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Bedtime Books for Summer Nights

by Grace Benedick, Children’s Librarian

As a child, I loved the long summer days and the warm summer nights, but if there was one thing I really hated about summer, it was bedtime. I think we can all remember the childhood trial of trying to fall asleep before the sun had set—when it seemed the whole world was still wide awake. Fortunately, for all of you grown-ups with children undergoing that yearly trial, the library is full of wonderful bedtime stories to appease your wakeful children. In fact, over 200 titles will come up if you search our catalog for picture books about bedtime, so here’s a small selection of summery favorites to get you started:

atnightJonathan Bean’s debut picture book, At Night is all about one of those restless nights when sleep just won’t come. The story moves at a poetic, quiet pace, following a restless girl as she chases the night breeze up to her city roof. With her curious mother trailing behind, she takes her pillows and blankets upstairs to the rooftop terrace, where she can see the moon and feel the breeze, and better yet—fall asleep.



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

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July is Family Reunion Month

by Alphild Dick, Adult Services Librarian

Photo by Diane Strasbaugh via Creative Commons at

Photo by Diane Strasbaugh via Creative Commons at

Every summer, usually at the beginning of July, my family starts talking about where to meet for our next family reunion. I have no idea why we act like it’s up for discussion. We go to the same place each year, a small farm in southeast Kansas. It’s a long drive for everyone, but it’s a firmly rooted tradition for us. And even though everyone complains about the travel time, somehow those complaints quiet down once we all arrive and we get to enj0y one another’s company.

When we hit the road next week, we won’t be the only ones setting out to see family. With blue skies, warm weather, and the free time that summer vacation affords, it is the perfect month to call National Family Reunion month.

Are you still looking for a spot to have your own family reunion? Manhattan is full of fun options, from places to gather to things to do:

  • Manhattan City Parks: Did you know that Manhattan has 21 parks that encompass 1,000 acres within the city? Located throughout pretty much every neighborhood in Manhattan, our city parks have everything from picnic shelters to playgrounds to sports facilities. There is even a 5-acre stocked fishing lake! Plan ahead and make reservations by contacting Parks and Recreation.
  • If your family needs some time out of the sun, there are lots of fun ways to spend time together. The Sunset Zoo, the City Pool, Flint Hills Discovery Center, and the KSU Insect Zoo are all great activities for even the most extended family. If your family enjoys cultural outings, don’t forget about the Beach Museum of Art, the Manhattan Arts Center, or McCain Auditorium.
  • Kansas State Park: If your family loves the natural beauty of the Flint Hills, there are lots of spectacular campsites in the area.

If you’ve got a long road trip ahead of you in the coming weeks, don’t forget to check out our audiobooks. Here is a great list of family-friend books on CD from our BookTALK website. And if your reunion party is looking a little bit small, we’ve got genealogy research resources at hand. Use databases like and GenealogyConnect to explore your family tree and discover new relatives!




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What’s Happening, Manhattan?

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

farmers market

The long, hot, dog days of summer are upon us. It’s tempting to just sit around, but there are too many things happening in and around town to relax! Some of the fun events coming up in Manhattan are:

  • Manhattan Town Center is having the annual Dog Days Sidewalk Sale, from July 24th through July 27th. Head to the mall to find some bargains!
  • The Riley County Fair kicks off on July 24 with a parade downtown along Poyntz Ave. Lots of events and activities will take place at the fairgrounds at CICO Park, including the Ottaway Amusement Carnival.
  • The 39th Annual Kaw Valley PRCA Rodeo also begins July 24th, at 8:00pm, and continues on the 25th and 26th at Wells Arena in CICO Park. Catch the riding, roping, bull riding and rodeo clowns! As a tie-in to the event, MPL will also be hosting a rodeo-themed story time at the Flint Hills Discovery Center on Thursday, July 24th at 9:30am. Members of the Kaw Valley Rodeo Association will provide stories and demonstrations for kids, featuring Rodeo Clown Andy North, Barrelman Rick Young and Cowboy Poet Ron Wilson. Better yet, each child who attends receives a free ticket to the Kaw Valley Rodeo!
  • Furniture Amnesty Day is Saturday, July 25th from 8:00 am to 5:00pm in City Park. Furniture may be donated or you may sign up for a time to select items, all for free!
  • Downtown Farmers Market is Saturday, July 26th from 8:00 am to 1:00pm. Shop for local produce, baked goods, flowers, honey and more—located in the Dillards parking lot at 3rd and Leavenworth.
  • Pools and the Splash Park are still open to cool off, and Arts in the Park continues on Friday, July 25th at 8:00pm with a Tribute to Journey by Odyssey Road. Musical festivities continue on August 1st at 8:00pm with jazz/folk/bluegrass music from Run Boy Run, and the Little Apple Music Festival beginning at 5:00pm on August 2nd.
  • ZOOfari Tails at the Zoo is on July 25th at 9:30am at Sunset Zoo.  Children’s librarians and zoo docents will read stories, followed by zoo staff showing animals and animal artifacts or leading tours to specific exhibits. Monthly book give-away will be sponsored by Claflin Books. Families who attend the event can be entered into a drawing for a free one-year Friends of Sunset Zoo family membership. Looking for more wild activities? August 2nd is Water Safari & Free Kids Day and you can cool off at Sunset Zoo with family-friendly activities from 12:00pm to 4:30pm. Kids visit free with a paid adult admission from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, consider these other activities that can help you beat the heat.

  • First and foremost, the Manhattan Public Library’s Summer Reading Programs continue to the 31st—you still have time to read that book on your list and enter to win a prize from one of our very cool sponsors.
  • The Marianna Kistler Beach Art Museum at KSU currently has two exhibitions to view—Janet Backes: Where the Heart Belongs and “Igniting the Senses.”
  • You can also check out the Ice Age Imperials Exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center through September 14th. Interacting with real fossils from ancient animals like the saber-toothed cat, woolly mammoth, giant sloth, dire wolf, giant beaver and teeth from a huge prehistoric bear makes the Ice Age come alive for visitors like never before.

Know of something else going on around that we didn’t mention? Drop us a line or share with us on social media!

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Exploring the Great Outdoors

by Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

bison grazing at the tall grass prairie preserve

Bison grazing at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir

If you’ve ever visited one of the 401 locations in the national parks system, you know how powerfully beautiful and restorative a trip to the outdoors can be.  July happens to be “National Parks and Recreation Month,” and this is a perfect time to get outdoors to do some exploring, even if you’ve never ventured any farther than your own backyard.

Kansas offers several short trips to get a beginning trekker started. The Konza Biological Preserve, located just southeast of town off McDowell Creek Road, offers six miles of hiking trails through native tallgrass prairie. At the highest points you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Flint Hills and might even spot a few members of a bison herd in the distance.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve presents opportunities for closer contact with bison, if you’re lucky, and more than 44 miles of trails through pristine prairie grasses. You’ll find this national park about two miles north of Strong City, along Highway 177. The visitor’s center has many resources to help you explore the park, including cell phone tours of the historic buildings on the site, a short orientation film, and books for sale.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center in downtown Manhattan is another wonderful place to start your journey. It has exhibits and interactive features to explore the geology, biology, and cultural history of the Flint Hills. Plus, they have a fun gift shop full of local products, artwork, and books by local authors.

Speaking of books, if you would like to find suggestions for exploration, naturalist inspiration, or if you prefer armchair travel, the library has a wealth of outdoor adventure books, both fiction and non-fiction, to aid in your quest.

If you are looking for a volume to carry with you, try one of the comprehensive plant identification books, such as Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas by Michael John Haddock. The detailed descriptions and great pictures will help you find everything from big bluestem to western yarrow.

Or, you might want to try a nice bird-watching guide. The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley  is the most comprehensive book available. It features hundreds upon hundreds of detailed illustrations to help you identify every bird in North America. This book can be a little intimidating at first, but I suggest you dive right in and see what you can find.  If you’re a budding naturalist, just start with the index and explore from there!

I would also suggest sampling some of the outdoor inspirational classics like the works of John Muir, located in the library at call number 508.794. His Eight Wilderness Discovery Books are available bound in one volume or in smaller groupings. They are fantastic reads, but probably won’t fit in your day pack!

For armchair adventure, I strongly recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed (813.6). This memoir chronicles a young woman’s 1,100-mile journey alone along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a heart-wrenching tale of struggle, sorrow, determination, and redemption that will leave you wondering how far you could push yourself if you tried.

After you visit the Tallgrass National Preserve, that still leaves about 400 more places to explore. If you’re planning a trip to another state, the library has handbooks and field guides available for many different regions, identifying plants, trees, birds, and insects. It’s a lot of fun to point out butterfly milkweed or old plainsman when you pass them in the field. Plus, you look pretty smart when you do!

You’ll also find maps of Kansas, local bike trails, local rivers, and much more when you visit the Manhattan Public Library. Have fun exploring the great outdoors!

Posted in: Mercury Column

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Space Exploration Day Celebration

Image courtesy of Randy Read via Creative Commons at

Image courtesy of Randy Read via Creative Commons at

by Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

July 20th may not be an official holiday, but in the minds of so many Americans, it is considered Space Exploration Day.  On July 20th, 1969, two U.S. astronauts made history by taking the first steps on the moon’s surface. The Cold War brought about animosity between the Soviet Union and the United States, so it came as no surprise when President John F. Kennedy declared before Congress that it was his mission to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s. The space program of the United States was lagging behind the Soviet Union and the president thought it only fitting to surpass them.

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Cape Kennedy.  Just a few days later, on July 20, the first human steps were taken on the moon’s surface by Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. Not only did these two astronauts step foot on the moon, but they came back to Earth with panoramic photos of the surface near the landing site and samples of the surface itself, including rocks, lunar soil, and core samples taken 13 centimeters below the surface.

Though no launch sites exist in Kansas, the city of Hutchinson is home to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which houses the second largest U.S. space artifact collection. The idea for the Cosmosphere began with the vision of Hutchinson city leader Patricia Brooks Carey, who wanted to create one of the first public planetariums.  The Justice Planetarium in the Cosmosphere offers a 45-minute trip through the night sky and its constellations, while Dr. Goddard, the creator of the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, has “his” own lab, which features live demonstrations of early rocket technology. In session right now are space camps for students entering 2nd grade and up.

If you don’t get the chance to visit the Cosmosphere, you can do your own space exploration research here at Manhattan Public Library.  Here are a few resources we would recommend from our collection:


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Librarian Tips and Tricks: Finding all the books in a series

by Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

Winterkill by CJ BoxHave you ever picked up a book that looked great, only to find yourself lost as you began the story? Did you get the sense that something important happened before the first page?

It’s a common point of frustration, because many authors are now writing series that feature a main character throughout. Thankfully, there is an easy way to solve this mystery and find out if a title is part of a series. The library’s catalog can help you find the title to pick next, or even first. If you would like to read a series, such as C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett Series, here’s how to begin:

  1. If you happened to pick up Box’s book “Winterkill” on the shelf, go to the library’s online catalog and type Winterkill in the search box. You can also begin by typing the author’s name or any part of the title you want to explore.
  2. When the search results pop up, click on the title “Winterkill.” The book listing, including summary, publication date, and location will pop up.
  3. If you scroll down, you’ll find a tab that says “Suggestions and more” with a drop-down icon.
  4. Here, you will find “Books in This Series” with a complete listing of all the titles in sequential order. Click a title to find the book’s location and availability.
  5. Read and enjoy!

This is a fairly new feature in our catalog, but it is one that can help you find the right title every time. There are also recommendations for read-alike series or titles—be sure to scroll down to find lots of helpful information.

We also offer personalized reading lists, full of suggestions customized to your specific tastes. The service is free; just fill out this form and we’ll send you a list of books we think you’ll enjoy.

Librarians are here to help. Anytime you need assistance finding a title or would like to learn catalog search tips, please feel free to ask us!

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Get Your Geek On!

by Heather Strafuss, Assistant Circulation Supervisor

Today is “Embrace Your Geekdom Day” so get your favorite fandom shirt out and let your geek love show. You may even make a new friend or two!

Harry_Potter_Books_1-7_without_dust_jackets,_1st_American_eds._2Not sure what to geek out on, or searching for new fandom to enjoy? The library is home to numerous geeky collections. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Harry Potter: a young boy learns he is a wizard and, after arriving at magic school, discovers he is linked to a great destiny.
  • Doctor Who: a Time Lord in a police-box travels through time and space to save the universe from numerous foes.
  • Star Trek: the spaceship U.S.S. Enterprise boldly goes where no man has gone before—into the final frontier: space.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: a boy learns that his father is the ancient Greek God Poseidon, and he must flee to Camp Half-Blood before the ancient Greek monsters find him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Slayer keeps the world safe from vampires, and other Big Bads, with a ragtag group of friends.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: a boy solves the ancient Millennium Puzzle, and awakens a gambling alter-ego within his body who solves his conflicts using various games.

As the wise Simon Peg states, “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool abotu how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

Stop by the library and join us in being shamelessly nerdy. Can’t make it in? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see what nerdy things we are into right now—and definitely don’t forget Pinterest, which has its very own “Shamelessy Nerdy” board.

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Summertime Fun — Out and About with Books

By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager

It is summer break, and the kids here are reading maniacs! In June, more than 30,000 children’s books and audiobooks were checked out from the library.  So far, 2,000 children have registered for the library’s summer reading program and read more than 600,000 minutes.  They are earning cool prizes to keep them motivated, including squirt toys, magnifying glasses, free books, and a wide choice of free food coupons or free kids’ day passes to the zoo and Discovery Center. The last day to collect prizes is July 31, and it is not too late to get your children signed up and include all the reading they have been doing since June 1st. 

Amidst the kids checking out books and getting their prizes, you may have noticed construction crews on the grounds, up on the roof, and in and out of the building.  The Children’s Room is shrinking while this phase of the construction project proceeds with renovations inside the current space, and with connecting the room to new spaces on both the north and south ends of the Children’s Room.  This will double the size of the space when the project is completed at the end of this year.

blue chickenLuckily, we are able to keep all our children’s materials available to the public, but space is getting more and more crowded for children’s events.  Children’s librarians will be doing some fun programs out and about the community during this phase.  Ms. Amber is leading weekly storytimes at Bluestem Bistro.  Meet on the patio on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 during the month of July to hear fun stories, rhymes and songs about colors.  This week’s theme is “blue” featuring Deborah Freedman’s Blue Chicken. What happens when an energetic chicken stumbles off the page and into a pot of blue paint?  Join us on the patio to find out. (more…)

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

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Summer Reading Countdown

summer reading outsideWith construction and summer reading going on simultaneously, this year we’ve been so busy we hardly noticed that summer break is on the downward slope. Did you know only one month is left before school starts?! (I know, I was surprised, too!)

For some people, this equals extra incentive to take care of those summertime projects—perhaps add a few more plants to the garden or finally get the garage cleaned out. Here at Manhattan Public Library, though, the approach of August means one thing in particular–we’ve got to get our books read for summer reading! The final day for the summer reading program is Thursday, July 31st, and sadly, that is just a few short weeks away.

So far, 2,809 people have signed up to participate. Don’t worry, though! If you haven’t started, there is still time for readers of all ages to participate and earn prizes. You can sign up online or by visiting the library in person. Kids and teens earn prizes for the amount of time they spend reading or being read to, and adults can log the number of books they read or the number of hours they spend reading to earn chances for weekly prize drawings. Sponsors for this year’s program include Varsity Donuts, Texas Roadhouse, the Sunset Zoo, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, and Bourbon and Baker, so don’t miss out!

Not sure that you can knock out many books between now and August 1st? Here are a few extra, quick-and-easy ways for adults to earn drawing chances:

  • Stop by the Information Desk for your sign-up prize!
  • Recommend a book to a friend
  • Explore science in your community: Visit the Discovery Center or Sunset Zoo, or go for a hike in the Konza Prairie
  • Visit a place you’ve never been by reading a book
  • Read to a child
  • Read a book from one of our displays
  • Ask for a personalized reading list
  • Visit one of our sponsor’s and thank them!

This year, we’re also hosting a special summer reading photo contest on social media. Every time you tag the library in a photo of yourself visiting a summer reading sponsor OR reading, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, you will be entered into a weekly drawing for an awesome prize. You can enter each week for more chances to win, making this great for folks who are serious about their reading!

For more information about summer reading, and to see a complete list of sponsors, visit the summer reading FAQ page.

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