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Christmas Storytime

Christmas Storytime Schedule:

Tuesday, December 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.

Suggested for kids in PreK-3rd grade, meet in the auditorium

Kids and families are invited to visit the library for three special Christmas storytimes.  We’ll read festive stories and sing songs, then kids will get a chance to meet Santa Claus and tell him their Christmas wishes!

picture of Santa Claus courtesy of pixabay

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Time to Travel

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

People talk about having time, making time, and wasting time. We’re anxious about time all the time. It’s no surprise that we’re fascinated by the idea of time travel. After all, who hasn’t dreamed about going into their past, and maybe improving the present? Who hasn’t fantasized about journeying into the future to see how we all turn out?

While H. G. Wells’  “The Time Machine,” written in 1895, popularized the concept of time travel, prototypes of time travel stories include Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Washington Irving’s story “Rip Van Winkle,” (sleeping for 20 years), and even the 8th century Japanese folk tale “Urashima Tarō.” In this story, a fisherman visits a world under the sea for three days only to find after returning home to his village that three hundred years have passed.

There are several best of time travel lists on the Web, and hundreds of titles listed. Here is a small sampling of some of the best.

In “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger. Librarian Henry de Tamble suffers from Chrono Displacement disorder. He disappears into the past or the future during times of stress. Needless to say this can wreak havoc with a marriage. Clare, the time traveler’s wife, endures, as does the relationship between her and her husband.

The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells is the classic time travel tale. Wells coined the term “time machine” to describe the mechanical device that propelled his Victorian scientist hero through time. The unnamed protagonist travels into the far future where he discovers a world peopled by the peaceful, childlike Eloi, and the ape-like, underground dwelling Morlocks, and the horrifying relationship between the two.

When illustrator Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave the twentieth-century for 1882. What happens when Si meets and falls in love with a woman in the past is the story Jack Finney tells in “Time and Again.”

In “Timeline,” by Michael Crichton, archaeologists studying the remains of medieval towns in Dordogne discover a pair of modern glasses and a note on parchment in the handwriting of missing Professor Edward Johnson. Using quantum technology provided by a mysterious company called ITC, a group of history students travel to 1357 France to look for the missing professor. What they don’t realize is that ITC’s motives for traveling to the past involve more than research.


When Claire Beauchamp Randall walks through a cleft stone in Scotland in 1945, she is somehow transported to 1743. There she encounters her husband, Frank’s, evil ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. So begins “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon, the first in the popular series by the same name.

In “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” Connie Willis weaves the story of Ned Henry who travels from the 21st century back to the 1940s as part of a project to restore Coventry Cathedral. But when fellow time traveler, Verity Kindle, rescues a cat in Victorian times and brings it back to the present of 2057, she starts in motion events that can change the course of history. Now Ned has to jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right.

Travelers through time may seek to change the past, or they may be guardians sent to protect the past from other travelers. They may want to prevent a bad future from happening by changing the present (think “The Terminator”). Time travelers to the past may unintentionally change the future (their present) by their actions. In Ray Bradbury’s story “The Sound of Thunder,” a time traveling safari to see the dinosaurs has drastic results when one of its members makes a very small adjustment in the past.

There was a moment in history when everyone in the western world jumped several days in time. On October 4, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the very next day would be not October 5, but October 15, thus correcting the ten day error of the Julian calendar. Of course we all time travel on a very limited scale each fall and spring. We fall back in time to relive an hour, or we zoom ahead. Happy time travelling.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Holiday Stress Relievers

Hurry Less Worry Less at ChristmasThe song claims that it is the most wonderful time of the year, and in many ways it is, but we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that for many it is also a time of great stress. Social media sites give us so many great ideas for making the holidays more special, and we can feel lazy if we don’t try as many of them as possible. Friends and family members add richness to our lives, but sometimes family gatherings bring conflicts and concerns. Our involvement in faith groups and organizations can give us fulfillment and support and joy, but also added activities (and last-minute costume hunts!) during this season. As always, the library has some tools to help smooth the way.
In “Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmas: Having the Holiday Season You Long For,” Judy Pace Christie gives practical advice for simplifying your holiday, as well as spiritual guidance to help those who want to refocus on the spirituality of Christmas. “Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas” is Bill McKibben’s answer to the commercialism of the season, with suggestions for how to spend less and change the focus to family and community. “Real Simple: Celebrations” by Valerie Rains will help you simplify any gathering, with helpful tips and plans so that you can enjoy instead of endure.
In the midst of the seasonal flurry, it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve overdone it and need to regroup, we have a couple of DVDs that can help. “Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Energy and Stress Relief” has three twenty-minute programs designed to help you restore your calm. The background scenery of Western Colorado provides a bit of an escape as well. In “A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfullness Meditation: 10 Days to Change Your Life Forever” Ira Israel covers the steps for this ancient practice to bring you serenity and inner peace.
Techniques from the business world can be helpful as we try to find ways to make our home lives less stressful. “Managing Stress,” a 21-minute course available through on Manhattan Public Library’s website teaches how to identify your triggers, manage interactions and time, make positive personal choices, and start with small steps.
Honestly, though, sometimes we all overdo it and need a quick fix to heal the spirit. This would be the time to call in the laughter. It’s the best medicine, after all. If all that Christmas cheer is getting to you, David Sedaris can help you explore the darkly humorous aspects of the season in “Holidays on Ice.” He discusses a family Christmas letter that spins out of control, a scathing review of a children’s pageant, and, the highlight: a memoir of his time working as an elf at a department store. For something with a bit more light, you might enjoy “The Christmas Companion: Stories, Songs, and Sketches” by Garrison Keillor. Containing traditional Prairie Home Companion fare with a holiday theme, this audiobook can’t help but brighten your mood. For a quick laugh that won’t tax your brain, “Wreck the Halls: Cake Wreck Gets Festive” by Jen Yates is ideal. Full of hilarious cake decorating snafus, this book will reassure you about your attempts at new holiday projects that have gone awry.
Nothing adds cheer to all of the wrapping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking like a holiday movie. We have everything from classics like “White Christmas” and “Miracle on 34th Street” to Will Ferrell’s “Elf” and “Arthur Christmas.” If all else fails, it’s time to take a break. Put on a CD from our holiday collection, make a cup of tea, put up your feet, and read something fun.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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New Nonfiction Standouts for Adults

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development, Manhattan Public Library

With summer activities but a memory, and colder weather looming in the near future, it’s time to return to indoor activities.  Fortunately for us, these changes coincide with the release of new fall book titles.  And this season’s releases offer some intriguing topics that just might attract you.  Consider the following:

  • The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff. This lengthy book received a lot of advance attention, primarily because of the tremendous success of Schiff’s 2011 nonfiction bestseller, Cleopatra, as well as her 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning book,   This time, Schiff recounts that shameful period of American history known as the Salem Witch Trials.   She opens the book with a reminder that in the year 1692, nineteen people were hanged in the little town of Salem, after their accusers testified to a series of horrendous deeds they suffered at the hands of those they accused. A list and description of the major characters involved in this tragedy helps us to better understand the nature of this frenzy.  Schiff’s telling is dramatic, and though we know how the story plays out, the book is a worthy reminder about human behavior at its worst.


  • Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown. This book is about the Lewis chessmen of the Scottish National Museum and the British Museum which are considered rare treasures indeed, but the book is more of a whole cultural experience.  The 12th century, during which the chessmen were created by the talented Margret the Adroit of Iceland, is displayed in all its colorful history.   Curious readers will discover the extent to which the Vikings controlled the North Atlantic.  They will learn of the hunt for coveted walrus ivory.  They will explore the culture of Norse society.  Each chapter opens with a reference to a particular chess piece, but it soon veers off into tales of contemporary nobility and war, the creation of art, the written tales, and so much more.  There’s a bit of everything in this wonderful tale.

  • Fortunate Son by John Fogarty. This is one of many autobiographies written by entertainers to come out this season, but it’s also one of the better ones.  Well known for his role in Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogarty tells of his early admiration for musicians like Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs, and he recalls the band’s memorable performances, like their arrival at Woodstock.  He shares his naïve dealings with his first agent, and he describes the motivation behind so many of his hit songs, like his intent with “Run through the Jungle.”   He speaks well of his successes, but he also recounts the poor choices that he made, thus we discover the humble storyteller that he is.


  • SPQR
    by Mary Beard.  At over 600 pages in length, this history of ancient Rome seems intimidating, but Cambridge professor Beard brings an amazing period back to life.  Her goal?  Of course, she tells the story of the growth of a powerful empire, but she also works to dispel the Roman myths we have all come to accept as truth.  She tells us, for example, that Rome was not some inferior copier of Greek culture; in fact, Rome was a nation of inventive people fascinated with structural engineering.  We learn in these pages more than history ever previously revealed about Roman perception and Roman thinking.  Recent discoveries in literature and in excavation have given us a truer picture of those who lived so many centuries ago.  Think of Beard as a lively guide, displaying for us a lost age.

  • The Art of Grace by Sarah L. Kaufman. What a lovely book!  As author Kaufman says, “Grace is being at ease with the world, even when life tosses wine down your pants.”  Her book is a collection of the characters and the anecdotes which speak to her of the true nature of grace.
    Roger Federer, says the author, exhibits grace in beautiful movement on the court.  Margaret Thatcher exhibited grace for her bearing and her attention to her appearance even when facing the House of Commons.  Ballerina Margot Fonteyn demonstrated grace in her poise and obvious joy in dance.  At the heart of grace is ease, says Kaufman, a talent that one can attain through a practical consideration of her ten helpful points.  A lively look at an admirable characteristic.

With all the readily available new titles that this season offers, we can shift comfortably into the confines of winter.  An armchair adventures awaits.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Notable November

by Brian Ingalsbe, Youth Services Library Assistant

October is already behind us, and our lives seem to get more eventful as the holidays draw near. Manhattan Public Library is no exception. Throughout the month of November, the Youth Services Department has a wide variety of programs and parties that will keep you on your toes!

Read with a Dog is one of the most engaging programs MPL has to offer – occurring Sundays, November 8th and 16th. At this event, children can sign up for a fifteen-minute time slot to read to a dog. All dogs are certified therapy dogs; they are eager and waiting to hear your favorite stories! Read with a Dog is a great program because it offers a lot of flexibility for all ages. What if your child doesn’t read? No problem! These dogs thrive on human contact and would love nothing more than to sit and keep your child company. Let’s be honest: is there anything more exciting than corgis in the library?

Fast forward to the week of November 16th. This is when the real excitement begins! Kansas Reads to Preschoolers (KRP) is a statewide event that celebrates a love of all things literacy. Every year, an esteemed board chooses a book, which is featured during this week-long celebration. This year’s winner – Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino – features a young llama, comparing his mother’s attributes to those of his close animal friends.

MPL will be endorsing this book at our regular storytimes throughout the week, by focusing on animal families and llamas. A FREE book will be given to children attending a storytime. The week will culminate with the wonderful Zoofari Tails storytime, a partnership between MPL and the Sunset Zoo, which will feature animal bio facts pertaining to llamas. Can you think of a better way to celebrate early literacy?

If KRP is not enough of a reason to come and visit the library, let me give you another: story quilts – courtesy of the Konza Prairie Quilter’s Guild – will be on display the same week as KRP. The guild’s theme, Cuddle Up in a Good Book, was chosen to commemorate the 2014 children’s expansion. Each quilt will feature children’s works in some capacity – including Dr. Seuss books, Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, and The Pokey Little Puppy, as well as some more traditional quilts with fabric and shapes inspired by children’s literature. I have not seen them for myself, but my sources have informed me that these quilts are absolutely stunning. Do not miss this wonderful opportunity.

The week of November 16th keeps its momentum moving forward until the very end of the week. As mentioned above, Zoofari Tails will be hosted Friday, November 20th. That same day, Youth Services staff will host a Holiday Card Crafts party. Children ages three to twelve will have an amazing time creating crafts and cards for the upcoming holiday season. The party is a come-and-go event beginning at noon – meaning you can craft till your heart’s content, or until 4:00, whichever comes first. If you have a teen – grades seven to twelve – we will be hosting a Holiday Pinterest Party on Saturday, November 21st. This party will be full of crafts and creations inspired from the near infinite number of Pinterest boards. Do you have the crafting ability to create a masterpiece? Come and find out!

As the week of November 16th comes to a close, MPL has one more event to keep your child occupied before Thanksgiving. The Youth Services Department will be hosting a kids’ movie marathon on Wednesday, November 25th. A movie for preschoolers will be shown beginning at 10:00, followed by a school-aged-appropriate movie at 2:00. Feel free to bring your own easy-to-clean-up snacks!

MPL is a great resource, and our staff is always ready to help you find your next great read, explore the online world, or answer any question you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department staff at or (785)776-4741 ext. 125.

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K-State Mortar Board: Reading is Power Event for Kids

Reading is Power event for kids K - 6th grade on November 14, 1:00-3:00 pm

Print Event Flyer PDF

*UPDATE: Willie the Wildcat will join us at the library from 1:00 to 2:00! Kids can take a picture with Willie and bring their favorite book for him to sign.

On Saturday, November 14 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., K-State Mortar Board will host “Reading is Power” at the Manhattan Public Library.  At this event, children in kindergarten through 6th grade will get to read one-on-one with firefighters, police officers, nurses, athletes, and other community heroes, create superhero crafts to take home, and practice acting with K-State’s improv group “On the Spot.”  The event is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

K-State Mortar Board is a senior honor society dedicated to promoting scholarship, leadership, and service at Kansas State University.  This is the first time their annual reading event will be held at the Manhattan Public Library.

For more information, please contact the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, (785) 776-4741 ext. 125.

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Special Celebration for Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week 2015

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week is an annual event that promotes reading to all Kansas children from birth to age five. Through the statewide program, parents, librarians and caregivers are encouraged to read the chosen title to every young child in Kansas during the week of November 15-21. This project is made possible by the State Library of Kansas and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A copy of this year’s featured book, “Is Your Mama a Llama?” by Deborah Guarino, will be given to every preschooler who attends storytime at the Manhattan Public Library between November 15 and 21. Storytimes will be held Monday through Thursday at 9:30am and 11:00 am, and on Saturday at 11:00am. Visit the Manhattan Public Library’s online events calendar for more details.

As a special part of the celebration, quilts created by members of the Konza Prairie Quilters Guild will be displayed in the children’s library that week.  Each quilt was inspired by a children’s book, and the theme “Cuddle Up in a Good Book” was selected to honor the completion of the children’s library expansion project.

More information about Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week can be found on the Kansas State Library’s website

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What’s Tween and Why Does It Matter?

Rachael Schmidtlein
Teen and Tween Services Coordinator

Across the far reaches of the Internet are articles, surveys, and studies about how to raise children to be reasonable, functioning human beings (some day). Children approach learning differently, and those approaches differ depending on their age, attentiveness, activity level, etc. New research is constantly being published to help parents and educators figure out how to increase literacy in children. This is a wonderful thing! A side effect of all of this research is that new age groups are constantly emerging.

The idea that a child is not, in fact, just a short adult is relatively new. Until 1836, no labor laws existed. The first children’s department within a library didn’t even come about until the Boston Public Library opened their children’s room in 1895, which was followed quickly by the practice of storytelling in the library.

Young adult literature and services were still slower coming. After World War I, children stopped going into the job market at the age of 14 (instead finishing school or even attending college). Libraries realized that by designating materials for teenagers, they could give them a sense of belonging and keep them engaged in continuous learning. In the 1990’s, libraries began dedicating services and librarians exclusively to teenagers.

A pattern, however, began to emerge. Children’s services were seeing a huge drop between the number of children using library programs and the number of teens using library programs. Even more troubling, children who were initially “reluctant readers” stopped reading entirely and would continue to have trouble in school. What was happening? Where did they go?

As most parents know, in grades 4-6, kids start get super busy. They become less easy to attract to library programs. Sports, religious activities, mountains of homework: the list just keeps going. To make the over-programmed juggling act more difficult, parents have to drive their children from place to place because kids can’t start driving until high school. We know that keeping preteens connected with reading is an important step in creating lifelong learners, especially for reluctant readers, but the question is how?

That’s where I come in! My name is Rachael Schmidtlein, and I am the new Tween and Teen Services Coordinator at the Manhattan Public Library. Our Youth Services staff at MPL has already been working on some awesome tween programs. At the Manhattan Public Library, we’ve defined a Tween as someone between the 4th and 6th grade. Every time we have an event that is specifically for tweens, we witness kids excited that they have a place to come just for them. Our programs may not seem like they are directly related to literature, but no matter if it’s a haunted library after hours, a holiday card craft or something equally as cool, we make sure that the tweens know that there are resources here for them to read and study on every subject imaginable.

Tweens are at the perfect age for library programming. They’re starting to get into the more complicated elements of their subjects at school, and the library offers them a fun, free place to explore those core learning elements, without the restrictions of state education standards. We often offer programs that are based in popular culture, like Doctor Who, and then we dig even deeper into the STEAM, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math components of the topic. This leads to some seriously creative and out-of-the-box thinking. Our tween programming is just beginning to take off, and we have a lot of ideas planned for the future! If you have any questions about tween or teen services at the Manhattan Public Library, you can email our staff at

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Finding Diversity in Reading

by Amber Keck, Youth Services Librarian

The artful act of reading is a beautiful thing to observe.  Different people have different motives and end goals when they participate in reading.  For some, it is done in order to gain knowledge and facts.  For others, reading is a pleasurable activity, meant to allow readers to indulge and escape.  For many, reading is a way to escape AND a way to gain knowledge.  Readers might find themselves engrossed in the story of a person living a life they will never have.  By reading about that character, readers can experience a life different from their own.  Reading diversely allows people to enter into a world that is not their past, present or future reality.  While they may not be able to understand the full experience of the character, they gain a bit of insight into a life.

The summer and fall of 2015 offered many new book releases that can help you diversify your reading.  Here are just a few picks for you to consider.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a journalist and educator, specializing in social, political and cultural issues in America.  His 2008 memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, revisited his childhood, growing up in a poor Baltimore neighborhood with a father determined to raise his son right.  Between the World and Me seeks to help readers understand race culture and the struggles that African-Americans face today and have faced in the past.  This book is written as a letter to his son, as Coates lays bare life as a black man in America.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Plus-sized teenager Willowdean is comfortable in her own body and not afraid to say it.  When she gets a crush on a boy and starts to lose her swagger, she decides to enter a local beauty pageant.  Author Julie Murphy takes the classic bildungsroman to a whole new level with this young adult novel.  With a character comfortable in her own skin, she sends a message to girls of all sizes, to embrace their inner beauty and outer beauty at the same time.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Award-winning author Jenny Lawson is not afraid to tell the truth about how she was raised and how her brain functions in the context of mental illness.  Her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, stunned readers with its vulnerability and comfort in the truth of living with depression and anxiety.  In Furiously Happy, Lawson goes even further in an effort to help readers truly accept the “crazy” moments and the “normal” moments, to make them memorable and wonderful.  Lawson writes about mental illness in a fresh way that leaves readers crying and laughing.

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is a TV writer, actress and creator of the The Mindy Project, a show in which she also stars.  Her first set of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, gave readers a glimpse into the life of a young minority woman working in Hollywood.  Why Not Me? is a second set of personal essays, offering even more insight into finding success in television.  Kaling discusses her ongoing relationship with co-writer B.J. Novak, as well as America’s fixation on the weight of actresses.  Kaling’s wit and snark make her essays enjoyable, while her honesty and vulnerability keep her writing accessible.

These titles are just a few among many that can diversify your reading life.  The Manhattan Public Library staff would love to help you find your next great read.  Talk to a staff member today, or request a personalized reading list at the library or online.


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Roof Project Begins October 26

JB Turner Roofing will begin work at the Manhattan Public Library on Monday morning, October 26.  The roof project is expected to be completed by Christmas.  In order to accommodate equipment and supplies, the west entrance to the library’s parking lot will be closed until the project is finished.  All traffic should enter and exit the parking lot using the driveway on Houston Street. The west entrance to the library building, near the Technology Center, will also be closed during construction.

If you would like more information about the project, please contact staff at the Manhattan Public Library by phone at (785) 776-4741, in person at 629 Poyntz Avenue or by email at

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