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Author Archive for Mary Estle-Smith

Want a better horse this year?

by Mary Estle-Smith on March 27th, 2015


This series of DVDs could be your ticket to a really nice horse.   Regardless of what your equine discipline/interest may be, you will find information and techniques that you can use.

7 Clinics is extensive footage from the filming of  the award-winning documentary “Buck”.  While “Buck” was designed for a wide audience, this series is geared more to the equine aficionado looking for self-education and a better relationship with their (or any) horse.   It has been thoughtfully and professionally edited to move seamlessly from clinic to clinic covering the materials presented at each in a cohesive fashion.

I have attended several Buck clinics over the years as both a participant and an observer. Either way, one is exposed to a wealth of excellent information and not a small amount of entertainment.  Other than not being physically present, almost every aspect of a clinic comes through on this set.

Watching  participants progress throughout the clinic is always interesting. Those who are focused and came to learn will invariably have the “aha” moment when things click with them and their horse and the techniques start to fall into place.  That moment is a wonderful thing!  Even more can be learned from those having problems as Buck walks them through the process of coming out better.

There is way more happening than can be assimilated  in one viewing. Buck’s philosophy/methods work for anyone who considers riding and building horsemanship skills as an endless journey of improvement and education.  I don’t think I can overstate the value especially of the emphasis on groundwork.  I only wish I had been exposed to this caliber of  horsemanship years earlier.  I certainly would have saved both myself and my horses a lot of frustration and mishaps not to mention some unscheduled dismounts!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Brannaman clinic I highly recommend it. In the mean time, this set of DVDs is the next best thing!

The trip from the return bin back to the shelves exposed!.

by Mary Estle-Smith on February 9th, 2015

Ever wonder what happens when you drop your returned book or other item into the mysterious slots?  If so, prepare to be enlightened!

When the items leave your hand they fall gently into a nicely padded bin.  From there, our crew of check in people (both paid and volunteer–at least 2 and frequently 4 on duty at any given time) will come and take the items from the bins onto book carts.  As we have both an indoor and outdoor drop as well as the daily remote book drops, the emptying of bins is a constant process.

From the carts, items are inspected for completeness (AV ) and condition to be recirculated.  Once inspected, cases locked, etc., each item is checked in  on 2 different scanners to be assured that nothing is missed and that security tabs are re-set.  Things on hold will be “trapped” and set aside at this phase of the process.

After being checked in, returns are then sorted roughly by location, media type, and genre onto carts that will make their way to Recently Returned areas.  Print items are available in the public Recently Returned areas within 3-4  hours of being returned.    AV collections are an exception to the recently returned step,  they are back to their “homes” less than 4 hours after they walk through the door. That’s pretty speedy.  New books also fall into the super quick re-shelving category as they are returned to their shelves up to 4 times per day.

Other print materials are taken from the Recently Returned areas on book carts, sorted and re-shelved. Of course, once they are in the Recently Return area everyone has access to them.

Our goal turn-around for return slot to home shelf is 48 hours. Most of the time we are well  ahead of that goal,  exception being  after  a day we have been closed when returns can be exceptionally heavy.

So now you know about the multi-step process designed for accuracy and efficiency to get all those fine materials out to your hands.



Learn to Learn

by Mary Estle-Smith on January 28th, 2015

Ways to effectively learn have always been interesting to me.  In my quest for information/validation for the way I personally choose to gain new knowledge and skills I came across some pretty interesting material.


Make it Stick by Peter C Brown.

As I started reading  finals week at the U of I was just beginning. Every day students were in the library pouring over materials  from the semester.   I was learning that cramming was a pretty ineffective method to really learn. Making errors was  cited as a particularly lasting learning tool IF timely corrections are made.The author points out that the more effort that is put forth during the acquisition of new material, the better the retention and ability to apply the knowledge will be in the  future. If this is valid, I will have a better retention of this book because I retrieved the information from my head for this blog post.

One example given is that of a professor who changed his class structure to several periodic quizzes rather than a final exam at the end of a course.  He (and researchers) discovered that by retrieving information throughout the semester that students were better able to retain what was covered during the course and as a byproduct, increased their grades by a significant amount.

He also discusses and pretty much debunks the whole theory of learning styles (visual, auditory, kin-esthetic) from the angle that one style suits an individual for all types of learning.  Research indicates that successful teaching/learning methods depend much more on the material/skills being taught than on what an individual perceives to be “their” learning method.  I know that this is certainly true for me.

This title in ICPL’s collection  is available in both print and audio.



Biggest Book in the World

by Mary Estle-Smith on November 3rd, 2014

oedRecently I was  asked what is the biggest book in the world, and and do we have it.  The biggest book we own, if  you consider it one book, is the Oxford English  Dictionary with 20 volumes and approximately 21,730 pages.

 According to my research the real Biggest Book in the World is literally  carved in stone.  It resides  at the foot of wbbMandalay Hill  in Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) on  of grounds of the Kuthodaw pagoda (kuthodaw, “royal merit”). It has 730 leaves and 1460 pages; each page stands upright and is 3.51 ft wide,   5.02 ft tall and 5.1 in thick.Each stone tablet has its own roof and precious gem on top in a small cave-like structures which  are arranged around a central golden pagoda.220px-Mandalay_kuthodawIf you are interested in reading the longest and probably most tedious book, it would most likely be the U.S. tax code with some 74,000 pages.


Want to See Whats Coming?

by Mary Estle-Smith on September 9th, 2014

on order searchOne of my favorite things is to keep up with the new materials that are coming in.  You would think that we would see everything since we’re here all the time but the reality is far from it.  So, because I like new stuff,  I do a search of ON ORDER materials periodically.

If you want to do this too, here is the process.From the main catalog page above chose the Call Number  tab and type in the words “on order.”  If you want to see everything just click “search”  and you are done.  If you are searching the new items regularly (like me) you can specify the sort of “newest first” or one of the other choices from the pull down sort menu.

You can also limit by type, say fiction books, or format using the Limit option shown below.

sort 2

If an item catches your interest you can place a hold. Also if you know of something  coming out that we have not yet ordered you can request that we purchase it through the link in the blue box on the right side of the screen.

A good deal all around.  Give it a try.


State Fair Tidbit

by Mary Estle-Smith on July 9th, 2014

We all know that the Iowa State Fair famous for it’s butter sculptures.  In addition to the ubiquitous Butter Cow there are always other examples of this quaint artistic medium each year.  The theme for the 2014 fair is “Field of Dreams” which will feature elements of baseball and rural landscapes. The link below gives some additional history of Iowa’s butter art over the years.

While Iowa takes credit for starting the tradition of butter sculpting exhibitions at fairs in the United States,  what you may not know, is that butter sculpting originated 100′s of years ago.  In Tibet it is an ancient Buddhist tradition; yak butter and dye are still used to create temporary symbols for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations.  There is also reference to a banquet in 1536 with centerpieces constructed from butter.

So,  if you find this curiously fascinating, you may also enjoy the 2011 movie  Butter.  A bit of a dark comedy about “the cutthroat world of competitive butter sculpting”  it will lurk in the back of your mind as you tour the extravaganza of butter at the fair this year.   Very entertaining with an excellent cast playing unexpected characters, it may make you want to play with food too.


For all you horse folks out there

by Mary Estle-Smith on May 17th, 2014

If you are reading any current news in the horse event industry, you are probably aware of several events around the Midwest being cancelled due to cases of EHV-1 diagnosed in Minnesota as well as one in Iowa.

Information about this virus from Iowa State University is as follows:  Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) by Dr. Peggy Auwerda and Dr. Rozann Stay (Iowa Equine Veterinary Care)

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) has confirmed a single case of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) causing neurological signs in the state of Iowa. The horse was shipped to a farm in Minnesota, where it spent a day prior to returning home. The horse is under a self imposed quarantine by the facility’s owners in Marion. The remaining positive cases have been in horses located in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. At least 3 of the horses have been euthanized.

Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) is a contagious equine virus that is most commonly known to cause abortion and can also cause respiratory disease, as well neurologic disease. The neurological form also known as Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) involves the brain stem and results in nervous system dysfunction such as incoordination, stumbling, appearing “drunk,” urine dribbling, inability to stand, etc. The virus is spread through contact with facial secretions that contain the virus such as snot and saliva. This includes being near a horse that is coughing or sneezing, direct horse-to-horse contact, contact with contaminated feed, equipment, tack, and people’s hands and clothing.

Once a horse is infected it can become a carrier of the virus. During times of stress, the virus can emerge and the horse may begin shedding. The incubation period is variable ranging from 24 hours to 2 weeks. Typically disease begins with a fever with other signs ensuing in the following days including abortion, respiratory disease, or neurological signs. Shedding by the respiratory route typically lasts for 7-10 days and veterinarians recommend quarantine for a period of 14 to 28 days after resolution of clinical signs to be sure.

If a horse contracts the neurologic form, treatment is directed at supportive care. Horses will be managed according to their individual signs. The current strain circulating in the mid-west region is NOT the neuropathic strain that has been reported in previous years. The strain in this region is a wild-type herpes and while there is not a specific vaccine against this specific strain,
there is some antigenic similarity to the vaccine strain. It is recommended that horses who will be coming in contact with other horses during the year receive at least one dose of EHV4-1 vaccine two weeks prior to travel. An additional safeguard may be an intranasal flu vaccine. Recent information has suggested that while the vaccine is for flu specifically, it induces general mucosal immunity as well.

Best Practices for Exhibitors:

  • Vaccinate with one dose of EHV4-1 two weeks prior to travel
  • Recommend an intranasal flu vaccine in addition
  • Practice good biosecurity
  • Don’t share tack
  • Clean/Disinfect horse trailer if transporting other horses than your own (1:10 bleach:water solution)
  • Provide appropriate feed, water and shelter to minimize stress
  • Quarantine and monitor temperature of new horses for at least 14 days before introducing them to other horses in your herd
  • Contact your veterinarian if you see any neurologic signs

The virus is spread through contact with facial secretions that contain the virus (i.e. snot, saliva), which would include a horse that is coughing or sneezing, direct horse-to-horse contact, contact with contaminated feed, equipment, tack, and people’s hands and clothing.

We came up with the following list of additional measures which may help minimize risk for those who haul to shows, rides, clinics, etc.

1.  Avoid nose-to-nose contact with any other horses.

2.  Take your own buckets, grooming supplies, etc.  Do NOT allow your horse to drink from a communal tank or another horse’s water bucket.

3. Do not tie to anyone else’s trailer.

4. If you touch another horse, especially around the face/nose area clean your hands with sanitizer or soap & water before you touch your horse or any of your tack.

If cautionary measures are observed we should all be able to have a fun and safe summer enjoying events with our horses and our friends.

Additional Online Resources:

A good site to calculate the biosecurity on your farm:

Center for Food Security and Public Health

Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) Myeloencephalopathy-A Guide To Understanding the Neurologic Form of EHV Infection (link to the online brochure)