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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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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.

 

 

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The History of Baseball

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With spring just around the corner, that means it is once again time for baseball, the all American pastime. To get yourself ready, or just to impress your friends with your vast knowledge, why not read up on the history of the sport?

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the Negro Leagues, we have several books on the subject. Here are just a few to get you started.

monarchs“The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball” by Janet Bruce:   This book traces the story of the Kansas City Monarchs from their beginning as a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 until their demise in the mid 1950’s due largely to the integration of the sport. The Monarchs were a powerhouse in their league and employed some of the great stars of that era, such as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Did you know that the Monarchs were the first team to regularly play night baseball? They brought a portable lighting system with them which they quickly assembled at each new location when they travelled on the road. Bruce fills the book with many other interesting anecdotes as well as over 90 photographs of various players or scenes.

“Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams” by Robert Peterson:   Originally published in 1970, this is a classic book that thoroughly covers Negro league baseball from start to finish. There is detailed history about the league and some of its greatest players. There are also biographical sketches of many great players who never had the chance to play in the major leagues. Peterson manages to capture the heart and soul of Negro league baseball, while underscoring the tragedy of the lost opportunities of Negro league players because of segregation.

jackie“Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy” by Jules Tygiel:   No baseball history would be complete without the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Tygiel, through interviews with players, newspaper accounts, and personal papers, recounts how Jackie Robinson influenced not only baseball, but American society as well.

 

 

 

For a general look at baseball history, the library has many books to offer. Here are a few of my picks:

boys“The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn:   Many are of the opinion that this is the best baseball book ever written, or at least somewhere on the list.  Kahn describes his youth  growing up in the 30’s and 40’s near Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his time as a beat writer covering the Dodgers in the early 50’s. In a very poignant section, Kahn then recounts what happened to these great players long after their baseball days were over. Even non-baseball fans should appreciate this book.

“Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond” by Jonathan Weeks:   For a lighthearted look at baseball, give this one a try. Weeks takes you chronologically from baseball’s earliest days up to the present day, recounting the strange, bizarre, and little-known events that happen on the field of play. For instance, in 1957, while a woman was being carted from the game on a stretcher after being hit in the face by Richie Ashburn’s foul ball, she was hit in the leg by another Ashburn foul ball during the same at bat.

baseballwomen“Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball” by Barbara Gregorich:   The story of women in baseball is a fascinating one. I had no idea that there were a number of barnstorming “bloomer teams” that travelled across the U.S. playing against men’s teams. Or, that during the 1930’s in an exhibition game, one woman, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Gregorich’s book is an entertaining account of this little known piece of baseball history.

These are only a fraction of the baseball books that MPL has to offer, so be sure to stop in and see what we have. Also, don’t forget to come hear Phil Dixon speak at the library on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. Mr. Dixon is an African America sports historian, author of nine baseball books, and co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Mr. Dixon will be discussing the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, games the Monarchs played in Manhattan, and the history of African American baseball players from this community.

 

 

 

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Manhattan

shamrocksWhat began as a feast day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has grown and spread around the world as a day to celebrate all things Irish.

Manhattan offers a fun and family-friendly environment for celebrating the wearing of the green:

Blarney Breakfast on Saturday, March 14 from 7:30 to 11:30am

Rise and shine early to enjoy the Blarney Breakfast, a fundraiser for the Manhattan Arts Center held at Kite’s Grille and Bar in Aggieville. Enjoy some green eggs, biscuits and gravy from 7:30 to 11:30am. Tickets are available through the Manhattan Arts Center.

 

StPatsRoadRace_LOGOThe Shamrock Fun Run and 2-mile walk, March 14  at 10:00am &

St. Pat’s 10K Road Race, March 14 at 10:45am

Register is required for both races—there is a registration fee. Race awards will be presented at 12:15 in Triangle Park.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The parade begins in City Park at 2:00pm and goes through Aggieville.

 

Indoor Activities

If running or being outdoors isn’t your cup o’ tea (or if it’s raining or snowing!) and you’re looking for fun things to do indoors in Manhattan,  there will be a Nature Storytime for children in the library’s storytime room at 10:00 a.m. At 2:00 kids can visit the library for a free movie showing. The movie tells the story of a squirrel who is exiled from his park home, but finds himself helping his former friends raid a nut shop to survive. It turns out the nut store is also the front for a human gang’s bank robbery. Rated PG; 85 minutes.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center has two exhibits to explore:  “Save the Last Dance” illustrates the ecology and “dance” of the North American Grassland Grouse”, and “K is for Kansas: Exploring Kansas A to Z” illustrates fun facts about Kansas. Admission is charged.

Several free exhibits are available for viewing at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at KSU. Wander the museum to see “Chet Peters: Life Forms”, “Stan Herd: Cairns on the Beach” and “Dan Mitchell: A Place, a Mental Space.”

No matter our ethnic origins, we are all honorary Irish on St, Patrick’s Day, so wear your green and have a safe and fun celebration!

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March Events at the Library Include Baseball and Charles Dickens

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager 

What do Internet safety, the Kansas City Monarchs, Manhattan history, Charles Dickens, and great books for sale all have in common? They’re all at Manhattan Public Library in the month of March.

Last weekend, the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of the Library) annual book sale was a huge success, in spite of the snow, and the effort raised thousands of dollars to support summer reading and other library programs for all ages. The tremendous generosity and support of our Friends and the tireless year-round efforts of book sale volunteers are truly appreciated. Thanks, also, to all those in the community who donate so many wonderful books each year for our library sale. It’s a gift that benefits us all.  If you didn’t get a chance to stop by and browse the thousands of books for sale, don’t worry! You can find great deals on gently used books all year long at Rosie’s Corner Book Store on the first floor of the library.

Mark your calen20monarchsdar for Sunday, March 29, for a fun and informative program that’s sure to appeal to fans of baseball, local history, and African-American history. Author and historian Phil Dixon, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, will present “The Kansas City Monarchs and Our Home Town,” a program about the Monarchs’ unique history, with special emphasis on their connections to Manhattan and on the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. Mr. Dixon has authored nine books and will offer his books at the program for sale and signing. Join us at 2:00 p.m. in the Library Auditorium. This program is appropriate for all ages and is co-sponsored by the Riley County Historical Society.

Join us for tea, cookies, and Brit Lit on Thursday, March 26th, 7:00 p.m., when our monthly book series will continue with a discussion of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” We’ll meet in the Groesbeck Room and our discussion leader this month will be KSU Professor Michaeline Chance-Reay. “Great Expectations” is the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman. Drawing on the his frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, Dickens weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagining scenes rich in comedy and pathos and introducing a succession of unforgettable characters. This TALK series of programs is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council and the Manhattan Library Association.

book discussionThe Tech Tuesday series at Manhattan Public Library continues in March with two different technology programs. On Tuesday, March 10th, at 2:00 p.m., members of the Riley County Genealogical Society will lead a workshop on “Intermediate Ancestry and Kansas Resources,” a look at more advanced techniques for using the online resource Ancestry.com and at unique genealogy resources for the state of Kansas.

Our second March workshop will discuss privacy and security in the digital world of the 21st century. On Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m.,  we will feature “Online Privacy and Security,” led by Lucas Loughmiller, Director of Library Services at USD 383, who will focus on ways in which adults can get the most out of the online world while maximizing the safety and security of their own personal information. Tech Tuesday programs are held in the library’s Groesbeck Room. You can register for Tech Tuesdays on the library’s website at www.mhklibrary.org or by calling us at 785-776-4741 Ext. 141.

Hope to see you in the library this month!

 

 

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Spring Book Sale Success

customers shopping at the 2015 book sale

Even though the snow was falling, hundreds of people turned out to support the library at the Manhattan Library Association’s (MLA) annual book sale last weekend. It was a huge success, raising money to support library services and programs like summer reading and the TALK program.

The sale would not have been possible without the hard work and devotion of volunteers. Book sale chair, Bob Newhouse, and his wife, Barb, staffed the sale all weekend, helping customers, moving books, and maintaining order during the busy weekend. Bob and his co-chairs, Roger Brannen and Doug Schoning, spent months planning and coordinating the sale. Carol Oukrop, publicity chair, visited businesses, put up flyers, and made sure that every person in town knew about the sale.

However, a book sale also needs books, and for that, we have to thank Wilma Schmeller, Carol O’Neill, and the many other Rosie’s Corner volunteers, who had the Herculean task of sorting and categorizing the thousands of books donated throughout the year. (Of course, I can’t forget to thank our generous community members who brought in those books, either!)

book sale blog 3

Gary, past book sale chair, and Bob, 2015 book sale chair.

book sale blog 2

Elaine, president of the Manhattan Library Association.

I would also like to thank the Kansas State University Rotaract, Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Junior League of the Flint Hills, and students from Job Corps who helped set up the books and clean up afterward. This was truly a community effort and we are grateful to have so much support from the people of Manhattan.

If you missed the sale, don’t worry! You can find fantastic deals on gently used books year round at Rosie’s Corner Book Store on the first floor of the library. If you would like to help out with next year’s sale, join the Manhattan Library Association and check the “volunteer” box.

For additional information about the Manhattan Library Association, please contact Gina at (785)776-4741 ext. 120.

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Library Secrets

By Danielle Schapaugh

Psst…I have a secret to tell you. There are free services at the library that you don’t even suspect!

scannerFor starters, Manhattan Public Library has a high-quality digital flatbed scanner. Users can scan documents, photos, articles, or even maps in color at high resolution, and save the images to a flash drive or send them directly to an email account. All for free.

If you’re in need of a high speed Internet connection, the library’s got you covered. Cardholders can access free 30Mbps WiFi in the building and at three WiFi hotspots around town: the Douglass Community Center at 901 Yuma, City Park Playground, and the Wefald Pavilion in City Park. The library received a grant in 2013 to test TV Whitespace as a way to provide free Internet access and it has been very successful. Log in to using your library card number and password. If you forget your password, visit the library to have it reset.

For those of us who feel outpaced by new technology, the library offers technology classes twice a month. In addition, Wandean Rivers in the Assistive Technology Center is available for one-on-one technology tutoring by appointment. Call Wandean at 776-4741 ext. 202 to schedule a session. Desk staff can also help with basic questions and assist you in finding the resources to learn more. These services, like all the services at the library, are free to cardholders.

Lynda_homepage_icon2If you prefer to explore on your own, the library offers several options for self-education. The most exciting new service is called lynda.com. With topics ranging from Improving Your Memory to 3D Video Game Design, lynda.com provides training to interest any user at any level. I’ve used the service to improve my professional skills in office programs and graphic design. I can’t say enough about lynda.com; I want to shout about it from the rooftops! Try any of the thousands of video tutorials and you will be amazed. Lynda.com is available completely free for all library card holders through the library’s website.

Perhaps you are someone who is “all about the books.” If you just want something good to read, ask a librarian. We have resources to recommend books based on your tastes, authors you like, genres you enjoy, bestsellers, and more. If you want a complete and customized list of recommendations, take a minute to fill out a personalized reading list request.  A librarian will comb the collection and give you a long list of books you’re sure to love. Why waste time reading mediocre books when there are so many great books to enjoy?

There are resources galore for children and families, but you may not have noticed the storytime kits and discovery packs. Librarians package books, games, toys, and even costumes in a backpack for a complete learning and entertainment experience. Find topics like New Siblings, Fire and Rescue, Potty Training (complete with Potty Elmo doll), World Records, and Dinosaurs. Discovery packs are perfect for grandparents with visiting grandkids!

Another resource you may not have noticed is simply space. The library has three meeting rooms and one computer classroom that are available to the public. Community and civic groups can reserve space to hold meetings, conduct classes, and even teleconference in the library’s meeting rooms for free. No groups can charge admission or conduct sales at the library, and some other restrictions may apply. For more information please call or visit the Manhattan Public Library.

I could go on and on, and then some. You can find language learning programs, resources to help teach your child to read, fun events, Consumer Reports, Ancestry.com, and more. If you would like a group tour of library services, please call us at (785) 776-4741 ext.120. We would love to show you all the wonderful resources available at your local library.

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It’s a winter wonderland out there! Or is it?

by Amber Keck, Children’s Library Assistant

picture of young girl reading

Winter is definitely still upon us, and parents and caregivers may be scrambling to find indoor activities for their toddlers, preschoolers, and older children.  Thankfully, Manhattan is a great community which offers a lot opportunities to stay indoors and still have tons of fun.

Flint Hills Discovery Center (FDHC) currently has a Kansas exhibit where students and their families can learn interesting facts about our great state.  On the third floor of the FDHC, you’ll also find an excellent play and exploration area for younger children, including a fort, bouncy area, and lots of fun toys.  Admission is $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 2-17. Opt for a yearly pass at a cost of $22.50 per adult, and $10 per child.

The Riley County Family and Child Resource Center offers several playgroups throughout the week for younger children ages 0-5 years.  Staffed by Parents as Teachers, these playgroups give parents and children the opportunity to socialize, engage in imaginative play, and learn the basics of parenting from early childhood educators.  The playgroup schedule caters to specific age groups each time the playroom is open.  View the complete schedule here.  All playgroups are free of charge and do not require pre-registration.

Manhattan Public Library has so much to offer families who are looking for free activities in the wintertime!  Storytimes are currently in session, with ten weekly programs for children from birth to early elementary.  These sessions are free and do not require pre-registration.

The newly expanded children’s library has many activities available all the time, including a puppet theatre, reading corner, arts and crafts table, and science toys.  The children’s library staff is more than happy to assist you in finding more activities in the community to do with your children.

Manhattan is a wonderful community comprised of many families with children.  Though the winter months are sometimes difficult to get through, especially with small children, there are many opportunities throughout the city to enjoy playtime indoors.

If you know of any fun winter activities for kids that aren’t mentioned here, tweet them to us @ManhattanPL.

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Read a Tale, Tell a Tale

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

February 26 is National Tell a Fairy-Tale Day.  I know you already know them, but in case you need some inspiration for your Thursday bedtime story, come visit our Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood in the Children’s room. Look for the banner with the impressive Neuschwanstein Castle pictured atop its woodsy Bavarian hillside. In this section, we have pulled together our fantastic collection of anthologies and picture books so you can find plenty of options, including classic tales, tall tales, new tales, whimsical or “fractured” fairy tales, and stories from around the world.

A few recent additions to this neighborhood include:

chickenBrave Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Robert Byrd. Chicken Little is sure the sky is falling, and he gathers an even larger than usual crowd of animals in his wake when he runs into that sly Foxy Loxy.  This time, Loxy has a wife and seven little kits “who frazzle my wits,” and they are all hungry. Down to the cellar the other animals go, waiting for the stew water to boil. Can little Chicken Little save the day?  Byrd turns the tables on this tale and gives kids an unlikely champion for problem-solving and resourcefulness.

My Grandfather’s Coat retold by Jim Aylesworth. Children love the old Yiddish tale “I Had a Little Overcoat,” with the continual surprises of what the old man will make out of his clothing next.  This retelling has just the right amount of repetition for young listeners to get into the rhythm and start chiming in: “He wore it, and he wore it. And little bit by little bit, he frayed it, and he tore it, until at last…he wore it out!”  Barbara McClintock’s illustrations of family life add a personable tone, showing how the overcoat lasts for generations until “there was nothing left at all. Nothing, that is, except for this story.”

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman. In this magical fantasy, a king has 12 unicorns chained to trees in a pen. Only a little girl with a special cloak can discover the mysterious secrets of the mythical creatures and try to save them. This story is sure to satisfy young unicorn lovers with beautiful illustrations by Justin Gerard.

blueThe longstanding favorite anthologies by Andrew Lang are being reissued with the original illustrations, and you can find The Blue Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book and The Green Fairy Book in the library’s collection, each with dozens of tales from around the world including both well-known stories and rare little gems. Lang’s prefaces are worth reading aloud, during which he generally acknowledges the superiority of the child’s mind over the dull thinking of grown-ups.

Two Robert Sabuda pop-up books are also displayed in the Fairy Tales & Folklore Neighborhood: Dragons & Knights and Beauty & the Beast. They are not available for check-out due to their delicate inner workings, but kids and adults love to pore through them while sitting on the fanciful purple bench.  So come read some books, play dress-up with your child, gaze into the “magic” mirror and be inspired to tell a thrilling tale with your own new endings on Fairy-Tale Day.

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