Monthly Archives: July 2014

Alarming Teacher Dropout Rate

Teachers1In 2013, public school systems in the United States employed over 3 million teachers.  A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education states that almost half a million U.S. teachers leave the profession each year. That means nearly 15% of all U.S. teachers dropout. Almost 50% of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

This high turnover rate disproportionately affects high-poverty schools. The teacher dropout rate is nearly 20% higher at high-poverty school than at affluent schools. The primary reasons for the high teacher dropout rate are low salaries, and lack of support.

Most veteran teachers were not assigned a mentor, but instead found informal support from a caring colleague. However, not all new teachers found support. Often, veteran teachers remember their first year in the classroom as difficult, lonely, and unaided.

To prevent dropout, especially of new teachers, the report recommends induction programs that include multiple types of support and high-quality mentoring. Although it is not mandated, North Dakota does have support for all new educators through the state-funded Teacher Support System. These programs for teachers will nurture instructional skills and increase the teacher’s creative ability to enrich student lives. Better teachers grow better students which benefits our whole culture.

 “It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – Earl Weaver (baseball manager)

North Dakota Digital Collections

There are a growing number of digital libraries and archives available for North Dakota materials. These digital materials include images, documents, objects, books and much more. You have instant access to primary resources and many times the text items are keyword searchable. Take some time to check out each collection.

1.Southwestern North Dakota Digital ArchiveSWdigital

This is the most recent addition to North Dakota digital collections. This collection centers on the history of southwestern North Dakota and currently has over 8000 images available.

2.Theodore Roosevelt Center Digital LibraryTRDigital

This collection brings Theodore Roosevelt related documentation together in one digital library. You can also volunteer to help catalog the items.

3.Digital Horizons


Digital Horizons is the result of the cooperation of 5 institutions in North Dakota and Minnesota. It includes items related to life on the northern plains held by the partner institutions.

4.Chester Fritz Library Digital CollectionsUNDDigital

The digital collections cover different subject areas like pottery and political cartoons and are digital surrogates of items in the Chester Fritz collection.

5.Gordon B. Olson Library Digital Special Collections


The digital special collections include items and documentation relating mainly to the history of Ward County.

Flannel Friday

Are you looking for new resources for story time? Check out Flannel Friday, a blog that each week provides a round up of story time ideas and resources. In addition to getting ideas for story time themes, it’s also a great way to find blogs about children’s programming in general!

If you don’t have to blog yourself, there are multiple ways to get involved. Flannel Friday is active on several social media outlets, so also be sure to check them out on:

They also have a handy “how to” page if you need assistance with aforementioned technology, or if you’d like to learn to make a flannel board. If you’re new to Flannel Friday, there’s no need to wait till the next post for new ideas – they have archives going back to 2011.

If you are a North Dakota librarian and you would like your story time ideas included in the Flannel Friday weekly round up but you don’t have a blog, please contact your Library Development specialist about guest posting on Field Notes. We would love to feature the efforts of North Dakota librarians so we all can see the awesome work you’re doing!

Have you already been participating in Flannel Friday? Share links to your posts in the comments!

North Dakota Health Department

Sticking with the theme of state agencies that provide documents that could be helpful to librarians and patrons, this week I am going to highlight the North Dakota Health Department.

This website includes publications on an array of different health-related topics, including:

  • How to remove head lice
  • How to care for newborns and toddlers
  • How to keep kids safe and prevent injuries
  • How to take care of teeth
  • Tips on how to help prevent chronic diseases (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Disease fact sheets
  • Smoking and tobacco fact sheets

There are also publications regarding environmental health, such as policies and reports on air quality, drinking water, and what to do with hazardous waste and solid waste. Since most of the documents and reports are published in North Dakota, they include a lot of information that is pertinent to North Dakota laws and regulations.

These documents are all available on their website in .pdf formats. Some of them are also available on paper through the Health Department or via Interlibrary Loan at the North Dakota State Library.

Ready-Made Computer Courses for Library Patrons (and Staff!)

Carousel of LearningExpress Library modules with Computer Skills at the fore

Anytime you’re providing the public service of free and open access to internet-connected computers, it’s important to also provide training on their use. This can be particularly challenging for small and rural libraries, where extra staff may not be available to provide tutelage to patrons, or in circumstances where the library staff members or volunteers aren’t comfortable enough with the technology to feel they can provide meaningful assistance. In this post, I’ll provide an overview of LearningExpress Library’s Computer Skills Center, a resource that both patrons and staff can use to develop their computer skills.

Access to LearningExpress is funded for all libraries in North Dakota by the North Dakota State Library. Patrons can also access it from home, though probably not until they’ve mastered the basics at one of your public access computers. You can find LearningExpress on our databases page or use this direct link to connect to it from your library’s website. Continue reading

A Year-Round School Calendar?

SchoolThe school calendar for most schools across the nation is based on the old agrarian lifestyle. In the past, students needed the summer months off so they could help with planting and harvesting. Farming and the crop cycle are no longer primary in scheduling the school year.

There is a growing trend for a year-round school calendar. The other day I was listening to an NPR story about Hall Fletcher Elementary in Asheville, North Carolina, which has adopted the year-round model. After a five week summer vacation, students are back in school. About 80% of the students come from low-income families and do not really have engaging learning opportunities during the summer.

If students do not have enriching summer activities, they lose academic ground. The year-round model has the same amount of school as the traditional school calendar. There is a five week summer break, three week breaks in September and March, and a Christmas break. In the United States, about 3 or 4 percent of schools use the year-round model. The model postulates that academic retention increases with shorter breaks.

Academics and parents who dislike the year-round school calendar point out that there are added costs to a year-round schedule. Student, teacher, and family schedules can be disrupted. Some parents at Hall Fletcher Elementary removed their kids and switched schools to avoid the year-round calendar.

There is disagreement about which school calendar model is more enriching for students. This is a debate that needs additional study-based evidence. Tradition can be firmly entrenched, and sometimes change is difficult. The real question is what model is better suited for learning?

“Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow.” — Don Herold (humorist)


I geek the North Dakota State Fair


I helped man the State Library booth at the North Dakota State Fair yesterday and had the distinct privilege of seeing what other people geeked. Geek the Library is a way for libraries to share their value with their communities. “Geek” as expressed in this campaign means:

  • To love, to enjoy, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for
  • To express interest in
  • To possess a large amount of knowledge in
  • To promote

Here are some photos I took of some items that people might geek– (don’t judge the photography skills 🙂 )



Fur Traders Rendezvous

Fur Traders Rendezvous

Dairy Barn

Dairy Barn

Library Booth

Library Booth

Construction equipment

Construction equipment





Dr. Seuss Quilt

Dr. Seuss Quilt







If you are going to the State Fair take some time and stop by our booth in Commercial II and share your geek with us!

P.S. For those of you that geek Twitter, the Fair has a Tweasure Hunt that you can follow @NdStateFair #TweasureHunt. They tweet clues to a location where you can find free tickets. Happy Hunting!

Science Literacy

I see youWhile summer’s not quite over, many summer reading programs will be wrapping up this month. If you’ve had a great time with science experiments this summer, continue the fun the rest of the year with other resources to help you bring science into the library. You can start by checking out the science literacy resources from Reading Rockets.

Reading Rockets is “a national multimedia literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.” The goal is obviously bigger than just science literacy, so be sure to check out the rest of their site as well!

Start with a Book is an initiative of Reading Rockets that “offers parents, caregivers, summer program staff and librarians lots of engaging ideas for getting kids hooked on reading, exploring and learning all summer long — and beyond.” Again, the site has many resources to investigate, but start with their Summer Science themes.

There are downloadable activity packs for the following themes:

  • Bees
  • Flight
  • The Night Sky
  • Think Like an Inventor

There are also tips and related resources for other activities, as well as themed reading adventure packs for many other topics that you can use for library programming all year round, or distribute for parents and children to do together at home.

Of course they have a page with resources specifically for librarians as well!

What are your planning for continuing to offer STEM programming at your library beyond your summer reading program? Do you have other science resources to contribute? Share your ideas in the comments!

NDSU Extension Service website

Since I am new to the Library Development Department and this is my first blog post for Field Notes, I thought I would start off with a short introduction of myself. My name is BreAnne Meier and I have been employed at the North Dakota State Library for five years. Most of that time has been spent in the State Documents Department, where I looked for, requested, and cataloged documents published by the different state agencies in North Dakota.

One of those state agencies is the NDSU Extension Service. Their website ( has a lot of great ideas for people who are interested in a range of topics, such as gardening; food and nutrition; house and home; and health and fitness. Most of the publications are available free of charge in .pdf format and may be of use to you and/or your patrons who may have questions or would like ideas on healthy recipes, advice on what to do with their fruits and vegetables, information on the types of pests and diseases to look out for that may do damage to their trees and plants, and guides on how to keep food safe.

Digital First Aid Kit


I know that I’m not the only one that has had an online account hacked and I’m sure everyone still remembers the Heartbleed bug that compromised the security of many websites. A few years ago my Ebay account was hijacked and someone advertised iTunes giftcards for sale. I caught it right away and got Ebay customer support to help me delete the fraudulent activity.  I immediately changed my password as well as changing my email and Paypal accounts that had been linked to that account.

It isn’t always easy to know what to do when an aspect of your digital life has been hacked, lost, stolen or hijacked. A group called the Digital Defenders Partnership has put together a Digital First Aid Kit that helps you work through the different actions you need to take when something like this happens.  This can be very helpful for librarians as well since we are often digital first responders for patrons.

The kit is broken into sections. Each section moves you through a series of questions about your situation and then gives you ways to mitigate it. The first section deals with establishing secure communication with the provider on the service that has been compromised. This can be tricky if you computer has been compromised by malware. The malware could let someone monitor your communications and keep you from fixing the situation. The second section deals with hijacked accounts and runs you through the steps of determining what has been changed and how to remedy the situation. Section three deals with lost or stolen devices like cell phones and other mobile devices. Section Four covers malware. The last section covers distributed denial of service attacks (DDos) which only affects those with their own website. Although those kind of attacks do affect websites that you may use on a regular basis like last month.

They also include helpful resources, organizations that can help with your situation, and a glossary at the bottom of the page. The Digital Defenders make a point of saying that this kit isn’t the ultimate solution to digital emergencies but it does give you some solid steps for addressing your problems.