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How to Become a Lifelong Learner

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Mercury Column

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What’s Happening, Manhattan? Early Fall 2014

by Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

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

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

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

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Welcoming Renowned Author Steven Johnson

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Adult Services, News

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Ready for Fall

By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager

The new school year always brings with it a barrage of children’s book publications. It’s a wonderful time to fill shelves and backpacks with brand new books. Here are a few seasonal picture books that arrived just in time for falling leaves, pumpkin patches, and getting settled into another school year.

Fall Leaves“Fall Leaves” by Loretta Holland, with enchanting illustrations by Elly MacKay, is the perfect book to discuss the season. Each spread is centered on a two word phrase, such as “Fall arrives” and “Leaves leave.” Further description gives meaning to the phrase and sometimes a simple scientific explanation of what happens as the season moves from September to December.

“Otis and the Scarecrow,” a new Otis the tractor book by Loren Long, will be a popular choice. Otis is a good-natured tractor who loves his farm, and he is not sure what to do with the new arrival who doesn’t “smile or say hello,” but just stands there with “a sour look on his face, staring at the cornfield.” How does one make friends with a scarecrow? Leave it to Otis to come up with a way. (more…)

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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Tech Tuesdays Connect Users to Technology at the Library

by Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

photo of Wandean teaching a patron to use her ipadFall is right around the corner and that means it is time for fall Tech Tuesdays to begin. Manhattan Public Library will offer a wide range of fun and useful workshops to help you explore the world of technology. Twice a month, from September 9th through November 18th, we will have classes for a variety of interests and all skill levels.

Back by popular demand, we will kick off the fall workshops with “Getting Started with Genealogy” on September 9th at 2pm, led by local genealogy experts from the Riley County Genealogical Society. If you’ve ever wondered where your family roots began, this beginners class will get you started on your search. The next class in the lineup is the “How to Download eBooks” workshop on September 23rd at 2pm. This class will walk you through the steps of downloading free eBooks from the Sunflower eLibrary onto your mobile devices and computers. Bring your device or computer with you and leave with great new eBooks and audiobooks.

October 7th at 2pm is the “Basic iPad” workshop, the first of two iPad workshops this fall. All levels are welcome, but this class is designed for beginners with very little experience with their tablet. Next up on October 14th at 6pm is a special evening edition of “How to Download eBooks.” Providing the same information and assistance as our daytime workshop, this class is for eBook readers who can’t make it to the library during the day. MPL will also offer “Intermediate Ancestry” on October 21st at 2pm, another great workshop with the Riley County Genealogical Society. This workshop looks at the powerful genealogy database,, to help you take your research to the next level.

The final genealogy workshop of the season with the Riley County Genealogical Society is on November 4th at 2pm. This workshop will lead attendees through the updated Family Search website, as well as other state and local genealogy resources. However, that’s not it for November! On November 15th at 10am, we will have a special Tech Saturday workshop, “Social Media for Beginners” to teach newcomers how to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We will end the fall season with an “Intermediate iPad” workshop on November 18th at 2pm, which will go beyond the basics of using iPads.

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.To sign up for workshops, visit our Events page on our website or call us at 785-776-4741 ext. 141 to reserve a spot.

Posted in: For Adults, News

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Library Card Sign-Up Month!

By Heather Strafuss, Assistant Circulation Manager

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a yearly celebration to remind parents and caregivers that, in addition to spiral notebooks, calculators and pencils, a library card is an essential school supply. According to the American Library Association, “the observance was launched in 1987 to meet the challenge of then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett who said: ‘Let’s have a national campaign…every child should obtain a library card – and use it.’  Since then, thousands of public and school libraries join each fall in a national effort to ensure every child does just that.”

Besides being a place where literary experts can give excellent book suggestions, or advice on where to look for research for a school report, Manhattan Public Library has other great opportunities for students of all ages. Here are a few awesome resources you may not know about, all easily accessed with your library card.

  • Sunflower eLibrary: A large collection of easily downloaded e-books for a variety of e-readers.
  • Consumer Reports: The online database where you can search for product review or ratings.
  • The largest family history site that’s perfect for making your family tree. (Available on library computers.)
  • Mango Languages: Conversation tutorials for more than 40 languages.

Coming Soon:, where you can access online video tutorials and training.

And don’t forget we have a fantastic collection of books, movies, video games, and more!

If you or someone you know have yet to get a library card, come on in! Getting a library card is simple. If you’re over 18, bring in a photo ID and something with your current address on it. If you aren’t yet 18, have a parent or guardian come in with their photo identification and proof of address and they can set up a card in just minutes!

September is library card sign up month


Posted in: Children's Dept, News

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World War I

John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library
One hundred years ago on July 28, 1914, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, started in Europe. By the time of the armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918, the conflict was worldwide, and over 9 million soldiers, sailors, and Marines had been killed. This is the war we now refer to as World War I.

By now the participants in the conflict are history. The last remaining United States veteran of the war, Frank Buckles, died in 1911, at the ripe, old age of 110. In a strange footnote to history, Buckles was captured by Japanese forces during World War II while working in Manila, and was imprisoned for over 3 years.

gunsSelected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, “The Guns of August,” by Barbara Tuchman is a classic history of the early days of World War I. Tuchman traces each step during those 30 days in August 1914 that inevitably lead to all-out war. Why inevitable? Because all sides involved had been plotting their war for a generation.

In “Harlem’s Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I,v” Stephen Harris tells the story of one of the few American Army units to serve under French command. The volunteers of the 369th, mostly from New York, faced racial harassment from civilians and white soldiers alike while training in the South. First sent to France as laborers, they later proved themselves fighting valiantly beside French Moroccan troops. The French government awarded the Hell Fighters the Croix de Guerre, their highest military honor. German soldiers gave them the nickname “Hell Fighters” because of their toughness, and the fact that they never lost ground to the enemy.

Imagine a battle raging over nearly a year, devouring hundreds of thousands of men. This is battle Paul Jankowski recounts in “Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War.”  Beginning on February 21, 1916, Verdun ended on December 18. Casualty estimates range between 714,000 and 976,000. It was the longest and one of the costliest battles in terms of human lives lost. The battle accomplished little; the town and its fortifications had limited strategic value to either France or Germany. So, “Why Verdun?,” Jankowski asks. As in so many things about war, there is no definite answer. (more…)

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

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Spotlight On: Community Profiles

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

060526-N-3271W-001Are you new to Manhattan, or are you looking for a local organization or support group? From garden clubs to autism support groups, you can find the resources you’re looking for in the Manhattan Public Library’s catalog.
Here’s how to find community groups in town:

  1. Click the “Catalog” button on the library’s homepage
  2. Then, click the “Community” tab at the top of the catalog
  3. From here, you can search with a keyword, such as “gardening.” If you aren’t sure what you are looking for, you can also browse all of the listings
  4. When you find an organization that interests you, click for contact information, meeting times, and links to a website or Facebook page
  5. The column on the left of the page also lists a variety of organizations related to your search

You’ll also notice that when you search for books or other materials in the catalog, related organizations will be listed on the left of the screen.

Manhattan Public Library has had information about community resources available for many years and in many formats. Last year, the library added the Community Information database to our online catalog, and Adult Services staff entered the information for the 280 groups that are currently listed. By incorporating this into our catalog, the information is always available on our web site, 24 hours a day, from wherever you are at!

If you are part of a non-profit or service organization in Manhattan that is not listed in our Community Information catalog and you would like to be listed, please contact us at 776-4741 x141. We can complete a registration form and enter your contact information so that your group may be included!

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KSBN Focus: The Ghost Map

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services Manager


Each academic year, the K-State Book Network (KSBN) selects an exceptional book for a common reading experience. In conjunction with that all-university-read, campus activities, classroom experiences, and community programs are offered that share additional insights into the book. In the past years, enthusiastic participants have been fortunate enough to share in the reading of outstanding titles like Ready Player One, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Zeitoun, and The Hunger Games.

This year’ title is an equally stellar selection. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, which was first published in 2006, is an amazing tale of detective work and perseverance that will demand your attention despite its sometimes appalling content. Here’s a hint about the levels of appeal that the book presents.

First of all, it’s a graphic examination of living conditions in 19th century London. While the story begins with a lengthy description of the scavengers (night-soil men) who sought items for recycling in the filth of the city, the real focus is on a cholera epidemic which began in 1854 in the neighborhood of Broad Street. As is often the case, the first one or two deaths quickly multiplied, and in a period of some ten days, more than 500 people lost their lives.

Secondly, the book is an excellent account of the life of disease, as well as the common beliefs about contagion. Johnson does an exceptional job of describing the source, the growth, and the resulting symptoms and death that accompany a cholera outbreak. The close proximity of cesspools to drinking water sources and the density of the population combined for a perfect hosting environment for the epidemic. Coupled with those physical conditions were the common beliefs in “miasma,” or poisoned atmosphere, as the cause of sickness. Neither medical experts nor average citizens understood the actual causes of contagion, so few productive efforts were made to stop the spread of disease.

Third, and perhaps most interesting, this is an incredible detective story. Dedicated physician John Snow had done pioneering work with the newly discovered use of anesthetics, but he had also pondered the frequent outbreaks of cholera for some years, and even attempted to chart the deaths. When this sudden horrific outbreak near Broad Street caught his attention, he began questioning the unthinkable: Could the water supply be related to the epidemic? At the same time, local clergyman Henry Whitehead began work on his own study involving the reach and duration of the outbreak. Because Whitehead knew his congregation so well, he was able to pinpoint dates of deaths as well as numbers lost to the outbreak. In fact, it was actually his discovery of the timespan when the first victim sickened and died that brought the two investigators together. From that point, the two men were able to chart the spread of the epidemic throughout the neighborhood. Thus, the “ghost map” of the title is the carefully documented layout of the related deaths throughout the area.
Of course, these dedicated souls did not bring about immediate change in London. But their pioneering work served as an impetus for early developments in waste-removal and sanitary water supply that not only improved the health of thousands, but also restored the vigor of the much-polluted Thames River.

If you are interested in learning more about the book and its contents, the following programs are scheduled:
On Science Saturday, September 6 at 10:00 a.m., in the MPL’s lower atrium, Ginny Bernard from Riley County Extension will guide listeners of all ages through some hands-on experiments concerning diseases, germs and water contamination. You can register here.

On Thursday, September 11th at 7:00 p.m., there is an author talk in McCain Auditorium with Steven Johnson. Tickets are required to attend the free event and will be available for community members on Wednesday, September 3 at the Manhattan Public Library.

On Thursday, September 25th at 7:00 p.m., there is a Good Books Club Book Discussion to be held in the Groesbeck Room of MPL. Snacks will be provided.

Please plan to attend these events if your schedule allows, and enjoy your reading of the book. It’s a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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What’s Happening, Manhattan?!

by Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

4052061478_eb3980d0ae_zSchool has started for Manhattan students and KSU students are slowly rolling back into town for the fall semester. As the summer comes to a close, there are many events coming up this weekend that will help you enjoy the long days and warm weather.

OK Kids Day is a statewide event intended to encourage kids to take part in outdoor play. Starting at 8am, children and their parents can grab a “passport” and make their way through numerous activities throughout the day. Older children can climb the rock wall and throw tomahawks and hatchets, while younger children can jump on large inflatables and ride the Little Apple Train. All the events are near the River Pond Area and there is no entrance fee or need for a parking permit while enjoying the day at Tuttle Creek State Park.

The Cattle Baron’s Ball is an annual event to support the American Cancer Society. Held at a different location each year, the event features great food, entertainment, and a silent auction. This year, the ball will be located at Copeland Ranch and begins at 7pm. Auction items this year include a Canvas and Cork Party donated by Straight Upp Creative Studio, a night at the Comfort Inn and Suites, a large array of handcrafted jewelry, and other valuable items. Tickets are still on sale now.

Art Happens is the annual fundraiser benefiting the Manhattan Arts Center. The center includes a performance hall, two galleries, and art studios. Throughout the year, the center features artwork in the galleries and offers opportunities for students of the arts to take part in performances and classes. During the Art Happens fundraiser, donors can enjoy wine and appetizers while watching art demonstrations from featured artists.

If you can’t make it to these events but still need something to do this weekend, stop by the library for some weekend entertainment.  The Saturday hours for the library are 9am to 6pm and Sunday hours are 1pm to 6pm.

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