Monthly Archives: October 2013

Information Literacy: Seriously, what is it?


In the library world and in graduate schools we have been throwing around the term, “information literacy” for years. But what are we really talking about when we use it?

Let’s start with basic definitions:

  • Information – data gathered by reading, listening, or observing
  • Literacy – the ability to read, write, and comprehend

A WorldCat thesis/dissertation search for “information literacy’ resulted in 659 items dating from 2004 to 2013; many of these thesis/dissertations were several hundred pages long. That’s a lot to say about information literacy. The University of Idaho, the American Library Association, the National Forum on Information Literacy, and others concisely define “information literacy” as the ability to:

  •  Recognize the information need
  • —  Locate information
  • —  Evaluate information
  • —  Effectively use the information

It is also important to remember that information does not imply validity. Basically, information literacy is a strategy for learning. News literacy, social media literacy, technology literacy, and all the other types of literacy are subsets of information literacy. It is applied to education, work, leisure, and countless life decisions. In today’s world, because data is coming at us from multiple sources, information literacy is a vital tool in our lifelong learning toolbox.

“The closest thing we will ever come to an orderly universe is a good library.”  —Ashleigh Brilliant, author and cartoonist

November is Picture Book Month

picture book monthNovember is Picture Book Month! Picture Book Month was started by Dianne de Las Casas, an award-winning author and storyteller, as an international literacy initiative to celebrate print picture books.

Each day in November, there will be “a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.” So far, several big names in picture books have been confirmed, including Tomie dePaolo, Rebecca Emberly, Mercer Mayer, Rob Scotton, and Rosemary Wells.

If you want to promote Picture Book Month in your library, there is a promo kit with a poster, table topper, and shelf talkers. There are also badges to add to your website. The activities page has bookmarks and certificates, as well as links to various picture book themed activities.

How are you celebrating Picture Book Month at your library? Share your ideas in the comments!

Fantasy Leagues Come to the Library

When we think about fantasy sports games, the first thing that comes to mind, particularly at this time of year, is fantasy football. Across the country, people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds join together in their shared joy of weekly roster-building, monitoring injury updates, compiling points, and obsessively  tracking their players’ stats in games where the ultimate score and outcome only matter as far as how many points the players they “own” score for them in their weekly fantasy match-up. I’ve never participated in a fantasy football league, but as a fan of the game, as someone who’s competitive (possibly to a fault), this sounds like something I could get way too involved in.

But for those who are far more interested in spending Sunday afternoon curled up with a book than wearing out the remote control flipping between games, your time to get on board with a fantasy league may just have arrived.  Continue reading

Locking Down Online Accounts – Part Two

lockLast week I wrote about increasing the security of select online accounts by turning on two-factor verification with those services that offer the option. This week I want to walk you through using a password manager to further enhance the sanctity of all of your online accounts. Password managers help you do all kinds of important things: generate long, complex, random passwords meeting any criteria (length, allowed characters, etc.); use unique passwords for every site (this safeguards your other accounts in the event that one of your accounts is compromised); remind you to change your passwords regularly for all accounts; expedite the log-in process; track all your accounts in one convenient location; and all you have to do is remember one master password.While it takes a little work to set up, it will save you tons of effort and heartache in the long run.

The following is a walkthrough of how to setup KeePass and use it to manage your online accounts. There are a few very sound password managers out there, but I like KeePass for the following reasons: it’s totally free, it’s open source, it’s extraordinarily secure, it’s flexible and easy to use, and it’s available on every pertinent platform that matters to me (Windows, Android, Linux, iOS, Mac OS X, etc.) Want to know more? Check out their features page. Continue reading

Quick and Easy Programming Ideas

libraryWe all like to offer programs to bring patrons into our libraries, but some programs can require a lot of time to plan and execute, and it can be disheartening if people don’t show up. Some libraries simply don’t have the space to have groups of people gather in the library for a program.  The following list provides ideas that can be used to attract people to the library without requiring you to invest a lot of time in planning or execution, and they don’t require everyone to be in the building at the same time. Continue reading

Planning to Visit a North Dakota State Park? Visit Your Local Library First!

park passNorth Dakota features thirteen fantastic state parks at scenic locations across the state. From Cross Ranch and Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck in the center of the state, to Fort Ransom on the Sheyenne River in the southeastern corner of the state, to Lake Metigoshe along the Canadian border, there is much to see and explore at our state-run parks. Thanks to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department’s State Park Pass Library Loan Program, library patrons across the state can now enter our state parks completely free of charge!

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Locking Down Online Accounts – Part One

lockWe all have online accounts: email, social media, blogging, media streaming, shopping, banking, library, etc., etc. We also know that the passwords most people choose do a rather poor job of locking them down (too short, too simple, too predictable, too re-used). Today I’d like to walk you through three easy ways you can make your online accounts more secure.

This might seem like a bit of an odd topic for this blog, but I think it’s an important one for librarians to have a grasp on, and I think it would make excellent fodder for adult programming as part of any computer literacy or online safety course. It’s also been much on my mind as a 3rd party app recently briefly compromised my Twitter account. I took several steps to bolster that and several other accounts I’d been a bit lax on locking down. Here’s the first post in a series on how you can better secure your own accounts. Continue reading

Winter Reading Programs

snowflakesSummer Reading has long since wrapped up (though you may already be planning for summer 2014!). For many libraries, Summer Reading is a major program that brings lots of kids to the library. Why not take advantage of other school vacations to keep kids coming back to the library after summer ends? Christmas Break and Spring Break are both great opportunities to attract kids to the library during the snowy months! Continue reading

October is National Reading Group Month

Book clubs and reading groups bring people together to experience great books, great discussion, and great friendships, all centered on a love of reading. They are open forums for new knowledge and ideas, building relationships, and experiencing the joy of discovering new books and authors.

book club month

Each October, the Women’s National Book Association sponsors National Reading Group Month, an event to “promote the value of books and reading,” and to “foster the values that reading groups encourage: camaraderie, enjoyment of shared reading, and appreciation of literature and reading as conduits for transmitting culture and advancing civic engagement.” As part of this initiative the WMBA presents Great Group Reads, a list of selected titles recommended for book clubs. This year’s list includes 21 titles, including recent popular titles like Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, along with a number of lesser known gems. This list is a great resource, whether you are part of a long-running book club, interested in starting a new group, or are just looking for something new to read yourself. Booklist has made its reviews of all the titles on this year’s list freely available – check them out on their Great Reads page. 

For North Dakota libraries and citizens, the North Dakota State Library has Book Club Kits available for checkout. We currently offer fourteen kits, including three that are newly available:

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon

Check out our online catalog for more details and to reserve a kit for your book club.

Do you have any tips or hints for running a successful book club? Share your wisdom and experiences here!

Reaching Readers with NoveList Plus

NoveListNoveList Plus is an exceptional resource you can turn to whenever you’d like to find a new book for a patron (or for yourself!) There are a variety of tools in NoveList that it make it easy to find a great book to match any reading interest or level. Here are some that I like to use:

Best Seller Read-Alikes: Best sellers are great–everyone wants to read them and tons of people are talking about them, but they can be difficult to keep on the shelves. This is one reason it’s great that when you first come to NoveList, you’re greeted by a carousel of current best sellers… Continue reading