Monthly Archives: May 2013

Liveblogging our Summer Reading Kickoff Event

Dig into Reading logo

Today I’m going to liveblog our Summer Reading Kickoff Event. Stay tuned for photos and blurbs about the day’s exciting activities as they unfold!

Update circa 8:30 a.m.:

Four State Library Staff fill balloons with helium in the ILL DepartmentOne of the first orders of business: filling balloons with helium!

Update Circa 11:00 a.m.:

P1000578The weather could be better for the event, but at least it’s not presently pouring.

P1000579Dedicated firefighters explain safety and rescue measures to youths and their parents.

The big red dog is on the sceneClifford shows up for work…

P1000566…and gets mobbed!

The man with the yellow hat and his curious simian friendThe man in the yellow hat is consoled by his little monkey.

Update Circa 12:02 p.m.:

P1000550Nice hat!

P1000574The pottery wheel in action!

P1000577Backup supply of balloon animals…

P1000559The Cat in the Hat gets swarmed.

Update Circa 1:00 p.m.:

secstateSecretary of State Al Jaeger reads to a fine gathering of kids.

ltgovStory Time with Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley.

characterLineUpA rogues gallery of storybook characters.

Update Circa 3:15 p.m. (final post!):

P1000571 Shovel Craft!

P1000572A big crowd at the sign up table.

P1000583Burleigh County and Morton-Mandan Bookmobiles.

P1000558Children diligently reassemble a dinosaur at the Heritage Center.

P1000560The much beloved Cat in the Hat.

Happy reading everyone!

Social Media and Teens: Are We Sharing Too Much?

“Youth are sharing more personal information on their profiles than in the past. They choose private settings for Facebook, but share with large networks of friends. Most teen social media users say they aren’t very concerned about third-party access to their data.”

This quote and the graph below are from a Pew Research Center Study, Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.  It reports the findings of a 2012 survey of U.S. teens ages 12-17 and their parents. It is a portrait of how teens manage issues like privacy, manipulation, and safety online and how these issues are perceived by teens and their parents. It is no surprise that parents have many more concerns than their teenage children.


Social media literacy implies understanding the use of web-based and mobile technologies to create dialog. It also implies that we understand the risks that accompany these online ventures.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”   —Thomas Merton

Building Your Base

building your baseDo you want to reach more people in your community to tell them about the services your library offers? Do you want to find new ideas for what else your library could offer to your community? Building Your Base, created by the Mid-Hudson Library System, is “a focused marketing effort on a specific group of people.” It will aid your library in reaching out to groups in your community who aren’t using the library and help turn them into library users and supporters!

The program is comprised of four easy steps:

  • Choose
  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Partner

The site walks you through how to complete each step. However, the site can’t identify what groups are active in your community (though it does provide some ideas). If you don’t know either, you may want to do a community assessment to help you identify key demographics in your community. Visit the Field Services webpage to access our Community Vision and Assessment tool under “Strategic Planning.”

Targeted marketing will help demonstrate the value to the library to specific groups and make a personal connection with the participants. In many cases, you will only need to promote what you are already doing, simply tailoring it to a particular group. Other times, you may work together to develop new programs and build even stronger partnerships!

Has your library successfully partnered with a community group? Share your success stories in the comments!

Library Chess Clubs

Lucas van Leyden's The Game of Chess

Why Chess? Chess is a social game of logic, strategy, creativity, pattern recognition, psychology, and analysis. It has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and academic performance. Besides being good for you, it’s fun, affordable, and incredibly easy to host at a library.

Who Can You Expect to Attend? Chess appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds. I’ve attended the chess club at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library on several occasions, and everyone from young children to retirees stop by to play; study problems, openings, and endgames; and just to kibitz. Chess crosses cultural boundaries and language barriers and its rich global history spans more than 1,500 years. All people have something to contribute to chess, everyone becomes both teacher and student.

Chess is big

What You’ll Need: the basic requirements to play are a board and a full complement of pieces. For storage purposes, having a bag for each set is also a good idea. The United States Chess Federation (USCF) makes it very affordable to get all three components for a budget-friendly $18.95. You will probably want multiple sets for your chess club–starting out with three to five is reasonable. If things really take off, you can always get more (invariably some folks will bring their home sets in, too). Players also appreciate having pencils and paper available, so they can record their games.

I also recommend having a set of the official rules on hand. You can either buy a copy of the rulebook, or print off this Wikipedia entry. It doesn’t take long to learn the basics (how to set up a board, how the pieces move) and I’d definitely recommend investing a few minutes to get that down before your inaugural club meeting.

The final requirement is space. Chess is most comfortably played at tables and with some degree of separation from noise and bustle. That’s not to say players won’t talk, but the opportunity to quietly contemplate is essential. Consider allowing lidded beverages into the area, as well.

Budapest Bath Chess

Help Getting Started: If there’s a chess club at your local high school, contact the coach to let him know you’re planning to start a casual club at your library. You may even score some free resources or a floating tutor out of it! Barring the existence of a school club, you may want to simply contact local science and math teachers and see if any of them would be interested in helping out. Chess has a natural affinity with STEM curricula, so you can often find allies there.

That being said, you really don’t need an expert to start a club. If you provide space and chessboards on a regular published schedule, you will bring people into your library and enrich their lives through the wonder of chess.

Bonus Fun: If things take off and your club is well attended, you should definitely think about getting some chess books and DVDs for your library, possibly subscribing to Chess Life, and maybe even getting a chess clock or two so your clubbers can play timed games and indulge in blitz and bullet matches. You may also want to consider hosting a casual (re: non-sanctioned, non-rated) tournament with prizes.

Free Chess Resources

What is news literacy? Why is it important?

“News literacy is the acquisition of 21st-century, critical-thinking skills for analyzing and judging the reliability of news and information, differentiating among facts, opinions and assertions in the media we consume, create and distribute. It can be taught most effectively in cross-curricular, inquiry-based formats at all grade levels. It is a necessary component for literacy in contemporary society.”

[From the Radio Television News Directors Foundation]

Students are bombarded by news in many formats — print media, broadcast media, Internet media, and social media. The volume, velocity, and variety of information is growing exponentially. News literacy skills are essential to distinguish between fact and opinion in this ocean of data. Students must be able to determine bias or the agenda of the writer. Reading out of their comfort zone will help students see other points of view, and be more tolerant and less emotional when discussing issues. In a democratic society, informed decision-making requires that students develop news literacy skills.


There are several online sources to help us check the validity of news stories. Here are two: is a nonpartisan, nonprofit site that monitors major U.S. political players. Its goal is to “apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009, basically checks the facts of anyone speaking about American politics. The most outrageously false statements get the “Pants on Fire” designation.


Teaching news literacy skills enables us to analyze, evaluate, compare, and critically think about the information we receive before we accept it.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”   –Yogi Berra

Sharing More than Books at Your Library

Center for a New American Dream“It’s one of the first things we learn as kids: how to share. But this practice usually fades as we become adults.” Sharing is the impetus behind The Center for a New American Dream’s mission to help “Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.”

The goals of The Center for a New American Dream tie in nicely with those of the public library. As New Dream’s website states, “We share books in public libraries, so why not create lending locations for other useful resources like toys, tools, cars, and even work spaces?”

Building a collaborative community is one goal of New Dream that that can be easily integrated into the library’s goal of being a community center and resource.  “New Dream’s Collaborative Communities program strives to inspire, connect, support, and equip community members to create local initiatives that build community capacity and social ties, increase ecological sustainability, and foster greater livability and economic vitality.”

If you are looking for ways to increase community connections, check out the New Dream Community Action Kit, which will help you foster more collaboration with step-by step guides for starting programs such as a Tool Library, Clothing Swap, Time Bank/Skills Exchange, or Co-op in your community.

How could you integrate the idea of sharing into your library and community? Share your ideas in the comments!

Thank You for Being a Friend

Thank you for visiting.

This resource has moved!

It can now be found on the North Dakota State Library’s LibGuides:

We’d hate to see you leave empty-handed, so here is an image from the North Dakota Memories Collection on Digital Horizons.

Bill and John Nieland with a horse

Strategic Planning for Your Library

While your friendly Field Services librarians aren’t out visiting you or doing cool things like preparing book clubs and technology kits, we’re busy planning a day-long colloquium on, well, planning. During it, we’ll cover a panoply of important topics, like writing your mission statement, assessing your community, surveying your users, making sense of the data you’ve gathered, writing your goals and objectives, and what to do once you have a plan.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5

Strategy for the masses!

We encourage all library directors and library board members to attend this excellent and eminently practical event!

The Colloquium will run from 10am-4pm and it will be held in six locations during the month of August:

August 5              Bismarck Public Library
August 7              Dickinson Public Library
August 8              Minot Public Library
August 13            Grand Forks Public Library
August 14            Leach Public Library (Wahpeton)
August 16            Alfred Dickey Public Library (Jamestown)

There is no cost to attend, but you must register. Choose the date and location that works best for you:

Here are a couple helpful resources we prepared to whet your whistle with:

A Community Assessment Tool for North Dakota libraries.

A Strategic Planning Template to help you with the writing process.

Two Billion Holdings in WorldCat


WorldCat hit a milestone with the cataloging of Evaluation of the City of Lakes Family Health Team Patient Portal Pilot Project by the University of Alberta Libraries. It was the two billionth item added to OCLC WorldCat.

WorldCat is a catalog of bibliographic records continually added to and updated by over 11,000 libraries worldwide. WorldCat is where most interlibrary loan librarians look to find stuff. The general public also has access to this catalog by going to Basically, if you can’t find an item in WorldCat, it is not available for interlibrary loan.

According to Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO, “It is astounding that the number of holdings in WorldCat has doubled in less than eight years. This is a strong testimony to the power of global library collaboration. I want to thank the University of Alberta, and the thousands of librarians and catalogers around the world who are working daily to create this unique and valuable resource for knowledge seekers everywhere.”

You are not limited to the collections in your local library. Think of WorldCat as the virtual addition to your local library, giving you access to items from around the world. Check out for books, serials, DVDs, CDs, maps, dissertations, and mixed formats. At you can browse by fiction genres. Within each genre you will find the genre definition; related genres; authors, books, and movies in the genre; browse the genre by subjects, characters, and places. Each genre has an adult section and a children and teens section. WorldCat brings the libraries of the world to your desktop or smart phone.

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”  –Bertrand Russell

“Dig Into Reading” by Lending Seeds at Your Library

seedsAre you planning to “Dig into Reading” for this year’s Summer Reading Program? Have you considered starting a seed lending library? You already lend books about gardening, why not provide your patrons with a little more help getting started?

A seed lending library allows patrons to borrow seeds and return the seeds from their harvest to the library.

YALSA has an in-depth post about getting your teen patrons involved in starting a seed lending program at your library.  It walks you through the process, including suggesting ideas for community partnerships.

The Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library has lots of helpful resources on how to save seeds.

For more information, The Center for a New American Dream has a free recorded webinar you can watch to help you get started.