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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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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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National Geographic Society Resources – Food for the Mind

by Mary Newkirk, Adult Services Librarian

natgeoOn January 27, 1888 a group of thirty-three geographers, explorers, cartographers, teachers, and other professionals met at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC, to discuss organizing “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  We know that group now as the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. What began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel, has developed into a wealth of resources that reach over 600 million people monthly.

Manhattan Public Library patrons will find quite a number of National Geographic resources available at the library, ranging from books, ebooks, and videos to the iconic magazines.  A computer card catalog search for books shows a return of over 670 titles.  These are  divided between children’s books and adult books. Look for age-appropriate labeled books for children such as Prereaders – enchanting books for little ones just beginning their journey with books.  A quick glimpse shows beautifully illustrated books on the “Titanic”, “Saving Animal Babies”, “Race Day”, and “Dinosaurs” to name a few.  Every grade level can find something fun.

medicinalAdult books are also hugely varied… “Expeditions Atlas”, “Gypsies”, “Encyclopedia of Space”, “Medicinal Herbs”, “Tales of the Weird”, “Travel Gems”.  The incredible photographs are the real draw for perusing these books. In 1897, Alexander Graham Bell was elected president of the Society. He insisted on “pictures, and plenty of them….Leave science to others and give us a detail of living interest beautifully illustrated by photographs.” This was the beginning of their use of photography to show the common man the wonders of the world.

 

 

dawnAs I researched the books that our library offers to our patrons, I was surprised to find that a local Kansan is a prominent freelance photographer for National Geographic.  I was flipping through one of our newer books, “Dawn to Dark Photographs: The Magic of Light” and came upon a beautiful photo of fireflies taken in the Flint Hills by Jim Richardson. If you have ever dreamed of seeing your photos published, check out the FAQ’s on his website, www.jimrichardsonphotography.com.  He is very forthcoming about how to pursue your dream.

Most of us love to be entertained by great videos. Our library has 35 dvds that are fascinating looks at a myriad of subjects.  Try the set of programs called, “Thirty Years of National Geographic Specials for a great introduction to many of the topics the Society has covered. Climb Everest with the first Americans to conquer it, plunge into the incredible underwater world of explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and see animals of every kind in their natural habitats.  This is nature footage without editing, so your children may find it a bit raw as animals display their violence by fighting for their spot in the food chain.

 

warI have a profound appreciation for those who served in the Vietnam War after participating in this past Veteran’s Day Forum with the Flint Hills Veteran’s Coalition members. The National Geographic Society has produced “Brothers In War,” a video released last May about Charlie Company.  Reviewers on Amazon.com have praised this as the most authentic depiction of the hardships faced by young draftees in the Mekong Delta.  It is based on the book “The Boys of ‘67” by Andrew Wiest, which examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII’s famous 101st Airborne Division. Of the 160 men, only 30 were not killed or injured by the time they came home in December 1967.  Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men of Charlie Company and had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.

Additional titles of popular videos are: “In the Womb”, “Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West”, “Alien Deep”, “Titanic Revealed”, “Life in a Day”, and “Fundamentals of Photography.”

We subscribe to four different magazines published by the Society:  National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler.  I especially enjoy the latter for its peek into the best travel destinations, both domestic and international. These are available to be checked out for a week and enjoyed at home.

The library will be closed Monday, February 16, President’s Day, for an all-employee staff training.

 

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Happy Birthday, Charlie D.

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Charles Dickens, English authorYesterday marked the 203rd birthday of Charles Dickens. Born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812, Dickens is considered by many to be one of the greatest authors in the English language. In addition to writing some of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century, Dickens also penned countless short stories, nonfiction pieces, and plays. Dickens also attracted large crowds to his public readings of memorable scenes from his works.

During his life, Dickens enjoyed unprecedented popularity. His novels were published first in monthly or weekly installments, and later printed in volumes. Some of his novels sold several hundred thousand copies in book form during his lifetime (Dickens died in 1870).  His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular today. “A Tale of Two Cities,” for example, has sold over 200 million copies to date.

Dickens’ father, John Dickens, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. He was constantly in debt and ultimately landed himself in debtor’s prison. To help support his family, by supporting himself, Dickens was put to work in a boot blacking factory at age 12. Though he only experienced the evils of child labor for a few months, the experience colored Dickens’ attitudes for the rest of his life. This led him to champion children and the poor, and to castigate the injustices of the education and justice systems, and the wealthy.

The library owns copies of many of Dickens’ works. Some may be familiar to you, such as “Oliver Twist,” the story of a workhouse orphan and his adventures with a gang of juvenile pickpockets. “A Tale of Two Cities,” is another familtaleiar title, set against the French Revolution and the cities of London and Paris. The novel boasts one of the most famous opening lines in literature with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” “David Copperfield,” is one of Dickens’ most well-known novels. This thinly veiled autobiographical novel follows the fortunes of its hero as he grapples with a hateful stepfather and an unscrupulous clerk (the infamous and unforgettable Uriah Heep) as he tries to make his way in the world.

Dickens wrote a total of 15 novels. His last, the unfinished “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” is the story of title’s namesake, his fiancée Rosa Bud, and the hot-tempered Neville Landless. Landless, also in love with Rosa Budd, is no friend of Edwin Drood who disappears under mysterious circumstances. Since Dickens had written and published only six of the twelve installments of the novel at the time of his death, the world will never know what happened to Edwin Drood.

Memorable characters abound in all Dickens’ work. We easily recognize Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations;” Little Nell in “The Old Curiosity Shop;” and of course Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol.”

Dickens has been a popular subject of biographers since his friend, John Forster, completed the first biography in 1874. More recently, Peter Ackroyd wrote a comprehensive biography entitled “Dickens,” and Claire Tomalin wrote “Charles Dickens: A Life.” Dickens was a biographer of the city of London and wrote of it as no one has since. If you are interested in daily life in Dickens’ time, read “The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London,” by Judith Flanders. Or, try “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist – The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England,” by Daniel Poole.

Hundredcharless of film and television adaptations have been made of Dickens’ works, including nearly fifty of “A Christmas Carol.” All the novels and many of the shorter works of Charles Dickens are available as free eBooks from websites including Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net. The collection of titles in Project Gutenberg is also searchable through the library’s Sunflower eLibrary.

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The Hillerman Prize: The Best of Western Mysteries

by Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Tony_HillermanI still miss having a fresh, new Tony Hillerman mystery to read.  I never tired of reading the latest adventures of law officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, as they patiently sorted out the facts of murders and thefts that took place in the Southwest.  To me, and to so many other long-time fans, the characters and situations that Hillerman so skillfully described in each tale were among the best in American mystery writing.

The range of awards that the author earned was astonishing.  The Anthony, the Edgar, the Macavity, and the Nero were among his accolades, some of them received multiple times.  And one special honor was earned in 2002 when Hillerman received the Agatha Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement for having written novels in the spirit of Agatha Christie.

While Hillerman died in 2008, the spirit of his creativity lives on.   The Tony Hillerman Writers Conference is held each year in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the fall.  Workshops led by award-winning writers and promotional activities supporting the writing of any genre are conducted.  One of the highlights of the event is the announcement of the year’s Hillerman Prize.  The lucky winner has the opportunity to meet the editor of St. Martin’s Press with whom he or she will collaborate on that first novel.  The author also wins a cash prize of $10,000.

Among other prbad countryize guidelines, the author must have never before written a published mystery or be under contract with a publisher, and the debut mystery must take place in the Southwest.  The crime itself must be murder or other serious crimes, with a focus on solution rather than the actual details of the crime.

Which brings me to C.B. McKenzie, the 2013 Hillerman winner.  I had never heard of the author, but the bold “Winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize” logo on the cover caught my attention.  Bad Country seemed promising, so I began to read of the adventures of Rodeo Grace Garnet, private investigator/warrant server in a desolate corner of Arizona called El Hoyo (The Hole).  The action begins when Rodeo discovers the battered body of a Native American near his home.  Further investigation reveals a whole string of violent murders, all committed against various tribal members.  Told by law enforcement to avoid involvement, Rodeo begins piecing together the similarities of the crimes.  Full involvement begins when a grandmother of one of the victims asks for Rodeo’s help, yet she displays no sympathy or compassion toward her deceased grandson.

What makes this mystery one-of-a-kind is a flawed but caring main character.  Rodeo has made a lot of mistakes, like his relationship with the treacherous Serena Ray Molina, but he also cares deeply about justice and the victimization of helpless characters like Samuel Rocha.  The mystery itself is a complex tale of deception and violence, with a hit-and-run accident that has far-reaching implications.  And the ending of the book is explosive.  Understated tones and short passages pack a wallop of a finale.

If you like this territorymystery, you’ll probably want to check out other Hillerman award winners.  MPL also has Andrew Hunt’s City of Saints (the 2011 winner).  This mystery takes place in Salt Lake City in the 1930s when and unusual pair of crime-solvers must discover the killer of a socialite.  Or, you might try the 2010 winner, The Territory by Tricia Fields.  This tale explores the nasty interactions between the inhabitants of a West Texas town and violent drug cartel members.  The 2008 winner, The Ragged Edge of Nowhere by Roy Chaney, concerns ex-CIA Agent Bodo Hagen, who turns to crime-solving when his brother, who somehow possesses an ancient relic, is murdered in the desert.

So, there you have it.  A variety of different styles and storylines that share only a focus on Southwest crime, but each special in its own way.  These are, after all, the prestigious winners of the Tony Hillerman Prize.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. 2015 Art and Writing Contest

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

MLK

Manhattan Public Library (MPL) hosted and sponsored the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Art and Writing Contest, which has been an important part of MLK Day events for over 15 years. The theme for this year’s contest was “Only Love Can Drive Out Hate,” which was taken from one of Dr. King’s most famous quotes: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” This year’s entries acknowledged the importance that each individual can play, no matter how young or old he or she may be, in promoting Dr. King’s message of nonviolence. They also understand the importance of Dr. King’s place in the world that still resonates throughout our society today. There was participation from kids of all ages, as well as adults in this year’s contest. We had entries from almost all of the area elementary schools, Eisenhower and Anthony middle schools, Manhattan High School, Manhattan Catholic Schools, Flint Hills Christian School, Riley County schools, Kansas State University, and homeschool students.

Submissions for the contest were accepted beginning in December through January 11th, with the judging taking place on January 12th. All entries were judged based on five criteria: originality, creativity, artistic quality or writing style, content, and relevance to the theme. Winners were chosen by a panel of volunteer judges from the community. A thanks goes out to this year’s judges for volunteering their time and effort! Writing Judges included: Beth Bailey from the Union Program Council at Kansas State University; Carol Russell, English Professor at Kansas State University; and Deborah Murray, English professor at Kansas State University. Art judges included: Marrin Robinson, art instructor at Kansas State University; and Karen Schmidt, retired USD 383 middle school art teacher.

Besides Manhattan Public Library, this year’s sponsors included the Gallery for Peace and Justice, Manhattan Library Association, and Manhattan Town Center. Best of show winners received $50 gift certificates from Varney’s or Claflin Books and Copies and $20 gift cards from Manhattan Town Center. First place winners from each of the five age categories received a $25 gift certificate from Varney’s or Claflin Books and Copies. All winners received a certificate of recognition from the MLK Art & Writing Contest Committee.

Award winners were recognized at the annual awards ceremony which took place during the community MLK celebration at Manhattan Town Center on Monday, January 19. Manhattan Mayor Wynn Butler presented the winners with their awards at the recognition ceremony. Here are the 2015 contest winners:

ART

Best of Show: Usha Reddi’s first grade class from Ogden Elementary

 First Place

K-2nd Grade: Ritodeep Roy, Lee Elementary

3rd-5th Grade: Micah Craine, Bluemont Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Kaden Vandorn, Flint Hills Christian School

Adult:  Paulicia Williams

 Honorable Mention

K-2nd Grade: Justin Orvis, Manhattan Catholic Schools

3rd-5th Grade: Sahana Datta and Ananya Pagadala, Marlatt and Amanda Arnold Elementary Schools

6th-8th Grade: Ann Hess, Flint Hills Christian School

9th-12th Grade: Ames Burton, Riley County Schools

 WRITING

Best of Show: Chase Rauch, Manhattan Catholic Schools

First Place

3rd-5th Grade: Halle Gaul, Frank V. Bergman Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Blaise Hayden, Manhattan Catholic Schools

9th-12th Grade: Elijah Irving,  Flint Hills Christian School

Adult: Randy Jellison

 Honorable Mention

3rd-5th Grade: Hannah Loub, Frank V. Bergman Elementary

6th-8th Grade: Abby Cronander, Manhattan Catholic Schools

9th-12th Grade: Amanda Dillon, Flint Hills Christian School

9th-12th Grade: Caleb Linville, Flint Hills Christian School

 

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to all of the individuals and groups who participated in the contest. The winning entries will be on display at MPL in the atrium through the end of February. Be sure to stop by and take a look!

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The Good Books Club + TALK Winter Program

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

emmaWith the holiday season behind us and 2015 ahead, Manhattan Public Library is happy to resume monthly readers’ events for adults and will again host our annual winter series of TALK book discussion programs. The TALK series, “Talk About Literature in Kansas,” is a service of the Kansas Humanities Council and is sponsored at MPL again this year by the Manhattan Library Association. Avid readers will meet on the last Thursday of each month from January through April at 7:00 p.m. in the Library’s Groesbeck Room and will explore a different book each month, guided by knowledgeable and insightful discussion leaders from the KHC. Please join us for any one, all four, or as many of the discussions as your schedule will allow.

This year’s ambitious theme is British Literary Classics of the 19th Century, and our selections are “Emma” by Jane Austen, “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, and “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot. These authors represent the great age of British novelists and our four novels are among the best of the era. They were written as the Industrial Revolution began to transform England forever and usher in the upheaval, uncertainty, and excitement of the modern age. Copies of the featured books are available for checkout at the Library’s Information Desk and available in free down-loadable e-book format from Project Gutenberg. And for reluctant readers, or those of you in a time crunch, the good news is that all four of our selections are also available from the library in DVD format!

madding
First up, on Thursday, January 29, is “Emma,” Jane Austen’s beloved comedy of manners. Lovely, privileged, and headstrong Emma Woodhouse is the doyenne of her small county society. She takes a keen interest in the affairs of her neighbors and enlivens her quiet, uneventful life with efforts at match-making. The characters in Emma’s circle are drawn with good-natured humor, the plot entertains, and the dialogue sparkles. In the end, Emma finds out the hard way that people don’t fall in love according to plan, but the outcome is happier than even she could have planned.

In “Far from the Madding Crowd,” February’s book selection, beautiful, willful, and independent Bathsheba Everdene attracts the passionate attentions of three very different suitors in a 19th century English village. Like her biblical namesake, the choices she unwittingly makes cause catastrophe for the men who love her and particular heartbreak for Gabriel Oak, a man of stalwart courage and integrity.  Set against a backdrop of the lush English countryside and the rhythms of rural life, this is an absorbing, beautifully descriptive, character-driven masterpiece.

greatFor March 26th, we’ll read Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman.  Drawing on Dickens’ frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, the novel weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagines scenes rich in comedy and pathos, and introduces a succession of unforgettable characters.

We’ll finish up on Thursday, April 30, with “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot.  The most autobiographical of all Eliot’s novels, this is a tale of English rural life, rival families, and sibling relationships.  As a child, Maggie Tulliver is independent and intellectually curious, but her thirst for knowledge and desire for meaningful relationships is eclipsed by family financial calamity and thwarted by her conventional rural community.  As she grows to womanhood, tensions with her family and community increase, and the novel explores the conflicts of love and loyalty and between desire and responsibility.

millPlease join us to discuss the first book in this winter series, Jane Austen’s “Emma,” on Thursday, January 29th, at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s Groesbeck Room.

 

 

 

 

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Building Your Brain in 2015

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

road sign with learning in all directions

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Learning is Good for You

What’s the best way to improve your memory, make sure your mind stays sharp as you age, and keep your skills relevant at work? Learn something new!

“Learning a new skill can help ward off dementia by strengthening the connections between parts of your brain,” says cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman. Plus, it’s interesting and exciting to explore something you’ve never tried before.

Taking care of your brain by learning a new skill would be a great bullet point to add to your New Year’s Resolution for 2015–and the Manhattan Public Library is here to help.

Lynda.com

First, you should check out a new service called Lynda.com, which provides excellent video training courses in a wide variety of subject areas. Library card holders have access to the entire catalog of 4,500+ training videos on Lynda.com through the library’s website at www.MHKLibrary.org.

Each subject on Lynda.com is broken down into smaller video tutorials so you can stop and start, and learn at your own pace. There are videos for all learning levels–from beginner to professional. I just watched a course called Introduction to Graphic Design, and my brain is brimming with ideas!

Courses on Lynda.com focus mainly on computer and software skills, but include information on teaching, stress management, job interview skills, and more. Browse the library to get an overview of what’s offered, or if you have a specific interest, use the search bar to find courses. Watch the classes on your own computer, tablet, or smartphone, or use one of the library’s computers.

If you’re having trouble getting started, check out the nineteen-minute Overcoming Procrastination course!

Like all library resources, access to Lynda.com is completely free for cardholders. Residents of Chase, Clay, Dickinson, Geary, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Wabaunsee, and Washington counties can get a Manhattan Public Library card. Just stop by the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue–remember to bring proof of residence with you.

Tech Tuesdays

Next, the library’s 2015 season of Tech Tuesdays begins on January 13 with a class called “Basic iPad.” If you are the proud owner of a new iPad and would like to figure out how it works, sign up for this free, two-hour workshop at the library and exercise your brain with new technology skills.

The Tech Tuesday season continues with “How to Download eBooks” on January 20 & 27, then “Beginners Ancestry” on February 10. Stop by the library or visit our online events calendar to see the complete schedule.

Mango Languages

Learning a new language would be another excellent exercise for your brain–plus, it would give you the perfect excuse to start planning that trip to Italy this summer! Mango Languages is another learning program that is available through the library’s website. Find Mango on the Research page. With more than 40 languages to choose from, you can add as many countries to your travel list as you can handle.

Chess

Playing chess, “the game of kings,” might be one of the very best activities for your brain. It can help you improve concentration, gain problem-solving skills, increase creativity, and prevent Alzheimer’s.  The library has chess boards available for checkout and also hosts chess club meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 3:30-6:00 p.m. The next meeting is January 13. Participants ages 9+ are invited to learn, practice, and play chess with members of the KSU Chess Club. Meet in the auditorium on the second floor. No registration is necessary.

Time to start!

With so many resources available to exercise your brain, you should have no trouble finding new ways to build your “mind muscles.” The benefits of keeping your brain healthy with new skills, fresh ideas, and unique perspectives will help you in every aspect of your life–from making you a delightful dinner companion to helping you get a promotion.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to say “this wine is an excellent vintage” in French, how to crush a chess opponent in six moves, or how to expertly retouch photographs, what are you waiting for? 2015 is here, and it’s time to get moving. Step one: get a library card. Step two: start exploring!

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New Year, New Room!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

It has been nearly a full year since Kelley Construction Company broke ground outside the library to begin the children’s room expansion. Now, on January 17, 2015, just 358 days after the ceremonial groundbreaking, we will have a grand opening celebration to showcase the new Children’s Room, including fantastic reading areas, imaginative play spaces, and a larger Storytime Room for programs.

Already, the room is drawing crowds of kids, from an excited after-school bunch needing a place to hang out before evening ball games, to little tots discovering the secret doors into the playhouse.

kidsWalking into the room, anyone familiar with the library will immediately notice changes. Colorful carpet tiles lighten up the room, and an innovative bookshelf in the entryway draws readers in to have a look at the newest books available.  Kids who find something they like can crawl right into the bookshelf and begin reading in a comfy built-in nook.

Picture books have grown in popularity, so that space is enlarged with more book displays to show off the fantastic illustrations that define this genre.  The area formerly used for storytime has been renovated to encompass both an early literacy space for preschoolers and toddlers, as well as a parent and teacher resource center with a collection of books for adults.  Parents can browse for the perfect “toddler years” guide while their little ones are entertained with puppets, puzzles and books.

The new Storytime Room is a fabulous space with media capabilities that will allow for innovative programs.  There will be plenty of room for all the kids an  caregivers and even the double strollers.  Our first storytime in the room will be January 19.  Until then, children are enjoying the large, open space, bean bag animals, and bright colored cubes for seating.  On nicer winter days, families can slip out the side doors and enjoy the fenced-in garden area, free to explore nature, read outdoors, draw with chalk or play with items on the outside table.  Our new storytime schedule includes a Nature Storytime twice a week that will take place outdoors as often as possible.

roomOn the other side of the room, a special feature kids of all ages seem to enjoy is the climbable “Mount Verde”, a large, lime green, multi-level structure where kids can sit, lounge, or pose as King of the Mountain.  The structure resides in the Reading Corner amidst giant pillows, puzzle shaped seats, and soft comfy chairs.  The oval sloped lounge chair and blue wavy couch are other fun pieces on which kids or adults can relax as they preview their library choices.  This is the scene passers-by see as they drive past the windows of the library on Poyntz, and it is often teeming with children and parents.

Nestled around the edges of the room next to the Reading Corner are “neighborhoods” of books: Arts & Crafts, Science & Nature, Graphic Novels, Transportation, Geography, History, Animals, and Fairy Tales & Folklore.  Excellent selections of books on these subjects are perfect for young browsers who want to find everything on their favorite topics.  Children are drawn in with interactive features such as a magnetic gear and propeller wall, an enormous globe to spin, crafts to make on the spot, rotating displays, objects to build with, and even some live fire-bellied toads.  The fairy tale dress up clothes have been very popular, too.

The library’s large collection of children’s fiction is also relocated to this part of the room, and it includes divisions for beginning readers and early chapter books to help younger children find titles at the right reading level.

The additional space has allowed room for the children’s media collections that had been housed next to the adult media.  Children’s movies are now next to the librarians’ service desk, along with the children’s music CDs and audiobooks.  Customers have commented that they didn’t know the library had books on CD or music CDs for children until now.

studySoon, the Technology Zone in the children’s room will be upgraded with twelve touchscreen computers just for kids, loaded with entertaining and educational games, and quick links to kid-friendly websites.

Check it all out first hand, and tell us what you think. We are interested in hearing feedback as we continue to organize all our new furnishings and materials to make it the best library possible for all the kids and families who come in.  Join us on January 17, between 1:00 and 4:00, as we celebrate this new space with donor recognition, fun activities around the room for children, a musical performance by Rockin’ Rob at 2:00, and costumed characters Olivia and Curious George roaming the library.

Posted in: Children's Dept, Children's Expansion, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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The Day is Short; Read Fast

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Today is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, and the shortest day of the year. You have 9 hours, 33 minutes, and 11 seconds of daylight to work with today. What will you do with yours? If reading is on your to-do list, you might want to consider reading one of the many influential books that have the added advantage of being short.

animalA search of the Web results in several variations of lists of the best short books. Goodreads lists the most influential books under 100 pages .  Titles include “Animal Farm,” “The Little Prince,” “The Art of War,” “Common Sense,” “Hiroshima,” and “The Constitution of the United States.”

“War and Peace,” weighing in at over 1,400 pages, makes a big impression, but books don’t have to weigh a lot to be heavy hitters. The MentalFloss website lists seven slim books that pack a big punch.  Among the seven are “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (52 Pages), “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (72 pages), “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli (82 pages), “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau (26 pages), “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White (52 pages), “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (68 pages), and “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (54 pages).

castleLooking for something a little lighter? Checkout Flavorwire and its list of incredible novels under 200 pages. Titles include “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” a macabre and hilarious book by Shirley Jackson (all in only 146 pages), “Dept. of Speculation,” a book exploring intimacy, trust, and faith by Jenny Offill (a good bet for 179 pages), and “The Buddha in the Attic,” a mesmerizing account of the Japanese “picture brides,” by Julie Otsuka (a breeze at 129 pages).

You can find a list of 55 great books under 200 pages at Reddit.com.  Consider Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” In this 181 page novel, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home, drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, at age seven, he encountered a remarkable girl. Or try “Last Night at the Lobster,” by Stewart O’Nan, a 146 page tale of an under-performing Red Lobster Restaurant in a run-down New England mall. It’s four days until Christmas, and the manager has to convince a less than enthusiastic staff to serve their customers as if their jobs depended on it.

miceIf a literary classic is what you’re after, you can read one of several short novels by John Steinbeck including “Of Mice and Men” (107 pages), “The Pearl” (87 pages), or “Cannery Row” (196 pages). Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” will only cost you 93 pages, while “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a bargain at 180 pages. Finally, don’t forget one of my personal favorites, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” At 96 pages, you can afford to read this Christmas classic every year.

The average adult reads between 250 and 300 words, or one page per minute.  At that rate, you can finish “War and Peace” in just under 24 hours, assuming you refrained from sleeping, and didn’t stumble too much on the Russian names. Or, you can enjoy a short book in two or three hours, with plenty of time for other pursuits. You do also have the option of switching on a lamp and reading after the sun goes down on this shortest day of the year. In any case, pick up a good book and enjoy.

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

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