October is Health Literacy Month!

Since 1999, organizations around the world have been observing October as Health Literacy Month. It is a time to create awareness of the importance of making health information easy to understand as well as making the health care system easier to navigate. 

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) and the American Library Association (ALA) have provided the Libraries Transform Health Literacy Toolkit to help librarians raise awareness of how libraries provide trusted health information to their communities. 

The free toolkit provides key messages, program ideas, and downloadable marketing materials, including bookmarks and graphics for social media. Topics included in the kit cover a wide range, including the following: genetics, family history, customizing care, aging, nutrition, and chronic illness.

Public, school, academic, and special libraries play a key role in making quality health information accessible to all. Libraries provide their communities with opportunities to improve upon health outcomes through health outreach, programming, and partnerships with regional and local agencies, increasing health literacy, as well as offering free access to quality health information and databases that can improve one’s quality of life.

Library Community Meetings

Shortly after the pandemic started, the State Library began holding semi-weekly Library Community meetings. In August, we switched to biweekly meetings, alternating between 11:00 on Tuesdays and 2:00 on Thursdays. I think the meeting helped librarians connect with their colleagues who served as a resource for each other. The meetings are open to all library staff in the state. In September, we added a biweekly meeting for school librarians.

The idea for meetings like this dates back to Greta Guck’s NDLA Presidency. Greta proposed that NDLA subscribe to Zoom for several purposes, one of which was to host quarterly meetings for librarians. The NDLA Board discussed meetings by region, by library type, and general meetings. This idea did not come to fruition although the use of Zoom for board meetings had a huge impact on the organization, and being able to utilize Zoom for portions of this year’s virtual conference was very beneficial to NDLA.

The State Library has wanted to host quarterly virtual meetings for a while now, but it took a pandemic to make it happen. I find the meetings so beneficial, both professionally and personally. It is so great to connect with colleagues, and the meeting topics vary from COVID-related questions to programming to favorite recipes. I imagine, at some point, we will switch to monthly meetings, or possibly, quarterly. I love that we get representatives from different library types at some of our meetings. I think there may be benefits to hosting meetings for specific library types, though, but only if the library community finds that helpful. At the NDLA Public Library Section meeting, they discussed having quarterly meetings. If the academic or tribal libraries would be interested in having a quarterly virtual meeting, please let me know at msoucie@nd.gov or (701)328-4654.

For November and December, we will host the Library Community meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 2:00 P.M and the third Thursday of the month at 11:00 a.m. We will check with attendees in December to see what the preference is for the next quarter.

I look forward to connecting with you soon at a Library Community meeting. Please feel free to give me a shout on Twitter, via email, or a phone call if you have suggestions for other ways that we can foster connections among the library community. 

Digital Dimension

Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has recently announced its new Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection is now live. The impressive collection provides a user-friendly portal to freely access nearly 200,000 digital items (images, objects, documents, and oral histories) pulled from the thousands of institutions across the country that contribute content to DPLA.

The collection, according to its website, documents “the roles and experiences of Black Women in the Women’s Suffrage Movement and, more broadly, women’s rights, voting rights, and civic activism between the 1850s and 1960.”

With the recent civil activism across the country and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, this collection could not have been launched at a better time. There is no better way to learn than with primary sources, and this is the goal of the collection. According to its homepage, the collection “seeks to engage students, educators and researchers in exploration and dialogue around this important, yet overlooked chapter in our nation’s history.”

Currently, the majority of the Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection (100,000+ items) comes from the Digital Commonwealth hub on DPLA. However, the collection is extensive and also contains content from multiple hubs, including the Big Sky Country Digital Network (BSCDN), which is the hub that houses content from Montana and North Dakota.

There are multiple ways to browse or search this collection. You can search the entire collection, view a timeline, see a list of key figures, and browse featured collections and primary source sets. As the collection says, there are thousands of items telling thousands of stories. Explore them today by visiting https://blackwomenssuffrage.dp.la.

Host a Halloween Watch party!

The horror movie marathon has been a Halloween staple for many people who don’t go out on Halloween. And a Halloween-themed watch party could be just the event you are looking for with a social-distant Halloween upon us. There are a few options to host a fab-boo-lous watch party for your library!

Some popular streaming services already offer a way for multiple people to watch together, including Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and others with browser extensions like Netflix and Disney Plus! However, the drawback is that your patrons must also have the streaming service from which you are broadcasting.

Luckily, your bag of tricks can include these platforms!

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Reading Nook (October)

I’m always excited for October. Perfect sweater weather, lots of candy everywhere, and plenty of spooky chills to enjoy while sitting cozy at home. Let’s celebrate the best month of the year by looking at some of 2020’s best horror fiction.

Haunted Titanic stories are a strange subgenre within horror. Alma Katsu’s The Deep is a welcome addition to this oddity with her tale of a Titanic survivor named Annie, who sets sail once again on a hospital ship during WWI and comes across a young soldier who she’s positive died on that fateful night.

Grady Hendrix wrote one of my favorite nonfiction books in 2017 with Paperbacks from Hell, a fascinating exploration of the 70s and 80s horror fiction. Thankfully he’s also good at contributing to the canon, and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires stands as 2020’s funniest novel about a book club squaring off against vampires in the Deep South.

Lots of people have a fantasy about secretly being from a rich, important family, but Bert gets to live it—in a terrifying way—in Danielle Trussoni’s The Ancestor. Bert receives a letter in the mail telling her that she’s inherited a massive fortune and an aristocratic title in Italy. Is her ancestral home a hotspot for horrifying secrets? Thankfully for us, yes!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorite novels of all time, so I was completely ready for Dracula’s Child by J.S. Barnes. Here we see Jonathan and Mina Harker attempting to raise their son Quincy after surviving the horrors of the original novel, only to—of course—be drawn into a new evil.

Max Brooks hit big when he wrote World War Z, and he’s back at it again with Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. Beyond the fact that this is a fantastic title, Brooks is bringing us into the heart of Bigfoot country, where the fabled monster is not just a blurry image in an old photo.

Gothic fiction is a weakness of mine. It’s so melodramatic and filled with beautiful heroines in dark mansions being menaced by mysterious men. Silvia Moreno-Garcia shows that she’s a fan as well with Mexican Gothic, featuring a glamorous young socialite named Noemí who travels to 1950s Mexico at her newlywed cousin’s behest. Obviously, her cousin’s new home is filled with dark, handsome men and their dark, terrible secrets.

It doesn’t seem completely fair that Guillermo del Toro is such a great director and a talented horror writer, but, thankfully, life isn’t always fair. The Hollow Ones is the award-winning director’s newest novel with his Strain Trilogy co-writer Chuck Hogan. Here a rookie FBI agent is drawn into a secret world of unspeakable evil when her experienced partner turns on her, bringing the young woman into a conflict that’s been centuries in the making.

Jeremy Robert Johnson’s The Loop is being described as World War Z meets Stranger Things, so clearly, I added it to my list, but thankfully the plot sounds killer as well. Turner Falls has a problem with its young people. No, they’re not leaving after graduation and never coming back. Instead, these kids are going homicidal. Is the shady biotech company that keeps the town financially afloat to blame? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Since November is the third-best month of the year (following October and December, of course), we’ll celebrate by going over another favorite genre of mine—mysteries. Next month, we’ll go over the best whodunits 2020 has to offer.

Legal Research Resources for Civil Protection and Restraining Orders

A frequently requested legal research topic by self-represented patrons of the North Dakota Legal Self Help Center is how to obtain, or defend against, a civil protection or restraining order.

Following are legal research and other resources for civil protection and restraining orders in North Dakota.


A civil protection or restraining order is a legal document issued by a civil court that orders a person to stop abusing, harassing, or assaulting another.  The civil protection or restraining order can also restrict or prohibit contact between the person protected by the order and the person the order is against.

A civil protection or restraining order doesn’t result in criminal penalties, such as jail time, unless the person the order is against violates the order.

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Kit-ing Around

This week we are highlighting our newest book club kit: First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.

This book gives a unique look at some of the United States’ most influential women—the first ladies. Including figures such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, and Michelle Obama, readers will come away with new insights into their lives as mothers, rivals, friends, and political crusaders. Brower’s sources range from the first ladies’ friends to their residence staff and social secretaries to give a well-rounded look at these women. The book is divided into themes rather than chronologically, allowing the reader to look at several women in comparison to each other.

This kit comes with ten paperback books, one discussion guide, and one sign-in sheet.

Kits can be checked out for eight weeks and reserved up to one year in advance. Book club kits can be checked out by libraries or individual patrons; no more than three kits can be checked out at one time. Kits for schools or classroom use need to be checked out by the Library Media Specialist. To see when this book club is next available, check out KitKeeper.

October Course of the Month

Many librarians must deal with parts of the library that they don’t expect to have to work with, like accounting and bookkeeping. This is especially true for new library directors who take over all aspects of the library, sometimes without any proper training. One of the most difficult parts is finances.

Whether you are a school media specialist, public librarian, or an academic librarian, you deal with some type of accounting and bookkeeping to keep you within your budget. This course will take the user through why accounting is a necessary skill, how to create a balance sheet, bookkeeping dos and don’ts, and more. Even better is that this course comes with a video audit, so if only one or two lessons sound interesting or relevant, then opt into the video audit and go straight to those lessons.

This course has 24 lessons, 29 exams and assignments, and should take around 32 hours to complete. (The video audit will not require the exams or assignments. It is simply the lessons as videos).

A Virtual National Book Festival

Like most things in 2020, the National Book Festival looked nothing like it has in the past. Last year, tens of thousands of attendees crammed themselves into long lines to meet their favorite authors and watch interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and famous politicians.

That was not possible in this year’s COVID-19 reality. Instead, the festival went virtual. One thing that has always been true of the festival is that it is a free event, open to the public. This year, the public was anyone with access to a computer instead of the ones who could travel to Washington, D.C. Virtual attendees were able to explore nine author “stages” where more than 120 authors were featured, including many who participated in live events where attendees could interact with the presenters in real-time.

In addition, the 2020 festival included the Roadmap to Reading feature, a virtual iteration of the beloved Pavilion of the States attraction from years past. In the old days, the Pavilion of the States was one of the most crowded areas of the festival. Each state and territory of the U.S. had a booth where they would feature a special book, highlight local authors, and give away more swag than you could fit in one literary-themed tote bag. This year, each state presented virtual content. North Dakota featured “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdrich as well as information about our literary heritage and some recipes from our new Recipes from the Stacks feature.

One good thing about virtual events is that they are often recorded. If you were unable to attend during the National Book Festival, please go to the Library of Congress YouTube channel. Here you will find many of the authors talking about their books and other interesting topics. Hopefully, we can see or “see” you next year!

This is Halloween

Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange?
This is a strange year indeed! Have you thought about your Halloween programming yet? Are you going to go in-person or virtual? I’ve been “haunting” other libraries and came up with some good ideas that maybe you can use!

Many libraries are still doing virtual storytime on various Halloween ideas. Alison Day of the Monterey County Free Libraries is doing a program called Flashlight Fridays – Stories to Tell in the Dark! In it, she is reading slightly longer, scarier picture books. Each book gets a pumpkin rating for how scary it is!

Quite a few other libraries are planning Take-n-Makes with Halloween themes like monster masks or crafts about pumpkins.

Leslie Meyer from Soldotna Public Library (AK) is planning a fun event for her teens. Her event called “We All Float Down Here” has a history of and facts about clowns. That is followed by a how-to-make three-ingredient ice cream for root beer floats.

Alison Day had another great idea with a Mad Scientist STEM program as well as a Monster Mash Dance Party.

Ariel Treece of Eureka Public Library (KS) has created a horror movie list to pass out with take-home bags of popcorn and other treats to enjoy at home. The list includes options for everyone with ratings listed so families can pick what is perfect for them.

How are you looking to scare your ghouls and ghosts? Zombie shuffle over to the ND Children’s Librarian’s page and share your great ideas!