Author Archives: Joel Hartung

National Parks and Recreation Month

Summer is the best time to take a road trip and visit many of the great National Parks in the United States. Because of this, it is very fitting that July marks National Parks and Recreation Month! Unfortunately, there are no official National Parks in Nebraska (although there are a number of National Monuments), but the central location of the state makes it easy to access a number of great parks in neighboring states such as Wyoming, Colorado, and South Dakota. Continue reading

Explore Nebraska during Great Outdoors Month!

It is mid-June, temperatures are rising, and summer is fully in swing. June also happens to be Great Outdoors Month, and is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and experience nature! While extensive traveling may not be possible due to COVID-19, there are many locations across Nebraska (some even in our own backyard) where you can experience the splendor of the Great Outdoors!

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Capture the Moment During National Photography Month

With the weather steadily improving, now is the perfect time to go outside, take a walk, and capture the moment through the viewfinder of your camera! It just so happens that May is also National Photography Month – dedicated to the craft that has captivated humanity since the invention of the camera, as well as celebrating the photographers who captured important moments in history.

Photography is more than just a hobby for many – it is an art. Photographers also often put their lives on the line in order to capture that perfect shot. Wartime photographers are often casualties of war, and the photos they take can have a profound impact on public opinion of a conflict. Nature and wildlife photographers will spend days, weeks, months, or even years in rugged and inhospitable conditions just to shoot a rare moment.

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50 Years of Earth Day

Today marks an important milestone in the history of environmental progress. April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Founded in 1970, Earth Day was originally intended to be a day of education about environmental issues. Its mission has since expanded to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”

Earth Day was the idea of a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson. Inspired by the rise of the environmental movement in the 1960s, Sen. Nelson had the idea for a national “teach-in” about environmental issues at the community level. This had massive public support and participation, and started a movement that has lasted for fifty years.

There are many easy ways you can celebrate Earth Day today, and help work towards a more sustainable and healthy environment:

  • Plant a garden
  • Follow the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recyle
  • Walk or bike more, instead of driving
  • Watch an environmental or nature documentary
  • Start a compost pile
  • Upgrade your home to be more energy efficient

This Earth Day, it is important to reflect on the history of the holiday and remember all the environmental progress of the 50 years. Cleaner air and water, ethical and sustainable farming practices, energy-efficient building practices, and renewable energy sources all give hope for a brighter and more green future for the entire planet.


National Virtual Vacation Day!

In this uncertain time of lockdowns and social distancing, the best way to see the world is by taking a much-needed virtual vacation! National Virtual Vacation Day falls annually on March 30, and celebrates the rise of technology that can help you see the world from the comfort of your home. Internet, augmented and virtual reality headsets, and online exhibitions all can help you travel the world at the click of a button.

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Leap into Leap Day!

The 29th of February, or Leap Day, is a date that only comes around every 4 years. The reason for the extra day is fairly straightforward. While a standard calendar year is 365 days long, it actually takes around 365 days and 6 hours for the Earth to revolve around the Sun. Because of this, every 4 years, an extra 24 hours is added to the shortest month of the calendar.

The additional day dates back to 45 BC with the adoption of the Julian Calendar, the Roman calendar named for its architect Julius Caesar. This calendar quickly became the primary calendar used throughout the entire Roman Empire, and remained in use until 1582 when the modern Gregorian Calendar was introduced.

Leap years are still included in the Gregorian Calendar, except in years that are exactly divisible by 100. They are still included in years that are divisible by 400, however. This change was designed to slightly shorten the average year, to ensure the equinoxes occur at roughly the same date and time every year.

Leap Day has persisted in popular culture, due to local traditions as well as serving as a major plot point for many stories throughout history.

Leap Year in Pop Culture:

  • Pirates of Penzance: Frederic, the main character of the classic opera Pirates of Penzance, was born on Leap Day. This becomes a major plot point, as Frederic is supposed to remain an apprentice until his twenty-first birthday – which would not technically happen for 63 more years.
  • Leap Year (2010): The 2010 romantic comedy starring Amy Adams is based around an old Celtic tradition where women propose marriage to their boyfriend on Leap Day.
  • Leap Day William: This irreverent take from the sitcom 30 Rock transforms Leap Day into a holiday, complete with its own absurd mythology. In the fake tradition, every Leap Year, the jolly Leap Day William leaves his home in the Marianas Trench to trade tears for candy.


New Scanning Station Now Available

A new free-to-use scanning station is now available in the Freeman/Lozier Library. This scanning station is an upgrade over the old system, and includes new features that improve accessibility, convenience, image quality, and scanning speed.

The scanning station includes a flatbed book and photo scanner, and a document feeder for larger documents. These scanners have the ability to save to an e-mail address, DropBox, OneDrive, flash drive, or smartphone (using a QR code).


New features include:

  • Translation: translate your documents into a different language
  • Text-to-Speech: create an automated .mp3 recording of your document
  • Scan to Word Document: easily create an editable word document from your scanned document
  • Photo Restoration: improve image quality of old photos using a suite of editing tools directly on the scanner

The new scanning station is located near the printers, by the library staff offices. Stop by and give it a try today!