Author Archives: Trevor Martinson

New Items Added to Digital Horizons (Aug.-Oct. 2019)

The Digital Initiatives team at the North Dakota State Library has been keeping busy. Many items have been uploaded onto Digital Horizons in the last couple of months. Listed below is a highlight of new items added to the North Dakota State Library’s online collections. You can access the items featured below by clicking on them or by visiting the Digital Horizons website (where you will also find thousands of other treasures).

ND Memories

ND Atlases and Plat Books

ND State Documents

ND County & Town Histories

Annual Report to Governing Body

North Dakota public libraries are required by law to submit an annual report to their governing body (either the city and/or county commission). This report is different from the PLS (Public Library Survey)/ annual report that is submitted to the State Library.

NDCC 40-38-09. Annual report of board of directors…

According to NDCC 40-38-09, “The board of directors shall make a report on July first of each year to the governing body of the city or board of county commissioners, as the case may be…”

NDCC 40-38-09 also includes a list of what should be included in this report:

  1. The condition of the library and property.
  2. The various sums of money received from all sources.
  3. How much money has been expended and for what purpose.
  4. The number of books and periodicals on hand.
  5. The number of books and periodicals added by purchase or gift during the year and the number thereof lost or loaned out.
  6. The character and kind of books contained in the library.
  7. Such other statistics, information, and suggestions as the board may deem of general interest or as may be required by the state library.

Creating the Annual Report

NDCC 40-38-09 outlines what needs to be included, but there are numerous ways in which this annual report could be approached.

  • Your report should be organized, well-thought-out, visual/ eye-catching/ colorful, and informative.
  • You want your report to be designed in such a way that an outsider (a non-library user) should be able to pick up a copy and understand the library’s impact and what the library is doing.
  • With a little time and dedication, you should be able to create a report without any issues. Use the tools you have at your disposal and/or the tools you are comfortable with; so take advantage of things like Word, Publisher, Google Docs, etc. to help create your report.
  • Keep things simple.
  • Colors and fonts matter!

What to Include

Items that you should absolutely include in your report (other than what is listed in Century Code):

  • Contact information
  • Fun facts about the library
  • Information about your services
  • Highlights from the past year (feature what is awesome about your library, or awesome things you did/ accomplished)
  • Photographs
  • Data
  • Information about future goals, projects, etc.

Numbers, Data, Stats, Oh My!

Definitely include data from your library’s most recent PLS; however, you should NOT just print this off and submit it as your annual report to the governing body. The raw data in the PLS can be bland, and it includes information that the governing body may not understand without proper context.

Numbers can really drive the point home. However, don’t use too many figures. That may overwhelm folks.

Consider doing something fun with the data, like charts, graphs, storymap, or an infographic. Infographics are brief and visual. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create an infographic. You can easily create free infographics online by using websites like Canva (other, similar websites are also available).

Be Strategic with Your Data

  • Don’t make people have to work to find your data. For example, when using things like charts or graphs, label them appropriately. Label them with things like “library circulation continues to increase” instead of the uninteresting “this year’s circulation stats.”
  • Put numbers in context. For example, try making data somewhat local by comparing your figures to some sort of local data (fair or sporting event attendance; the number of people in your town, county, or the state; etc.)
  • Pay attention to some of the principles of graphic design.
  • Choose the appropriate visualization:
If you want to show… Then you should use…
Small numbers, percentages, frequencies Single numbers, pie charts, percentage donuts
Changes over time Slope graph, line graph, stacked columns
Survey responses Bar or column chart, lollipop graph
Comparisons Bar and line combined, bullet graph
Place Heatmap, tile map
Something complicated Flow chart, process map
Source: Bodily, Patrick. “Presenting Data Effectively.” Session presented at the Annual Convention of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, Springfield, IL, 2018.


This report can also serve another purpose: advocacy. Never miss an opportunity to advocate for your library, and the annual report is a wonderful opportunity to do this. The governing body should be able to review the report and visualize the impact the library is making in the community.

Also, take advantage of the Library Value Calculator. You can use this calculator to help determine your library’s value and return on investment. The calculator is available on ALA’s website ( An Excel Spreadsheet version of this calculator can be downloaded here (this version is easier to print and the data can be easily updated): library-value-calculator.xlsx

Speaking of library advocacy, additional information and resources on this topic are available here:

Examples of Library Annual Reports

Examples of Infographics

New Items Added to Digital Horizons (May-July 2019)

The Digital Initiatives team at the North Dakota State Library has been keeping busy. Many items have been uploaded onto Digital Horizons in the last couple of months. Listed below is a highlight of new items added to the North Dakota State Library’s online collections. You can access the items featured below by clicking on them or by visiting the Digital Horizons website (where you will also find thousands of other treasures).

ND Memories

ND Atlases and Plat Books

ND State Documents

ND County & Town Histories

ND School for the Deaf Banner

Big Sky Country Digital Network



Big Sky Country Digital Network (BSCDN) is a partnership between Montana and North Dakota. Specifically, it is a partnership of the Montana State Library, Montana Historical Society, Montana State University, University of Montana, and the North Dakota State Library. This partnership supports a local service hub of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

BSCDN collects information about Montana and North Dakota digital resources and submits this information to the DPLA where it is exhibited alongside nation-wide digital resources. Newspapers, images, books, and digital collections are presented on one platform with worldwide availability.


DPLA is an online repository that connects people to the hidden riches held within libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. DPLA is a one-stop-shop that allows you to instantly and easily search hundreds of separate digital collections, containing millions of items, from across the country. DPLA has a user-friendly website that can be utilized for education, genealogy, lifelong learning, and scholarly research.

On DPLA, you can do a general search to access items or you can browse topics, partners, or exhibitions. DPLA has guides to help you get started and to get the most out of their robust website. DPLA also has a Primary Source Sets resource on its website which is specifically catered to educators and students – complete with teaching guides for use in the classroom.

Partners contributing to DPLA include the National Archives and Records Administration, Smithsonian Institution, New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Internet Archive, Harvard, and the Minnesota Digital Library – which includes the Minnesota Historical Society, University of Minnesota, and South Dakota State University.

North Dakota Joins DPLA

The North Dakota State Library (NDSL) has joined DPLA, through a partnership with the BSCDN consortium in Montana. NDSL’s digital collections (containing hundreds of photographs, books, atlases, objects, videos, newsletters, state documents, etc.) are available on DPLA via the Big Sky County Digital Network hub. It was much more efficient and cost-effective for North Dakota to join an existing DPLA hub instead of starting a new one from scratch. The BSCDN hub contains over 85,000 items from Montana and North Dakota.

Other North Dakota contributors include the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.

Joining DPLA (an open invitation)

Through this partnership, NDSL has paved the way for other North Dakota institutions to join (and is highly encouraging them to do so). If your institution is interested in contributing its digital collections to DPLA, contact Digital Initiatives.

DPLA Links

Benefits of Joining DPLA

[A PDF version of the image below can be downloaded by clicking here: Benefits_of_Joining_DPLA]

Benefits of Joining DPLA

Remote Help: Zoom


North Dakota is a much larger state than people often realize. With about 70,000 square miles, it ranks in the top 20 largest states (fun fact).

The North Dakota State Library (NDSL) strives to serve all libraries across the state in a timely and efficient manner. Several departments, like Library Development (LD), are frequently on the road conducting site visits and providing assistance to libraries. However, North Dakota’s geography can sometimes be a burden, especially when assistance is needed immediately. Thankfully, technology is here to help.

When a library has a pressing issue (that cannot be resolved via phone or email) and visual assistance is needed, LD utilizes Zoom.

Zoom is a communication platform that allows for collaboration, video conferencing, online meetings, webinars, etc.

With Zoom, LD can easily share their screen and walk you through the issue. This can also work vice versa: You can easily share your screen and visually explain things on your end.

Using Zoom may particularly come in handy with any WordPress questions or during the Annual Report/ State Aid seasons.

Here’s how a Zoom session with Library Development (LD) would work:

  1. Contact LD about your question or issue.
  2. If your inquiry cannot be resolved via phone or email and a visual aid would make the situation easier, LD will initiate a Zoom meeting.
  3. LD will provide you with the Zoom meeting information (either the link to join and/or the meeting ID number).
  4. Once you get the information, attempt to join the meeting. This can be done by clicking on the meeting link/URL or entering in the meeting ID on Zoom. If you do not have Zoom installed on your computer, you may be prompted to download it. (NDSL’s webinars and NDLA’s meetings are conducted via Zoom. So if you don’t have Zoom downloaded, it would be a good idea to have it anyway.)
  5. You will be redirected to join the Zoom meeting. In the Zoom meeting, you or the LD representative will be able to share their screen.


  • No microphone on your computer? – No problem! The Zoom meeting can be muted and you can talk with your LD representative on the phone while you collaborate and share screens.
  • No webcam on your computer? – No problem! A webcam is not required to participate in a Zoom meeting. As long as you are able to view the meeting screen, there shouldn’t be any issues.
  • Will there be any costs to use this service? – No! Zoom does have a variety of different plans, some of which have a fee. However, Zoom also has a basic plan that is free. But, there will be no costs for libraries to attending a Zoom meeting that LD sets up.
  • Does Zoom have remote desktop capabilities? – No. Zoom is not remote desktop software, so LD will not be able to gain access to your computer via Zoom. Zoom is a collaboration platform and only allows for the sharing of screens. You would still have full access to your computer, but all meeting attendees would be able to see your screen when you share it.
  • How can Zoom meetings be joined? –
  • How do I share my screen? –

Zoom is very user-friendly, and a meeting would look something like this (when there are no webcams and a screen is not being shared).

Digital Collection Google Maps

The North Dakota State Library (NDSL) has several collections available online on Digital Horizons and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Two of those collections (North Dakota County and Town Histories and North Dakota Memories) have interactive Google Maps to accompany them. These maps provide a different perspective on the scope of the two collections. Read the two section below for additional information and for links to the maps.

ND Histories Map

The most frequently visited NDSL collection on Digital Horizons is North Dakota County and Town Histories, which is a digital collection of county, town, church, school, township, and organization histories. There are currently over 400 books (containing over 50,000 pages) that have been digitized and made publicly available online. Every book has full-text search capabilities, so keywords, names, locations, etc. are easily found.

These 400+ books are from communities all across the state. To provide a visual, the Digital Initiatives team has created a Google Map of this collection. Each pin on the map represents a location that has a book digitized and available online on Digital Horizons. The pins on the map are organized into two categories/ colors: county histories (red pins) and town histories (blue pins).

Clicking on a pin, will open up a small box that links to all of the books associated with that location in the North Dakota County and Town Histories collection on Digital Horizons.

The ND Histories Map can be accessed at


ND Memories Map

Another popular collection of NDSL’s on Digital Horizons is North Dakota Memories, which is a digital collection of images, documents, and objects that have been digitized from the collections of institutions and private citizens across the state. There are currently over 1,700 items (from the collections of 150+ individuals and institutions) that have been digitized and made publicly available online.

These 1,700+ items were primarily collected from multiple ScanDay events across the state. ScanDay is an event hosted in libraries, schools, and institutions across the state, in which Digital Initiatives staff bring scanning and photography equipment to a community and digitize photographs, documents, and objects. This project was started to help communities engage in building local and state history by submitting items of historical value to be converted into digital files and then displayed online on Digital Horizons.

To provide a visual for the North Dakota Memories collection and ScanDays, the Digital Initiatives team has created a Google Map for this collection. Each pin on the map represents a ScanDay location or a non-ScanDay collection within North Dakota Memories. The pins on the map are organized into two categories/ colors: ScanDay locations (red pins) and non-ScanDay sub-collections (blue pins).

Clicking on a pin, will open up a small box that links to all of the items associated with that ScanDay location in the North Dakota Memories collection on Digital Horizons.

There are plenty of gaps between the red ScanDay pins, and the Digital Initiatives would like to fill them. If your library or institution is interested in a ScanDay contact Digital Initiatives.

The ND Memories Map can be accessed at

New Items Added to Digital Horizons (Feb.–Apr. 2019)

The Digital Initiatives team at the North Dakota State Library has been keeping busy. Many items have been uploaded onto Digital Horizons the last couple months. Listed below is a highlight of new items added to the North Dakota State Library’s online collections. You can access the items featured below by clicking on them or by visiting the Digital Horizons website (where you will also find thousands of other treasures).

ND Memories

ND Atlases and Plat Books

ND State Documents

ND County & Town Histories

Fake News Browser Extensions

Fake news and misinformation are everywhere. It seems like every time breaking news emerges, there are also fake or misleading stories being spread right alongside the factual information (often times via social media).

What is a person to do? Well, there are some easy steps the average person can take to remain vigilant (consult the many resources available here). It is vital that everyone should learn to identify and prevent fake news, why not let something else do the work for you if that option is available?

In the United States, the majority of adults (90+%) get at least some news online via mobile or desktop, according to a Pew Research Center report. Folks who get their news exclusively from mobile devices will have to manually identify and prevent fake news; but if you use a computer to get your news, consider installing a fake news-related browser extension.

Put your browser to work!

There are many fake news browser extensions available, but two prominent ones are NewsGuard and Media Bias Fact Check. They may not be 100% accurate (or you may not agree with them 100%), but they do a wonderful job of flagging sources that are suspicious, biased, untrustworthy, etc.

The two browsers don’t compete with each other. Rather, they are great companions to each other.


(The bulk of the text below about NewsGuard is derived from an article written by Carmen Redding, which was published in the November 2018 issue of the State Library’s “Flickertale” newsletter.)

Are you having trouble deciding if a website is sharing the truth? Well, NewsGuard, a news literacy program, has been launched with the support from Microsoft. Staffed by almost 40 reporters and dozens of freelancers, the NewsGuard team diligently examines thousands of websites based on nine widely-accepted, journalistic criteria designed to minimize human bias and subjectivity. The results determine a website’s rating.

Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard Technologies’ co-founders and co-CEOs, joined forces to give this program a human face rather than relying on algorithms to determine what we see. NewsGuard is the opposite of an algorithm. People with journalistic backgrounds are reviewing the sites. “Algorithms don’t call for comment,” says Brill. NewsGuard, on the other hand, gives plenty of explanation about their ratings.

NewsGuard works as a browser plug-in/ extension, giving credibility ratings to thousands of websites. A user simply downloads the extension on Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari. Sorry, Internet Explorer, users. If you are reading this, it is time for you to abandon IE and go with a much superior browser.

After the extension is added, the NewsGuard icon will appear in the upper right corner of the browser. The rating icons will appear on websites, Google searches, and Facebook and Twitter when website articles are used.

George Washington

By hovering over the colored icon, a “Nutrition Label” appears. This label explains how NewsGuard decided the website’s rating. Ratings and label information are updated regularly, and whenever a site changes its practices, the icon will be adjusted accordingly.

Addicting Info

The NewsGuard website contains plenty of information, including a section dedicated to news literacy; and on this page, NewsGuard makes a compelling argument for libraries, educators, parents, etc. to add the browser extension to their computers.

The NewsGuard browser extension can be downloaded from their website:

Media Bias Fact Check

According to their website, Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC) was founded in 2015 and “is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices. MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.” MBFC’s methodology and additional information are available on their website.

The MBFC browser extension is not as comprehensive as NewsGuard, but it does excel in one area that is more hidden on NewsGuard: bias. After the extension is added, the MBFC icon will appear in the upper right corner of the browser.

When visiting a news-related website or reading an article, the browser extension will prominently display a color-coded icon indicating its bias (see image below for a list of the icons).

MBFC icons

Clicking on the icon will reveal more information about the source (see the slightly compressed image below).

Fox News

The Media Bias Fact Check browser extension is only available for Chrome (a Firefox version exists but it seems to be faulty). It can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.

Other promising browser extensions

With so much information coming at you everyday, it can be hard to figure out what is Real Journalism vs Fake News. While computers can’t tell you what’s true and what’s not, they can help provide information that will help you make that determination. FakerFact uses a machine learning algorithm we call Walt (named after Walter Cronkite). Walt has read millions of articles from sites all over the internet, and has been trained to detect relevant Fake News patterns. For example, Walt can tell you whether the web page you are viewing shares characteristics of articles that are typical of good journalism, opinion pieces, clickbait, conspiracy theories, or satire. Then you can make your own determination of whether you think the article is a valid and trustworthy news source or if it is Fake News.

SurfSafe gives you the power to find the source of misinformation and make informed decisions about what you are really reading. At the heart of every fake news story is an image that is likely doctored or taken out of context. SurfSafe uses the news sites you trust, along with fact checking pages and user reports as benchmarks for what images are considered “safe”. It’s simple – just hover over an image, and SurfSafe will classify the image as “safe”, “warning”, or “unsafe”. SurfSafe will also show you every instance of where the image in question has been seen before. You will be able to see if the context of image in the article has anything to do with the original instance. Not only can you protect yourself from fake news with SurfSafe, but you can also fight back. SurfSafe allows you to report suspicious images in order to help others surf safely.

Trusted News uses independent, transparent and neutral sources to assess news sites. We aim to help you cast a more critical eye over the news by rating for fake, questionable or trustworthy news. We do not intend any political bias. Using a simple notification system, the extension flags the trustworthiness of the site. Check at-a-glance if a site is reputable or not. Trusted News also highlights satirical and user-generated content. Clicking the Trusted News extension will provide more detailed information about a site.

YA Programming: Resources & NDLCC Standards

NDLCC Standards

Programming is a vital service that public libraries provide. Because of this, the North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries includes programming requirements. Consult the Standards for additional information.


So what exactly is a young adult program? Well, the federal definition (slightly reworded) is as follows:

Any planned event for which the primary audience is young adults (age 12-18) and which introduces the attendees to any of the broad range of library services or activities for young adults or which directly provides information to participants.

Young adult programs may cover use of the library, library services, or library tours. They programs may also provide cultural, recreational, or educational information, often designed to meet a specific social need.

Examples of young adult programs include board game nights, Nerf battles, video game tournaments, escape rooms, coding clubs, trivia, selfie contests, etc.

Young adult programs can be held on-site or off-site and be sponsored or co-sponsored by the library. Young adult programs sponsored by other groups that use library facilities are not considered a program of the library.

If young adult programs are offered as a series, each program in the series can be counted. For example, a coding club offered twice a month should be counted as 24 programs.


There are a lot of resources available online relating to library programming. It can be a little overwhelming to even know where to start. Below is a list of resources that make great starting points.

Young Adult Programming Resources:

General Resources (for all ages):