists the dream was always apart of him. A proud and true Nebraskan, Clayton made his way to Texas, working at NASA as an engineer, and eventually leading the development effort for the ISS’s Caution and Warning System, all the while continuing to pursue his dream of spaceflight. Clayton applied to the astronaut program 15 times before finally being selected, and that was only the beginning. From recalling his first time breaking the sound barrier, freezing during survival training in the Russian wilderness, needing stiches while working in an undersea lab, and tragically witnessing the Columbia disaster alongside the crew’s families, Anderson is incredibly open and humble about his experiences during his time in and out of space, even when he finds himself in the wrong. Through stories of incredible isolation and excitement, frustration, and an ever-evolving sense of respect for others,, Anderson doesn’t hide his emotions in his writing, and takes us through his personal growth as a man, an astronaut, and in his faith. All while mixed in with a healthy dose of humor and sincerity that brings the reader close and holds tight until the very end.

“Performing a spacewalk outside the space station is not much different from going outside in a Nebraska winter. The space environment is just as brutal as those I encountered as a kid … okay, maybe a little bit worse.” 

Clayton Anderson

Though a new addition to our Book Club Collection, The Ordinary Spaceman was awarded the Nebraska Book Award in 2016 for Creative Non-fiction, and after having lived in Texas 30 years, his home state is still very much a part of his identity, and it is clear how proud he to represent Nebraska as its first astronaut. From shaping his personality to his love of all things huskers, any Nebraska reader will feel at home reading his words and shaking their head at his (sometimes) crass humor, wondering if they have what it takes to go to space. 

Anderson at the 2008 LPS-Pfizer Science Fair. (image: Lincoln Journal Star)

To this day, Anderson is a passionate STEM advocate and NASA Ambassador, and recently in 2022 he became the President and CEO of The SAC Museum in his own hometown. For him, being an astronaut is just as much about being a role model as it is about flying in the stars. Because of him, for the majority of my life, there has always been a Nebraskan Astronaut. Looking back on it now, I wonder how many opportunities were provided to me and my peers because of Anderson’s perseverance as a role model and science educator, especially to the kids of Nebraska. I even had the opportunity to meet Anderson when he was a guest speaker at the LPS-Pfizer Science Fair in 2008. Fresh off his 5-month tour on the ISS, Anderson was a pretty big name, even for us ambivalent 5th graders. I still remember seeing his big grin as he looked over the crowd of us youngsters in our science fair t-shirts and thinking about how strange it was that astronauts were just ordinary people like us. And now I know he felt the same!

The Ordinary Spaceman is one of four books by Anderson. He has written two children’s books: Letters from Space and A is for Astronaut, and a YA book: It’s A Question of Space. 

“This journey is not just about technical achievements; it is about people. It is about our planet; it is about the future of the entire human race. What began from an era of competition, fueled by the launch of Sputnik forty years ago, has now become the ultimate challenge of cooperation and teamwork. This is what we owe our children and all future generations. I want to help “line the way”!”

– Anderson 1998

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

Anderson, Clayton. The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut. University of Nebraska Press. 2015

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2023 One Book One Nebraska Selection available on BARD!

“The Mystery of Hunting’s End” by Mignon G. Eberhart has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service!

Smack in the middle of the Nebraska Sand Hills is Hunting’s End, a weekend lodge owned by the rich Kingery family. Socialite Matil Kingery invites a strange collection of guests — the same people who were at the lodge when her father died of “heart failure” exactly five years ago. She intends to find out which one of them murdered him.

This title has been selected as the 2023 One Book One Nebraska. This dynamic program cultivates a culture of reading and discussion in our state by bringing our diverse state together around one great book by a Nebraska author.

TBBS borrowers can request “The Mystery of Hunting’s End,” DBC02012, 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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William Kloefkorn Book Available on BARD!

“This Death by Drowning” by Nebraska author William Kloefkorn has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service!

“Is there any human corner left to illuminate? To surprise? Absolutely, as these wondrous recollections by poet Kloefkorn prove. This slim volume is filled with provocative perceptions garnered from daily life. . . . After the last line, readers will turn back to page one and start again, slowly.”

Publisher’s Weekly

This Death by Drowning” serves as Kloefkorn’s personal memoir. It is an artfully assembled collection of reminiscences having to do with water and is listed on the 150 Greatest Nebraska Books list — a list that represent the best literature produced from Nebraska during the past 150 years.

TBBS borrowers can request “This Death by Drowning,” DBC02002, 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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Book Club Spotlight – I Have Always Been Me

Cover of I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis. 

Precious stands front and center in a welcoming pose towards the camera. She is wearing a dress in the colors of the Trans flag.

During Black History Month, we’re showcasing books by some incredible authors to celebrate Black voices in literature. And this week’s highlighted book, I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis, is a bold coming-of-age and coming-of-self story set in a familiar locale. Born and raised in Omaha, Brady-Davis serves as the director of communications at the Sierra Club, a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, and an LGBT+ and HIV activist. She was the first publicly out transgender woman on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and was featured on another TLC show, “My Pregnant Husband: documenting her and her husband’s journey to having a child together as a trans couple.

Precious was often the odd one out in her family and her Omaha community. Assigned as male at birth and growing up being perceived as one, she knew that her innate femininity was leading to bullying and unwanted attention. Being moved around between family members, foster care, and schools, it wasn’t until she started attending UNL that Precious began performing drag and was able to embrace the more authentic side of herself. During her education, Precious found her talent and love for diversity and inclusion advocacy through local programs and support from her peers and teachers. However, she had to reckon with her empathy and love for all people with what she was taught at home and in church. Precious recounts her intimate relationship with religion that shaped her youth and how it led to her continued ostracization by people she felt the closest to due to her gender nonconformity. And her reckoning between these two worlds that seemed so disparate is found to be fundamentally a part of her person. Eventually moving to Chicago to finish school at Columbia College, Precious continued to find and foster her queer identity, finally coming to herself as a trans woman and devoting her life to advocacy work, eventually falling in love and fully cementing her foundation for an incredible future ahead.

“For all of us who have been marginalized, who have been abandoned by those who are meant to love us, who have been damned by those who are meant to bless us, who have been looked at with disgust and told that we are wrong, that we are sinful, that we are abominations, now is the time to go forth and be fierce with clear intent while standing tall, showing that marginalized folks aren’t going anywhere as we activate our power.”

Precious Brady-Davis

I Have Always Been Me is a well-known tale of how a person can desperately search for a community as a child but be turned away at every corner. And it isn’t until they are introduced to the world of unconditional acceptance that they finally have the tools to escape survival mode to grow and flourish. While the subject may be new, the story will feel familiar to members of an adult or mature young-adult book group and can open the floor to discussion on the different ways people can be made to feel like outsiders and how vital community support is for disenfranchised young people. Stories like Brady-Davis’s are pivotal in normalizing and loving trans people, especially Black Trans women in Nebraska. Reading the interpersonal stories of affected people, like with any other minority group, lends a bigger picture to the conversation in ways only literature can and showcases the incredible resilience needed to simply be yourself. 

If you’re interested in requesting I Have Always Been Me for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. There are 10 copies available (A librarian must request items)

To see more of our Black Voices book club titles, visit here

Brady-Davis, Precious. I Have Always Been Me. TOPPLE Books. 2021.

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New Nebraska Book on BARD!

“Welcome to Pallywonkersville: My Irreverent, but Humorous, Memories of Growing up in Rural Nebraska” by Nebraska author David Hunt is available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

Hunt shares humorous stories about growing up in Palisade, Nebraska, (population 350), which he refers to as Pallywonkersville. Family, friends, and pranks fill these vignettes of small-town life.

TBBS borrowers can request “Welcome to Pallywonkersville,” DBC01990, 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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Book Club Spotlight – Death Comes for the Archbishop

Cover of Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. The cover art is a pencil drawing of a road curving around sand dunes covered in sparse vegitation.

A new year means new books will be entering the public domain! According to copyright laws, works originating in 1927 will now be free for all to share, use, and create new stories with. For example, last year, the original Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne entered the public domain, leading to a new horror movie featuring the characters. So now, in 2023, we have a whole new set of stories to look out for, and today we’ll be talking about one in our very own Book Club collection. Death Comes for the Archbishop is Willa Cather’s re-telling of the lives of Roman Catholic clergymen Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeuf as they establish a diocese in the U.S. New Mexico Territory in the 1800s. Cather, preferring to call it a “narrative” rather than a novel, wrote Death Comes for the Archbishop as a cluster of vignettes, legends, and stories surrounding the fictionalized Southwest and how the Catholic Church came to shape the region. But don’t let that frighten you; her book isn’t that of religious zealotry but of the people.

Father Jean Marie Latour, a French Jesuit priest, has been sent off to be the Vicar and Bishop of the newly American-owned New Mexico territory. He, with his close childhood friend Father Joseph Vaillant, attempts to serve their diocese, which often descends into disarray with the Mexican and Native American population content to perform religion in their own way due to the prolonged absence of a Vicar. The men, unused to the harsh New Mexico region, but earnest in their faith, meet and grow fond of their parishioners in the American Southwest, painting a knowledgeable and sympathetic portrait of the times and the people. The intelligent and philosophical Father Latour is open-minded about other cultures and finds human love at the root of his faith. At the same time, his abrupt friend Father Vaillant is much more direct in his faith and actions, which often leads to a more closed-minded approach. Because of this, the two, though immensely fond of each other, find themselves at odds in their passions. Vaillant’s often taking him away on evangelical missions, all the while Latour’s passion keeps him close to home, cultivating deeper bonds there but missing his partner. Together and apart, they explore the vast New Mexico territory, expanding their faith and assisting those in their care.

“Where there is great love there are always miracles,”

Willa Cather

Death Comes for the Archbishop is a quiet and reflective narrative that celebrates communities and cultures coming together while still holding onto their traditions. Not Catholic herself, Cather shows a gentler depiction of religion than her typical portrayal and how it can build a community of not only faith but trust and security. She does not portray the church or even the priests in the novel as perfect but as humans who want to do their best for their parishioners and God. Father Latour is wholly human, makes mistakes, and has his own prejudice, but he never looks down on another person; he advocates for the rights of the Navajos, Mexicans, and all people in his diocese. While the more brash Vaillant is more prone to prejudice, he has his own deep connections in the community as well. And everyone, especially the women, is treated kindly and with reverence, and any biases the priests may have do not bleed into the narration overall. Of course, being a Willa Cather book, any Nebraska book club will have a great time reading one of her classics. Readers will find discussion topics in the many vignette parables scattered throughout the book. While some phrasing or ideas are old, the novel still holds up in its earnestness and love for all people. Modern audiences and book groups will appreciate the sympathetic acknowledgment of the Native and Mexican people whose homes are displaced by white intruders and see how our modern ideals have or have not changed.

To see this year’s list of copyrighted works entering the public domain, visit the link here!

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. There are 5 copies available (Items must be requested by a librarian) 

Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1927

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#BookFaceFriday “Catfish at the Pump” by Roger Welsch & Linda Welsch

This #BookFaceFriday is a whopper!

This week’s #BookFace is for a very special Nebraska author, known for his pioneer humor and wit, Roger Welsch. We wanted to take the time to highlight his many works in our various collections, like “Catfish at the Pump: Humor and the Frontier” by Roger L. Welsch and Linda K. Welsch (University of Nebraska Press, 1986), available as an NLC Book Club Kit. In total, NLC has eleven of Welsch’s titles in our Book Club Kit Collection. You can also find Welsch’s work through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, we have copies of “Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe”, “Why I’m an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales”, and “Wyoming Folklore: Reminiscences, Folktales, Beliefs, Customs, and Folk Speech” by Federal Writers’ Project.

“Were our forefathers liars? ‘You bet they were, ‘ says Roger Welsch, ‘and damned fine ones at that.’ From yellowed newspapers, magazines, and forgotten Nebraska Federal Writers’ Project files, well-known folklorist and humorist 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.”

from the back cover

TBBS borrowers can request or download several Roger Welsch titles 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.

Available on Duplication on Demand (physical cartridge) and download on BARD:
DB45458 Uncle Smoke Stories: Four Fires in the Big Belly Lodge of the Nehawka
DBC01987 It’s Not the End of the Earth, but You Can See It from Here: Tales of the Great Plains
DBC13621 Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse: Tales of Old-Time Horse Trading

Available on cartridge only:
DB00941 Love, Sex and Tractors: The Eternal Triangle DB01042 Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity

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. 189 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 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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New Book Available on BARD!

George Norris, Going Home: Reflections of a Progressive Statesman” by Nebraska author Gene A. Budig and Don Walton is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

“Nebraskans need to remember George Norris. He truly was one of our great citizens. This book is a very enjoyable journey through those memories.”

Francis Moul, Lincoln Journal Star

This enjoyable book takes readers back through George Norris’ career and what he accomplished. It provides a contemporary perspective about a man who fought to improve everyday life for all American citizens.

TBBS borrowers can request “George Norris, Going Home,” DBC01907, 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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Book Club Spotlight – Why I’m an Only Child & Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales

Cover for: Why I'm an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales. Two older men in farming clothes look up over rolling hills at a yellow propeller plane.

I admit that I’m a newbie to the bibliography of Roger Welsch- so I thought I’d dip my toes into the proverbial waters for this week’s Book Club Spotlight. With over 40 books to his name (11 of which are in our Book Club collection), the retired UNL English and Anthropology professor is a recognizable humorist and storyteller. And in the tradition of fellow Nebraskan Louise Pound, he is also a lauded scholar of folklore, with 50 plus years of experience in the field. His book, Why I’m an Only Child & Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales, was awarded the Nebraska Center for the Book Award for Nonfiction: Folklore in 2017 and features a foreword by Dick Cavett.

Why I’m an Only Child is the vehicle for Welsch to define the specific type of midwestern humor he has coined “Civil Ribaldry.” In his own words: “These jokes take the form of extraordinarily subtle, distinctly rural narratives. While there is a punchline, unlike the riddling joke, for example, “civil ribaldry” does contain a clear narrative element. The stories, while slightly off-color, can be, and are, told in mixed company, even with children present, without much danger of being understood by the innocent” (Citation). According to Welsch, the oral tradition is an essential aspect of Civil Ribaldry and it tends to be more of a performance than a joke. This form of rural wit is not something to perfect or concoct; it is simply having the talent for timing and a flair for diction and detail when the moment presents itself. Welsch discusses its relationship to other forms of wit and verbal jousting, such as the Black American game of “Dozens,” and asserts their value as linguistic American traditions.

For Welsch, while Civil Ribaldry pokes fun at the stereotypical everyman, it exists more to poke fun at ourselves and to cement ourselves within a community. So often, these stories revolve around dear neighbors or even the teller’s own shortcomings. Punching down in comedy is never appropriate- but here, you might be able to get away with punching sideways. We can see this communal self-deprecation in Welch’s depiction of his hometown of Dannebrog, Nebraska: “It’s said that if you have a hammer in Dannebrog, you’re a carpenter. If you own the hammer, you’re a contractor.”

“Despite the common misunderstanding, laughter is not the universal language.”

Roger Welsch

If your group is looking for a book chock full of “slightly naughty” but lighthearted stories of the Nebraskan Plains, Why I am an Only Child is a great pick. Welsch is genuinely passionate about the rural Nebraskan diaspora, and his collection of ribaldries and musings has something everyone can appreciate and build upon in a discussion. Many of our Book Club Groups that we lend to are located in rural Nebraska, and I would love to see how they approach this type of book centered around their home, especially if they have civil ribaldries of their own. I know I do.

My final verdict? I believe that Roger has a good sense of humor. For an old man. 😉

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

Welsch, Roger. Why I’m an Only child & Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktails.University of Nebraska Press. 2016

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“In Cold Storage” on BARD!

In Cold Storage: Sex and Murder on the Plains” by Nebraska author James W. Hewitt is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

“In 1973 the small southwest Nebraska railroad town of McCook became the unlikely scene of a grisly murder. More than forty years later, author James W. Hewitt returns to the scene and unearths new details about what happened.”

Book Jacket

James W. Hewitt is president of the Friends of the Center for Great Plains Studies and was an adjunct professor of history at Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of “Slipping Backward: A History of the Nebraska Supreme Court” (Nebraska, 2007).

TBBS borrowers can request “In Cold Storage,” DBC01892, 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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New Nebraska Memoir on BARD!

Our Life Our Way: A Memoir of Active Faith, Profound Love, and Courageous Disability Rights” by Nebraska author William L. Rush and Christine F. Robinson is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD.!

“Our Life Our Way, A Memoir of Active Faith, Profound Love, and Courageous Disability Rights explores an extraordinary love story grown out of engagement with both disability rights advocacy and Christian faith communities. This important memoir contains thoughtful, often-entertaining, and sometimes heart-wrenching anecdotes of a couple’s journey to create their profoundly intimate relationship and Christian marriage, in a world not yet ready for them.”

Book Jacket

This memoir was written by a husband and wife, and is narrated by Christine Robinson, it is the sequel to Rush’s autobiography, “Journey Out of Silence,” which is also available on BARD and cartridge.

TBBS borrowers can request “Our Life Our Way,” DBC01986, 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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New Nebraska Book Available on BARD!

Journey Out of Silence: An Autobiography” by Nebraska author William L. Rush is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD.!

Bill Rush’s exceptional journey continues to encourage and inspire all who aspire to live fully and contribute to society. Bill lived with a significant disability of quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He did not have use of his arms, hands or voice. Society’s prejudices proved to be a greater obstacle than his disability in attaining his first life’s goal of completing college. William (Bill) L. Rush chronicled his extraordinary life from childhood until graduation from the University of Nebraska -Lincoln in Journey Out of Silence, first published in 1986.”

Book Jacket

This humble and uplifting autobiography is a window into the world of people with disabilities. It’s narrated by Scott Scholz, who is a past director of Talking Book and Braille Service at the Nebraska Library Commission.

TBBS borrowers can request “Journey Out of Silence: An Autobiography,” DBC 01985, 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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