Monthly Archives: November 2013

Holiday Hiatus

We’re taking the week off for Thanksgiving. Check back next week for new content! Enjoy your time with friends and family!

We decorated the Field Services office for Thanksgiving:

book page turkey

Steph’s cyclops book page turkey

candy dish turkey

Steve’s candy dish turkey

hand turkey

Eric’s hand turkey


Sarah’s clothes pin turkey

We Have a Norwegian World Chess Champion


Magnus Carlsen at the 2008 Chess Classics. From Wikimedia Commons:

As of 8:16 this morning, central standard time, Magnus Carlsen has dethroned Viswanathan Anand to become the 16th undisputed World Chess Champion in a dominant performance in Chennai. The best of 12 match was played out in 10 games, with Magnus winning three and dropping none for a final score of 6.5-3.5. North Dakotans, the 30.8% of you who are of Norwegian ancestry should be feeling more than a bit of vicarious pride at the moment. Raise that red and indigo Scandinavian cross flag high, crank the black metal, and head to the nearest Stabo to splurge on the largest Julbock money can buy.

Want to analyze the games or discuss key positions and variations at your library’s chess club? They’re all available here.

Why Do We Sleep?

This question has long puzzled researchers and there have been many theories. Only recently have scientists linked sleep to memory storage. In one study, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard and her associates found that during sleep, the brain essentially goes through a rinse cycle. The brain physically cleans itself of toxins that build up during the day.


Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain.  While we sleep, our brain cells shrink, increasing the space between them by as much as 60 percent. The increased space allows cerebrospinal fluid to move freely and wash away cellular waste.  When we wake, the brain cells enlarge and the flow slows to a trickle.

Some of the residue removed is linked to Alzheimer’s. The study speculates that it is probably no coincidence that sleep disorders are linked to dementia. Adequate sleep may be vital in slowing the progression of brain diseases.

We cannot abstain from sleep, even if we wanted to. Every animal sleeps. Scientists and researchers are closer than ever to uncovering the mysteries of what exactly happens when we sleep, and why we need sleep.

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”– W.C. Fields



unprogrammingPlanning library programs can be very time consuming and labor intensive. In addition to a story, there is usually a craft and a snack, all carefully organized to tie in to the story and specific literacy goals for the age group. It can take much longer to plan the program than it does to execute it! Amy Koester and Marge Loch-Wouters suggest a more laid-back approach of “unprogramming” with fewer planned materials. They advocate unprogramming as a way to avoid programming burnout and alleviate stress.

At the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, Amy and Marge presented on “Unprogramming: Recipes for School-Age Program Success.” For those of who couldn’t attend, they have put together an 8 part series of blog posts discussing how to plan unprograms on their blogs, The Show Me Librarian and Tiny Tips for Library Fun.

Their basic recipe for unprogramming includes picking a theme for the books, gathering activity ideas, providing materials for exploration, and helping facilitate the various activity stations. They offer a variety of ideas for unprograms to help you get started, as well as an unprogramming Pinterest board.

The idea behind unprogramming is to allow the kids to adapt open-ended activities based on their own interests and learning styles. Instead of investing time in planning specific activities the kids may or may not care about, unprogramming allows the kids to direct the activity.

Are you already practicing a version of unprogramming at your library? How do you minimize time and effort spent planning programs?

Your Library in the Hour of Code


The Hour of Code is a campaign from to recruit 10 million kids to try computer science for one hour during Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15). Industry leaders like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg; organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; celebrities, athletes, and politicians like, Chris Bosh, Enrique Iglesias, and Bill Clinton; and scores of others have joined the campaign.

Computer science is foundational for all students today, yet the overwhelming majority of schools don’t teach it. This is a chance to inspire under-served students to achieve the 21st Century American Dream. Continue reading

Smart Phones are Programming Us: Driving and Texting

A  study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that text messaging while driving made the risk of an accident 23 times as high as non-distracted driving. Forty-one states have outlawed texting while driving. Most people realize that texting and driving don’t mix but do it anyway. Why? For many drivers, texting has become a habit, a compulsion, an addiction.


Psychology and communications experts are trying to determine what is happening in our brains when we grab our phones while driving.  A trigger like the phone ringing or buzzing is hard to resist and we are rewarded when we respond. Habits are formed when we do something so often that it becomes automatic. Reaching for the phone might be part of a complex array of emotions, not a rational decision. Research into texting has shown that the modern smart phone is programming us, changing our behavior. The new technology is tapping into some very basic human instincts, like the need to connect with others and the need to satisfy human curiosity.

Some researchers think that it is not possible to just turn off these habits when we are driving. Like the smoker who kicks the smoking habit, those who text and drive must learn strategies to change their behavior. Driving is a visual task; anything that interrupts our eyes on the road is a potential risk to you and others.

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”  — H. L. Mencken

Creative Aging Toolkit

paletteAs the Baby Boom generation reaches the typical age of retirement, a large part of the American population is transitioning to a new stage of life. As people live longer, patterns of work and retirement are changing. How can your library meet the needs of the people in your community making this transition?

The Creative Aging Toolkit for Public Libraries is “a free, online resource for librarians. It offers access to information about aging and libraries, creative aging research, and best practices in the field. The toolkit contains insights, tips, tools and templates to be used when planning, implementing and sustaining successful programs.” Continue reading

Kitchen Libraries

Used under CC BY 2.0 license from Dave Ware:

Used under CC BY 2.0 license from Dave Ware:

If you missed the recent Library Journal article about Toronto’s new Kitchen Library, you should definitely read it now!

If that’s too long, I’ll summarize briefly: there’s a library in Toronto that loans out kitchen supplies. These include equipment that’s too large, expensive, or not frequently useful enough to be commonly held (things like dough mixers and ice cream makers). While this library charges a modest membership fee, there’s no reason a program like this couldn’t be run out of a public library–in fact there’s plenty of synergistic potential. For instance, having all those exotic kitchen implements on hand opens the door for programming opportunities on the culinary arts, be they tailored to the adventurous or to the cookery clueless. This would also present excellent display opportunities in tandem with your cookbook collection. If you have an umbrella license, you could tie in your circulating cooking equipment with screenings of succulently foody films.

Now, there would be some things you’d need to address in your policies before beginning to circulate this stuff. The collection would likely need its own loan policies (short loan periods, stiffer than normal fines for late returns, etc.) You should consider implementing fines for materials returned unwashed or damaged. If possible, you may wish to perform a sanitary wash on equipment that has contact with food before recirculating items. You will need to address liability in the usage of any part of the collection. Uncommonly for library policy, you will also have to address food safety concerns, as you will be unable to guarantee that the equipment has not been used with allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, etc.) Similarly, there may be particularities related to food preparation you would not be able to address without having multiple copies of your equipment, such as vegetarian, vegan, or religious restrictions on food preparation. Also: you may wish to refrain from stocking knives.

Paper Isn’t Dead

What is the most influential invention in history? Some might argue that it is paper, which affects every aspect of human activity from the arts to education to business to living. We even use it to clean up after ourselves.


The evolution of digital resources has many claiming that the printed book is obsolete. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, some for-profit colleges are moving exclusively to e-textbooks. However, a Pew study notes that college students continue to prefer printed textbooks to electronic ones by wide margins. Students prefer the “feel” of physical books, and printed books still account for almost ¾ of total books sales in the U.S.

A recent Norwegian study of high school students revealed that people comprehend print text far better than reading the same text on a computer screen. It seems that reading is a mind/body experience and handling the physical print book in some way increases comprehension. The physical experience is nearly absent when reading on a screen. According to this study, paper also seems to affect our emotions more than a computer screen does. Our brains do not work like computers; our minds perceive things, not symbols. Researchers are trying to understand how reading is a bodily activity.

There are some definite advantages to eBooks: portability, text searching, currency, links to other sources, cost, and no more heavy backpacks. But reading the printed book is a mind/body experience that will endure.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” –Albert Einstein

Book Page Turkeys

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. If you’re feeling thankful, why not decorate the library with turkeys made from weeded books?

bookpage turkey1

Clothespin Turkeys

bookpage turkey2

Book Page Turkeys

bookpage turkey3

Rolled Book Page Turkeys

If you would like help getting started weeding your library, you can consult the CREW manual, or call your Field Services librarian for assistance!

What do you have to be thankful for this year at your library? Share your stories in the comments!