Get Your Readin’ and Writin’ On!

Engage Your Students and Young Patrons with the Annual Letters About Literature and Sequoyah Reading Programs

letters-lit-300The Oklahoma Center for the Book’s 2016-2017 Letters About Literature contest is now accepting entries. There are cash prizes for the winning students and their libraries, and even more prizes at the national level through the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

To enter, young readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic—explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s way of thinking about the world or themselves.

There are three competition levels: Level I for children in grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9–12. Winners are announced in the spring of each year.

  • Level III deadline — entries must be postmarked by December 2, 2016.
  • Levels I & II deadline — entries must be postmarked by January 9, 2017.

Oklahoma students submitted 496 letters last year.
Take a look at recent Oklahoma winners, and then view photos from last year’s state ceremony honoring these young readers and writers.

The OCB thanks state sponsors Laurie Williams and the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Now go get all the details!

sequoyah-3002017 Sequoyah Book Awards Competition

Believe it or not, this Oklahoma Library Association reading competition is in its 59th year! The Sequoyah Book Awards program is the third-oldest youth-choice literary award in the nation.

Sequoyah encourages Oklahoma students to read books of literary quality. OLA’s Sequoyah Reading Teams release masterlists of titles for each annual round. Then classrooms and libraries across the state are encouraged to promote the program with their young readers. Here’s how it works:

Voting happens from February 1 to March 15 in classrooms and libraries throughout Oklahoma—and online. (We’ll let you know when voting opens!) The winning titles are announced in April.

For the past five years, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries has partnered with OLA and other sponsors to provide Sequoyah posters and lessons through The Oklahoman’s Newspapers in Education (NIE) service. The Sequoyah Book Award week promotion begins early in the school year each fall.

From 2012 to 2016, more than 2,100 individual classrooms and school libraries around the state signed up with NIE to receive the posters and lesson plans. More than 55,000 posters have been distributed to schools and public libraries for posting and for sharing with individual students. ODL also provides bookmarks for each masterlist, and this year we also gave away reading logs, reading certificates, and “I voted” stickers.

Check out the two-sided poster and lessons for the 2016-2017 Sequoyah promotion.

OK, young people, get readin’! We can’t wait to find out what books win this time around!

(NOTE: ODL’s participation in the Sequoyah Book Awards program is courtesy of funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.)

Cushing Public Library Suffers Earthquake Damage

cushing-damageLocal Library Friends Group Welcomes Financial Donations

The 5.0 quake that hit the Cushing area the evening of Sunday, November 6, damaged dozens of buildings in the city’s downtown area, including the Cushing Public Library.

The area was closed off for a couple of days, and ODL was unable to get through via phone before Veterans Day arrived, when state government offices were closed. So, we didn’t get a chance to check in with library director La Dawn Conner until Monday, November 14.

“On the whole, we’re very blessed,” Conner said. “It’s just the building we’re worried about. This is a 1939 building, so we’re very concerned about the air quality.”

From the photos the library shared (at left), you can see cracks in the library’s walls, masonry, and floor. Debris rained down from the ceiling and walls. Office furniture and bookshelves were knocked over.

Conner said an insurance adjuster had been in to look at the damage, but engineers have not made it to the building yet.

“We’ve been a low priority because the city had so many infrastructure problems that had to be taken care of first. This weekend, everybody began getting back to normal and have started to ask about the library.”

Complicating the recovery is the fact that so many of the community’s residents had damage to their own property that they had to address. “I had a water break and I still have a swimming pool in my backyard,” Conner laughed.

The library director spoke to us from her office, which she said is still filled with debris. “We had to clear the public areas first, and we’re slowly working on our offices.”

The library’s collection seems to have escaped harm. “Out of all of the books that fell, we haven’t seen any damage. We have lost nothing from the collection,” Conner said. Some of the books were under piles of glass, and the only damage found was a few cracked spines, “but it’s hard to say if it was the earthquake or if they were already that way.”

While the main collection seems to be fine, Conner said the library did have damage to items that will be hard to replace. An antique map fell off the wall and will need to be assessed. In addition, a collection of model ships donated to the library in the 1940s also suffered damage.

To help with that damage and any unforeseen problems that arise due to the quake—and that are not covered by city insurance—the local library friends group is accepting donations.

If you would like to help, send your check to:
Friends of the Cushing Public Library
P.O. Box 1269
Cushing, Oklahoma 74023

We’re grateful that our colleagues and friends in Cushing are safe!

We can imagine how excited Cushing residents were when their “new” library opened in 1939. We know they continue to be proud of this art deco treasure, which was built to inspire generations of learners. We hope this important public building continues to serve its community for many years to come.


Update on EBSCO Premiere Databases

Updated with new information from previous post on October 6th.

EBSCO logoAcademic Search Premiere and Business Source Premier access for Oklahoma’s public and school (K-12) libraries will continue through June 30, 2017.

Following a meeting with EBSCO representatives last week, we are pleased to announce that Academic Search Premiere and Business Source Premier access for Oklahoma’s public and school (K-12) libraries will continue through June 30, 2017.  The company representatives felt that since the drop in funding resulting in the change came mid-year, EBSCO would restore the Premier level access without additional expense to the state.  ODL’s  statewide license for both products is at the Elite level which has fewer items full-text than the Premier level.  Currently EBSCO is working to check that all libraries database sites are up and running.  If you are a school (K-12) or public library and your database list shows Academic Search Elite or Business Source Elite, contact EBSCO to make the correction.  Here’s how to contact EBSCO to get help:

Customer Support Phone: (800)758-5995

Customer Support Web Site:

All academic libraries have Academic Search Premier through the Regents’ contract and Business Source Elite through the ODL contract.  If you are an academic library and would like to discuss upgrading to Business Source Premier with your own funding, or are interested in getting a quote to extend access beyond July 1, 2017, you may contact Chris Zaremba at  or call him at 1-800-653-2726 extension 3686.  School (K-12) and public libraries may also contact Devon Hermenau at dhermenau@EBSCO.COM or call him at 1-800-653-2726 extension 3401.

Meet Reading Roundup Author Hannah Harrison

harrisonAda Children’s author and illustrator Hannah E. Harrison joins this year’s DoubleR Author Tour on October 18 in Tishomingo. Harrison, who received the 2015 Oklahoma Book Award in Illustration for the book Extraordinary Jane, will be visiting schools and public libraries in Tishomingo, Antlers, Stratford, Duncan, and Pauls Valley during her two weeks on the road.

In addition to her Oklahoma Book Award win for Jane, she was also a 2016 finalist in the children’s category for Bernice Gets Carried Away. Both books, plus her latest—My Friend Maggie—will be available for sale at all of her DoubleR events.

Prior to her Reading Roundup debut, we had a chance to talk with Harrison about her illustrative art, her writing, and how the two fit together.

  Continue reading Meet Reading Roundup Author Hannah Harrison

State Budget Cuts Impact Digital Prairie Offerings

See new information posted November 1st- Update on EBSCO Premiere Databases.

Digital Prairie users may have noticed that Academic Search Premiere and Business Search Premiere are no longer available through our statewide license for the EBSCO databases. 

EBSCO logoHere’s what happened:

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ contract with EBSCO has always included Academic Search Elite and Business Source Elite, not the Premiere-level products. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education paid for the upgrade to Premiere-level through a separate contract.  When the Regents’s budget was reduced this year, the upgrade was dropped.  EBSCO provided a 90-day grace period to the Regents’ office, which has just expired. Because this upgrade was not part of ODL’s contract with EBSCO, we are just now finding out about this situation.

Academic Search Elite has full-text for more than 2100 journals vs. Academic Search Premiere’s offering of text from 4800 journals. Business Source Elite has full-text for approximately 1100 journals vs. Business Source Premiere’s 2200 journals.

We’re disappointed that most of the state’s libraries no longer have access to these resources, and we can only hope that the state’s finances will improve in the future.

Contact us with any questions or concerns.

Meet Reading Roundup Author Roy Deering

deeringOklahoma’s second Reading Roundup kicks off October 3rd and 4th in Mustang with Young Adult author Roy Deering, 2015 Oklahoma Book Award winner for his very first work, Finders Keepers. Roy will be visiting schools and public libraries in Mustang, Antlers, Perkins, Enid, and Yukon during the next month as part of the 2016 DoubleR author tour.

More than 1900 people attended the events during the 2015 tour. Sponsors for this year’s tour are the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Oklahoma Center for the Book, Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma (FOLIO), Best of Books, the Oklahoma City Dodgers baseball team, and the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

To get ready for the big tour, we asked Deering some questions to learn more about him, and about his acclaimed first YA novel, the story of a town turned upside down by the discovery of a cache of  old baseball cards.

  Continue reading Meet Reading Roundup Author Roy Deering

Here Comes the Fall!

The calendar says Fall begins on September 22, but let’s get real. All the kids have gone back to school and those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer are pretty much over. The period between Labor Day and the start of the holidays is one of the most active times for Oklahoma’s library community. Here’s a rundown of opportunities and events…

Trainings Galore
Fall classes and continuing education opportunities are taking off! complabODL Computer Lab classes, public librarian certification classes, and webinars on Digital Prairie’s EBSCO databases are all kicking off this month. Click the links below to register for these training opportunities.
Register for Computer/App classes
Register for Certification classes
Register for Training Webinars on EBSCO databases

Plus, don’t forget to check the ODL Calendar and the Oklahoma Library Association’s Calendar for other continuing education opportunities.

Celebrate YA and Kids’ Lit
Sequoyah Book Awards Week begins September 12 in The Oklahoman and at the Newspapers in Education website. On the site, click “Curriculum” and search for “Sequoyah.” You’ll get the latest lessons and activities for 2016 (after September 12), plus access lessons headerto program and activity ideas from the four previous years. School libraries and classrooms that ordered the Sequoyah posters will receive them during the first half of October. ODL will mail copies of the posters to public libraries.

The Second DoubleR Author Tour is this October! Oklahoma Book Award winning author Roy Deering and Oklahoma Book Award winning illustrator Hannah Harrison will be bringing the Reading Roundup to select schools and libraries. Check out the schedule to see if they’ll be in your neck of the woods!

The 2016 Mildred Laughlin Festival of Books will be held on October 27 at Northeastern State University’s Broken Arrow Campus.  Attendees will have the opportunity to meet award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate, and Young Adult authors PJ Hoover and Lauren Myracle. This biennial Oklahoma Library Association event has become a “must” for many of the state’s children’s/young adult librarians and educators.

Celebrate a Literary Landmark
Enid Public Library is the place to be on Saturday, September 17. Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma (FOLIO) will officially dedicate Oklahoma’s latest National Literary Landmark at 2 p.m. on that day, honoring Pulitizer-Prize-winning author and historian Marquis James.

See you at Encyclo-Media!
The Oklahoma Technology Association and partners host this year’s EM36Encyclo-Media Conference on October 4 and 5 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. This annual gathering is a premiere event for school IT and library media professionals. ODL will have a booth there to help educators with the statewide reference databases, and to give away posters and Oklahoma Almanacs. We hope to see you there!

Writing Contests for Young People
ODL and OLA continue their partnership with Freedom of Information Oklahoma to host and annual First Amendment Congress and Essay Contest for high school students. Deadline for the essay contest is October 5, and there are cash prizes for the top three essays, and gift cards for seven honorable mentions. Plus… keep your eyes peeled for information on the next Letters About Literature competition. Information on the 24th annual LAL contest, to be sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book and the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, will be out soon. We’ll keep you posted!

Summer Winners, Fall Classes, and More!

Hot news from ODL… quite appropriate on such a hot day! In our first “In Brief” posting on the Wright News:

Congrats to Young Winners in the Summer Newspaper Contest
Enrollment Opens for Fall Certification Classes
Oklahoma Book Award Announces Call for Entries
Next Literary Landmark Honors a Pulitzer Prize Winner

Summer Readers Score!

Summer Newspaper Contest Winner Julianne R. of Oklahoma City.
Julianne R. of Oklahoma City shows off her new Kindle E-reader, the grand prize in the Summer Reading Newspaper Contest, sponsored by The Oklahoman’s Newspapers in Education (NIE) program, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and the OKC Metro Literacy Coalition. Julianne is pictured with Ashley Howard, Bailey Huntsman, Angela Meade, and Brooke Marley.

Congratulations to nine young Oklahomans who scored prizes in the annual Summer Reading Newspaper Contest. Julianne R. of Oklahoma City was grand prize winner. She received a Kindle E-reader and a set of books. Eight weekly winners will also receive books: Aiden F. of Choctaw, Jaycen H. of Cheyenne, Zane A. of Stillwater, Devin L. of Shawnee, Aidan D. of Yukon, Rielyn W. of Moore, Masen G.  of Spencer, and Erynn W. of Warr Acres.

ODL has worked with The Oklahoman and their Newspapers in Education program for almost 20 years to hold the annual contest. Summer readers delve into a copy of The Oklahoman or surf the website to answer weekly questions about news, weather, sports, business, and more. It’s a great opportunity to expose kids and teens to newspapers and news sites.

Sign Up for the Institute

The 2016 Fall Basic Certification Class Schedule is now available for Oklahoma public and tribal library staff members. The Institute of Public Librarianship class schedule is comprised of four classes offered in locations across the state.  The topics covered will be:
• Public Library Administration
• Collection Development
• Services for Adults
• How to Think Like a Librarian
Sign Up! If you have questions, contact our Library Certification staff.

Calling all Authors, Poets, Illustrators…

CallForEntriesYep! It’s that time of year again. The Oklahoma Center for the Book is ready to accept your entries for the 28th Annual Oklahoma Book Awards, scheduled for April 8, 2017. Books considered for this award must have an Oklahoma-based theme, or entrants (authors, illustrators, photographers, or book designers) must live or have lived in the state. Books must have been published between January 1 and December 31, 2016. Entries must be received by January 6, 2017. Read about the book award program, and download your entry form.


FOLIO to Honor 12th Oklahoma Author
with Literary Landmark Ceremony

Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma (FOLIO) is a leader in dedicating Literary Landmarks in the U.S. So, we’re not surprised that their next Literary Landmark dedication—which will honor the 12th Oklahoma author with a landmark designation—comes with another first: a challenge to other Friends groups and organizations. Read on…

From a United for Libraries e-mail:

As part of the Pulitzer Prize Centennial celebration, United for Libraries, in partnership with Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma (FOLIO), will dedicate a Literary Landmark for Marquis James (1891-1955), two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biographies of notable Americans.

Karen Neurohr, FOLIO coordinator of Oklahoma’s Literary Landmarks dedications, is issuing a friendly challenge to four other organizations in the United States to join Oklahoma in dedicating a Literary Landmark honoring a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2016 -- the Centennial Year of the Pulitzer Prize.
Journalist, author, and historian Marquis James (1891 – 1955)
Journalist, author, and historian Marquis James (1891 – 1955)

The Literary Landmark dedication for Marquis James will be Saturday, September 17, 2:00 p.m. at the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County. The partners to date include FOLIO, Friends of Enid Public Library, the Cromwell Family, Enid Chamber of Commerce, Visit Enid, Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, Family of Marquis James, Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, and the Oklahoma State University Library.

We can’t wait! This event occurs during Enid’s annual Cherokee Strip Celebration with community events scheduled Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Cherokee Strip Parade is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Road Trip!

Our First Post: The Road to

ODL website announcementWelcome to the Wright News, a blog that will report on projects and programs of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, share news and views from the world of libraries, and post various and sundry other items of interest to our community. Our blog is named after our building on 200 N.E. 18th Street in Oklahoma City—the Allen Wright Memorial Library, which is named after the Choctaw Chief credited with coming up with the word “Oklahoma.”

The launch of our new blog coincides with the launch of ODL’s new website, located at, and these launches come one year after our new Online Media Manager,  Fara Taylor,  joined ODL to resuscitate our web and social media presences.

While the agency has developed and subscribed to a good number of online information services for our customers, the good ol’ ODL website was stuck in the 1990’s. It was like a member of the brat pack with left-over big 80’s hair walking onto a 21st century movie set. The styles had changed. We were out of date. It was time to cut off that big hair and get a new wardrobe.

  Continue reading Our First Post: The Road to