The Results of the Impact Survey are in

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 4:21pm

Remember back in September when your Library asked you to take a survey to help us understand your needs and how you use the Library resources and services? The survey asked you about how you use library technology services like public computers, wireless networks, online resources, digital literacy training, as well as outcome oriented use in the following areas:domains

Thank you for taking the survey.

Interested in the results? Here's a summary of the results and the comprehensive report.

Big Library Read: Chat with Andrea Portes

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 8:57am

new-circle-Andrea-PortesOn Monday, I had the opportunity to speak with our Big Library Read author, Andrea Portes. We chatted about Anatomy of a Misfit, where her motivation comes from, her writing habits and much more. She also shared her favorite memories about her libraries growing up and offered advice to aspiring writers.

We started with a question that readers around the world (and around our office!) kept asking: Is Anatomy of a Misfit autobiographical? Andrea wanted everyone to know that yes, this is the story of her high school experience. I won’t give away any spoilers, in case you haven’t made it to the end just yet, but she informed me that the ending that moved us all did actually happen. Her community, however, acted like nothing ever happened and so writing this book was her way of fulfilling a promise to make sure the world knew the story.

When asked about whether or not she let her family know about this book ahead of time, she jokingly told me that she made sure her siblings were aware of it and that she just tells her dad not to read anything she writes so that they never have an awkward interaction about it. She told me that some of her favorite memories form her childhood were going to her small Nebraska library and that her favorite place in the whole world was her father’s library growing up. She also provided some great advice: never throw away old books! You’ll never know when you’ll look back and wish you had those old copies.

When I asked Andrea about her writing process, she says that it varies from day to day. She said that while she tries to make sure she has some structured writing sessions, you can’t help when inspiration hits you and so many of her notes end up being on napkins and old receipts. She also mentioned that she typically will write her endings at least three times before being happy with where it’s at. When asked what she would tell aspiring writers, the biggest piece of advice was to be patient and flexible. Writing something large in scope is difficult; you don’t need to do the entire story in one sitting, and often times ideas will come to you halfway through that will change the course of what you’re writing. It’s best to allow these changes to happen.

Anatomy of a Misfit is available to users of libraries that signed up for Big Library Read without any wait lists or holds through October 28. To learn more about Andrea Portes or the Big Library Read program, check out

written by Adam Sockel, Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive. Andrea Portes has just been added to his celebrity crush list.

3 Things You Can Literally Learn In Your Sleep

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 8:34am

If someone suggested you play music or light a scented candle while you slept to better remember what you learned earlier in the day, you'd probably laugh.

But while you might not be able exchange a night of studying for playing some jazz while you snooze, there are some surprising skills you can strengthen overnight — some simply by playing a specific tune or by infusing your bedroom with a distinct smell.

Scientists are still a bit fuzzy on the specifics, but they've found some powerful examples of the practice working in the real world.

They know, for instance, that people can better remember the location of an object if overnight they listen to the tune they heard when they put it there. Similarly, someone learning a foreign language can boost her skills by playing the sounds of newly-learned foreign words while she sleeps.

While the next step may be applying these techniques to try to sharpen memory and learning more broadly, here are a few examples of the specific skills scientists have found can be honed while you are fast asleep.

Learn Foreign Words

In a recent experiment, scientists had native German speakers begin learning Dutch, starting with some basic vocabulary. Then, they played the sound of a few of those Dutch words to some of the German speakers while they slept, without telling the German speakers what they were doing. Compared to those who had no sound playing overnight, the group who heard words in their sleep were better able to identify and translate them later.

The most convincing part? It only worked for the specific words that were played.

To make sure the findings were tied to sleep — and not just the result of people hearing the words — they had another group listen to the words while they walked. The walkers didn't recall the words nearly as well as the sleepers.

Why? The likeliest answer points to our sleeping brains, whose activity slows down at specific periods throughout the night. During these slow-motion periods, our brain is hard at work moving our short-term memories from temporary storage to our prefrontal cortex, where they are recorded for the long-term

When the researchers looked at the brain activity of their German-speaking volunteers on an EEG, they noticed that those who listened to the foreign words overnight had more slow-wave brain activity throughout the night.

More slow-waves, the scientists reasoned, translated into better recall of the new words.

Hone Musical Skills

The findings aren't just limited to the sound of words. Music can do the trick as well.

Researchers recently had a group of people learn to play guitar melodies using a technique borrowed from the video game Guitar Hero. Then, all of the volunteers got to nap.

Unbeknownst to them, a selection of the sleeping participants were played the same melody they had just learned. After their slumber, the volunteers played the tune again. Those who heard it while napping — even though they had no memory of doing so — played the melody far better than those who didn't

Keep Specific Memories From Fading

We forget a surprising amount of information, especially the dates and descriptions we deem insignificant. Our brains use a special tagging system to differentiate between important experiences and inconsequential ones. Those the brain tags "important" get sent straight to our long-term memory hard drive. The "unimportant" memories, on the other hand, are left in short-term limbo where they get washed away by new memories. 

What if that tagging system went awry, however, and the memories your brain labeled insignificant were the ones you wanted to keep?

Scientists recently found that people who listened to a sound they associated with a memory — even an inconsequential one — were better able to hold on to that memory.

First, they had a group of volunteers place icons on a computer screen in a specific location. The computer was programmed to play a specific sound when each object was placed. Placing a cat icon played a meowing noise; placing a bell icon prompted a ringing sound. Then, they let participants nap. While they dozed, the scientists played the sounds of some of the icons (again, the volunteers didn't know this was happening).

Here's the weird part: The people who listened to the sounds — any of the sounds — were better able to recall all of the objects. In other words, one sound triggered multiple memories.

The findings parallel earlier research where scientists used smell instead of sound: A 2007 study found that people given whiffs of a rose while they learned something remembered it better later when they inhaled the same smell while asleep.

article written by Erin Brodwin for the Business Insider

eMagazine access from Zinio just got better

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:33pm

This month, Zinio upgraded our Zinio for Libraries service. The following enhancements have been delivered.

Improved Magazine Access
Added a simplified "checkout now" icon on magazine collection display pages for immediate checkout of that issue.


Log in, find magazine then click on icon that resembles paper/plus sign. 

Click Start Reading if using desktop or read magazine in Zinio app if using a mobile device.





Improved Patron Account Functionality

  • Added a patron email-preferences page (under account) to give patrons a simple way to sign up for notifications about new issues of their favorite magazines and new magazines added to the library collection.
  • Patrons may also use this page to unsubscribe from their notifications.

Patron Notification of New Magazines
Patrons may now request a single weekly email notification of future issues of favorite magazines in their library collection.

Enhanced Search Capabilities
Enhancements to improve speed and site performance.

What's new for OverDrive Read

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:27am

OverDrive Read is a web app, which means you can open it from your web browser on a tablet, smartphone, or computer. It also means that, when we update OverDrive Read, every user everywhere gets the update. You'll always be using the latest and greatest version of OverDrive Read.

OverDrive Read's new look and features
We recently added support for fixed layout eBooks, which included a brand new look and feel for OverDrive Read. The updated design is now active for all OverDrive Read eBooks. Here's what it looks like:

What you get with the new Read
Pages load faster, added a two-page layout, and updated the progress slider and menus. There is also a zoom feature for fixed layout eBooks to help you see the smallest images and text with ease.

What's a fixed layout eBook?
"Fixed layout" eBooks allow a publisher to design the digital pages of each eBook so that they look just like the ones in the print version, with every word and picture in its proper place. This kind of formatting is essential to a lot of graphic-heavy books like textbooks, comic books, children's books, and more.

What browsers work with the latest version of OverDrive Read?
One of the goals of OverDrive Read is to be compatible with as many devices and browsers as possible while supporting a robust feature set and modern design. To see which browsers work with the latest version of OverDrive Read, please check out our compatibility page.

Need help with OverDrive Read?

What's up with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook?

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 6:31pm

"I’m sitting here at my desk, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 Nook® is dropped into my lap. I cast my mind back to recent history and remember that Barnes & Noble left the tablet game, looking to find another way to have Nook tablets distributed. Enter Samsung, and the new Galaxy Nook.

To break it down simply, it appears that Barnes & Noble approached Samsung, who repurposed the Galaxy Tab 4 – the Galaxy Tab closest in scale to the average book – and gave us the future of the Nook tablet. At the heart of the device, it’s still an Android tablet – running the most current version of the operating system. I’m not going to spend any time going over the specs with you, because you can see them for yourself here. What I want to talk about is how Samsung has improved upon the idea of the Nook Tablet.

The original Nook Tablet ran a special version of Android, overlaid with Barnes & Noble’s special interface, and some mild restrictions. Since this new Nook is openly an Android tablet, you get all the benefits that this affords you, while still having access to the Nook environment. Instead of overlaying the bookstore, you access all of that through a collection of Nook-branded apps:

  • Highlights – the catchall for your notes and highlights from your reading
  • Library – All of your titles, from books to magazines.
  • Search – Search your titles or the shop.
  • Shop – Books, magazines, movies, TV, Apps, and more!
  • Settings – access the nuts and bolts of your Nook account, and change the way the reading software behaves.
  • Today – Recommendations based on your shopping and reading activity in the Nook apps.
  • Apps – A handy place to find apps for your Nook (including the OverDrive App).

In addition to the Nook-branded apps, you can also install the OverDrive app to access books, or (as a result of the partnership with Barnes & Noble), you can enjoy magazines and periodicals from your favorite public libraries. You can use the browser to checkout streaming video, or cloud reading through OverDrive Read. If you’re me, you can drop an entire library into a device the size of a slender volume, and free up that shelf space for more pictures of my kids."

written by Justin Noszek (Overdrive) 


NBA Stars and the Nicholas Sparks Book Club

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:31am

A few NBA stars got to show off their vulnerable side this week, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel. In the clip above, Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin and his teammate Matt Barnes, along with Knicks guard Iman Shumpert and Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons met for "this week's meeting of the Nicholas Sparks book club."

Top selling albums in the country! Available from Freegal!

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 2:15pm

This album chart below is according to Nielsen Soundscan Charts (charts the nations top retailers for weekly sales) for the current tracking week. All of these albums are available for listening and downloading on Freegal Music with your library card.

#1 Jason Aldean- Old Boots, New Dirt

The first single released from this brand new LP entitled "Burnin' It Down" has already been certified platinum. According to, the track reached that status faster than any other single released in 2014. The song shows the artist's more sensual side, which is not something he is known for. Mr. Aldean was quoted as saying that the song "allowed him to take the album in any direction he wanted". He continued to state that the LP title "sums up where his life is right now". The New York Times calls Old Boots, New Dirt "impressive". 

#2 Hozier- Hozier

The sound of Irish Musician Hozier is described as "soulful R&B with flourishes of Folk" by Entertainment Weekly. The Telegraph writes that his new self-titled LP "makes it easy for you to fall in love with the musician" and Esquire proclaims the new release "arresting". Although not previously a household name, the artist is certainly increasing in popularity and his songs such as the top release "Take Me To Church" have been making serious waves on the Rock charts. This release is his first full length album.

#3 Barbra Streisand-Partners

Nominated for an incredible 42 Grammy Awards, Barbra Streisand is the top selling female artist in the United States. She recently earned a historic 10th #1 album with this release that features duets with all male artists. Ms. Streisand sings along side top vocalists such as Billy Joel, Michael Buble, and John Mayer. It also includes a song with her son, Jason Gould. The New York Times writes "An invitation to record a duet with Barbra Streisand is still the closest thing in pop to a royal summons".

#4- Alex & Sierra- It's About Us

This X-Factor winning couple are described as "a modern-day Sonny & Cher" by Billboard. The X-factor television program certainly got them noticed, and their first released single "Scarecrow" only strengthened their fan base.  "It's About Us" is the pop duo's first album. According to the artists, it includes the first songs they have ever written together since they were only able to perform covers when they sang on tv. It is truly never before heard music from up-and-coming artists.

7 Picks Every Boy Should Read

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 8:38am

Bob Shea: In celebration of the publication of our comedic dinosaur-tinged western, Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads Lane and I were asked to recommend excellent books every boy is sure to love.

Lane Smith: There's only one problem, all boys are different. Who are these boys? I don't know these boys. One might be into tales of high speed rail travel while another might love nothing more than a good ol' yarn of the mischievous and colorful Fiddler Crab.

Bob Shea: This was clear when I attempted to foist Harry Potter on my son. He took one look and said, "Pass!"

"Why?" I said, "Kids your age go nuts for this stuff! It's got ghosts and monsters, and
THERE'S A MOVIE! Fall in line, son."

"Yeah, but none of that stuff really happened. Peddle your lies somewhere else," he said. Then we read Diary of a Plausibly Wimpy Kid again for the five hundredth time.

I was just glad he was reading. So the book every boy should read? Whatever they want. As long as they are reading. That's the trick. So you can pretty much ignore this list right now.

Lane Smith: But if you're still reading, we put together our 7 Picks Every Boy Should Read, but don't have to if they don't feel like it. Also, girls are more than welcome to read any of these titles, just be discreet.

LANE: The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson. The nameless boy who plants a carrot seed is told by his mother, "It won't come up" and by his father, "It won't come up." But the boy waters it and pulls weeds around it and eventually a big orange carrot, as big as the boy, comes up. I don't think that trickster Ruth Krauss was telling kids not to listen to their parents... Naw. Okay, maybe she was only telling them to stick to their convictions, be confidant, that kind of thing.

The book has comedic stillness in the vein of Buster Keaton or Charles Schulz with simple line drawings by the author's husband, the great Crockett Johnson of Harold and the Purple Crayon fame.

BOB: My first vote would go to The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: A novel by Gideon Defoe. I'm not sure if this book was written for kids but if they enjoy funny things that are great they will surely love it. The Pirate Captain (that's his name) is a confident incompetent, my favorite type of character. One with a shiny beard and love of ham. Fortunately there's a movie of the book since watching things is a lot easier than reading them, unfortunately the book is a lot better. The book features more Monty Python-style absurdity and doesn't have celebrity voices. Not in my head anyway.

LANE: The Treehorn Trilogy by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Edward Gorey.

The three Treehorn books, collected under one cover, are probably my all-time favorite kid's books and bring together two of my all-time favorite bookmakers, Heide and Gorey. The illustrations, so subtle, often change so little from page to page you'll find yourself flipping back and forth to check your eyes. And Heide's dialog is a perfect deadpan match to Gorey's cross-hatched otherwordly ink drawings.

Here Treehorn, inexplicably shrinking, consults with the school principal (after filling out the necessary forms of course):

"I can't read this," said the Principal. "It looks like SHIRKING. You're not SHIRKING, are you, Treehorn? We can't have any shirkers here, you know. We're a team, and we all have to do our very best."

"It says SHRINKING," said Treehorn. "I'm shrinking."

LANE: True Grit by Charles Portis. This one is for the older kids. Maybe eleven and up. To celebrate the publication of mine and Bob's western saga, Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, I felt compelled to include a western. Plus it's got a really strong lead girl character in fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross and ain't no law says a recommendation for boys has to be about boys. Besides, Mattie is way cooler than any dang ol' boy character.

You've probably seen one or both of the movie versions of this book but what each failed to capture was Portis's humor. The Coen's came closest, but really, this book will have you laughing out loud with every page. Plus Mattie's journey is what's called, a real ripsnorter. Oh, and when I found a long out-of-print 1968 hardcover I was tickled to see a blurb on the back cover by that other master of young adult fiction, Roald Dahl. He said, "True Grit is the best novel to come my way for a very long time. I was going to say it was the best novel to come my way since... Then I stopped. Since what? What book has given me greater pleasure in the last five years? Or in the last twenty? I do not know..." I do not know either. Unless it is one of Dahl's books.

BOB: Anything by Roald Dahl. Personally, I like Matilda, because nothing beats a good story of telekinetic comeuppance. Deliciously awful characters like Miss Trunchbull and Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are so terribly fun that even my realistic fiction son is a fan.

BOB: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. I love this book. It's perfect. Presented with a minimal school-play aesthetic, it's the story of loss, longing, lies, compassion, and the blind justice of the forest. I'm actually hesitant to bring this book up because it's won an award or two. You guys probably already know about it.

BOB: The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller. Like I Want my Hat Back, my friends are sick of me talking about this one. I love this book. Now before you get upset, I realize that Laurie Keller is a girl and this is a list of books for boys so how on can I reconcile the two? Maybe you can put a piece of tape over her name so you send the wrong message. My son and I love this book. The states decide to change places, you know, check out what different parts of the country are like. Laurie packed this thing full of one liners and visual gags. We've been reading it for years and are still finding hidden gems.

article written by Bob Shea and Lane Smith for the Huffington Post

Liberating the true woman inside

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 8:07am

Do you know that feeling you have when you have tried to convey your knowledge on a topic, and then run across a book that presents that view clearly and comprehensively? Such was the feeling I got when I read The Woman Code, brilliantly systemized wisdom written by author and award winning journalist, Sophia A Nelson.

The sincere and open introduction tells how writing this book moved Nelson from broken hearted into a strong woman. While her stories of "loosing self" are familiar to most women, Nelson's roadmap from crushed to whole is unique.

Realizing that collected messages from society, family and other relationships influence females to hide their talent, take submissive roles and loose touch with the real woman inside, Nelson encouragingly shares her strategies of valor and success, empowering the reader to be real and unpretentious. Reminding us, "Too much of what we do is exterior. By 'exterior' I mean that we are looking for the answers, the script, and the power that resides outside of us," she keeps us at our true core where peace, fulfillment and genuine support can be attained.

The Woman Code exposes the personal, emotional, spiritual, professional and social areas where the distortions lie, and shares principles for making genuine life transformation. Quotes from authors, actors, leaders and dispersers of wisdom from all areas of life are road signs while Nelson's words appear like rest stops welcoming the reader to bring forth her true self, "To be a woman is power in motion."

The Codes challenge antiquated ideas on womanhood, including attitudes that women have toward one another. "Gossip" occupies an entire chapter - a fatal hidden saboteur of women's power.

Gracefully, the lesson about the damaging impact of words is followed by vital messages on forgiveness and letting go, "The ability to apologize is a key virtue, that if learned early in life and practiced faithfully, will bless your life and lengthen your days." Then when relationship dynamics become bitter diversions, the code of "untying and cutting" moves the reader through optimally loosening unhealthy connections, and getting back on track to living genuinely.

Refreshingly, Nelson dares to correct long-time practiced misconceptions of what power means for a woman, "We [women] ascend because we are capable, qualified, and gifted, not because we have to be like men." Following rectification the book carries the reader through landscapes of courage and scenes of women lifting up each other.

Authenticity is the underlying theme of all the codes. As Nelson peals at the layers of identity slapped on by upbringing and social messages, she not only helps women access their core, she discreetly reveals how both men and women should mindfully treat our daughters.

The Woman Code is a straightforward, comprehensive guide to liberate the true woman inside. As increasing numbers of women travel the transformational path laid out in The Woman Code, we pave the highway for a sensible world. 

article written by Suna Senman for the Huffington Post

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