Monthly Archives: August 2014

Back to the Basics — Supplies!

Adapted from Aston Garner's Pencil Bucket ( under CC BY-NC 2.0 license (

Adapted from Aston Garner’s Pencil Bucket under CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

If you work in a library, you know you need certain special odds and ends to continue to function smoothly.

Sometimes you can get by with gumption, duct tape, and chutzpah, but for those occasions when you need something you can’t make yourself, turn to one of these fine sources:

General Library Supplies (anything from shelf labels, to book drops, carts, and furniture)

Library Cards and Barcode Labels (ND, SD, and MN only)

Mailing Supplies

Archival Storage and Mending Needs

Microform Reader/Scanners and ND Newspaper Microfilm

Neighboring Digital Libraries

I have written before about our own membership in Digital Horizons and the great North Dakota resources that can be found there. However, North Dakota history doesn’t take place strictly within our borders. We have relationships with neighboring states and provinces. These relationships have influenced some of the events that have taken place here. I wanted to take some time and highlight what those neighboring areas have for digital history. These sites are great for history research, genealogy, and education. Take some time to explore their collections.

Montana Memory Project


Minnesota Reflections


Digital Library of South Dakota


South Dakota State Library Digital Collections


South Dakota Digital Archives


University of Manitoba Digital Collections


Saskatchewan History Online


“It Came From a Book” Teen Art Contest


The Library as Incubator Project is once again hosting the “It Came From a Book” art contest for teens. This year the contest is sponsored by Teen Librarian Toolbox, EgmontUSA, and Zest Books.

It’s easy to enter – read a book and create a piece of art based on the story, then submit an image of your piece by November 1. All types of art work are eligible, so encourage your teens to participate!

Have you hosted any art, book-inspired or otherwise, in your library? Share your stories in the comments!

Play Builds Better Brains

Play2Most of what scientists know about play and learning comes from animal studies. Initially, scientists believed that the rough-and-tumble play of young animals was a way to develop hunting or fighting skills. However, recent studies have shown that play has a different purpose.

Researchers now believe that play develops social skills. Play behavior is very similar across species. Children, puppies, kittens, and mice seem to have similar play rules: do not inflict pain, take turns, and play fair. The real function of play is to build social brains that interact with others in a positive way.

Play that is overseen by adults and their rules does not count. Social brain development occurs through unstructured, free play. Kids need to develop play goals and rules with each other, without adult interference. Play helps develop the prefrontal cortex during childhood. This area of the brain has a role in regulating emotions, solving problems, and making plans — essential skills that kids will carry with them into adulthood.

Play matters. Skills associated with play have been shown to also improve grades. Play is what prepares the developing brain for the social interactions of life, school, work, and love. Check out the links below from Mind/Shift for more on the importance of free play.

“Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” – Will Rogers

State Library Partners with Zoobean

Zoobean-LogoHave you been looking for ways to connect with library patrons who have young children? Have you been looking for ways to reach parents of young children who are not already library users? Beanstack may be the perfect solution for your library!

Beanstack is a service provided by Zoobean that recommends books to parents for children specifically from birth to 8 years old. Parents sign up for an account using an email address (no library card required) and then set up a profile for each of their children, indicating each child’s age, interests, and reading level. Beanstack then emails the parent with a personalized book recommendation for each child on a weekly basis. Each recommendation can be linked to your catalog if you own the book. While Beanstack has compiled a list of recommended books, you and your staff can add books to the list as well, if you do not own the titles Beanstack recommends, or if you simply want to supplement their recommendations. There are also themed learning guides which provide suggested activities, discussion starters, and multimedia resources. Themed learning guides are accessed with a library card number, thus drawing in parents who don’t yet have a library card.

While there is no cost to parents to use this service, the library purchases accounts on their behalf at $1 per account annually, in groups of 500 accounts. More accounts can be added at any time. In partnership with the State Library, Zoobean has offered to waive the set up fee for North Dakota libraries that sign up for Beanstack by October 30.

Zoobean was founded by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Google’s former Head of K-12 Education, and Felix Brandon Lloyd, Washington D.C.’s Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001, when they became parents themselves. For more information on working with Zoobean, please contact Felix at

Duct Tape Projects

File:Duct Tape and Kapton Tape.jpg

While discussing teen programming during the Summer Summit last week, duct tape programs were mentioned multiple times. There are many things that you can make out of duct tape. As a Doctor Who fan and in honor of Series 8 starting this Saturday, I thought I would mention a couple Doctor Who-themed duct tape ideas found online (


Duct Tape bowties (

Duct tape rose pens (in honor of the companion, Rose) (

Duct tape TARDIS purse ( – although I couldn’t find step-by-step directions for the purse, this link takes you to a picture of how it can look after completion.

If you want ideas on other things that you can make with duct tape, the website has a lot of designs that you and your teens/tweens can create. Also, the website has a lot of ideas for Doctor Who crafts that do not involve duct tape, if you are interested.

Teen Book Finder App from YALSA

Logo for YALSA's Teen Book Finder appEver have trouble finding or recommending good young adult fiction? Pined for a tool that could guide your tech-focused teens to great reads and help them share the experience through Twitter and Facebook? Look no further than the Teen Book Finder app from the Young Adult Library Services Association.

The app combines several useful functions. It recommends three featured titles each day; provides the ability to search for books by author, title, award, genre, and more; uses the OCLC WorldCat Search API to locate nearby libraries that own a desired book; lets users mark their favorites and create booklists; and allows for easy social sharing through Twitter and Facebook integration.

As you may have guessed, this app won’t just be useful for your current (and potential) patrons. Library staff will be able to make use of it for collection development purposes, as it’s an easy way to find new, topical, and/or award-winning YA titles.

The app is free and is now available on both Android and iOS platforms (download links below).

Google Play

iTunes App Store


Facing Your Facebook

This is a guest post by Kristin Byram, Public Awareness Coordinator at the North Dakota State Library. It was originally published in the July issue of the Flickertale newsletter.

facebook-crackedI want to start off by saying I am very impressed with the Facebook presence of the libraries in our state. Forty-one public libraries or friends of libraries have Facebook accounts.  Facebook is an easy, FREE and current form of communication that can be used to reach your community. But I’m afraid it isn’t as simple as just opening a new account. It is important to make sure you are posting the right information to best pique the interest of your audience. Don’t fret, this is easier to do than it may seem.

First, take a look at your page analytics (if you have them). They are located in the top left hand corner of your page and are called “Insights.” It will very clearly lay out information such as the peak times to post information, the demographics of your Facebook followers, and which posts have been best-received by your audience. If the peak time that your library’s demographic is on Facebook is when you are not, a great tool to use is the scheduler. You can schedule out posts for any time so you don’t have to be on Facebook 24 hours a day!

Secondly, take time to really think about what you are posting. I recently read an article by David Lee King that talked about whether something is interesting simply because it happened or because it happened to you. It is easy to share or post items that we find funny, cute, or interesting but you need to remember who your target audience is – will they find the same post as interesting as you do?

If you are in need of some help figuring out what to post, here are a few quick tips:

  • Post photographs of your library, or better yet, patrons in your library (get permission first). Facebook has reported that photos, photo albums, and videos get 120 percent, 180 percent, and 100 percent more engagement than links and text-only posts.
  • Keep posts short. According to Facebook, posts between 100 and 250 characters receive 60 percent more likes, comments, and shares than longer posts.
  • Watch your content. As mentioned above, take a minute to see if information you are posting is relevant to your audience and if they have liked that in the past.
  • Post up-to-date information. For example, if story time is cancelled or plans change at the library post it on your Facebook page.

If you are posting content that has not been well-received in the past, consider re-wording it or engaging your reader. If you post something that people are not interested in, scrap it as a loss and learn from what you are posting! Great job and keep up the good work.

Parents and Story Time

reading togetherLast week, we talked about using activity centers for story time. As highlighted in the original post, one of the major benefits that came from using activity centers at story time instead of crafts was increased conversation between parents and children.

When you work with children regularly, it’s easy to forget that working with their children on early literacy skills may not come naturally to all parents. In fact, they may not even realize how important it is just to talk to their child.

So what are some ways you can help parents interact with their children?

  • Include parents during story time to encourage interaction.
  • One library in Ohio offers mini programs on how to read a book with a child. This is simply demonstrating to parents what types of questions they can ask before, while, and after reading a book with their child.
  • Remind parents to model reading behavior. Even people without kids know that kids watch and mimic everything. Encourage parents to make sure kids see them reading at home. Perhaps offering an adult summer reading program would be a good start?
  • If you are using activity centers at story time, provide cards for each center with conversation prompts. These can be as simple as suggestions to count, sort, and name shapes and colors, or providing the lyrics to appropriate songs or rhymes.
  • Send parents home with activity ideas. The CSLP summer reading manual is thick, and it’s easy to overlook that there is an entire section devoted to early literacy. It has sheets you can reproduce and send home with parents.
  • Reading Rockets has reading tip sheets for parents. Though standard data rates apply, parents can also sign up to receive text messages with literacy ideas and activities they can do at home.
  • Introduce the six early literacy skills and ways parents can encourage their development at home.

For more in-depth coverage of this topic, check out two new additions to the State Library collection:

How do include parents during story time? How do you help prepare parents to improve their child’s early literacy skills at home? Share your ideas in the comments!

Self-Publishing is now Legit

PublishingJust 5 or 6 years ago, printing your own book through a “vanity press” was considered to be the last act of a no-talent author. If legitimate publishers would not accept your book, you must be a failure. Most library acquisition departments did not purchase a vanity press book, unless it was a town or church history.

Today, the stigma associated with self-publishing is mostly gone. Many best-sellers are self-published titles whose authors are not interested in signing with traditional publishers. Now, writers can digitally format their own books, or they can deal with online publishers like Amazon, Smashwords, or Kobo. Self-published authors are able to keep 60%-85% of e-books sales. Traditional publishers keep about 85% of net proceeds.

Traditional publishers formerly determined good from bad writing. Good writing was published and bad writing was discarded. Publishers covered the costs of promotion, printing, and distribution. Today, good writing is determined by readers through online reviews and e-book sales.

The real questions are: Who bests determines good from bad writing? Do readers need publishers to find good books? Do traditional publishing houses have too much power? Who should get the biggest piece of the pie, the author or the publisher? I think the reader ultimately determines whether or not a book has value. The real problem is navigating through all the junk to get to the good stuff.

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”  – Arthur C. Clarke