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Spin That Dough, its National Pizza Month

by John Pecoraro ,  Assistant Director

Something vaguely similar to pizza has existed for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the lowly, new world, tomato arrived in Europe that the pizza we know and love today became a possibility. Thought for years to be poisonous (as a member of the nightshade family), tomatoes had become a regular part of the diet of the southern Italian poor by the late 18th century. Pizza crossed the Atlantic to America along with Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.

As testament to how much we Americans enjoy pizza, consider that there are 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S., and that annual pizza sales revenue is 32 billion dollars. Three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, with the average consumer eating 46 slices (usually not at one sitting). An estimated 93% of Americans eat at least one piece of pizza early month, with more pizza consumed during Super Bowl week than at any other time of the year.

Since October is designated National Pizza Month, take the opportunity to sample some of the books about this delectable round (and sometimes rectangular) food.

In “Truly Madly Pizza,” food stylist Suzanne Lenzer sings the praises of pizza as a blank slate happy to be topped with whatever you’ve got floating around your refrigerator. Take a really good crust and have fun repurposing leftovers. What could possibly go wrong? Lenzer begins with one incredibly easy recipe for pizza crust, followed by hundreds of sauces, spreads, and topping combinations to make pizza a nightly affair.

Eleven time world pizza champion, Tony Gemignani, offers a collection of over 100 recipes in “The Pizza Bible.” This is a comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine regional styles including Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago.

Just what are the differences in pizza styles? Neapolitan is tomatoes, garlic, and oregano (pizza marinara) or tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil (pizza margarita). Sicilian is thick-crusted, deep-dish, and usually rectangular in shape. Chicago style is the ultimate deep-dish pizza, baked in a high-edged pan with large amounts of cheese and chunky tomatoes. New York style is traditionally hand-tossed, covered with marinara sauce and cheese, and its oversized slices often eaten folded in half.

You don’t necessarily need a brick oven to cook delicious pizza. In “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” barbecue champion John Delpha, reveals the best techniques for cooking perfect pizza on your outdoor grill. The results are pizzas with a crunchy crust, perfectly melted cheese, and a smoky flavor.

You can get quite a workout kneading pizza dough, but for a less strenuous experience, Jim Lahey presents “My Pizza: the Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home.” You do have to be patient with your dough, which has to rest unkneaded and unattended for eighteen hours. After the dough, the sky’s the limit, and Lahey’s recipes include innovations beyond tomato, cheese, and pepperoni.

“The Pizza Book,” by Evelyne Slomon, claims to explain everything there is to know about the world’s greatest pie. Included are more 200 easy-to-follow recipes, and advice about ingredients, equipment and technique.

Over the years pizza has become one of America’s most popular foods, especially in school lunchrooms. In her “Pizza: a Global History,” Carol Helstosky explains how pizza has been adapted to local cuisines and has become a metaphor for cultural exchange. Her book also features several recipes and a wealth of illustrations.

Pizza goes great with everything, especially when it’s free. Last April, Director J.J. Abrams bought pizza for 1,500 fans waiting in line for a Star Wars event in Anaheim, California. And speaking of Star Wars, the library celebrates Star Wars Reads Day on Saturday, October 10. Activities including crafts, trivia, selfie photo booth, and a Yoda impersonator contest begin at 11:00. The will be a showing of the movie that started it all at 1:00

Whether you enjoy your pizza delivered to your home or office, picked up from a pizzeria or supermarket, savored as you dine at your favorite pizza place, or love to make your own, October is the month to indulge your pizza fantasies. Happy National Pizza Month.

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

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Star Wars Reads Day 2015

photo of boy posing as Darth Vader. Star Wars Reads Day October 10, 2015

The force is strong in Manhattan, Kansas! On Saturday, October 10th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, Manhattan Public Library will celebrate Star Wars Reads Day with an Empire-sized party for all ages.

For the second year, Manhattan Public Library is getting in on the fun of this national celebration with a full schedule of activities. The party begins at 11:00am in the auditorium with crafts and activities including Star Wars Trivia, a Yoda ears creation station, and selfie photo booths with costumed characters. Dress as your favorite character and make sure you enter the selfie contest by tagging the library @ManhattanPL for a chance to win Star Wars prizes!

Then, after you’ve made your Yoda ears, wear them to compete in the Yoda Impersonation Contest at 12:30.  Have courage you must!  Prizes will be awarded to the best impersonators in the kid, teen, and adult categories.

At 1:00pm, sit down for a few laughs at the Star Wars Spoofs screening, then cheer as the winners of the trivia contest are announced.

The fun doesn’t stop there! At 1:30, get your popcorn and Yoda soda, then settle in for a screening of the movie that started it all.

Star Wars Reads Day was started in 2012 by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners as a way to highlight the vast number of books written about Star Wars, its characters, and its universe. Last year, there were over 2,000 schools, bookstores, and (of course) libraries that marked the day with read-a-thons, movie showings, and creative activities that feature the beloved sci-fi series and its characters.

For more information visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue,  call (785) 776-4741 or email us at Find the library on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

Posted in: For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, News, Press Release

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People and their Stories!!

by Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

Have you ever noticed how many books are written about people? More than one-fifth of the Manhattan Public Library nonfiction collection is categorized with a biographical subject heading. Who reads these books? Our customers do! People are enamored with other people’s lives. We want to know how they made it through challenging circumstances, or how they were able to accomplish great feats. So, what do we do? We read about them. Stories of other people’s challenges and triumphs are interesting, rewarding, and satisfying to our humanity. To quote Studs Terkel, “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.”

One of my favorite biographical books, one that is popular with many Manhattan Public Library patrons is “Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II” by Vicki Croke. It is a story of wild elephants taught to work with their keepers. It is a story of life in the jungles of Burma, its hardships as well as its beauty. It is a story of war, but it is also a story of love and respect. James Howard “Billy” Williams not only had an “uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals,” he also had a great rapport with the people of Burma. An inspiring story, indeed!

A friendship begins with “A Walk on the Beach” of Cape Cod and ends up with a hike on the Inca Trail in Peru.  The author, Joan Anderson, finds a friend and mentor in Joan Erikson. Ms. Erikson, even at 90, was a very active person, so the situations these two got themselves into were amazing. Eye-opening in places, but also entertaining along the way.

The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives” by Cheryl Jarvis is about a $37,000 diamond necklace and the women who wore it. Jonell McLain saw the necklace in a local jewelry store display window and began to wonder why personal luxuries were so plentiful yet accessible to so few. Thus began her desire and plan to make the necklace a part of her life by convincing twelve other women to invest in the necklace with her. The necklace was not only worn by the original thirteen women, but was also loaned to friends and family members for special occasions. Many lives were profoundly changed as a result of this quirky experiment.

Everyday life may never seem everyday again after you read “Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living” by Bailey White. Life in Southern Florida with Mama is never everyday stuff. When Bailey’s father left them a 1958 Porsche, in mint condition, Mama wanted to put it out to pasture with the tractors and lawnmowers. Instead, she took the screen off the back porch and parked it there, never to move it again. The antics of Mama and other family members will keep the smiles coming as you read about their southern living.

An absolutely great book I have just finished reading is “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” by Wes Moore. It is about two boys growing up in the same city with the same name and under similar situations. The main difference is that one of them ended up in prison while the other became a Rhodes Scholar. The K-State Book Network has chosen this title for its 2015 common reading selection. This is one story that you will want to add to your reading list if you haven’t done so already.

Whether you enjoy reading about great adventure or about something humorous, you can easily find books written about people. Come to the library and let us help you find a great biographical book, or visit and search the catalog. All you need to do is type in the subject of your choice, pair it with “biography,” and voila, you will get results.

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

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This Season’s Dark and Twisted Mysteries

By Marcia Allen,  Manhattan Public Library Collection Development

I always look forward to the latest that favorite mystery writers have to offer.  Like so many readers, I anticipate what the next story line might promise, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about my longtime favorite characters.  That’s why the latest crop of new tales has really caught me by surprise: my recent picks have revealed some really nasty details.  We’re talking about some exceedingly heinous crimes.

Consider author Lee Child, for example.  Jack Reacher, a perennial favorite at the library, most recently appears in Child’s Make Me, a disturbing story of unbelievable crime.  You know Jack Reacher: the quiet loner who always manages to get involved in protecting underdogs in out-of-the-way locales.  This story opens with his arrival in a tiny hamlet called Mother’s Rest.  Why is Reacher there?  Because the name of the town made him curious.  Thus, Child takes us on a pulse-pounding investigation into suspicious cover ups.  Reacher is aided by private investigator Michelle Chang who also arrives in the town, hoping to locate her missing partner who vaguely resembles Reacher.  Child’s villains are always disgustingly sleazy, and this book has its share of those repugnant criminals.  And their involvement in sordid Internet websites leads Reacher to discoveries he’d rather not have made.  But the real shock is in the nature of the serial crimes that Reacher gradually uncovers.  This is one for the many Jack Reacher fans, as well as those who like some nasty surprises in their crime fiction.  The final chapters of this book will make you cringe in horror.

If that doesn’t appeal, you might try Jonathan Kellerman’s latest mystery, The Murderer’s Daughter.  You know Kellerman: the favorite author of the ever-popular Alex Delaware series?  While Delaware is mentioned in this new book, he is but a peripheral character barely mentioned in past dealings.  The real story is that of Grace Blades, a highly respected psychologist who has a particular flair for helping to heal patients tormented by past violence.  Her expertise is one thing, but the fact that she is actually a sociopath with her own childhood history of violence and loss is what kicks off the story. We learn of Grace’s loss of incredibly bad parents, and we also learn of a compassionate psychologist who takes an interest in the young Grace, as he sees in her the potential for a great future.  When Grace later suspects that a violent child from her past is now a thriving adult killer, she sets off in hopes of righting that wrong.  Recurring flashbacks reveal why Grace is able to plan her movements so coldly, and her lack of remorse makes the story a real shocker.  This is one for those who like a good character study with their mysteries.

And finally, I discovered talented mystery writer, Julia Heaberlin.  Heaberlin’s third mystery, entitled Black-Eyed Susans, is the disturbing story of Tessa Cartwright, the only survivor of a serial killer’s crime spree some twenty years earlier.   Tessa’s memory of the ordeal is vague, but she does recall the field of wildflowers in which she was found.  More recently, she had gone through years of therapy due to that experience and now has a good life as a single mother of a teenage daughter.  But over the years, someone has chosen to plant black-eyed Susans in her yard as a reminder of the crime.  While the convicted killer has spent years on death row, the ongoing flower plantings make Tessa question whether the wrong man was convicted.  This is an unsettling read, perfect for those who like psychological suspense in their crime reading.

As always, we have lots of other mysteries new to the library that just might appeal if the edgy stories I’ve mentioned don’t grab your interest.  If you love mysteries as so many do, you’re bound to find an undiscovered treasure at your library.

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The Good Books Club Fall 2015

book discussion group smiling around a table in the library

The staff of Manhattan Public Library is looking forward to another exciting series of discussions about good books this fall. Starting September 24, one Thursday a month you can gather at the library to explore great stories and meet fellow book lovers. This season, the books include the story of two boys and the deciding factors of their lives in “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore, the movement to bring fashion to rural women in “The Lost Art of Dress” by Linda Przybyszewski, and a captivating journey into the Amazon and into a woman’s soul in “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett.

The series will start on September 24th from 7-8:30pm, with a guided discussion of “The Other Wes Moore,” led by Kylie Kinley, Learning Assistant Coordinator for the K-State First program and an English instructor at Kansas State University. As part of the annual K-State Common Read,  students and community members alike will have the opportunity to take part in a community-wide read of “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore. The book is a dual biography of two men with the same name who grew up in the same struggling neighborhood in Baltimore. One man went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, and business leader while the other is serving a life sentence in prison. Moore explores each of their lives, discussing families, friends, and the choices they each made, allowing the readers to come to their own conclusions about what made the difference. The story is both compelling and enjoyable.

On October 22nd, the library will again cooperate with K-State. This time to bring Notre Dame associate history professor Linda Przybyszewski to Manhattan to discuss her book “The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.” In the first half of the 20th century a remarkable group of women, pioneers in Home Economics as an academic field, spearheaded a nationwide movement toward beautiful, economical, and egalitarian fashion. In her witty and intelligent book, Przybyszewski explores how these women, including early home economists from K-State, reached out in particular to rural and small-town women and taught them the principles and skills for bringing thrifty yet stylish fashion into their lives. The author will make a presentation and lead the discussion on October 22nd at 7 pm. The Chapman Center for Rural Studies along with the KSU University Archives and the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design, and the Manhattan Public Library are cosponsoring Dr. Przybyszewski’s visit to Manhattan.

On November 19th the fall Good Books Club series will conclude with “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett, named one of 2011’s best books of the year by Time Magazine and Publisher’s Weekly and short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Patchett’s novel tells the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmacologist who is sent to the Amazon to check in on her mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson. Swenson has been studying a tribe in the rainforest whose women bear children well into old age. Marina’s journey is full of adventure and unexpected revelations. Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Librarian at Manhattan Public Library, will lead the discussion November 19th at 7 pm.

“The Other Wes Moore” and “The Lost Art of Dress” can be accessed by placing a hold in the library’s catalog. “State of Wonder” will be available at the Reference Desk in October. Refreshments will be served at all events.

In January The Good Books Club will start a series of Native American mysteries from the Kansas Humanities Council’s T.A.L.K. program.

For more information visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, call (785) 776-4741. Find the library on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Tumbler, too.

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Using the Fall for Developing Early Literacy Skills

Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

As summer changes into fall, there are lots of opportunities to introduce literacy concepts to your child.  At Manhattan Public Library, we encourage parents and caregivers to embrace organic ways to instill a love of reading in children.  One of the important factors in a child’s learning to read is their enjoyment of the books and stories.  It is important to find stories that your children enjoy and look forward to reading with you.  In the Children’s Room, there are numerous books on leaves, hibernating animals and other aspects of fall. Here are a few books that you can read with your children, followed by any or all of the described activities.

Apples and Pumpkins
by Anne Rockwell

In Apples and Pumpkins, a little girl and her parents visit Comstock Farm, where they pick apples and pumpkins.  Visit an apple orchard and a pumpkin patch with your children.  Ask them questions about what they observe around them.  What does the air feel like? How many people do they think are there picking apples or pumpkins? Are they feeling happy?  When you get home, count how many apples were picked.  Have your children join you in making a special treat with the apples or carving the pumpkin.  Suggest that they call a friend or family member to tell them about the experience that they had.

Imitating activities from books gives deeper meaning to the story that your children are reading.  Retelling stories and experiences builds the concept of “beginning, middle and end.”

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man uses photos of leaves and other pieces of nature to tell the story of how leaves progress through the fall.  Take a nature walk with your children and have them take notes in a homemade or store-bought journal.  They can look for specific things or just simply observe the world around them.  Gather leaves and sticks to bring home.  Use the sticks to make letters on the sidewalk.  Try to find bits of letters or shapes in the veins of the leaves.   Make your own leaf man and exchange stories with your children about what your leaf man has done or will do.

As you observe nature, you will most likely use words that your children don’t yet know.  When children are exposed to a larger vocabulary, they tend to have greater reading success.  Don’t be afraid to use new words to describe the scenery around you.  Making letters out of real objects gives more depth to the letters themselves and emphasizes the fact that they form words and have meaning.

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

The Busy Little Squirrel follows a squirrel as he prepares for hibernation, gathering seeds, nuts and fruit.  Make your own “snack mix” with your children and try to form letters out of the pieces of food.  Have them help you cook a meal and talk about what you like to eat in the winter.  The more you talk with your children, the more they will learn about communication, words and stories.

Visit the Animals Neighborhood at the library to find non-fiction books on squirrels and other hibernating animals.  Consider reading non-fiction stories about the changing of the seasons, found in the Science & Nature Neighborhood of the Children’s Room.

Attending a storytime at MPL is a great way to get your child engaged with stories in different formats.  Storytellers coordinate activities during storytime that associate with the books being read.  Visit the website to see the current storytime schedule, or stop by the Children’s Room to pick up a schedule. Youth Services librarians are always willing to offer ideas to help your child develop early literacy skills, even starting from birth.

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Tech Tuesdays Fall 2015

Tech Tuesdays Connecting Users to Technology at the Library

Starting September 15, Manhattan Public Library will offer a wide range of fun and useful workshops to help beginners explore the world of technology.

Twice a month, from September 15 through December 1, Tech Tuesday workshops will help people learn about a variety of subjects, ranging from Beginning Ancestry to Basic iPad skills. Registration is required for these free, two-hour workshops to guarantee small class sizes and plenty of time for questions.  Register online using the library’s website, call (785) 776-4741 ext.141 or visit the public library at 629 Poyntz Avenue.

The fall season of Tech Tuesdays starts with a Library Catalog class on September 15 at 2:00 p.m.  Participants will learn pro tips for using all the extras available through the catalog including how to make book lists, how to keep a history of what you check out, and how to use expert searching strategies.

Also on September 15, the library will offer a Basic Microsoft Word class at 7:00 p.m.  Learn how to set up, save, print, and edit a Word document in the library’s technology center classroom.

The next course, Learn on Demand, will be held October 6 at 2:00 p.m. and October 20 at 7:00 p.m.  This workshop offers a guided tour of the service, which is available free to all Manhattan Public Library cardholders.  Participants will learn to access thousands of expert-led video courses on topics ranging from music production to Photoshop.  During this class, you will take a short course together and explore the functions of the site.

Back by popular demand, the Riley County Genealogy Society will teach a course on Basic Ancestry October 20 at 2:00 p.m.  Attendees will learn how to find their ancestors using, also available for free at the library.

On November 3 at 2:00, learn Basic iPad skills with technology experts.  The course will offer instruction on changing basic settings, working with apps, and effective navigation of the device.  Please bring your iPad along with your Apple ID and password so you can access your device’s settings.

Beginning Genealogy will be offered November 17 at 2:00 p.m.  Experts from the Riley County Genealogy Society will return for a more in-depth look at research tools including  Please bring a four generation record if available so you can begin your search.

The final class of the fall season, What is Social Media, will be held December 1 at 2:00 p.m.  This workshop will answer the big questions such as, why do people use social media and how can it be useful for me?  Specific platforms covered will include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Tech Tuesdays are an ongoing series of workshops at the Manhattan Public Library designed to provide the community with introductory technology instruction on a range of topics. These events are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, call (785) 776-4741 or visit the Events Calendar on library’s website at Find the library on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

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New York Times

New York Times available online

Manhattan Public Library cardholders in Kansas can now read the complete eEdition of the New York Times from inside the library or from anywhere Internet is available.
To get started, visit the library’s Research page at

In the library

  1. Click the New York Times “Available on library computers” icon on the Research page
  2. Register with the Times using your email address or your facebook account

Note: The NYT will send you periodic email notifications but will not share your email address with outside vendors.

Outside the library

  1. Click the New York Times “Remote Access” link on the Research page
  2. Enter all 14 digits of your library card number and your password
  3. A window will open with details about how to redeem your complimentary access to the New York Times
  4. Copy the access code
  5. Click the link
  6. When the new window opens, paste the access code into the empty field
  7. Click Redeem

Note: If you don’t already have a library account with the New York Times, you will need to create one using your email address or facebook account in order to redeem the access code.

The code will give you 72 hours of unlimited access to all the articles on the New York Times website.

When the 72 hour period is over, you can re-enter the code by following the steps above to get another 72 hours of access.

You can renew the 72 hour access as many times as you like.


Please contact library staff using the chat/text service, by emailing, or by calling (785) 776-4741 ext.141.

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Dissecting the Catalog Record

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The Manhattan Public Library’s catalog is much more than a list of the books, DVDs, CDs, and other types of materials in the library’s collection. If we dissect a catalog record, we find a treasure trove of information about books and authors to enhance the searching experience.

Let’s search for Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” for example. The first screen, the results of your catalog search, gives you what’s called a brief record. In addition to the title and author, this includes the call number, copies available, cover image, and buttons on the right for the full display, and to place a request or hold on an item that is checked out. You might be tempted to stop there, but don’t.

By clicking the Full Display button, or on the title, you’ll discovery much more. The full record includes a brief summary of the title, a list of subject headings assigned to the title, and genres. The author, subjects, and genres are hot links. Click on them for additional titles by the author, or of the same subject or genre. You might even be tempted to stop there, but again, don’t.

Scroll down the page for a link to expert fiction and nonfiction recommendations for books and audiobooks provide by NoveList. Click on the NoveList bar for reviews of “Go Set a Watchman,” author and title read-alikes, and an extensive list of the book’s appeal terms. Appeal terms address the question of why readers enjoy a particular book, and include genre, tone, location of the story, writing style, and subject. You can get to NoveList from your catalog search, or by selecting it from the Research page of the library’s website. Avid readers use NoveList to browse by genre (mysteries, romance, and science fiction among others), appeal terms, and award winners.

Continue to scroll down for suggestions of other titles in a series, similar series by other authors, similar titles, and a list of authors you might also find appealing. Keep scrolling for recommended lists and articles from NoveList, followed by reader reviews and ratings provided by Goodreads.

Goodreads is the largest social network for readers. Its members rate and review books, offering personal opinions to help other readers determine if they would enjoy a title. In our example, “Go Set a Watchman,” Goodreads includes over 8,500 reviews by readers just like you. Not bad for a book that was only published July 15. You can browse other readers’ reviews, or add your own. Click the write a review button, and sign up for Goodreads with your email address. If you’re already a member, click the sign in button on the right.

Don’t stop yet. Scroll on for professional reviews from trade journals including “Library Journal,” “School Library Journal,” “Publishers Weekly,” and “Booklist.”

Once you’ve found a great title to read (or view, or listen to), don’t stop yet. There is so much more you can do in the library’s catalog. Do you need to change your address, phone number, or email address? You can do so by logging into your account with your library card number and password. You can see a list of the items checked out to you, and their due dates. You can renew items. You can place items on hold. You can request to borrow an item through interlibrary loan, or make a purchase request for items you don’t find in the catalog. You can request a personalized reading list prepared by one of our expert librarians.  You can create a list of titles you might want to read later, or save a search you made in the catalog, that will remain a part of your account after you log out. In addition the catalog features lists of newly arrived books on CD, music CDs, books, and videos. You can even see what items the library has on order.

Your library catalog takes the guess work out of choosing something good to read, view, or listen to. Remember that if you need assistance, library staff is another excellent resource for ideas on what to check out.

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Brush Up Your Shakespeare

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

  Brush up your Shakespeare

Start quoting him now

Brush up your Shakespeare

And the women you will wow


 Just declaim a few lines from Othella

And they’ll think you’re a hell of a fella

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kowtow


As Cole Porter advised in his lyrics for the 1948 Broadway musical “Kiss Me Kate,” this fall may be a good time to brush up on your Shakespeare.

A new academic year is here with so much in store, and a particular high point will be the special exhibit coming to KSU in February 2016, “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” This nationwide traveling exhibition honors the 500th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and has been organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association, and supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kansas State was selected as the sole exhibition site for the state of Kansas and the KSU English Department, K-State Libraries, and the Beach Museum are co-hosts. Plans are being made for many on-campus events and performances, and community groups and organizations are also planning their own activities to celebrate the occasion.

So where does that leave those of us who may be a little rusty on our Shakespeare, or who’ve had little exposure to him in the first place? Well, we have five months to get up-to-speed for this winter’s events and Manhattan Public Library has plenty of books and DVDs to help you “brush up your Shakespeare.”

A great place to start might be with a weighty copy of the complete works like the Complete Pelican Shakespeare or the Riverside Shakespeare. Maybe you’d rather check out a smaller collection of just the comedies, the tragedies, etc., or you may want the portability and ease of individual plays in paperback or on E-book. Just be sure to look for books with great notes to help you understand the cultural context of the plays, the inside jokes, and the language of Shakespeare’s time.

Long years ago, I made it through my first college Shakespeare course by reading along in my Pelican Shakespeare as I listened to performances of the Royal Shakespeare Company on LP records checked out from our own Manhattan Public Library. That proved to be a great way to learn to love Shakespeare, and though MPL no longer has LP records, it does have magnificent performances on DVD that allow you to hear Shakespeare’s words as they were meant to be delivered and to give you a complete theater experience.

So, hie thee to the Library where the following books and DVDs await you, along with many more.

Companions and Handbooks provide historical context, biographical notes, interpretation, etc.  Look for these: “Shakespeare after All” by Marjorie Garber; “Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Plays” by A. Cousins; “The Essential Shakespeare Handbook” by Leslie Dunton-Downer; “The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare’s Life and Times: These books can help you understand the history and political climate of the times, as well as what we know of Shakespeare’s life: “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare” by Stephen Greenblatt (a National Book Award finalist) ; “Shakespeare: The Biography” by Peter Ackroyd; “All Things Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s World” by Kirstin Olsen; “A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599” by James Shapiro; “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” by Ian Mortimer.

Shakespeare Lite: “The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard” by Norrie Epstein; “Shakespeare for Dummies” by John Doyle; “Shakespeare Basics for Grown-Ups: Everything You Need to Know about the Bard” by Elizabeth Foley.

And for Added Fun and Interest:  “The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio” by Andrea E. Mays; “Coined by Shakespeare: Words and Meanings First Penned by the Bard” by Jeff McQuain; “Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook” by Francine Segan; “Shakespeare’s Songbook” by Ross W. Duffin; “Shakespeare Saved My Life:  Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard” by Laura Bates.

Documentary DVDs (performance DVDs also available):

Shakespeare Uncovered,” produced in association with the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe; “In Search of Shakespeare,” presented by Michael Wood and the Royal Shakespeare Company; “How to Read and Understand Shakespeare,” a 12-hour lecture series from The Great Courses.

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