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In Defense of the Graphic Novel

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

The concept of telling stories through images has been around since the beginning of time. The idea has evolved in many ways, including the introduction of the comic book. From superhero stories to biographies, one can find a graphic novel about almost any subject. In recent years, the literary merit of reading comic books has come under fire, and many educators and librarians have joined the debate in defense of the graphic novel.

Reading visuals and text together requires the reader to make inferences about what is happening in the scenario or storyline. Think about the experience of reading picture books to your child. Very rarely will the characters’ emotions be portrayed through text; often, the illustrator allows the character to emote through illustrations. These inference skills start developing at the beginning of a child’s life and should continue on throughout the rest of his young adult and adult reading life.

Graphic novels also allow the reader to explore time and motion in a different way. As a young reader’s comprehension and reading levels increase, he wants to read stories with more characters and complicated circumstances. The same concept applies to graphic novels, as authors add more panels and more scenarios. A graphic novelist may make the storyline move faster and slower by modifying panels and introducing visual transitions. (more…)

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Upcoming Book Discussions

Several interesting book discussions are coming up soon here at Manhattan Public Library, so be sure to find a copy of the books so that you can join in! We have several copies of each of the titles–you may need to place your name on the holds list!

revolutionarySeptember 25 at 7:00 pm there will be a discussion of the KSU 2014 common read “The Ghost Map” by Steven Johnson. Discuss how Dr. John Snow and Rev. Whitehead collaborated to change the way we view disease and urban design. The discussion will be led by K-State Librarian Joelle Pitts.

  • October 30 at 7:00 pm come to discuss “Revolutionary Heart” with the author Diane Eickhoff! She will discuss her main character, a Kansas suffragist who helped pave the way for change.
  • November 13 at 6:00 pm, join us for Books and Brew at the Little Apple Brewery–a discussion of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. We will explore this searing and poignant portrayal of the experience of American soldiers in Vietnam. Appetizers will be provided.

November 20 at 7:00 pm at Manhattan Public Library, join us for a discussion of “The Things They Carried”, led by Dr. Kim Stanley of the Kansas Humanities Council.

Ask at the Information Desk or the Reference Desk if you have any questions!!

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Pack the Kids in the Stroller and Roll on Over!

This Saturday, September 20 from 10 a.m. to noon, join us for the first ever Roll and Read day at the Riley County Family and Child Resource Center at 2101 Claflin Blvd.

Walk, push a stroller, or pull a wagon over a one-mile course, stopping along the way for three storytime stations.  This is a come-and-go event so please feel free to go at your own pace.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the event will be held indoors at the same location.

You are invited to listen to the stories at each station as a group or sit on a picnic blanket with your children and read one of the books provided.  One of Manhattan Public Library’s READ with Dogs volunteers will be there, too!  The first 200 children who attend (birth to pre-K) will receive a free book.

Officers from the Riley County Police Department will be on hand to provide free car seat safety checks in the parking lot, too.

Roll and Read was organized by USD 383 Parents as Teachers and sponsored by the Manhattan Public Library, RCPD, Raising Riley Right, and the Riley County Health Department.

For more information, contact, visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, call (785) 776-4741, or visit the library’s events calendar.

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Library Tips and Tricks: Readers Advisory at the Library

By Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

Have you ever finished a book and, with a sigh, thought you would never be able to find another author whose writing appealed to you as much? Or have you walked into the library and wandered in the stacks of books, with no idea how to choose a book you might enjoy? Readers’ Advisory is our way to connect readers to new authors or books to enjoy. 

There are several Readers’ Advisory tools available at Manhattan Public Library to help you to find the perfect book!

  • Novelist is an addition to our online catalog that makes it easy to find writers or stories of a similar style to one you’ve enjoyed. Just look up a book you have read in our catalog. Click on “Full Display” on the right. Scroll down the page and you will find a section with “Suggestions and More,” where both Authors and Titles are listed that are written in a similar style. Novelist makes recommendations for both fiction and nonfiction books.
  • BookTALK_homepage_iconThe BookTalk link is located on our home page ( BookTalk is a searchable collection of book reviews written by Manhattan Public Library staff members, with reviews of fiction and non-fiction books as well as DVD’s. Just click on the box titled BookTalk on our home page. The most recent reviews will appear first. Scroll down and you can browse through hundreds of reviews, or search for reviews for books by a favorite author or genre.


  • The Readers’ Advisory Table is located near the Information Desk and has lots of lists for genres, series and read-alikes for authors—pick one up and head to the stacks to find a book.

A Personalized Reading List form can be completed online or in a paper form (available on the Readers’ Advisory Table). Just tell us your favorite authors or subjects, why you enjoyed a certain book, and we will provide you with a list of titles that we hope you will enjoy.


blood bedlamLocated on our genre display cases, we have books available to help you find a new author or series. The Genreflecting Advisory series includes several titles, such as “Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Badguys : a reader’s guide to adventure/suspense fiction”, “Historical Fiction : a guide to the genre”, “The Real Story : a guide to nonfiction reading interests” and “Genrefied Classics : a guide to reading interests in classic literature.”

  • Library Staff members are avid readers and are always willing to assist fellow readers in finding new authors or titles—just ask us! We are glad to show you how to find and use our Readers’ Advisory materials and staff may also tell you about the most recent good book that they have read!! MPL Librarians are skilled at providing Readers Advisory and are here to help you find your way to your next favorite book or author!

With so many resources for finding books to suit your preferences, we’re sure you can find something new and enjoyable at Manhattan Public Library to suit your reading preferences.


Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, library services, News

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Record numbers for storytimes!

Storytime Photo

Ms. Rachel reads to a fun crowd last Thursday.

Our fall semester of storytimes is off to a great start!  Our first storytime on September 8 had 56 children in attendance, a new record for us.  Due to our construction project, the number of weekly storytimes is reduced from previous semesters, but we will do our best to fit everyone into our temporary storytime space in the library’s lower atrium. It may be a little crowded, but it is still tons of fun!  Check out our storytime schedule, as well as some special events we have coming up.  We welcome new families to our storytimes each week, so please come try it out.  No registration needed, and it’s always free!

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Parents

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How to Become a Lifelong Learner

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

Wikipedia tells me that lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” To me, it means becoming your own teacher, which I think is a wonderful and worthy thing to do.

But why would a person subject herself to teaching and learning after schooling is finished? Doesn’t “finishing” mean that you don’t have to read, write, or do arithmetic anymore?

Absolutely not! Even if you haven’t made a concentrated effort to bring learning into your life, you’ve been learning every day. You’ve made new discoveries and found new topics to excite your senses.

Learning is a vital part of being human; that’s why we aren’t born knowing how to do everything. So why not be proactive and teach yourself something that’s always piqued your curiosity? Also, the National Institute on Aging sites “engaging in social and intellectually stimulating activities” as an important part of preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Plus, it feels really good to learn!

So, now that you’ve decided to try something new, the first thing you have to do is pick a subject. Have you always wanted to paint, make fire with sticks, or speak French? Start with something exciting and see where it leads you.

Next, it’s time to visit the library. You will find resources to study, as well as information about classes offered by local organizations, like UFM and the Manhattan Arts Center, and clubs and groups you can join.

But what if you can’t pick a topic or aren’t familiar with the library’s resources? Just talk to a librarian: we can help point you in the right direction. You can even get a customized list of titles to explore, on any subject you can imagine, with our reader’s advisory service.

Now here’s a secret weapon you might not have considered: the children’s library.  When I’m looking for something completely new, I start there because some of the very specialized research material can be a little dry and intimidating. I don’t necessarily want to read an esoteric paper about cumulonimbus clouds; I just want to know more about the weather. So, I slyly pretend I’m gathering books for children I don’t have and get an armful of fun subjects to explore.

Visiting the library is like building your brain muscles. No one ever says “I wish I hadn’t learned how to _______,” so spend a few minutes daydreaming about new subjects, then take the first steps to becoming your own teacher.

The library is also hosting a trial of the digital service from September 17-27, which offers thousands of video courses on topics ranging from Managing Stress to Responsive Web Design that you can explore on your own. To participate in the trial, call the library at 776-4741 ext. 120 and make an appointment.

There’s a whole world of ready information within your reach!

Posted in: Mercury Column

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The Reader’s Bill of Rights

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager



I  sometimes think we take reading a tiny bit too seriously. Several years ago, in Daniel Pennac’s witty and entertaining book “Better Than Life,” I was delighted to discover his Reader’s Bill of Rights, a declaration of independence from worn-out constraints and rules that change reading from a pleasure to a chore. This list has stuck with me ever since. Here, in Pennac’s view, are your rights as a reader:




1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right to not defend your tastes.

If you’re reading for pleasure, definitely read what you love and bypass all the “shoulds.” Read whatever appeals to you at the moment without regrets or excuses. Reading can be many things — fun, inspiring, empowering, entertaining, enlightening – but it shouldn’t be a chore, and you certainly shouldn’t have to conform to someone else’s arbitrary standards. Read trash or treasure, or whatever else you want, with no apologies necessary – see #6 above.
If you’re reading a book that doesn’t capture your attention, or if reading it is simply not an enjoyable experience, by all means stop! Unless you’re going to be tested on it later, don’t read another page. There’s no rule anywhere that says you have to finish every book you start. Life’s too short. Close that book. See Right #3 above.
You should also feel free to use a perfectly acceptable reader’s technique that I like to call “skimming for the good parts.” This can include checking out the photos in a biography, reading the table of contents to get the gist of the book, enjoying the illustrations, looking for the most food-stained pages in a cookbook, going straight to the hot scenes in a novel, or skipping ahead and reading the last page to see how it all ends. We can do this! No one needs to know! See Rights #2 and #8 above.
I exercise my right #7 (the right to read anywhere) by having something to read with me at all times (or trying to remember to). A book in your pocket or bag is a lifesaver when waiting in the dentist’s office, being delayed in an airport, calming a fractious child, or eating a quiet meal alone in a restaurant. Reading anywhere can help the time pass and keep you self-contained and content, inoffensive to others, an island of calm and purpose. I love Right #7.
But in the end, in spite of Pennac’s Right #1 above (The Right to Not Read), I do hope reading is a vital part of your life. If you’re looking for good books at Manhattan Public Library, library staff are always delighted to help. Just ask!
So, what’s your favorite reader’s right?


Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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What’s Happening, Manhattan? Early Fall 2014

by Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

photo of KS hillside signAs the new school year swings into full gear and the weather slowly starts to change from summer to fall, we can’t help but get excited about the great activities that are going on in the area. If you are looking for fun ways to experience late summer/early fall in Manhattan and the surrounding areas, here are some suggestions that are sure to fill up your calendar (as if you weren’t already busy!).

  • September 13th: Fort Riley Fall Apple Day Festival. Join Fort Riley from 9am to 4pm to celebrate their annual Fall Apple Day Festival. This year there will be a military dog demonstration, a pie eating contest, and military re-enactments, among other events.
  • September 20th:
    • Aggieville’s 125th Birthday Celebration. Just because Aggieville is a supercentenarian doesn’t mean that it doesn’t know how to throw a party. Join the businesses and organizations of Aggieville from 10am until the wee hours of the morning for festivities that include a Mini-Maker Faire; kids’ carnival, featuring Aggieville’s first Ferris wheel; a vintage car show; old-fashioned ice cream social; and way, way more good stuff. (Donut birthday cake, anyone?)
    • ROLL and READ Day at Family Child Resource Center: Join us for the first ever Parents as Teachers “Roll and Read Day!” at 10am at the Riley County Family and Child Resource Center at 2101 Claflin. It will consist of a one-mile walk and stroller roll for the whole family with three literacy stations along the way, as well as a book give-away. Library staff will present mini-storytimes and early literacy tips at one station. In case of bad weather, the event will be held indoors at the resource center.
    • September 25th: Good Books Club at Manhattan Public Library at 7pm. We’re kicking off our brand new book club series this fall with a rollicking discussion of Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map, which takes us back to the devastating cholera outbreak in 1854 London as Dr. John Snow and Reverend Henry Whitehead work together to prove the cause. This well-researched history also discusses community, cooperation, and city planning, all with an edge of suspense.
    • September 26th: OZtoberFest at Wamego’s OZ Museum. When everyone associate’s your state with L. Frank Baum’s classic story, the only thing you can do is embrace it. 2014 is the 10th anniversary of OZtoberFest, and they are celebrating with an antique car show, costume contest, a Munchkin Land for children, and the Wizard of Oz ballet at the Columbian Theatre.
    • September 27th: Flint Hills FORCES II: Our Town, Our Fort, Our University: Yet another fantastic exhibition at the Flint Hills Discovery Center begins on September 27th and runs through February 1st. This exhibition will feature the shared history of Manhattan, Fort Riley, and Kansas State University, including immersive experiences: a soldier training for trench warfare during WWI; the glamour of the 1920s Wareham Hotel; the struggles of the Great Depression; family life around the television in a 1950′s Manhattan living room; and more. The project is partially funded by the Kansas Humanities Council.

For more information on library events, visit the Events page on our website to see a full listing of all the great happenings in September. For more community events, the Manhattan Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has a full listing on their website.

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World Suicide Prevention Day

light_a_candle_on_wspd_animation6X4Join people from all over the world who are supporting World Suicide Prevention Day, survivors of suicide and the many volunteers and practitioners worldwide who work to alleviate suffering through evidence-based research and practices.

Suicide is a major public health problem. The psychological pain that leads each of these individuals to take their lives is unimaginable. Their deaths leave families and friends bereft, and often have a major ripple effect on communities.

Every year, over 800,000 almost people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.

Suicide is the fifth leading causes of death among those aged 30-49 years in 2012 globally, and is the second leading cause of death in the 15-29 years age group in 2012 globally. Overall, it is estimated that during 2012 for each adult who died of suicide there were over 20 others who made suicide attempts.

In 2012, suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 15th leading cause of death. Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America; however, in Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved. (from the International Association for Suicide Prevention)

Some of the books at Manhattan Public Library on this subject are:

  • After suicide by John Hewitt   155.937     This constructive guide offers much-needed information and clinically-tested advice for those struggling to cope in the aftermath of a suicide. Written in clear language, this book presents the facts and demonstrates how to deal with feelings of guilt, anger, bewilderment, and shame. Also included is an anniversary memorial service that enables family members to recommit themselves to life.
  • A long-shadowed grief : suicide and its aftermath  by Harold Smith    248.866    In the aftermath of suicide, friends and family face a long road of grief and reflection. With a sympathetic eye and a firm hand, Harold Ivan Smith searches for the place of the spirit in the wake of suicide. He asks how one may live a spiritual life as a survivor, and he addresses the way faith is permanently altered by the residue of stigma that attaches to suicide.
  • Healing suicidal veterans : recognizing, supporting and answering their pleas for help  by Victor Montgomery    362.2   Veterans are suffering a “mental breakdown” epidemic, often linked to post traumatic stress from the terrors of combat, traumatic brain injury, and drug and alcohol abuse. The problems triggered by an excessive number of deployments, financial and family trouble, fragmented or nonexistent support systems, and increased domestic stress have caused a mass depression among vets. ‘Healing’ ‘Suicidal Veterans’ takes readers firsthand into the “situation room” where crisis intervention and addiction therapist Victor Montgomery explores the psychological wounds of war and the ways they contribute to the tragedy of suicidal veterans. He presents the Montgomery Model for ending veterans’ suffering and anguish and putting them on solid paths to healing. The book offers veterans strategies for realizing they are not failures if they seek aid, and it gives families and loved ones ways to understand, cope with, and help their veteran in need.
  • A slender thread  by Diane Ackerman   362.28   “ Poet and naturalist Ackerman writes with profound tenderness and wonder about life in all its resplendent forms. Her intuitive grasp of the lives of animals has led her, in this personal and moving book, to portray people as a “renegade species” determined to combat blind instinct, achieve compassion, and find joy. This focus on people was precipitated by Ackerman’s work as a volunteer at a suicide prevention and crisis center where she answers the phones, listening “athletically” and helping people fight serious depression, stay alive, and rediscover hope. In a narrative that is lush with her signature gift for metaphor and delight in the senses and taut with the drama of her often frightening negotiations with people in the throes of every imaginable form of crisis, Ackerman illuminates the bewildering workings of the resilient human psyche. Extraordinarily knowledgeable and keenly attuned to the dictates of evolution, she searches for the source of our persistent loneliness and destructive reactions, weaving bits of her own life into the stories of others by describing the healing pleasures of nature, friendship, and poetry. Ackerman is beyond category; an aeolian harp singing the myriad songs of life, she helps readers focus on the miraculous” (from Booklist)

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Welcoming Renowned Author Steven Johnson

Author Steven Johnson at McCain September 11 at 7As part of the annual K-State Common Read this fall, students and community members alike will have the opportunity to take part in a community-wide read of The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. The Ghost Map is equal parts medical thriller and social history of 19th century London, exploring the 1854 cholera epidemic that claimed more than 500 lives. Widely acclaimed as a “tightly written page turner,” The Ghost Map is both compelling and enjoyable.

To augment the book, K-State will have a variety of student activities, and professors and instructors will integrate themes and topics from the book into their curriculum. Beyond the classroom, a variety of events will be offered to the community. Manhattan Public Library will be offering several opportunities for enthusiasts of the book, including a special edition of Science Saturday on September 6th at 10am. Ginny Barnard, the Riley County Extension Agent for Health, Nutrition, Food, and Safety, will walk attendees through the details of contamination with fun hands-on experiments.

Moreover, as part of the brand new Good Books Club at Manhattan Public Library, on September 25th from 7-8:45pm, there will be a guided discussion of The Ghost Map with refreshments provided. There is also a trivia activity at the library, and unique displays related to the book.

The highlight of the Common Read experience this fall, however, will be a visit from the author of The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson, on September 11th at 7pm at McCain Auditorium on the K-State campus. The event is free, but tickets are required. Students, faculty, and staff can get tickets at McCain Auditorium, and community members can pick up tickets at Manhattan Public Library. Don’t delay, though—tickets are limited!

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