Who Inspired Us to Read

Carol Robinson:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 Have no recall of this

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 Island of the Blue Dolphins as I could relate to the loneliness of the girl in the novel.  I too felt like I was all alone. Books became my friends.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

It would be reader specific.  If they like Sports it might be The Blind Side.  If they like music it might be a music biography.  If they like the Civil War it might be My Brother Sam is Dead.

David Townsend:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

My Mother, Bonnie Townsend. 

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 “The Wind In the Willows.” It’s one of the first books Mom read to me and inspired a lifelong love of whimsy and fantasy.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

“A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Sci-Fi stirs the imagination of young readers by taking them to worlds beyond their own. I read this the first time when I was in junior high.

Crystal Miller:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 My Grandma. Starting from a very young age, I would sit in her lap and she would read to me during every visit. It’s something I can always remember looking forward to.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I read that book in elementary school and it was the first book that made me cry. It made me realize just how powerful reading a book could be.

Kim Bryant:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

Two people: my mom and my childhood librarian. Books were around the house growing up and my mom shared with me her love of libraries very early. I distinctly remember the day she took me to get my first library card,  at age 5, in Blackfoot, Idaho. Once my siblings and I had our own library cards, we were allowed to walk to the library without Mom and I quickly became fast friends with Lisa Harrell, who worked at the children’s desk (and 30-odd years later is now Blackfoot’s library director).

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  We purchased a copy from a Scholastic Book Order when I was in the third grade.  I still own it (sans the back cover, but does that really matter?) and re-read it at least annually.  There is something so magical about your own special space, where you can pretend your worries and trials don’t exists.  It’s also a story about two things kids crave: independence (Mary grew up with a bevy of servants but now must learn to entertain herself) and attention (Mary develops her first real relationships with Martha, Colin, Dickon, and Ben Weatherstaff).

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

I would recommend A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz to a reluctant reader. It’s bloody. Really bloody, with a snarky narrator. While not for every reader (some kids tell me it’s too gross for them), we have a hard time keeping our six copies on the shelf -which is unusual for a book that’s been around for 6 years.

Kathleen McVey:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

My mother was the one who was always reading- to herself, and to me and my siblings. Our most cherished birthday or Christmas gift would often  be a new book, and we always had bookshelves by our bedside. Reading before sleep- whether a nap or at nighttime, was always the routine.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

The Nancy Drew series is one I remember most vividly. I could not wait to read each new story and would stay up late at night with a flashlight under the covers- I’m sure my parents knew- and allowed me to “secretly” read…

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Of course, it would depend on the particular interests and aptitude of the reader, but I think the new series, The Eighth Continent, is a great recommendation for its energetic pace and the imaginative characters that keep kids’ interest. Series are a great idea for reluctant readers since there’s a logical next book to read right away.

Kasi Allen:

I don’t have the answers to these questions for myself because I’ve always been a voracious reader, but I often anecdotally share my husband’s experience with reading to parents of young patrons, so I’ll give you those.

He had immense troubles with reading. In first grade, his teacher recommended holding him back because of how poor his reading abilities were. He wouldn’t read for pleasure, he wouldn’t read for class. His mom had him doing phonics exercises after school, but he just wasn’t interested. For his 8th birthday, his uncle gave him some comic books and that changed everything. He read every comic book he could get his hands on, and then moved on to books. His grades improved, he began enjoying school. It is often referred to in the family as “the comic book miracle.” A man who was once placed in special education courses because his teachers just didn’t know how to help him learn now has a master’s degree and is absolutely what we call a “lifelong reader.”

I urge parents of children who have the same relationship with reading that my husband did to try graphic novels. Of course, it may not be the miracle answer to everyone else that it was for my spouse’s parents, but it can’t hurt to try!

Holly Jackson:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 My Mother. She read to us every night for as long as I can remember so it was just a natural progression that I developed a love for reading.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

The Magic Attic Club Books. Because they were books about girls just like me that got to go on these fantastic adventures.  

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Poison Study by. It has a little bit of everything right from the get go. Magic, Fantasy, Adventure, Fighting, Romance and Intrigue. 

Gregory Whitmore:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how? No one that I can think of. My mother probably read to me when I was young, but as soon as I learned my ABCs and began reading at 4 or so, I became voracious.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why? As funny as this is going to sound, it wasn’t a single book, it was  television and movies. I was three or four when I first saw the original Batman television series. Within a few days, I discovered his adventures in comic books at the local grocery store, along with tons of other costumed adventurers. I begged and pleaded with my parents to buy me some. What they bought, I read, re-read and re-re-read– cue the voracious reader again. Even though I couldn’t understand all the words at first, the art, the sense of adventure and the idea of doing good while hidden resonated in me. I read, collected and indexed (think surrogate records here) comics for the better part of 45 years. I also discovered comic strips about this time, including “Peanuts”. I’m still addicted to the daily funnies to this day.

Movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Disney’s the Jungle Book—as well as their versions of Peter Pan and Dr. Syn alias the Scarecrow– , 1940s serials (Zorro, Tarzan, Flash Gordon), Robin Hood, the Three Musketeers, various science fiction/Universal monster movies and numerous Warner Brothers cartoons led to my reading Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Howard Pyle, Alexandre Dumas, anything on magic (illusionists and mages) and books starring Flash Gordon, the Shadow, Zorro, Tarzan, Doc Savage, John Carter and Sherlock Holmes. My fascination with disasters like the Hindenburg crash, The 1920 Wall Street bombing, the Chicago Fire of 1871, the War of the Worlds radio scare, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse in 1940, and the Tunguska explosion in 1908 among others led me to read the newspapers daily for a long time.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why? Collection of comics strips, comic books and graphic novels are very easy for non-readers to get into. Complete stories, great art, continuing characters, and full of adventure. What’s not to like? I also used to read dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as tons of other non-fiction books. Some readers don’t like fiction, so these are some options. The first prose book I can remember reading beginning to end was in second or third grade: “Sprockets” by Alexander Key.

Rubie Gallegos:

My mom gave me a love of reading even though she did not like to read I can remember sitting on her lap while she read Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel and The Little house to me, I still love these books.  My aunt was also instrumental she was a reader and encouraged me to read everything there was no “reading levels” I would sit by her and she would tell me all the words I didn’t know.  

I struggled to learn read but always loved it, as a 4-5th grader I loved Little house on the prairie and Island of the blue dolphins

I recommend books to students everyday lately I send a lot of reluctant readers to Geronimo Srtilton, and Who was biographies 

Tania Harden:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 It was more circumstances than a specific person.  I grew up in rural Indiana in the early 70’s.  We had no cable and only got ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS on TV.  I had no siblings close to my age and no friends who lived close.  I learned to entertain myself by reading and playing by myself.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 The first book I remember learning how to read was “Little Red Riding Hood” Golden Books.  I was about 4 yrs old and had the mumps.  I was bored and taught myself how to read while I was sick.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

It depends on his/her interests and age.  My son was crazy about trains when he was little, so we read every Thomas the Tank Engine book we could find.

Sharla Jensen:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

My mother. She read books to us, took us to the library, kept many books on various subjects in our home, and read voraciously herself. When she read a particularly good book she would share it with us to read too, and then discuss the book with us.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

There were a few books that stand out. When I was first learning to read, I loved Go Dog Go. As I got older, I think the Chronicles of Prydain series and the Narnia Series really helped me learn to love to read.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Some of my kids were a little reluctant to read as they got older. The books that they all enjoyed and couldn’t hardly put down were the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

Kristi Haman:

Growing up, I watched my father read history books so I did the same. I still love history and select all of the nonfiction books for Ada Community Library.

My love for reading and poetry was ignited by Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I still have the old beat up copy that my little sister scribbled in. This book inspired me to create a new version of the book with my own poems and cartoons.

I would recommend juvenile nonfiction books to reluctant readers. The reader can select subjects that they are interested in (Legos, animals, Star Wars, biographies, Minecraft, gross science, silly jokes, How to draw, etc.) and the pictures reel them in every time. Suddenly, they forget that they hate reading!

Christine Hoxie:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how? 

My mother:  bedtime stories, and school librarians because they were passionate about their job

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why? 

Madeline L’Engle was introduced to me through the library , the diverse, weird , twisted writing of hers really sparked my imagination and took me to another world, probably because I couldn’t handle all the changes of 9/13 year old girl : puberty, relocating, the list goes on

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

 I would recommend a humorous author only because it might grab attention more than guessing on a reluctant readers preference in reading material, also a shorter story. Perhaps start them with a series and see where it goes from there. I love Junie B. Jones for a boy perhaps diary of a wimpy kid

Carly Finseth (@drcarlyfin):

@idaholibrarian @BSULibrary “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. It was magical and let my imagination run wild.

George Williams:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

I’d give my entire family the credit for my love of reading.  My family was very messed up.  Going to the library and reading were escapes from my drunken father, codependent mother, and bi-polar brother.  The library in Idaho Falls was a safe place I could go to sit quietly in a corner and read so I could get away from my family.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

There was no single book that ignited a love for reading in me.  I was particularly fond of the STAR TREK novelizations by James Blish and Alan Dean Foster and I also read the LORD OF THE RINGS books when I was in the third grade.  I also enjoyed Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury – almost everything I read by them was good.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

My readers advisory experience tells me that I don’t have an answer for this question.  I find that finding the right book for someone is so individualized that I don’t have one or two titles that I pull out of a hat to recommend to everyone who wants a recommendation.  It’s better to have a dialogue with a patron to find out what they’re interested in and then find the book that fits their interests.  Nancy Perl’s “Doorways” concept is not a horrible way to start out with adults and teens, but for the age group that you seem to be interested in, I’m not sure I would have a strategy beyond talking to the child and pulling a bunch of books off of the shelf with them and looking at a bunch of stuff.

Shelly Doty:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 My 9th grade English teacher, Ms. Katherine Krueger. She encouraged having our own opinions about what we read, not the standard or acceptable opinions. We were free to think whatever we wanted – and write about it the same way.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 I Will Fight No More Forever by Merrill Beal. It was due to Ms. Krueger. She let us discuss our thoughts openly in class with no repercussions due to our own language use or differing opinions.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Harry Potter series. My daughter was not interested in reading. She learned in first grade she didn’t have to read because the computer told her what to do. She truly believed that. In fifth grade she picked up the first Harry Potter book – and read every single one. Since then she has been hooked on reading.

There are other series that would be good for younger readers like Hank the Cow Dog. Finding a good series is great because it allows the child to continue on with characters they enjoy instead of stopping and not being able to find another book.

Vampire, werewolf, zombie or hero series are good. The House of Night series, Mercy Thompson series,  Hunger Game series, Alex Rider series, John Sandford Prey series, Abigail Roux series, C.J. Box series, Stephanie Plum series, J.D. Robb series. 

I’ve read more teen and adult series than younger child series.

Carol Mayer:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

  My passion for reading was ignited by my mother and father.  I do not remember how other than they read to me or listened to me read.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

  I do not remember the first books I read.  My mom and dad said I started to read when I was 4.  I do not remember a time when I wasn’t reading.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Any Dr. Seuss children’s book because they are simple and fun.

Patricia Rose:

My mom ignited my love of reading with her passion and dedication to sharing it’s importance. We grew up with regular trips to the community library (which at the time was located in our local high school). She read to us every night, and made sure we were always stocked with new and exciting books to read. She is still a strong member of the community and donates her time to the library, the schools, and the Veterans Home on top of holding full time employment. She sits on the library board, and has even had a therapy dog (until he passed) who made regular visits to participate in the Tails for Tales program and assist children who struggle with reading aloud. My mom is an incredible lady. I aspire to be just like her.

The books I am most passionate about are the Little House on the Prairie series. They sucked me in, and I find myself returning to them like an old friend every couple of years.

Any book can help suck in a reluctant reader, if it is something that interests them and is presented with passion. Find out what interests a kiddo, and then honestly and enthusiastically give them a couple of options. Follow up. Sometimes having an interested adult can make all the difference. Not everyone naturally loves reading, but everyone can have a warm and meaningful relationship with books if presented by someone who sincerely cares.

Ann Misner:

As a child I had a difficult time learning to read, as we were not taught phonics and had to memorize thousands of words by sight. I became very ill when I was twelve and spent the summer in bed.  We did not have TV and the only entertainment was reading.  I began to read the Black Stallion series and the Secret Garden.  It was not until I began to teach phonic and  understand the structure of the written word that reading became as necessary as breathing.  I love to read as often as I may and always carry a book where ever I go.

Sandy Evans:

  • What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

My Mom and older Brother. They read to me a lot.

Also, my folks had a mini family library, and a bunch of bean bags that stacked on top of each other, to sit on by the book shelf with good lighting. It was called our reading corner.

  • What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

Dr. Seuss books.  Because I had some health issues; “Sam I am” was read to me a lot and it was an encouragement to help me eat.

  • What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

It depends on the age.

Any colorful books, then add a word here and there for 0 to preschool.

Dr. Seuss, Marc Brown, Bernstein Bears, for the preschool thru 1 or 2nd grade (they are good ones for learning to read and any phonic books).

Any humor books like Amelia Bedila, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Hank the Cow dog: to 3/4 grade thru middle school. (When my son was in 3 or 4th grade I was struggling trying to find a type of book or series for him to like. A substitute introduced Hank the Cow dog to him. That was a hit.)

In High School most of the students have found a certain series they like in- Mysteries, Romance, Thrill, Army base, Science Fiction, etc

Shasta Bolduc:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 My Kindergarten teacher – she would use puppets and make up different voices for each character which made it seem real.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

 Pollyanna was the first chapter book I remember reading all the way through and then feeling so good about both finishing it and enjoying the story.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Science Fair by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson – It’s a chapter book but not lengthy and it’s funny story for all ages to enjoy

Kathy Callahan:

It was me that ignited a love for reading in me as a child merely by learning how.  I remember when I really “got it,” when reading came easily to me and how happy and proud I felt.

There were many books, Nancy Drew, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Adventure of Huckberry Finn, but one memory stands out:  Reading A Secret Garden early in the morning while still in bed and eating Junior Mints.

I retired from Boise Public in June 2015 after 16 years as a librarian.

Carolyn Todd:

1&2.       My mom and dad always read to me, so I was eager to start reading on my own. Then, the summer between first and second grade, I had to rest in my room after lunch. My mom gave me the Nancy Drew “Clue in the Crumbling Wall,” and told me to read it during rest time. I never looked back. Nancy Drew books weren’t in public libraries back then, so most of my allowance went to purchasing new mysteries.

3.            Are you my mother? By P.D. Eastman (Dr. Seuss). Easy to read but still manages to be hilarious.

Jean Hauritz:

> What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how? My

father. He read and wrote poetry to my sister and I as young children.  My favorite was Mullga Bill’s Bicycle.


> What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why? The

> Wind

in the Willows. My mother read and reread this to my sister and I until I finally read and reread it to myself and my own children.


> What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Funny poetry. Poems can be short or long, funny, sad and much more.  My favorite for kids would be Alan  Katz’ I’m still here in the bathtub.

Jennifer Hills:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

I was lucky enough to have parents and grandparents who were readers – though each in their own way. My Dad was a voracious reader, reading anything – fiction, nonfiction, magazines, cereal boxes – whatever he could get his hands on. My Grandmother was a big romance reader, and she was never without a book in her hands. My Mom didn’t always read for pleasure, but she loved to read to me, and she was great at creating different voices and expressions. And, my Grandfather read the newspaper – back to front – every day. With those four as role models, it’s no wonder I love to read!

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

I don’t remember a specific book when I was really young, but we had a collection of the Golden Books. I loved the Poky Little Puppy, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, and anything with Mother Goose rhymes. I think I still have a couple of copies – and they’re probably older than me!

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Books with rhythm and rhyme are always great to start with. Music and repetition are great learning tools, so I think I’d try something along those lines to draw them in, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Books that have a twist are also fun – like There’s a Monster at the End of This Book or My Little Sister Ate One Hare. I think children will respond to anything that gets them laughing, dancing, or repeating – and adults, too. (Of course, I’m an Adult Librarian, but I do have a niece and three nephews that I constantly experiment with…)

Vivian Milius:

Both of my parents read aloud to us.  All of my grade school teachers read aloud to us.

My parents did not take me to the public library.  When I was in 5th grade we moved to a small town in which the library was within walking distance for me.  That is how I discovered the OZ books by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson. When I began junior high school in a larger town I used the school library.  

Two of my six children were reluctant to read.  I found out later that one of them observed that I read aloud less to older siblings who were reading and this child did not want to lose that one-on-one time together.  Through her I learned how children cope with SSR (Silent Sustained Reading time at school) when they are not yet proficient at reading.  This child made it a summer project to get her youngest sibling to read.  The youngest child was in 5th grade and not reading.  What the older sibling did was to check out five very different books, one of them being Artemis Fowl.  Well, that was the book that turned my youngest into a reader.  I might add here that the first reluctant reader is now a college graduate and the youngest reluctant reader was on the high school honor roll and is now attending college.

I have a friend who suggested that reluctant readers (especially boys) find a younger person to read aloud to — either picture books, beginning readers, or comics.  

One of my children struggled with dyslexia so she read books while listening to audio books.  She got all her “AR” points in this way.  She too is now a college graduate.

My child who was our best reader had a third grade teacher who gave a sticker for each book read.  Even though she was in third grade a fully capable of reading more difficult books, she read hundreds of emergent readers either to herself or to a younger sibling.  She felt very successful and was recognized for all the stickers.  I am so glad this teacher did not demand that she read books on her reading level.  She was soon reading on grade level and more!

Another one of my children was in fourth grade and still reading (and loving) the Magic Tree House series and then The Secrets of Droon series.  I thought she was missing out on so many good books and in parent teacher conferences brought this up with her teacher.  He assured me that she would move on soon enough and told me not to worry.  He was right!  By the next year she was reading more substantial books.

Kath Ann Hendricks:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

  My mother.  She was an avid reader and would not only  bring home stacks of books to read herself, but took us to the library, which was about a 30 minute drive from our home.  We lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and our closest library was the Felton Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries in Felton, Califormia.  It opened the year I was born having been converted from a Presbyterian Church to a library.     http://www.santacruzpl.org/branches/8/   

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

Probably my all time favorite book was, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle .  I’m sure it wasn’t the first book I read, or the  one that ignited a love of reading, but it sure helped.  I thoroughly enjoyed science fiction/fantasy, historical fiction and mysteries (Phyllis Whitney  and Nancy Drew mysteries being favorites).

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

I cannot think of one book in particular to recommend to a new or reluctant reader because I like to tailor my recommendations to the individual.  I work primarily with teens and I find that encouraging a reluctant teen reader involves finding a subject that draws them in.  Often it will be whatever their friends are reading, or books that were made into movies that caught their attention.  I have no problem recommending books that others might consider fads or poorly written because I feel that gives me a chance to encourage other books of the genre that might be better.  Draw them in with whatever they are willing or hungering to read and go from there. 

I go to the middle schools just prior to our summer reading programs to share our plans for the summer and some of the books I have read and enjoyed.  I encourage them to keep reading throughout the summer, even if it means reading the newspaper, magazines, graphic novels, or …..cereal boxes!  Because, reading anything will exercise their minds and make learning easier for them in the next school year. (and, yes, I tell them to read cereal boxes!)

Linda Pullicar:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

It was my mom, no doubt about it.  She took me to the library to check out books and also enrolled me in a children’s book-of-the-month club.  I vividly remember how thrilled I was to get Frederick by Leo Lioni in the mail.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

I can’t name a particular book, but there was always lots of reading material around and I dove into all of it.  I do remember hearing my three older siblings talking about Lord of the Rings and wanting so much to read it.  I did when I was in 5th grade and became such a Tolkien-head that I read them at least once every summer during my teen years.

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

It depends on the child.  For parents of children just starting to learn I often recommend Bob Books.  It is such a thrill for kids when they learn those first few letter sounds and then can read a whole book!  For children who don’t like to read I try non-fiction about whatever they’re in to.

Cathy Butterfield:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

 Definitely my mother, who began teaching me the basics of reading by reading to me and with me when I was four.  I think I was let loose on my own by the time I was five.

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

The first book I remember reading and re-reading is Wynken, Blynken and Nod, a pre-1960s issue of the poem with wonderful illustrations. 

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

Classic Marvel comics.  Action, plot, and great vocabulary.  Granted, the artwork is sexist and skewed, but you do want a springboard for reluctant readers, and the engagement of the reading brain is more important than the content.

Lori Bonner:

What person ignited a love for reading in you as a child and how?

                An Aunt. I did not see her often as she lived in the mid-west and abroad for most of my childhood. She always gave books for birthdays and holidays. While some of my siblings and cousins thought the books were nerdy, I loved them. One holiday when I was about 8, she sent me the EB White trifecta (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan). Charlotte’s Web was the book . . .

What book ignited a love for reading in you as a child and why?

            . . . that ignited my love of reading. When I finished this book, I knew I wanted to spend my life with books and print, to what extent I didn’t know. Charlotte brought several very memorable revelations to my young life.

I had a profound fear of spiders as a child and Charlotte brought that fear into perspective for me. She was kind and wise and resourceful—I liked her. Her personality, and of course EB White’s writing of her characteristics, helped me take a more rational view of my fear of arachnids. I still freak out about spiders but Charlotte made a palpable impact on that fear.

I also loved that she used her web to communicate very simply. This instilled in me a respect for the written word. I recall thinking how powerful her word(s) were to those who read them.

The story also instilled in me a sense that friendship is not always perfect or easy, and that we find friendship in unexpected places—a lesson that has served me well in life.

I still remember the feeling when I finished that book—‘I want to read, read, read.’

What book would you recommend to a new or reluctant reader and why?

                Answering this would require a reference interview with the reader. I would not recommend the same book to every reader.

Randy de Jong:

I am sorry that I am not an Idaho librarian yet, but simply a lurker from CA. My dad ignited my love of reading. We went to the library every week from before I can remember what age I was. I was always allowed to check out any book and as many as I was allowed. the first story is my choice of The last of the Mohicans in about 3rd grade. My dad and I struggled through about 30 pages together and then I struggled a bit longer. In fifth grade I checked it out again and read it alone and loved it. what a great war story. I was to young to realize the super romance that was included. I remember many books. Curious George was a favorite and the first chapter book I remember was called Three Stuffed Owls. I have not been able to locate it since becoming an adult. My recommendations for reluctant readers are Wild Things by Carmichael, Bluefish by Schmatz, and World Afire by Janeczcko (sp?). For reluctant readers that are progressing in their skills, the Bluford High series is a winner and gets read. This may be because of the demographics of my kids. Hope this helps.



Showcasing Faculty Research Through the Creative and Scholarly Work Celebration at Idaho State University


Faculty scholarship and creative activities represent enormous intellectual capital and contribute to the advancement of the humanities and sciences. To recognize and honor ISU (Idaho State University) faculty authors, to foster communication and good will between faculty and the ISU Library, library staff spearheaded creative and scholarly work celebration event. This article details the ISU Library’s experience and offers “how- to” ideas and insights on identifying scholarly works, planning celebration venue, and working collaboratively with university units. To date there is no research addressing such a comprehensive step by step plan. This article contains new and significant information and will be a helpful guide to libraries pondering how to plan an event such as this. The response to this event has been overwhelmingly positive, and the ISU Library will continue to host it in future years.

     Keywords– faculty scholarship celebration, collaboration, scholarly works database


Creating and disseminating new knowledge through scholarly and creative endeavors, through cutting-edge research lies at the heart of Higher Education Institutions mission. Faculty drives the research mission of the University by the rich culture of their research; with individual achievements of faculty members being paramount to a university’s success. There is an inherent relationship between faculty who create research and university libraries, who provide access to it. In 2014, the ISU Library, in partnership with the Office of Research and Economic Development, Friends of Oboler Library and the Office of the Provost, sought to highlight the research accomplishments of the faculty and the abilities of the Library through an event that would, quite literally, put all of the research conducted in the prior calendar year on display.  This scholar event, displayed physical copies of all the publications of faculty from all departments on campus and featured two ISU’s Distinguished Researches award winners, who spoke about their research. The Library Dean and the designee from the Office of Research and Economic Development emphasized the importance of research and the research process in the opening and closing remarks.

The article will describe the process of identifying faculty publications, collaboratively planning and hosting a showcase of faculty scholarship to recognize faculty achievements and to highlight the role of the library in academe.

Literature Review

There are essentially two parts in planning a university faculty recognition event: library collaboration with other units and identification of scholarly works.

A review of the literature reveals that academic librarians—either individually or not– collaborate with various others to achieve goals shared by those involved.  Collaboration partners frequently include colleagues from within the academy, including the IT department, Friends groups, the university bookstore, the faculty senate, student groups, the athletic department, web page developers, student support offices, academic departments such as Art, Music, English, librarians from other institutions, and more. Occasionally, the partners are from within the greater community in which the organization resides, and include community groups, alumni groups, authors, K-12 students and teachers, senior citizen groups, working professionals, local public libraries, local businesses, adult education groups, etc.

Some alliances seem to have formed naturally, some are forced, and others result from mutually achieved glimpses of clarity, “thinking outside the box,” as it is sometimes called.   Whatever the circumstances causing the formation of a partnership, the anticipated benefits to participating parties stand high as motivating factors. As noted by Bergquist, Betwee and Meuel (1995), partnerships

  • are formed to yield efficiency
  • provide flexibility
  • offer expanded resources
  • can create expanded markets for participating organizations
  • offer participants a sense of interdependence

Partnerships between academic librarians and others are marked in the literature as much by the common goal energizing the alliance as they are by the variety of partner types. The goals of such partnerships are myriad, yet all seem to reflect a recognition of the external environment that a given academic library is functioning within.  They include promoting the use of the library, recognizing faculty work, promoting writing and scholarship, identifying and promoting technical services, creating student support services and enhancing the classroom experience, promoting information literacy skills, and increasing use of library resources.  Others are formed to address diverse needs that range from fundraising to hiring student employees.

Examples of such partnerships are profuse throughout the library literature, and some can be utilized to serve as guides for planning specific projects, revealing both ideas for potential partners, as well as methods to use to execute planned events. Rockman (2001) highlights some examples found in academic libraries.  One noted is at California Polytechnic State University Kennedy Library to celebrate campus authors.  The Library joined with the campus bookstore to host an event that heralded works by faculty, yet focused on books, only.  Also noted is at Southern Methodist University, where the University Library partnered with the Faculty Senate and the Friends of SMU Libraries to host a reception to honor faculty authorship, editorship and artistic works.  This event featured works in all formats, including journal articles, books, scores, and music CD’s.

Davis (1999) discusses an extensive writer-library collaboration at North Carolina State University.   The Friends of Library hosts events each year, including a Fall Luncheon that highlights authors among faculty, and lectures and readings throughout the year.  The Author-in-Residence program establishes a relationship with a noted local author. This author receives a one-year faculty appointment, which, while it includes no salary, includes library-provided privileges such as a designated individual study room and the use of library resources.  In return, the author speaks at library events and participates in the Faculty Book Fair.

Riddle, Le, & Mugridge (2005), in discussing a library-faculty relationships as they pertain to library-sponsored efforts that promote good relations. They note that these programs can become, “…integral components of libraries’ public relations and development efforts…” (p. 75). Similarly, Ferrier (1990) promotes value of social contact between faculty and librarians.  He urges that librarians find or create venues for merging professional and social contacts with campus colleagues, asserting that, librarians should continually address the question of how the major audiences of academic libraries view us and search for ways to make these views more positive and professional (pp. 147-152).

Bonnet, Alvarez, & Cordell (2014) describe Science Library at the University of Michigan recognizing the wide range of contributions in monograph publishing at their institution. Authors note that collaboration with their subject librarian colleagues who work directly with academic departments to obtain faculty publishing information on an ongoing basis.  The Library designs a permanent physical and digital display of faculty-authored books and organizes an annual Faculty Authors Celebration reception. The authors point out the impact of the initiative  as increased book circulation numbers, open lines of communication with liaisons, excited and grateful feedback from  department chairs and administrators. In the future, collaborating with University Press will be planned to alert library to new faculty publications.

Putting together a faculty publication bibliography is another part in planning a scholarly event. A review of literature demonstrates that librarians have creatively approached collection and hosting of faculty research.

A survey of 172 academic health sciences libraries was conducted by Mansheim and Thompson (1994)  to determine how many have databases of faculty publications and what their databases are like. Authors report that out of 128 respondents, only thirty-two have faculty publications databases. The majority of those who have them maintain comprehensive databases using commercial bibliographic software: Proc-Cite, dBase, Reference Manager, Cuadra STAR, and WP Citation. Mansheim and Thompson report that notices from faculty and commercial databases are the main sources of data for input and that most libraries use their faculty publications database to produce periodic bibliographies and reports to administration.

Popularity of Web-based faculty publication databases was highlighted by Blummer (2007), who conducted a survey of various listservs to discover the history and development of faculty publication databases or author bibliographies. Librarians reported a wide range of software: MySQL, Filemaker Pro, and Dreamweaver, employed in the development of these databases highlighting their creation by librarians with various levels of programming skills.

The author notes that most respondents emphasized the desire to highlight the research activities of their institutions.

Using a wiki to create a faculty publications database at The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina is detailed by Connor (2007). The author describes the project which was undertaken to organize and promote research productivity, especially among science faculty, as the author is the liaison to those departments. Authors notes  that editing, searching, and navigation capabilities available in most wiki software packages are relatively simple to master compared to the complex processes used to create and publish searchable Web-based databases.

Armstrong & Stringfellow (2012) describe using Institutional Repository to host a faculty publication bibliography at Boise State University. They note not only is faculty scholarship included in the comprehensive university bibliography, it is also showcased as part of their department’s collection and on their Selected Works site. If a faculty member’s work is part of the repository, then it is a part of the bibliography and included in all the related promotional activities.

Vieira, McGowan, McCrillis, Lamb, Larson, Bakker, & Spore (2014) write about Library’s Faculty Bibliography project at NYU Health Sciences that has systematically tracked publications of the NYU School of Medicine faculty since 2000. Migrating from Gopher to EndNote to MySQL, the Faculty Bibliography harvests data from multiple abstracting and indexing resources and uses sophisticated quality assurance methodologies. The project has grown to a significant institutional service making prominent contributions to the School of Medicine’s public web presence and to advanced productivity metrics.

Finding value in aspects of each of these examples from the literature, the Outreach Committee took advantage of a local development and created a scholarly event to celebrate all forms of faculty output in a given year.


Identifying Scholarly Works

The Library Outreach Committee has long held the idea that hosting an event to honor ISU authors fosters communication and good will between faculty and the Library. The Library has held such events under the sponsorship of the Friends of Oboler Library, but these events had been irregularly scheduled and were necessarily on a small scale.  The events were focused on a particular department or unit simply because of the enormous amount of work required to identify the individual works of each faculty author.  There was no centralized source maintained on campus for recording the details of faculty research and creative output, so any identifying work had to be done manually at the individually faculty level.

In May 2013, the University launched Digital Measures’ Activity Insight and mandated that faculty input details of their professional activities effective as of January 1, 2013.  This web-based software is a hosted database that allows full downloads of data in comma-delimited or XML files at all times, It also, among other things, allows the university’s Office of Institutional Research to produce easily a collective report detailing all of the scholarly activities of all ISU faculty for a given time period.  For the first time, then, the Outreach Committee had the means to pursue the creation of a new event that could honor all faculty on campus and their contributions to the scholarly community.

With a centralized system for storing faculty research details in place, the Outreach Committee saw an opportunity to expand faculty recognition events held previously at the college level to a campus-wide event.  The Office of Research and Economic Development was a natural choice for a collaboration partner for such an event, so the Committee extended an offer to a known Library supporter in this office.  Approval both to support the scholar event financially and for the staff member to join in the effort was readily granted.  This staff member was added to the Library Outreach Committee and played an active role in the planning for the scholar event.

In the spring of 2014, the Outreach Committee requested and received a report of ISU faculty scholarship for the 2013 calendar year from the Office of Institutional Research.  It was delivered in Excel spreadsheet form.  Over the summer, several library staff worked on acquiring hard copies of these works.  The intent was to leave no work out: the group would acquire a copy of every piece of faculty output for that year.  Copies of articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings, were secured either from ISU’s collection or via interlibrary loan. Complete books, if in the Library collection, were checked out to the Outreach Committee; if not already in the collection, they were purchased and then checked out to the Outreach Committee. Creative works were identified separately and obtained directly from the creators or their department.

Several difficulties arose during this process. First, the collectors realized that the report had not collected many qualifying creative activities.  This problem was addressed by requesting a secondary report and by contacting the College of Arts and Letters, which houses the departments of Music, Theater and Communication for this information.

Second, the work of collecting the material was spread among several library staff, which necessarily introduced errors into the process and, unfortunately, led to several works being missed and many being printed several times.  Third, a lack of input standards for works’ citations, combined with the fact that citation details were stored in a single field, made sorting the data and generating reference lists infeasible.

The most surprising development was that works from multiple ISU authors were represented in the file from Activity Insight by a single record that was attributed only to the first-listed author.  As a result, many faculty and graduate student authors were overlooked, although the work they contributed to was not. This unfortunate fact went unnoticed until late in the process, and required a thorough re-check of the data so that those authors could also be acknowledged at the event.

In preparation for the 2015 scholar event, several changes have been made to address these problems. An interlibrary loan account has been created for the scholar event, and this will allow better tracking of the number and cost of the requests that are submitted.  The Outreach Committee has worked with the Office of Institutional Research to modify its data gathering methodology to require complete citations and provide additional fields within the report which identify additional authors and graduate students. The Excel data will be cleaned and standardized prior to the ordering of books and articles to limit duplication and omissions, and to allow for the creation of a complete bibliography.  The ordering and the maintenance of the masterfile will be monitored by a single individual (See Figure 1).

In 2014, the Activity Insight program for faculty was still relatively new, and represented a less-than-complete picture of faculty research because many members of faculty had not understood that they needed to hand input their publications into the system.  Members of the Outreach Committee were proactive in letting faculty know that some information was missing at the scholar event because of a lack of information in the Activity Insight system.  The 2015 data pull demonstrates that more faculty members are entering their information into the system, and this will allow the Outreach Committee to create a more complete representation of the research conducted at the 2015 scholar event.

One of the benefits of the revision in data collection is the ease with which specialized bibliographies can be created.  Bibliographies will be created after the scholar event for displays and other in-house uses, and will be easily reproducible for others’ use.  This was identified as a need after the 2014 scholar event when one department requested a list of departmental faculty and publications that had been featured at the event.  Due to this unexpected request, post-event contact and collaboration with departments and members of the faculty was made a priority in future plans.

Planning and Executing the Scholar Event

Location, Date, and Time

The Outreach Committee chose the most elegant on-campus venue, the Stephens Performing Arts Center, as the site for the scholar event.  The Center, located at the top of a hill and commanding a beautiful view of campus and the surrounding community, has been recognized as one of the most beautiful campus performing arts centers in the country (The 25 most amazing university performing arts centers, n.d). The Rotunda area and an adjacent wing were used, with alcoves for the buffet and displays (See Figure 2 and Figure 3). While it is a lovely space, it is also a high demand space, so everything from tablecloths to podiums comes at a high cost.

Late fall was identified as the best time to put on a large event so it would not compete with Homecoming, mid-terms, and the primary Library fundraiser, held in the spring. Much effort was made to ensure that the Dean of the Library, the Vice President of the Office of Research and Economic Development, and the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs would be able to attend. For fall 2014, Wednesday, October 22 was chosen.

In congruence with the elegance of the setting the decision was made to hold the event in the evening from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  The scholar event was well attended by high level administration, due to the effort made to ensure their attendance, but it was not as well attended by faculty as expected. At the event, the sound engineer recommended moving the event to an earlier time, because he has noticed that of the events held at this Center, those held earlier in the day are better attended.

The Outreach Committee decided to heed his advice and to move the scholar event to an earlier time in the future. As lovely as the venue was, the Committee also decided that future events will be held at another venue to keep costs down. Other locations discussed included a nearby hotel, the student union, the Library, and other areas on campus.  An on-campus location was chosen to encourage attendance by the university community. One of the larger rooms in the student union building will be used in order to keep the scholar event on campus and to maintain its elegance.

Displays, Decor, Setup and Teardown

An estimate of the display space that would be needed for hard copies of hundreds of works of research suggested that 35 eight-foot tables would be needed.  The table order had to be part of the registration information, so the estimate was made early.  It would be a challenge to plan the set up the venue in advance so that all of the research works could be well displayed, so the decisions about where to place the tables and the research were made by members of the Committee on the day of the event (See Figure 4).  This was successful, and will be replicated in future events.

The Outreach Committee came up with a decor scheme, consisting of centerpieces for the tables, mats for displaying the books and copies of articles, and other flourishes. A theme of simple fall elegance worked well.  Keeping the décor simple had the advantage of minimizing the work needed, but the scale of the event was such that everything took more time than originally expected, anyway. The plan for the future is to reuse the existing decorations with minimal additions/changes, at least for the coming year.

The main concern was ensuring that the more than 400 articles, books, and other items were displayed elegantly and fairly across departments.  On the day of the event, three students and two members of the Outreach Committee participated exclusively in this part of the setup, which took all day and required multiple major changes to the configuration of both the tables and scholarly works resting on them. In the future, a single individual will be assigned the authority to complete this part of the set up with a dedicated team, in order to avoid pulling library staff from other necessary tasks, such as setting up the registration table, the dining area tables, and the speakers’ podium/area.

A registration table with printed name tags for the invited scholars and blank name tags for everyone else was located near the main entry of the venue.  There was a lot of work involved in getting the hundreds of name tags printed; in the future this effort will be eliminated.

Articles were arranged cascade-style on special mats; usually, only one stack was needed, but, in a few cases, a second was necessary because of the profligate output by the scholar during 2013 (See Figure 5 and Figure 6).

Articles were laid flat; books were displayed either on stands or standing up, supporting themselves.  Single chapters were bookmarked in individual volumes.  Artwork and musical scores were displayed on easels, and presentation posters were hung on moveable walls. In the future, presentation posters will be permitted only when accompanied by their corresponding publications.

Table tents, including each scholar’s name, academic department, and, in a few cases, photos, were created and placed next to each display. These photos enhanced recognition of the scholars; the Outreach Committee will make an effort to acquire more individual photos for the next event.

A final difficulty on the day of the event was the lack of planning regarding teardown. The labeled folder for each article display was kept underneath the display to make the gathering of the articles after the event easier and to prevent disarrangement.  Even so, while people including faculty members of the Friends organization, pitched in to help to load everything into various Committee member’s vehicles, the Outreach Committee quickly realized that it hadn’t fully thought through the event teardown enough to make the collecting of the vast number of works in various formats and event decorations a systematic and orderly process.  As a result, a lot of post-event sorting had to be done in the Library later in the week.


At ISU, all advertising intended for an external, i.e., off campus, audience, regardless of media must be approved by a centralized marketing committee. This process can add several weeks to the promotional work and must be factored into the overall timing of the project. The Library worked with the Office of Marketing and Communications to create the graphics and advertising design, which was subsequently submitted to the same body for approval after each iteration. Three paper invitations were created: a Save-the-Date sent at the beginning of the semester, and a general invitation sent two weeks prior to the event to the university community, the Friends of Oboler Library, and the Library’s donors list, and a formal invitation sent to faculty scholars three weeks prior to the event (See Figure 7).

These hard copy announcements were supplemented by electronic bulletin board announcements sent on a regular basis to students, faculty, and staff. Large posters were placed at various community locations such as restaurants and stores. Finally, a press release was prepared for local papers and other local media with the assistance of the ISU Office of Marketing and Communications. The press release was surprisingly ineffective, perhaps due to local media’s focus on Idaho State University’s accreditation visit, which happened to coincide with the event. The official campus photographer was invited to document the event.  Two members of the Library staff also took pictures.  These images were later used in displays and in the Library newsletter.

An unexpected difficulty arose in the design of the advertising. The event itself took place in 2014, but the work of the scholars it featured was from 2013. The Outreach Committee learned that placing both dates in proximity on the advertising confused some people, making them wonder if the event had previously taken place in 2013.  For future events, the Outreach Committee will work with the Office of Marketing and Communications to mitigate this confusion. There will also be changes in the invitation sent to the scholars; the updated data in the spreadsheet will allow for the creation of personalized emails to be sent to each scholar, making it clear that they are specifically invited to the event because their individual work will be celebrated.

The Outreach Committee hopes that releasing the invitation seven to ten days prior to the event rather than two weeks will make people remember to add the event to their calendars.  The final invitation will include the program.

Poster advertising will not be used in the future because the staff time necessary for this activity could be better used to pursue the more targeted, campus-wide advertising (See appendix C).  Radio, newspaper, and television community calendars, while they are off-campus, will still be used because they require very little staff time and they will reach members of the campus community that might otherwise be missed.


The Outreach Committee initially sought a standard bid from the contracted on-site catering company.  This bid came in extremely high and the Committee made a concerted effort to reduce the costs by eliminating some items entirely and dramatically reducing the amount that would be purchased of the items that were chosen.  The revised price for the final menu came in at just under half of the originally quoted amount, and included a cheese plate, fresh fruit, spinach dip, grilled vegetable antipasti, stuffed mushrooms, and meatballs–all as passed items and/or buffet style.  Lemonade, iced tea and water were also served.

Even at this dramatically reduced level, the menu was still too complex because the food choices were unnecessarily sophisticated and there were an overwhelming number of food choices in the buffet.  Moreover, the contracted caterers failed to pass appetizers during the entire scheduled time and the buffet food was not replenished.  In the future, a member of the Committee will be assigned to monitor the catering staff to ensure that the food will be available.  In addition to these catering concerns, there was concern over the amount of leftover food: food had been ordered for 250 people and only a fraction of that number attended. The Outreach Committee took advantage of this surplus by packing everything up and bringing it back to the Library for student consumption the following day.  In the future, the Committee has decided to reduce the number of items served and eliminate passed appetizers entirely.  This will have the dual function of reducing the overall cost and reducing or eliminating food waste.

The original plan had been to offer a no-host bar at the event, in keeping with its celebratory nature. This required a permit, for which the Committee applied, but it was denied.  The Outreach Committee learned too late that the denial had been due to the fact that the event was advertised specifically to students through a mass email.  There was an option to proceed with alcohol sales at a separately ticketed event held prior to the evening’s main event, but that option would have presented a substantially larger cost, as well as additional logistical difficulties, so the decision was made not to add this to an already complex event.   In the future, the scholar event will be advertised only to members of the faculty and staff, which will make it possible to have a no-host bar without additional restrictions.


Every year, ISU’s Office of Research and Economic Development recognizes faculty researchers by bestowing a Distinguished Researcher Award and several Outstanding Researcher awards.  Recent recipients of these awards were targeted by the Outreach Committee to serve as featured speakers at the scholar event.  The Committee invited one speaker from the sciences and one from the arts and letters, and the speakers were asked to give remarks about their research.  The Dean of the Library was asked to give opening remarks, and the Vice President of the Office of Research and Economic Development, closing remarks.  Emcee duties were shared by two members from the Outreach Committee, who introduced speakers working from the program and from scripted biographies. Feedback received by the Committee indicates that the audience would have liked to have known how the faculty members chose their field of research, how their process worked, where they conducted their work, and what stumbling blocks they encountered. This knowledge will be used in future events to guide speakers’ remarks.

A PowerPoint presentation was used to celebrate and highlight faculty scholarship at the college and department levels (See Figure 8).    Each group was acknowledged as its slide was presented. This went well and will be replicated in future events. The slides were easy to correct up to the very start of the program. This flexibility dramatically increased the accuracy of the slides due to the contribution of early-arriving faculty and administrators.  It was during the on-site adjustment to the presentation that the Committee learned that it must verify current department names when the masterfile is created early in the process, as departments merge, split, or are eliminated with some regularity. The information from the presentation was used to create displays in the Library during the months after the event.

The formal program was printed on a souvenir bookmark which was popular with attendees.  The Outreach Committee chose to print bookmarks based upon maximum projected attendance, leaving hundreds of bookmarks in the recycling bin.


Funding efforts for the event grew as plans for the event expanded. The Library administration set a budget for the event, and the Office of Research and Economic Development and the Friends of Oboler Library contributed a set amount. A grant was written and submitted, but not funded.  The Provost came through with additional funding as the event drew near so that the event could meet the expectations of the Outreach Committee.  The Committee was appreciative, and was told that this would be a one-time grant that would not be available in future years.  Sponsorships were considered, but the Outreach Committee felt that an event of this type should be funded internally and that it should not be offered as a fundraising event.

Future budgets will be much smaller because of the changes discussed above, which include a free venue, reduced catering costs, and a smaller advertising effort. (See appendix B).


The response to scholar event has been overwhelmingly positive, and the Outreach Committee will continue to host it in future years as a partnership between departments to honor publishing faculty. The scope of research at the institution was clearly demonstrated in this visual setting. Another example of the impact generated by the event, was the number of attendees who lingered at the tables, reading and engaging with the scholarship that had been created by their colleagues.

The scholar event also highlighted the benefits of collaboration to the partners, which include increased efficiency, flexibility, expanded resources, expanded markets, and a greater sense of interdependence between the different departments, noted earlier by Bergquist, Betwee & Meuel (p. 18). Through the partnership with different departments, the Library was able to put on an event that was much larger than it could have achieved on its own.

This event highlighted the value of establishing partnerships between the academic library and other parts of the campus community to create relationships and achieve shared goals.




The 25 most amazing university performing arts centers. (n.d.) Best Value Schools. Retrieved from http://www.bestvalueschools.com/25-most-amazing-university-performing-arts-centers/

Armstrong, M., & Stringfellow, J. (2012). Promoting Faculty Scholarship Through The

University Author Recognition Bibliography at Boise State University. New Review Of  

           Academic Librarianship, 18(2), 165-175. doi:10.1080/13614533.2012.717901

Bergquist, W., Betwee, J., & Meuel, D. (1995). Building strategic relationships: how to extend

your organization’s reach through partnerships, alliances, and joint ventures.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bonnet, J., Alvarez, B., & Cordell, S. A. (2014). Let’s get this party started Celebrating faculty


authors in the library. College & Research Libraries News, 75(10), 550-559.


Davis, J. (1999). Writers and libraries: a symbiotic partnership. North Carolina Libraries

57(2) 57-61.

Ferrier, D. (1990). Social contact in the academy: an indirect route to collegiality. In The

Librarian in the university: essays on membership in the academic community. Palmer, H. & Byrd, C. (Eds.), Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow.

Riddle, J., Le, B., & Mugridge, R. (2005). The value of faculty recognition programs for

libraries: more than just “good will.” Library Administration & Management, 19(2),


Rockman, I. (2001, August). Managing partnerships with University support units. Paper

presented at the 67th IFLA Council and General Conference, Boston, Ma. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED459775)

Vieira, D., McGowan, R., McCrillis, A., Lamb, I., Larson, C., Bakker, T., & Spore, S.

(2014). The Faculty Bibliography Project at the NYU School of Medicine. Journal  

             of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication, 2(3), 1. doi:10.7710/2162-3309.1161























Appendix A – Schedule for the Day of the Event















Initial meeting of staff

Venue opens; Outreach Committee does initial walk through to confirm that the space is properly configured

Committee begins set up; two groups are created: articles and scholarly works and decorations and table set up

Table set up is complete

Article set up is complete; presentation set up begins

Venue opens for the event, food service begins

Program and presentation

Event ends

Teardown complete



Appendix B – Budget


Allocation:      $4,500.00

Expenses:        $4,718.31





Friends of Oboler Library

Office of Research

Office of the Provost

Total Allocation














Expenses: Facility

Rental — Marshall Rotunda

Rental — Promenades

Projector with Screen

Table Rental

Podium with Sound


Skirted Table

Set up/Event/Teardown





















Expenses: Printing and Mailing



Fall Flyers


Mailing (est.)






Price Per

















Expenses: Food

Food Item

Fruit Platter

Spinach Dip

Grilled Vegetable Antipasti

Feta & Spinach Mushrooms (dozen )

Asian Meatballs (dozen)

Mini Petit Fours (dozen)

Fresh Brewed Coffee (gallon)

Iced Tea (gallon)

Raspberry Lemonade (gallon)

Iced Water

Delivery Charge, on campus



Total Expenses














Price Per










































Sandra Shropshire

Associate University Librarian

Collections & Special Projects

Eli M. Oboler Library

Idaho State University

850 South 9th Avenue

Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8089

Phone: (208) 282 – 2671



Jenny Lynne Semenza

Associate University Librarian

Research & Learning Services

Eli M. Oboler Library

Idaho State University

850 South 9th Avenue

Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8089

Phone: (208) 282 – 2581




Charissa Brammer

Library Assistant, MA, MLIS

Eli M. Oboler Library

Idaho State University

850 South 9th Avenue

Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8089

Phone: (208) 282 – 4325



Contact author :

Regina Koury

Head of Discovery & Resource Services

Eli M. Oboler Library

Idaho State University

850 South 9th Avenue

Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8089

Phone: (208) 282 – 4582


Cruel Summer

Here’s a thing that libraries do very well and that many schools do… not so well: summer reading. Summer reading is super important.  ICfL created a great handout that you can find here, but some highlights include:

  • Kids who don’t read over the summer regress in academic skills by 3 months or more
  • By the end of sixth grade the gap between the academic skills of summer readers and non-readers is as much as three years
  • Only a third of Idaho fourth graders are reading at or above grade level
  • These effects are exacerbated in low income households
  • 21% of Idaho children are living below the poverty line, and half of all children in Idaho qualify for reduced price school lunch programs

Summer Reading Programs vs Summer Reading Lists

Schools often try to combat this summer reading gap with Summer Reading Lists. That is, lists of recommended, and sometimes mandatory, books for students to read.  There are any number of objections to school literary canons; they are stuffy, staid, chock full of dead white males, irrelevant on a practical level.  I still remember the classic that broke me: Beloved.  Sorry, Toni Morrison, you ruined one of the precious summers of my childhood and we are not friends anymore.  One thing is consistent across Summer Reading Lists – they are the worst.  They turn the joy of learning and imagining into a grueling, thankless chore.  In the name of what?  Common culture?  You know who I can discuss Beloved with?  No one.  Least of all myself.  Other than the fact some character was named Postage Stamp I have purged every awful page from my mind.  Reading practice?  I had been chewing through a science fiction novel every couple of days until I decided to get my Summer Reading List out of the way.  I clawed through Beloved at maybe three pages a day. Beloved probably reduced the amount of reading I did over the summer by a factor of 10.  And I was a reader.  How far do you think reluctant and non-readers make it through postmodern reflective contemplations of mother-daughter relationships and the psychological impact of the 19th century slave trade?

Summer reading lists are so busy finger wagging and being prescriptive that they utterly fail at their espoused purpose, engaging students with reading and learning. Lest you just think I really, really hate Beloved (and I do) here’s some others that agree with me about the futility or prescribed summer reading lists: Keene and Duke, Okyle, Ross, Friendly, etc. etc.  A variation is to require books that address themes, but having to read a book that addresses, say, environmentalism, and then write some sort of response about how the book addresses environmentalism is a pretty good way to ruin reading and environmentalism.  At least when there is a list of required books you can learn to hate books required by reading lists, instead of having to justify, dissect, and belabor books freely chosen.

Library Summer Reading Programs, on the other hand, exemplify glorious, glorious freedom. SRPs convey the message Always Be Reading without being didactic.  Did you read all 50 volumes of your favorite manga?  Great!  Have you considered making your own @yourlibrary?  Or dramatizing your favorite scenes @yourlibrary?  Or did you simply find a quiet spot to engage with words and ideas without accountability?  Great!  Did you read the novelization of Recent Blockbuster X?  Great!  Did you read The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English?  Great!  Do you want to make a Canterbury Tales manga or video @yourlibrary?  No?  That’s cool.  It’s all cool @yourlibrary.

Much Ado About Fiction

Much of the handwringing about voluntary reading is that kids will only voluntarily read junk. So what?  Studies have shown that pedagogically speaking there is no such thing as junk reading.  (McCabe, Cordova and Lepper, Worthy and McKool, etc.)  Also, here’s an open secret, many kids actually prefer nonfiction! (Barnes et al, Young et al, Gallo and Ness, etc.) That’s right, if adults just get out of the way kids actually like to learn on their own.  Looking at both YALSA award winners and Popular Books we can see teens are interested in history, graphic design, entrepreneurship, science, biographies and basically everything that summer reading lists try to foist upon them.

Independent Reading versus voluntary reading

Independent Reading is a term of art that mostly described reading time being provided in the classroom, although usually with assigned books. My experience of this involved Of Mice and Men in middle school.  Some people finished the book during the first week and then twiddled their thumbs for three weeks.  Some just went straight to twiddling their thumbs for four weeks.  A valiant few ground through the process for a month.  Non-readers didn’t read, avid readers under-read, and those in the middle endured.  Which end of the spectrum did this push anybody towards?  The reason this is important is that the literature likes to conflate Independent reading and Voluntary Reading.  (Discussion in Cahill et al)  Voluntary reading is where all the real gains happen, and it is the free-wheeling domain of libraries.

As we gear up for Summer Reading, remember that this counts. This is where we make a real difference for kids.  Free access to books and lots of ‘em, any genre, any subject, libraries are the Miracle Gro that keeps young brains blooming through the cruel summer.

Robert Perret is Editor of The Idaho Librarian and a Reference Librarian at the University of Idaho

The Father of Illustration: From Boston to Boise

by Memo Cordova, Boise State University

The Special Collections and Archives (SCA) unit at Boise State University’s Albertsons Library houses materials specific to the history of the university and the state as a whole. Among its many documents, personal correspondence, artifacts, and ephemera, the unit also houses three large framed etchings donated by Lois Chaffee, wife of President/Chancellor Eugene B. Chaffee (1936 to 1970), in 1988. These three pieces are signed etchings from paintings done by famed 20th century American illustrator and author Howard Pyle (1853-1911).

Anyone familiar with the stories of the American West, World Wars, or the lore and fantasy of faraway lands populated by pirates, buccaneers, and ne’er-do-wells that were popular in the 1880s through the 1950s will have come across the illustrative works of artists such as N. C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith, Frank Schoonover, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Maxfield Parrish, among others. The wondrous illustrations that accompanied such stories elevated the genre and placed these artists as masters of the visual narrative. These artists were in turn influenced, and perfected their craft, under the tutelage of artist, teacher, and author Howard Pyle. Pitz, in his The Brandywine Tradition, explains that Pyle’s influence as a fellow artist and teacher was coupled with “the authority of which he spoke–the authority of one of the greatest, probably the greatest illustrator of his day” (1969, p. 138). As a student, N. C. Wyeth wrote to his home after one of Pyle’s sessions, “The composition lecture lasted two hours and it opened my eyes more than any talk I ever heard” (1969, p. 136).

Howard Pyle was born in Wilmington, Delaware on March 5th, 1853. His talent as an artist and author emerged early on in his life, and his illustrations appeared in publications such as Scribner’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly, and St. Nicholas. By 1894 his artistic skills and natural teaching ability landed him a teaching position at Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, and two years later became the Director of the School of Illustration. In 1900 he left Drexel to open the Howard Pyle School of Art in Wilmington. It was in Wilmington, in the historic Brandywine region, where Pyle lived and taught his more prominent dozen or so students during “three consecutive summers of 1901, 1902, and 1903, when the most brilliant company was assembled and Pyle was at this best. The span of time was short but it left an imprint (Pitz, 1969, p. 113). During that time and until his death on November 9th, 1911 in Florence, Italy, Pyle produced an astonishing number of works, such as paintings, murals, and literature (Agosta, 1987, chronology). Pyle single-handedly helped usher what many dubbed “The Golden Age of American Illustration” which flourished from the 1870s up to the 1950s (NMAI, 2015).

A giant among illustrators of his time, his books and art brought to life timeless characters into vivid detail, such as Robin Hood in The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883), the four-volume Arthuriad (1903-1910), and The Story of King Arthur and his Knights. It was Pyle’s masterful combination of “richly evocative illustrations with a text fully detailing sights, scents, textures, and sounds” of the Arthurian mythos that accounts for the “authenticity of Pyle’s highly artificial romantic world” (Agosta, 1987, p. 55). In his two-volume set, Howard Pyle: His Life–His Work (2004), Paul Preston Davis writes that Pyle “produced about 3,300 published illustrations…half of those illustrated his own writings–19 books and nearly 200 articles and stories in magazines. At least half of those 19 books are still in print and being read today” (p. 5). He not only flourished as an artist and author, but was also an adored teacher and mentor, having instructed about “half of the official combat artists of World War I” (May, J. P., May, R. E., 2011, introduction). It is not surprising that Pyle “is rightly called the Father of American Illustration. During an age when the whole nation engaged in reading as a pastime, Pyle and his faithful followers shaped the use of illustration with creations that were at once modern, relevant, and faithful to the stories which they were used” (J. Homme & C. Homme, 2002, p. 23).

Given the extraordinary body of work Pyle left behind, his artful teaching and prodigious artistic output it is not surprising to find some of his works in unlikely places. We know little, however, of how these three etchings came to be in the possession of the Chaffee estate here in Boise. We know from various sources the etchings were commissioned by The Bibliophile Society in Boston in 1903. According to Davis, Pyle:

Completed five paintings for The Bibliophile Society which became the subjects of five etchings by W. H. W. Bicknell for a Portfolio of Etchings to be reproduced and made available exclusively to the Society’s membership. No reproductions of the paintings in any form were to be distributed outside of the membership…Each etching was signed by Howard Pyle and W. H. W. Bicknell. The portfolio was limited to 302 sets (2004, p. 279).

J. P. May and R. E. May write that “In 1904, Pyle collected $2,500 from a private dealer for his half-interest in five paintings previously made for the Bibliophile Society” (2011, p. 156). So it is safe to assume that these five paintings–the basis for these etchings—were sold to a private party and no longer part of The Bibliophile Society. Although the fate of the two missing pieces, “Friar” Bacon in his Study and “Izaak” Walton remain unknown, we are fortunate to have the remaining three in Special Collections at Boise State University. Below are some details of each piece:

Figure 1. Richard DeBury and the Young Edward III
Figure 1. Richard DeBury and the Young Edward III
Figure 2. Small pencil drawings by Pyle with Bicknell’s signature
Figure 2. Small pencil drawings by Pyle with Bicknell’s signature
Figure 4. Bicknell’s signature, with a pen drawing by Pyle
Figure 4. Bicknell’s signature, with a pen drawing by Pyle
Figure 5. Caxton at his press
Figure 5. Caxton at his press
Figure 6. Bicknell’s signature and drawing by Pyle
Figure 6. Bicknell’s signature and drawing by Pyle

The Archives West online finding aid describes these pieces as “Three etchings made by W. H. W. Bicknell after original paintings by Howard Pyle. Boise State holds: Caxton at his press; Richard DeBury & the young Edward III; Erasmus, Colet & More.” While short, it fails to describe the mastery of line in each piece. Each etching is beautifully rendered, and is signed by Pyle on the lower left side of each piece; the red emblem of The Bibliophile Society rests at the bottom of the middle section; and W. H. W. Bicknell’s signature on the right-hand side of each piece. Each etching also contains a small ink or pen drawing drawn by Pyle himself.

Figure 7. Howard Pyle’s signature
Figure 7. Howard Pyle’s signature=
Figure 8. The emblem of The Bibliophile society and Bicknell’s signature
Figure 8. The emblem of The Bibliophile society and Bicknell’s signature

These three pieces have adorned various Boise State offices since at least the 1940s. The Special Collections and Archives unit contains only one photograph of then-university president Chaffee with the three pieces, with the Richard DeBury and the Young Edward III etching easily recognizable in the background:

Figure 9. Chaffee (left) receives a copy of -Idaho on the March- from First National Bank
Figure 9. Chaffee (left) receives a copy of -Idaho on the March- from First National Bank

The Bicknell etchings, while limited, are by no means rare. A complete set can still be purchased online in places such as online bookseller Abebooks.com, which has a complete set for sale for $13,975.00 (as of this writing). The value of such pieces lies as much in their beautifully crafted design and artistic merit as in their 2400+ mile journey from 1903 Boston to the offices of a university president. How did they come to be in the possession of the Chaffee estate? Were these gifts given by Boston friends? Where are the other two pieces?

As someone who is enamored with classical illustration, coming across these art pieces by a luminary like Howard Pyle in my library was a magical experience. As a patron I appreciate that my library has these etchings in their collection and can gaze unabashedly at an artist’s work whose legacy shaped American illustration. Finding these kinds of gems emphasizes the inherent and important value of how libraries–regardless of size or niche collection, or even location and purpose–house within them objects of hyperlocal uniqueness and random wonderment. No archival collection will house quite the same kinds of items or materials, and each library offers within it untold possibilities for positive engagement (and I dare say, joy) to its community. One just has to make these kinds of opportunities visible and available for the right connections to happen.

What kind of wonders can you find in your library?

Memo Cordova is an Associate Professor/Librarian at Albertsons Library, Boise State University.
Address: 1865 W Cesar Chavez Ln, Boise, ID 83725.
Contact: memocordova@boisestate.edu


Abebooks.com. (2016, March 14). Etchings by W. H. W. Bicknell after original paintings by Howard Pyle. Retrieved from http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/pyle-howard-bicknell-w-h-w/

Agosta, L. L. (1987). Howard Pyle. Boston: Twayne Publishers.

Archives West. (n.d.). Howard Pyle etchings, 1902-1903. Retrieved from http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv45721/

Davis, P. P. (2004). Howard Pyle: His life–his work. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press.

Homme, J., & Homme, C. (2002). Storybook culture: The art of popular children’s books. Portland, Oregon: Collectors Press.

May, J. P., & May, R. E. (2011). Howard Pyle: Imagining an American school of art. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.

NMAI: The national museum of American illustration. (2015, March 4). Retrieved from http://www.americanillustration.org/collection.html

Pitz, H. C. (1969). The Brandywine tradition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Tech Tools – Flashcards with Flair

EllieWelcome to (or back to) Tech Tools, a regular column of The Idaho Librarian devoted to informal discussion of practical technologies. As always, I welcome your comments, ideas, and feedback on this post or other technologies you would like featured in this column.

Flashcards with Flair

I’ve come across online flashcards a few times and been curious. Do they work well in an online format? Do online flashcards offer benefits that old-fashioned 3×5 cards lack? There are a number of free web-based tools that offer this functionality. In hopes of answering those questions, I signed up for several free online flashcards products, tested them out, and chose three to review: Quizlet, Flashcard Machine, and Cerego.


Quizlet is a free tool for creating and using flashcards, which can be used to generate quizzes and games. After creating a free account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard screen which will show your (as yet non-existent) activity.

Creating cards: It’s super easy to create flashcards in Quizlet. From the top navigation area, click on Create a Study Set. Then, fill in the blanks with one field for one side of the “card” and one field for the flip side (which Quizlet calls a definition).

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To the right of each card, there are 3 icons to: add a photo, add a sound file, and search for definitions/answers within the flashcards from other Quizlet users. However, you cannot upload your own photos or audio with a free account. The search for definitions feature functions nicely, letting you review a list of matching definitions. Click to select one, and edit if you wish.

Flashcard collection: Quizlet contains a library of flashcards created by users. I could not locate information about how large this collection is, but I didn’t have trouble finding material on a variety of topics.

Search/browse: Quizlet allows for a simple keyword search, after which you can sort by relevance or date. There is no browse option.

Reusing flashcards: Once you find a study set that meets your needs, there are number of ways to reuse the cards. The two that I found most useful are copy and add to folder. Once cards are copied, you may edit them, whereas add to folder just saves them for you to use later.

Studying: Quizlet’s strength is in the many ways that you can study using flashcards. The options include:

  • Flashcards is very similar to using actual Flashcards. Click a card to flip it over, click the forward arrow to view the next card in the set.
  • Learn mode presents the flashcards as a fill-in-the-blank quiz. This is a good self-assessment next step.
  • The Speller option is interesting. It reads material from the study set, which you then type. I think that this is meant to help with retention, since in doing this you’re hearing, seeing, and typing the words.
  • Test presents a test with a variety of types of questions including fill-in-the-blank, true-false, matching, and multiple choice.
  • The Scatter game presents words with definitions in random boxes. Drag one to another to make them disappear as the timer counts up.
  • The goal of the game Gravity is to type in the definition (or the term) as the meteors fall toward Earth. With this game, you can choose from 3 levels of difficulty as well as whether to see the term or the definition first.
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The only thing missing from Gravity is sound effects.

Overall:  onestaronestaronestaronestaronestar grey 
If you just want to create a set of flashcards, Quizlet is a great option because it’s easy and fast to create the cards, and you’ll have many study options. If you’re interested in finding cards that have already been created, Quizlet is pretty good, but the search/browse functionality falls short.

Flashcard Machine

Flashcard Machine is a very flexible flashcard creation tool, but it’s a little old school in terms of interface. It’s not difficult to use, but sometimes you have to click more than once to get to the screen you want to use.

Creating cards: To get started, create a free account, then click Create a Set. You will be prompted for some basic metadata about your new set and be given options for sharing your cards. I appreciate that both subject and education level are controlled vocabulary (with a pop-up list), which ultimately should make sets easier for others to locate.

Once you’ve created a set, creating cards is easy using either the Quick Editor or the Advanced Editor. The Quick Editor is two columns of text boxes, one for each side of the card. Fill them in, and click Save. The Advanced Editor has word processor functionality, and includes options for adding images and audio files. The down side is that you have to create one card at a time.

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The Quick Editor is easy to use. Create as many rows as you want cards.

Flashcard collection: Flashcard Machine contains over 111 million flashcards in its library. I don’t know how many of them are world-class flashcards, but that’s the price you pay for crowd sourcing. The up side is that the flashcards I looked at were accurate and useful.

Search/browse: With 111 million flashcards, thank goodness that the search and browse features in Flashcard Machine are awesome. The browse options include subject, most popular, highest rated, and top authors. Wow! The search functionality is equally impressive and includes keyword searching along with several field search choices.

On the results page, you can sort by relevance, topic, subject, date created, and rating. I’m not sure where the topic option is coming from, since I wasn’t directed to assign one when building my set of flashcards.

Reusing flashcards:  You can add any set of flashcards to a list of favorites or you can save the set, which allows you to edit the cards.

Studying: There are three games that you can use to study with a set of flashcards.

Quiz Me is a multiple choice game. If you get the answer right, you can move onto the next card. If you get it wrong, you have to keep guessing until you get it right.

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My favorite game is Quiz Me, probably because it’s the most like using actual flashcards.

Speed requires you to choose the correct answer from a column of moving cards, which are blank until you click them. It involves a lot of mousing, so it’s not the best game for those of use with repetitive strain injuries, but it’s engaging.

In Pop Quiz, you fill in the letters of your answer on a Jeopardy style screen.

Overall: onestaronestaronestaronestaronestar grey Flashcard Machine is not flashy, but it’s flexible and completely free. I suggest this tool for those who fondly remember using Pine as a text editor for email.


Cerego is the flashiest of the three products I reviewed, and it is (so far as I could tell) completely free.

Creating cards: After creating your free account, click the Create button in the left-side navigation bar, choose to make your set public or private, and proceed to name your set. Next you’ll have the opportunity to choose an attractive image to be featured on the set.

Here’s where the magic starts. To add a card to your set, choose one of the seven templates listed on the start page. These are more than just layout templates, they guide you through creating flashcards with different activities. The template options include:

  • Associations, which are basic flashcards.
  • Vocabulary, which are like basic flashcards, but you can include examples of the word in use.
  • Passages allow you to remove important words from a phrase to create fill-in-the-blank questions.
  • Regions let you map words to hot spots on an image.
  • Sequences are used for outlining processes or procedures in the proper order.
  • Patterns are used to teach characteristics, such as for plant identification.

The dashboard for my flashcard set. On the left are templates to choose from. To the right, Cerego adds your items in a visual layout.

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The dashboard for my new Cerego flashcard set. Template choices are on the left. To the right are my cards in a visual layout.

Some of the options, such as patterns, were a bit confusing to set up. That may be the nature of creating this type of content, and therefore not the fault of Cerego’s user interface.

Flashcard collection: Cerego has fewer sets than do the other two products, but they appear to all be high quality. Cerego hosts a Google Group for content creators, and perhaps this more hands-on approach includes curating flashcard sets. In addition, many of the sets are authored by Cerego themselves.

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Browse categories in Cerego.

Search/browse: Cerego offers simple keyword search as well as the option to browse content. The browsing options are organized by broad disciplines, with one layer of subdisciplines.

Reusing flashcards: You can copy any set of flashcards and edit it to be your own.

Studying: In Learn mode, Cerego takes you through a process of reviewing the flashcards followed by quizzes. They promise a patented process designed to maximize learning. I found the process to be both engaging and, in the short term, effective.

Overall: onestaronestaronestaronestarhalf star Cerego is a great tool, and using it to learn is straightforward. Creating flashcards takes some practice. I recommend this product to anybody who likes tinkering and has content that is worth the time investment of building an excellent learning tool.

Other Cool Cards

There are many online flashcard creation tools, and I couldn’t review them all, but I did look them order and rate them, using the same five criteria that I used for the longer reviews. Here are my brief notes and ratings.

  • Cobocards – purplepurplepurple3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM Free, with paid options. I found some broken links in the site and user interface is awful, but for the most part it appears to function.
  • Course Hero – purplepurplepurplehalf star3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM Free with paid options. Course Hero offers tutoring services and other study resources in addition to flashcards.There’s a lot of good content in there, but you have to hack your way through a thicket of “join now!” messages along the way.
  • Cram – purplepurplepurplepurple3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM Free with a paid option. Appears to be similar to Quizlet in functionality, with some additional free features.
  • Duolingo – purplepurplepurplepurplehalf star Free high quality flashcards for learning languages. I’ve signed up for Welsh.
  • Learn that Wordpurplepurplepurple3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM Free with a paid option. This product specializes in English language vocabulary. It’s kind of ugly, but it seems to work and contains a lot of vocabulary words as well as several ways to study the flashcards.
  • Memrise – purplepurplepurplehalf star3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM Free with paid options for more learning modes. Memrise is focused on language acquisition, though there is plenty of other subject content in the collection.
  • Study Blue – purplepurplehalf star3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM3-22-2016 11-55-20 AM I would have scored this higher if I were reviewing the paid version, as it looks pretty good. However, though you can create flashcards and study them on Study Blue, you’ll have to pay in order to gain access to the collection of flashcard sets.

I didn’t sign up to use the following three products because they require a software download. They may be amazing, who knows? If you give any of them a try, let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Comment below if you have any thoughts on this article or suggestions for the next Tech Tools column. I love hearing from you!


Public Libraries, County Jails: Best Ways to Break into Correctional Partnership

Since the 1790s, American prisons have provided books to inmates (Darby, 2004; Mfum, 2012) and many facilities staff correctional libraries. As you might imagine, substantial literature exists on the subject of prison libraries, but very little concerns local level correctional facilities. With a trend in increasing populations and 1 in 35 adults under some form of correctional supervision, the United States of America holds the largest number of inmates in the world (De la Pena, 2004; Eggers, Munoz, Sciulli, & Crist, 2006; Hass & Saxon, 2012; Schwartz, 2005; Crayton et al., 2010; U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS] 2014 & 2015; Yamatani & Spjeldenes, 2011). Still, short-term facilities—jails and detention centers—often rely on public libraries for services and programs (De La Pena, 2004), and libraries are encouraged to respond. In the late 1970s, the American Library Association’s service standard policy first called “public libraries to extend their services to residents of jails and other detention facilities within their taxing areas” (American Library Association, n.d.; Baley, 1981).

A lack of research specific to jails has caused them to be seen as smaller prisons, an attitude causing widespread misunderstanding. (Pogrebin, Dodge, & Katsampes, 2001). The term prison refers to a secure State or Federal location holding persons convicted for crimes (De la Pena, 2004), and generally serving longer terms (Crayton et al., 2010). This contrasts detention centers and jails, terms often used interchangeably, which typically hold inmates for a shorter period of time and are locally operated (Crayton et al., 2010). While prisons house convicted felons, jails detain individuals awaiting trial, conviction, or sentencing (De la Pena, 2004). Most persons in jail have not yet been judged innocent or guilty (BJS, 2014) with 62% in a pre-trail status (Crayton et al., 2010). Some jail inmates may be serving short-term sentences for misdemeanors (Crayton et al., 2010). Another distinction is that jail populations can fluctuate with turnover averaging over 60% per week (BJS, 2014).

Libraries seeking information about partnering with a local jail may be disappointed. There is a gap in research for local level correctional facilities and public libraries. Even though “nearly three-fifths (59%) of all jail jurisdictions held 99 or fewer inmates” in 2006 (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011), the literature has rarely addressed the needs of rural public libraries and jails (Conrad, 2012; De la Pena, 2004; Ellern & Mason, 2013; Gee, 2006; Pogrebin, Dodge, & Katsampes, 2001). How are public libraries and jails partnering with one another to provide programs to inmates and released persons? Which program components are considered successful?

To gain access to incarcerated persons, public libraries will need to establish a working relationship with jail staff. In order to maintain a healthy, productive partnership with a local jail, public librarians will need to fully understand the limitations inherent in working with a detention facility. This includes frequent interruptions like lockdowns and late lunches (Fife & Fong, 2015). Establishing and maintaining good rapport with jail staff will encourage open communication and is one way to develop support for new programming (Fife & Fong, 2015). Programs work best in facilities in which the staff is pro-education (Mattucci, 2006).

Understanding the needs of jail inmates is also important and needs has been defined in multiple ways. Simply put, “a need can be seen as a problem that can be solved” McKillip (as cited in Young, 1994). Grant (2002), though, identified need in the following ways: “felt needs (what people say they need), expressed needs (expressed in action) [sic] normative needs (defined by experts), and comparative needs (group comparison).” The normative needs of prison inmates are known and may overlap those of jail inmates, but that assumption should be validated.

Statistically, incarcerated persons tend to have lower educational levels than the general population (Darby, 2004). According to the 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics for Education and Correctional Populations, 47% of local jail populations had not acquired a GED or high school diploma. Programs for adult inmates are often designed at the sixth through twelfth grade levels (Shaw & Berg, 2009; Crayton et al., 2010).

Beyond basic education it is important that life skills be developed: parenting, personal financial management, nutrition, and employability (Bates, 2005; Eggers, Munoz, Sciulli, & Crist, 2006; Khatibi & Grande, 1993; Schwartz, 2005). To this end, programs commonly address literacy, allowing inmates increased access to materials that address the issues above (Bouchard & Kunze 2003; Conrad, 2012; De la Pena, 2004; Khatibi & Grande, 1993; Shaw & Berg, 2009). Mental illness and addiction complicate an inmate’s ability to successfully access materials and programs (Alemagno & Dickie, 2005; Bates, 2005; Khatibi & Grande, 1993; Sheehan, 2014; Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011). Substance abuse treatment and domestic violence counseling may be a more appropriate beginning (Bates, 2005; Schwartz, 2005; Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011), which may be outside the scope of many public libraries’ services.

Multi-organizational support is a prerequisite to fully addressing the needs of an incarcerated person, for whom recidivism is of critical concern (Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011). Released inmates experience many barriers to successful reintegration such as difficulty finding gainful employment, denial of housing assistance and food stamps, or refusal of federal aid for educational development (Doherty, Forrester, Brazil, & Matheson, 2014; Hass & Saxon, 2012, Khatibi & Grande, 1993). These combined needs go far beyond the abilities of a library/jail partnership; support from social services will be necessary both before and after release. When considering a jail partnership, investigate whether other organizations are contributing to the cause.

While the above evidence-based needs have been true for decades, the idea that programs must adhere to them is changing. A more modern approach to program development is to consider what the inmates want to pursue and learn, another way of stating felt needs, which would only be determined by soliciting their feedback (Bouchard & Kunze, 2003; Conrad, 2012; Mfum, 2012).

The most successful library programs for this demographic include common components. Adult inmates require opportunities to solve problems on their own. Blending instruction with hands-on experience is critical to engagement (Mattucci, 2006). Intensive programs are more successful than lengthy curriculum (Mattucci, 2006). A literacy education program may incorporate the inmate’s family, as does the award-winning Read to Me program (De la Pena, 2004; Lilienthal, 2013; Schneider, 1996). Incarcerated parents can feel removed from their children’s lives and programs like this establish family connection (Pogrebin, Dodge & Katsames, 2001). Incarceration is not the limit of impact on an inmate’s life, but rather the wellspring for loss: property, vehicles, residence, jobs and personal relationships (Pogrebin, Dodge, & Katsampes, 2001). Calling the inmates to action for their own cause is vital:

A reentry process that does not engage the offender in becoming a productive member of society is likely to be another notation on the chart of “tried” strategies. The offender must be challenged to become a contributing member of society. Taxman et al. (as cited in Hass & Saxon, 2012).

Finally, evaluating a program is of utmost importance for any facilitator wishing to prove its effectiveness to stakeholders. With fewer tax dollars, rural libraries and jails experience less funding and municipal support than crowded urban locations. At mid-year 2014, 47% of jail inmates were housed in 6% of jails (BJS, 2015). Small libraries need studies that show partnering, programs and benchmarks relative to libraries of their own size.

Of these studies, which significant contributions were present in the literature? In 2006, Mattucci emphasized the importance of gaining staff support and the futility of attempting a program in a facility where staff does not believe in education or rehabilitation. He showed that intensive group learning was more effective than on-going curriculum. That same year, Gee (2006) conducted a comparative study between offered programs and inmates’ perceptions of them. He showed that success of a program must be relevant to the inmates’ needs. Both Mattucci (2006) and Gee (2006) implied that goal orientation is a critical factor for inmate motivation. By 2009, Shaw and Berg seemed to embody these lessons. They evaluated the impact of a word study literacy program for adult inmates in a county jail. The program was short, intensive and designed with the criteria of a jail environment in mind. Inmates’ perceptions were measured quantitatively and qualitatively, including whether they believed the program was beneficial and whether they felt more confident in their spelling abilities at the program’s conclusion. Finally, by 2013, Ellern and Mason addressed the lack of literature for rural jails and libraries by researching their local jail facilities and respective library collections.

In conclusion, further research is needed. The nature of a jail as a short-term facility produces a climate radically different than that of a prison. Future researchers cannot rely on prison studies alone but must expand to the local level correctional facility and examine programs offered there. The product of partnerships between rural public libraries and jails should especially be the subject of research. Rural libraries’ severe limitation of resources (e.g. funding, staffing, and skills) hinders locally conducted evidence-based investigations of the jail and its underserved population.

A platform is needed for the exchange of program ideas, research, and lessons taken from existing partnerships between jails and public libraries. Currently, the information is disparate and difficult to locate, for which the most effective method has been contacting individual libraries. This question arises: what is a better platform for this type of communication? One possible solution I see would be to call upon the existing American Library Association’s (ALA) Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) to support research and communication between rural libraries on jail issues.


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Shaw, D. M., & Berg, M. A. (2009). Jail participants actively study words. Journal of Correctional Education, 60(2), 100-119. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=508069852&site=ehost-live

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Amanda J St John is Circulation Manager at Hailey Public Library.