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Good Times at the Rodeo Round-Up!

The Rodeo Readin’ Round-up event this morning was very successful with about 95 kids and 50 adults.  Char Henton and others from the Kaw Valley Rodeo board helped coordinate this fun program. Cowboy poet Ron Wilson started out with some poetry with audience participation, followed by a skit performed by the librarians based on Jan Thomas’s “Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy.”  Legendary barrelman Rick Young and bullfighters Andy North and Dustin Brewer, dressed in their rodeo clown gear, talked to the kids about their interesting jobs in the rodeo. Andy North always reads his favorite book, “Those Can-Do Pigs” by David McPhail.  The Flint Hills Discovery Center was very kind this year to host the event in their facility.  Look for a picture on today’s issue of The Mercury! Check out the Kaw Valley Rodeo this weekend, Thurs-Sat. at 8:00 at the fairgrounds.





andy and lil cowboy

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Dog Days of Summer

Baths-1-Although the cool temperatures of the last week would suggest otherwise, we are officially in the dog days of summer now. The dog days of summer has its roots in Roman astronomy. Romans called the time of the year from July 24th to August 23rd, “diēs caniculārēs,” or the Dog Days. Why Dog Days? Astronomers of that time associated this season with Sirius, the Dog Star, which rose and set with the sun in July and August. This led to the assumption that the star Sirius was the cause of the steamy summer weather.

Most of the history of the dog days of summer has been lost over the last millennia. However, we do share one similarity in how we handle the hot weather—swimming! Romans built magnificent public baths, or thermae, throughout their entire empire and were important spots for socializing and doing business, as well as keeping cool.

These days, we prefer our swimming in the form of pools. Manhattan’s own pools and splash parks are a wonderful antidote to hot weather. They may not be the opulent thermae of the Romans, but they do have one advantage—waterslides!

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What’s Happening, Manhattan?

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

farmers market

The long, hot, dog days of summer are upon us. It’s tempting to just sit around, but there are too many things happening in and around town to relax! Some of the fun events coming up in Manhattan are:

  • Manhattan Town Center is having the annual Dog Days Sidewalk Sale, from July 24th through July 27th. Head to the mall to find some bargains!
  • The Riley County Fair kicks off on July 24 with a parade downtown along Poyntz Ave. Lots of events and activities will take place at the fairgrounds at CICO Park, including the Ottaway Amusement Carnival.
  • The 39th Annual Kaw Valley PRCA Rodeo also begins July 24th, at 8:00pm, and continues on the 25th and 26th at Wells Arena in CICO Park. Catch the riding, roping, bull riding and rodeo clowns! As a tie-in to the event, MPL will also be hosting a rodeo-themed story time at the Flint Hills Discovery Center on Thursday, July 24th at 9:30am. Members of the Kaw Valley Rodeo Association will provide stories and demonstrations for kids, featuring Rodeo Clown Andy North, Barrelman Rick Young and Cowboy Poet Ron Wilson. Better yet, each child who attends receives a free ticket to the Kaw Valley Rodeo!
  • Furniture Amnesty Day is Saturday, July 25th from 8:00 am to 5:00pm in City Park. Furniture may be donated or you may sign up for a time to select items, all for free!
  • Downtown Farmers Market is Saturday, July 26th from 8:00 am to 1:00pm. Shop for local produce, baked goods, flowers, honey and more—located in the Dillards parking lot at 3rd and Leavenworth.
  • Pools and the Splash Park are still open to cool off, and Arts in the Park continues on Friday, July 25th at 7:30 pm with a Tribute to Journey by Odyssey Road. Musical festivities continue on August 1st at 8:00pm with jazz/folk/bluegrass music from Run Boy Run, and the Little Apple Music Festival beginning at 5:00pm on August 2nd.
  • ZOOfari Tails at the Zoo is on July 25th at 9:30am at Sunset Zoo.  Children’s librarians and zoo docents will read stories, followed by zoo staff showing animals and animal artifacts or leading tours to specific exhibits. Monthly book give-away will be sponsored by Claflin Books. Families who attend the event can be entered into a drawing for a free one-year Friends of Sunset Zoo family membership. Looking for more wild activities? August 2nd is Water Safari & Free Kids Day and you can cool off at Sunset Zoo with family-friendly activities from 12:00pm to 4:30pm. Kids visit free with a paid adult admission from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, consider these other activities that can help you beat the heat.

  • First and foremost, the Manhattan Public Library’s Summer Reading Programs continue to the 31st—you still have time to read that book on your list and enter to win a prize from one of our very cool sponsors.
  • The Marianna Kistler Beach Art Museum at KSU currently has two exhibitions to view—Janet Backes: Where the Heart Belongs and “Igniting the Senses.”
  • You can also check out the Ice Age Imperials Exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center through September 14th. Interacting with real fossils from ancient animals like the saber-toothed cat, woolly mammoth, giant sloth, dire wolf, giant beaver and teeth from a huge prehistoric bear makes the Ice Age come alive for visitors like never before.

Know of something else going on around that we didn’t mention? Drop us a line or share with us on social media!

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Zoofari Tails Storytime at the Zoo!

Be prepared to celebratZoofarie your country’s independence  this month at Zoofari Tails Storytime! Join us Friday, July 25 as we read and do activities featuring red, whit, and blue animals. Stories read will include: The Little Red Hen, Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You Hear, and The Blue Chicken. Children who attend will be entered to win a free prize book – courtesy of Clafflin books – and even be considered for a free year membership to the Sunset Zoo (drawing in December). After storytime, zoo staff will present touchable animal biofacts and even lead tours throughout the zoo, to view a variety of colorful animals!  Also, feel free to bring blankets and/or chairs to sit on. We hope to see you there!

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indexU4IF9XSTA genre that deserves attention (and is a natural favorite of book lovers) is the bibliomystery.
Bibliomysteries are a genre of mystery novels which have books as the central theme of the plot. They may be have manuscripts, libraries, publishing houses, booksellers, or writers occupy a prominent role.
One of the very best bibliomysteries is Booked to Die by John Dunning (1992). Booked to Die is Dunning’s first novel in his “Bookman” series, and it’s a minor classic, especially if you’re a fan of the bibliomystery genre or a book collector. It’s the story of a Denver cop-turned-rare book dealer Cliff Janeway, and it will teach you a lot about the book trade while taking you on a mystery thrill-ride at the same time. Dunning is himself a rare book dealer, which makes the story even more authentic. (more…)

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Exploring the Great Outdoors

by Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

bison grazing at the tall grass prairie preserve

Bison grazing at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir

If you’ve ever visited one of the 401 locations in the national parks system, you know how powerfully beautiful and restorative a trip to the outdoors can be.  July happens to be “National Parks and Recreation Month,” and this is a perfect time to get outdoors to do some exploring, even if you’ve never ventured any farther than your own backyard.

Kansas offers several short trips to get a beginning trekker started. The Konza Biological Preserve, located just southeast of town off McDowell Creek Road, offers six miles of hiking trails through native tallgrass prairie. At the highest points you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Flint Hills and might even spot a few members of a bison herd in the distance.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve presents opportunities for closer contact with bison, if you’re lucky, and more than 44 miles of trails through pristine prairie grasses. You’ll find this national park about two miles north of Strong City, along Highway 177. The visitor’s center has many resources to help you explore the park, including cell phone tours of the historic buildings on the site, a short orientation film, and books for sale.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center in downtown Manhattan is another wonderful place to start your journey. It has exhibits and interactive features to explore the geology, biology, and cultural history of the Flint Hills. Plus, they have a fun gift shop full of local products, artwork, and books by local authors.

Speaking of books, if you would like to find suggestions for exploration, naturalist inspiration, or if you prefer armchair travel, the library has a wealth of outdoor adventure books, both fiction and non-fiction, to aid in your quest.

If you are looking for a volume to carry with you, try one of the comprehensive plant identification books, such as Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas by Michael John Haddock. The detailed descriptions and great pictures will help you find everything from big bluestem to western yarrow.

Or, you might want to try a nice bird-watching guide. The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley  is the most comprehensive book available. It features hundreds upon hundreds of detailed illustrations to help you identify every bird in North America. This book can be a little intimidating at first, but I suggest you dive right in and see what you can find.  If you’re a budding naturalist, just start with the index and explore from there!

I would also suggest sampling some of the outdoor inspirational classics like the works of John Muir, located in the library at call number 508.794. His Eight Wilderness Discovery Books are available bound in one volume or in smaller groupings. They are fantastic reads, but probably won’t fit in your day pack!

For armchair adventure, I strongly recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed (813.6). This memoir chronicles a young woman’s 1,100-mile journey alone along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a heart-wrenching tale of struggle, sorrow, determination, and redemption that will leave you wondering how far you could push yourself if you tried.

After you visit the Tallgrass National Preserve, that still leaves about 400 more places to explore. If you’re planning a trip to another state, the library has handbooks and field guides available for many different regions, identifying plants, trees, birds, and insects. It’s a lot of fun to point out butterfly milkweed or old plainsman when you pass them in the field. Plus, you look pretty smart when you do!

You’ll also find maps of Kansas, local bike trails, local rivers, and much more when you visit the Manhattan Public Library. Have fun exploring the great outdoors!

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What happened today in history?

lunar-landing-9Who knows the significance of July 20, 1969? If you said “the anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon”, you would be correct! Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. landed lunar module Eagle at 4:17 pm, EDT, and remained on the lunar surface for 21 hours, 36 minutes and 16 seconds.  Learn more about the history of space flight to the moon with these titles.

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Space Exploration Day Celebration

Image courtesy of Randy Read via Creative Commons at

Image courtesy of Randy Read via Creative Commons at

by Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

July 20th may not be an official holiday, but in the minds of so many Americans, it is considered Space Exploration Day.  On July 20th, 1969, two U.S. astronauts made history by taking the first steps on the moon’s surface. The Cold War brought about animosity between the Soviet Union and the United States, so it came as no surprise when President John F. Kennedy declared before Congress that it was his mission to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s. The space program of the United States was lagging behind the Soviet Union and the president thought it only fitting to surpass them.

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Cape Kennedy.  Just a few days later, on July 20, the first human steps were taken on the moon’s surface by Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. Not only did these two astronauts step foot on the moon, but they came back to Earth with panoramic photos of the surface near the landing site and samples of the surface itself, including rocks, lunar soil, and core samples taken 13 centimeters below the surface.

Though no launch sites exist in Kansas, the city of Hutchinson is home to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which houses the second largest U.S. space artifact collection. The idea for the Cosmosphere began with the vision of Hutchinson city leader Patricia Brooks Carey, who wanted to create one of the first public planetariums.  The Justice Planetarium in the Cosmosphere offers a 45-minute trip through the night sky and its constellations, while Dr. Goddard, the creator of the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, has “his” own lab, which features live demonstrations of early rocket technology. In session right now are space camps for students entering 2nd grade and up.

If you don’t get the chance to visit the Cosmosphere, you can do your own space exploration research here at Manhattan Public Library.  Here are a few resources we would recommend from our collection:


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Science Saturdays: Survival 101

Couldn’t survive five minutes out in the wilderness? Then, this program is for you. Learn the ropes of wilderness survival with Daniel Schapaugh. Katniss and Peeta will have nothing on you after this program. Be there on Saturday, July 19th at 10:00 in the Groesbeck Room. See you there! Recommended for tweens to adults.

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