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It’s Gardening Time!

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

The tulips, redbuds, and forsythia of early spring have given way to lilacs, bridal wreath, and iris. It’s time to clean out the planting beds, wander home stores and nurseries, and browse catalogs in search of plants and design ideas to brighten your flowering garden spaces. Manhattan Public Library has a wealth of gardening books ready to inspire you with great ideas, from garden design and soil preparation to plant selections and garden structures.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Colorful, sturdy and easy-to-care-for, with long-lasting blooms perennials are the mainstays of the flower garden.  “Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden” by gardening experts Ruth Clausen and Thomas Christopher is a gorgeous book and a comprehensive A to Z guide for choosing, planting, tending, and enjoying perennials.

Other outstanding guides for perennials in your garden are: “Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations that Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right from the Start” by C. Colston Burrell; “The Well-tended Perennial Garden” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust; and “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik.

Enthusiasts for the garden’s greatest perennial all-stars can find inspiration in books that focus on their favorite flowers, for example:  “Landscaping with Daylilies: A Comprehensive Guide for the Use of Daylilies in the Garden” by Oliver Billingslea; “Right Rose, Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices for Beds, Borders, Hedges and Screens, Containers, Fences, Trellises, and More” by Peter Schneider; and “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts” by Kelly D. Norris.  (Note to iris lovers:  the annual Iris Day at the KSU Gardens, hosted by the Flint Hills Iris Society, will be next Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 10th.)      

For the ultimate in carefree gardening with a big payback, check out “Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter” by Kristin Green.  Or create your own prairiescape with“Prairie-style Gardens: Capturing the Essence of the American Prairie Wherever You Live” by Lynn Steiner; “Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes” by Sally Wasowski; or “The American Meadow Garden” by John Greenlee.

Gardening space limited to your doorstep, balcony, windowsill, or hanging planter? “Small Space Garden Ideas” by Philippa Pearson is packed with creative, smart ideas to make even the tiniest garden space lush and full. Look for more ideas for tight garden spaces in “The Ultimate Book of Small Gardens” by Graham Rice, “Container Gardening” by Hank Jenkins, or “The Potted Garden” by Daria Price Bowman.

Embellishing your outdoor space can add dramatically to the beauty and impact of your gardening efforts.  For creative and inspired ideas, take a look at: “Handmade for the Garden : 75 Ingenious Ways to Enhance your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, and More” by Susan Guagliumi; “Salvage Style for the Garden: Simple Outdoor Projects Using Reclaimed Treasures” by Marcianne Miller;  “The Well-decorated Garden: Making Outdoor Ornaments and Accents” by Laura Dover Doran; or “Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More” by Lorene Forkner.

Perhaps you’re more of a philosophical or armchair gardener?  One who applauds the effort and appreciates the outcomes, but, say, at a distance?  As an intellectual rather than a physical exercise?  Not a problem; the Library has you covered.

Onward and Upward in the Garden” by Katharine White is a collection of her classic essays originally written for the gardening column of The New Yorker magazine and now newly reissued, a book the publisher called a “sharp-eyed appreciation of the green world of growing things…and of the dreams that gardens inspire.”

Or check out “Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols,” about which one reviewer wrote, “Be prepared for delight…you won’t want to put it down…and you may never look at gardens in the same way again.”

 

 

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Celebrate Screen-Free Week May 4-10

Screen-free week is an annual, international celebration when families, schools, and communities swap digital entertainment for the joys of life beyond the screen. Instead of watching tv, surfing the web, or playing with apps, they read, play, think, create, get active, and spend time with family and friends.

Starting May 4, you and your children can participate by pledging to go seven days without using a screen. Talk about your pledge with family and friends, and help spread the word about the benefits of going screen-free. For activity ideas for all ages, download the free organizer’s kit at www.screenfree.org, or check out fun activities for babies at Lemon Lime Adventures.

You are invited to bring your children to the library anytime to explore activities and check out a bag of books to take home. We’re also hosting a special storytime for kids age 0-5 on Thursday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. Join us for a fun evening of stories, songs, and dancing!

When we stop to consider the amount of time we spend using screens, it becomes a little shocking. On average, preschool children spend over four and a half hours a day consuming screen media, while older children spend over seven hours a day in front of a screen (including multitasking). Excessive screen time is linked to a number of problems for children, including childhood obesity, poor school performance, and problems with attention span. Try going screen-free for a week and see how it changes your life!

Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) is coordinated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national advocacy organization devoted to reducing the impact of commercialism on children. Since the Week’s founding in 1994, it has been celebrated by millions of children and their families worldwide. For more information, visit www.screenfree.org. Local participation in Screen-Free Week is organized by USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden Parents as Teachers.

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Scared of technology?

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

There’s a secret group of people out there (code name EVERYONE) who can sometimes feel intimidated by technology. It almost seems as if technology has constructed a new culture with a set of encrypted rules and customs that are frightening to outsiders. If you didn’t learn the language of the tech-y as a child, never fear! There are plenty of ways to catch up, and the library is here to help.

Here are a few best practices that will serve you well. If you’re a pro, it’s still a good idea to brush up on the basics now and again, so keep reading.

First, you need a system for keeping your information safe online. This is the most important step. Once you’re safe, you can explore and try new things without fear.

Which brings us to PASSWORDS. *Cue scary music.* You need strong passwords for every account, and it isn’t safe to re-use them. Think of the Titanic: if there’s a breach, you want all the security measures and safety locks in place to keep the ship from going down. But how do you manage to remember it all? You don’t. You get to write it down in a password book.

A password book is like an address book for all your accounts. “But how is that safe?” you ask. It’s safe because it’s kept in a physically secure location, and you can write hints rather than passwords if you want to be extra sure the information won’t leak out. Step 1) Find a password book, address book, or even a notebook to use. Step 2) Write down your information whenever you add an account, and keep it up-to-date. Step 3) Stash the book in a safe place that you can still access when needed. Don’t keep the password book on top of your desk or in your purse. Create a physical barrier of some sort so the information isn’t easy for someone else to find.

Next, develop a code for creating and remembering your passwords so you don’t always need to check the book. For example, if I am interested in astrology, I might use the signs of the zodiac as my code. I could start with the sentence “Aquarius likes water,” and replace a few of the letters with symbols such as @ for lowercase “a” and $ for “s.” The result is Aqu@riu$like$w@ter. That’s good, but not great. It needs a little more code, so I will use H20 instead of “water,” and add 3 instead of “e”. The result is a rock-solid password like Aqu@riu$lik3$H20 that’s difficult to hack, but relatively easy to remember because it has meaning for me. If you use the same substitutions for all your passwords, you’ve got yourself a secret code. (Which kind of makes you a superspy!)

Once you have solid passwords in place, you can explore the internet without fear. “But what about all the devices, social media, apps, and everything else? What the heck is a hashtag? This is only the tip of the iceberg!” you plead.

It’s difficult for print materials to keep up with the trends, thus it’s almost impossible to recommend a good book for reference. Instead, try learning online so you can practice as you explore. Start with sites like Microsoft.com tutorials, Learning Express training through the library’s website www.MHKLibrary.org, or www.visualsteps.com, which offer the basics.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will be surprised at how many other people are looking for the answers, too. If you ask, you will either find an ally in your search or a sage who can answer your question. There’s no shame in the search for knowledge!

Just make sure you’re asking for advice from people you trust. Visit the library, talk to a librarian, and use one of our computers if you want to explore risk-free. Type in your questions online and look at sites with names you recognize like Apple and Microsoft, read instruction booklets that come with devices, ask your friends, or enroll in a class.

UFM offers computer training classes, the library has Tech Tuesday courses, and you can make appointments at the library for one-on-one training, too. Call the Manhattan Public Library at 776-4741 ext. 141 to schedule a session.

Most importantly, don’t give up! It’s better to try and fail than to do nothing and succeed. The world of technology is all around us, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

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Library Card Day on Saturday, April 25 from 10-2

Members of the Junior League of the Flint Hills will be giving away free books to kids ages 0-13 at the library on Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is their annual Library Card Day event to encourage families to use the library.

To get a free book, children need to show that they have their own library card. Parents need to be present to open a child’s library account for the first time, and should bring a photo ID plus proof of current address if it does not appear on the ID.

Having a library card opens amazing doors for kids, giving them access to thousands of books and DVDS, computers, and free eBooks for children. Remember to stop by the library on Saturday morning with your kiddos!

child smiling

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ZOOfari Tails Storytime: Llama Drama

cover art for Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna DewdneyThe next ZOOfari Storytime is this Friday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m., and it’s all about llamas! Bring your kiddos ages 0-5 to the library on Friday  to hear Mr. Brian and staff from the Sunset Zoo read the stories Maria had a Llama, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Is Your Mama a Llama. We’ll sing and dance to fun llama songs and rhymes, too! Plus, zoo staff will bring animal biofacts to share.

Since ZOOfari is so popular, you may need a few extra minutes to find a parking spot. We hope to see you there!

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A Playful Destination

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

kids climbing on furniture in children's room

The new layout of the Children’s Room has provided opportunity for more interactive features to engage children while they are at the library looking for books, learning about something new, or just playing. Having time to play and pretend is important to a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, from early childhood on. With busy schedules and more structured activities, spending a few hours at the library can be the perfect time to encourage children’s freedom. They can choose from thousands of books to look through, play with different games or activities, or draw their parents into some free play as well.

Kids using the Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books area are learning to read or becoming more confident readers. Some fun activities we have had on the magnet/dry erase board include Mad Libs with magnet words to fill in the blanks, and letter stencils to trace and spell. Now, kids can try out a Velcro rhyming tree by sticking leaves with rhyming words on the same branch. Finding fun ways to play with language and words gives kids another way to practice their reading.

In the Arts and Crafts Neighborhood, a craft project is always available at the table. We have used fun die-cut shapes for kids to create pictures, cards, door hangers, headbands and other take-home crafts. To celebrate spring, kids can glue cut-outs of the stages of a growing plant, from a seed under the soil to a tall, leafy stem.

This craft leads nicely into our Science and Nature area next door. One or two games or manipulatives are available at a table or from the Children’s Desk to encourage kids to build, experiment or test their science knowledge. For example, kids can build the “food chain” in order with Mega Bloks, or put together an intricate Lego machine from the Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Set.

Creativity abounds with children, and new outlets for their ideas are exciting. In another section, children are encouraged to create their own comics, using dry erase crayons on the Graphic Novels Neighborhood sign. Blank comic book panels encourage kids to draw and write a short comic strip. Some of our favorites have included librarian superheroes!

The gear wall in the Transportation area is a fun experiment for kids of all ages. Magnetic gears have to be connected to reach a pulley that will spin an airplane propeller high on the wall. Some skill is involved, since the gears tend to slip away if they are turning too fast. We’ve watched kids try different tactics until they get it going just right.

In the Geography space, a two-foot diameter globe with more than 1000 place names spins at just the right height for young knowledge seekers. Families who have moved here from abroad or visited places around the world love finding beloved spots on the globe, and sometimes kids just like to spin it and see where their fingers land. A unique feature is that the globe does not use conventional North American names for places, so Germany is Deutsche Land and China is Zhong Guo, giving children a chance to learn more about the world.

Our History area contains a large portion of the children’s nonfiction and is another great stop along the way. A bulletin board highlights historical facts or events, and a display case showcases special items. Currently, kids can view a collection of vintage model cars and trucks with amazing detail, on loan from Doug Schoning.

Slide down to the Animals Neighborhood to get a glimpse of a baby ball python, borrowed from Sunflower Pets. Our pet snake enjoys basking under the heat lamp, resting in a pool of water, or hanging out under her log. Earlier this winter, two Oriental fire-bellied toads occupied this space, and we hope to switch out with a new pet every few months.

The Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood is a popular stop, with dress-up clothes to reenact stories or make up a new one. It is common to find moms, dads or grandparents sitting on the fairytale bench with a tiara or a wolf hat on their heads. Kids love to see their parents dressed up and playing along.

Putting on puppet shows is another favorite activity in our Early Literacy Center, along with magnet and felt board manipulatives and a variety of puzzles. A table dedicated to “6 By 6” early literacy skills includes fun activities for preschoolers revolving around a great children’s picture book. This month, it is Andy Rash’s “Are You a Horse?” with options to act out the story using puppets and stuffed animals, as well as “sewing” the letters for the word HORSE with mini lassoes.

Each area of the Children’s Room features wonderful collections of books to keep kids interested and coming back for more. We love seeing the library used, not just a stop on the way somewhere else, but a destination – a place to hang out for a while and spend some quality time together.

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Take a Moment: Enjoy a Poem

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

When was the last time you read a poem, and why? If it was in grade school, and you had to memorize it and recite it to the class, you’re not alone. I think many of us of a certain age considered poems a kind of torture inflicted on us by our well-meaning teachers. It’s time to give poetry a second chance, and April, as National Poetry Month, is the perfect time to do it.

Poems, unlike novels and even some short stories, can be read in one sitting. Many poems can even be read in a few seconds. Take this gem by Emily Dickinson, for example:

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,–

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few.”

In our ever busy, got-to-make-that-deadline world, poems are made to order for the rushed through life. Writers of good poetry have the gift of saying a lot with little. It’s not merely the length of poems that make them great, but the sentiment, the emotion, the feeling that they generate in the reader. Who can forget the first time they read these memorable words by Dylan Thomas?

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


If you’re new to reading poetry, here are a few suggestions on where to begin. “Best Loved Poems of the American People,” is an old standard. There have been over a million and a half copies of this book printed since its original publication in 1936. The book contains over 575 poems, divided by subject and indexed by authors and first lines. Here you’ll find classics by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rudyard Kipling, James Whitcomb Riley, and many more.
Good Poems,” is selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame. Keillor also hosts “The Writer’s Almanac” on National Public Radio during which he reads some of the poems included in this collection. Keillor arranged his selections by broad and sometimes whimsical subject headings including lovers, sons and daughters, beasts, complaint, yellow, and the end.

If you are interested in a comprehensive collection, try “World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time.” Weighing in at over 1300 pages and including more than 1600 poems from dozens of languages and cultures, this book is sure to have a poem for all tastes.

Looking for something a little more concise? Try “The 100 Best Poems of All Time.” This portable treasury offers readers the best-known works by famous poets.

For a daily dose of poetry, look no further than “A Year in Poetry.” This treasury includes classic and modern verses for every day of the year.

 

Of course there are collections by all the poets you might remember from school: Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Not to mention William Blake, Robert Burns, and William Wordsworth. And, of course, Shakespeare.

 

For the young at age, or maybe just at heart, the poetry collections of Shel Silverstein are ideal. “Falling Up,” “A Light in the Attic,” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends” are all classics.

This year’s Poem in Your Pocket Day falls on April 30. Everyone is encouraged to carry a favorite poem on that day, and take every opportunity to share it with others. Or you can share a poem at the Kansas Humanities Council’s “Poetry Potluck.” Go to http://kansashumanities.org/2015/03/poetry-potluck for more information.

Whether your tastes run to poetry that is lyrical or epic, short or long, iambic pentameter, sonnets, haiku or free verse, celebrate National Poetry Month by delving into one of the many collections of poetry available at MPL.

 

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Spring (Cleaning) is in the Air

by Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

Marie Kondo

I’ll admit it. I may not be the most…tidy…person in the world. While I strive to keep my home clean and in good repair, sometimes I feel like my belongings have a secret plot to take over my living space. Books, shoes, coffee mugs, dog toys—they all multiply in unexpected ways. During the winter, I resign myself to a life of clutter, but now that it is spring, I am re-energized and ready to organize my home all the way into Better Homes and Gardens. Where to start, though?

For inspiration, I recently picked up the new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, the acclaimed “queen of clean” in Japan and creator of the Konmari method of personal organization. Her new, and whimsically titled, book has been all the rage in Japan, and has topped the bestseller charts in the US for months now. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a slim volume, probably requiring no more than a few hours of reading, but within it there are core concepts in the book that really resonate.

One of the most central ideas is that the things in our house should “spark joy.” While this concept might sound a little silly or New Age-y, it actually ends up being both extremely practical and deeply personal. Each person should decide what things make them happy and adds real value to their life. Does looking at that knickknack given to you by your high school best friend make you happy? If so, it stays. If not, Kondo says it goes. This method is, by and large, subjective, although she is utterly ruthless regarding paperwork. Does a mountain of paperwork clogging a desk ever bring anyone happiness, Kondo asks? No. Dispose of it as readily as possible!

She is also adamant about tackling organization projects by categories: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items, and so forth. This is a very different approach to tidying than my usual tactic, which is to move from room to room to room. According to Kondo, however, “Tidying by location is a fatal mistake.” By addressing categories, and not locations, she argues that you will stay focused on determining the value of items to you and therefore eliminate meaningless clutter.

I found that much about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up resonated with me, particularly because of its flexibility. The important thing that I took away from the book are its principles, rather than strict methods that you find in other books on organizing your home. However, if you desire a little more formal guidance in approaching your spring cleaning projects, Manhattan Public Library has many, many books to help you out. I highly recommend Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Home: No-Nonsense Advice That Will Inspire You to Clean Like the Dickens by Thelma Meyer, a guide to cleaning that gets straight to the point with detailed cleaning schedules and techniques (just in case you want a refresher on the best way to wash your windows!). Also excellent is Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland, a great resource for not only getting your living space in order, but also your work space. After all, spring cleaning isn’t just for your house!

Of course, if you are looking for tips on organizing your home but don’t want to add library books to your personal clutter, you can always use the Sunflower eLibrary as a resource. Free to download to your mobile device or computer, you can find numerous titles on housekeeping, cleaning, and home design. And if you need additional motivation on time management to help you work through an especially challenging basement or attic space, definitely check out Lynda.com, which has excellent tutorials on how to stay motivated and on task, even when relaxing with a new novel feels like a much enjoyable way to spend your weekend.

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A Fable for Our Times: The Buried Giant

by Marcia Allen,  Collection Development

I just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Buried Giant, and I was stunned by the superb quality of the writing and the subtle levels of meaning within the story. I am sure that I will return to this book again and again, because I know I missed some of the nuances the author has so carefully woven throughout the story. This seemingly simple little tale has much that is hidden.

The story concerns Axl and Beatrice, an older Briton couple living in a rough village long after the fall of Rome, who have decided to attempt a walking journey to visit their son. The two are lovingly devoted to each other, and Axl always addresses his wife as “Princess.” But something is amiss: Despite their eagerness to visit their son, they have little memory of the boy and are not quite sure where he actually lives. Like everyone else in their village, their memories have been clouded by the presence of an obliterating mist.

Nevertheless, off they go on their quest during which they will have all kinds of adventures. Among other events, they will encounter ogres and mysterious boatmen. They will meet treacherous monks and hostile Saxons. They will encounter odd-behaving children and a slumbering dragon. As they travel, it becomes clear to the reader that the one constant in their lives is their love for each other.

Buried GiantLike the travelers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, they are joined by others seeking their own quests. They meet Wistan, a well-trained Saxon knight, who seeks something that will change the course of British history. They meet Edwin, a young boy accompanying Wistan, who bears an unusual wound. And they meet Gawain, a knight once dedicated to the service of King Arthur, whose quest brings him into brutal conflict with that of Wistan.

So, what is this delightful book telling us about humanity? It says much about the nature of memory. While we readers are appalled that the main characters have forgotten their son and don’t recall much about their own lives, we soon realize that their failing is not their fault. As Axl grasps at shadowy recollections of his past experiences, we come to understand that there was a deliberate plan for mass forgetfulness, one that robs the soul of individual memory but also averts some of the evil in the world. If memory returns, so, too, will forgotten grudges and hurt feelings that have long been buried.

The book also has much to say about death and the way the dying are conveyed from life. Both Axl and Beatrice are frail older people, and this journey they have undertaken will bring terrible stress to them. Troubled by both rough terrain and terrifying creatures, they will struggle valiantly to complete their quest, discovering as they go that their beliefs about their lives are far from fact. The final passages of the book are a poignant reminder of the uncertainty of life and a testament to the ability of letting go.

To whom will this book appeal? To anyone who treasures tales of the distant past. To those who love a bit of fantasy in their stories. To folks who appreciate symbolic meaning in everyday events of ordinary people. To anyone who loves a story of exquisitely worded language. This book will appeal on many different levels, and readers lucky enough to sample it will surely feel that they have been enthralled by a master storyteller.

 

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Monarchs Baseball History at MPL

by Janet, Adult Services Librarian

14541-illustration-of-a-baseball-pvMost people have heard of Jackie Robinson, some have heard of Satchel Paige and many have heard of the Kansas City Monarchs – but few know how connected they were to the Manhattan community. In honor of the 90th Anniversary of the Monarchs’ first World Championship in 1924, author Phil S. Dixon will be speaking in cities where they played to present the team’s unique history as well as discuss the history of African-American ball players from our community who participated in the Negro Leagues. Help us and our co-sponsor, the Riley County Historical Society, welcome Mr. Dixon to the Manhattan Public Library on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. For more than thirty years Mr. Dixon has recorded African-American sports topics with a vast array of in-depth skill and historical accuracy. He is widely regarded for his expertise on baseball history. He has authored nine prior baseball books and won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992. Join us for this fascinating program about Manhattan and Baseball history!

monarchs

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