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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 Lynda.com 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!

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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…)

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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…)

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KSBN Focus: The Ghost Map

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services Manager

ghost

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.

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Sherlocked

Keri Mills
Young Adult Librarian

sherlockThe series, “Sherlock,” premiered in 2010 and has since gained legions of followers. If you are one of the many, like myself, who have been “Sherlocked,” then you were unhappy with the news that season 4 will not even begin filming until the winter of 2015. Having to wait two years for new episodes practically qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment! Other than watching reruns of previous seasons, what are Sherlockians to do? Here ae a few suggestions to get you started.

Try some classic Sherlock Holmes. Start with “The Sherlock Holmes Collection” by A&E Television. This collection presents the five surviving episodes of the classic BBC show that aired in the 1960’s with Sherlock played by Peter Cushing. Or, watch “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock mysteries. This movie adaptation was created in 1983 and stars Ian Richardson as Holmes.

For a more contemporary take, there is the movie “Sherlock Holmes” and its follow-up “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” both directed by Guy Ritchie and released in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Holmes is played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Watson is played by Jude Law. These films diverge quite a bit from the classic Sherlock Holmes portrayal, in that Holmes and Watson are more like big blockbuster action heroes than intellectuals. However, Holmes is still arrogant, impulsive, intelligent, and of course, amazing at deductive reasoning. Another option is “Elementary,” a CBS TV series that debuted in 2012, with the third season slated to premier in October. Originally, producers garnered a lot of flak as they seemed to be riding on the coattails of “Sherlock’s” success, but this show can definitely stand on its own. Like “Sherlock,” it is set in the modern day, but, the setting is New York instead of London. And, while Holmes (Jonny Miller) still has a sidekick, she is now a woman, Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu).

expressBesides watching other adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, anything based on Agatha Christie’s mysteries is a good choice. One of the great classics is “Murder on the Orient Express.” This 1974 film is star-studded with such actors as Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, and Vanessa Redgrave. In the movie, the Orient Express, a luxurious passenger train, is stopped by deep snow, and passengers discover that a murder has been committed. Luckily, or not so luckily for the murderer, famous detective, Hercule Poirot, happens to be on board. He must identify the murderer before he or she decides to strike again or is able to escape from the train. Another option is “And Then There Were None.” In this 1945 movie, based on Christie’s book by the same name, ten people are invited to an island for the weekend by the mysterious Mr. U. N. Own. Left on the island by boat, and then stranded, the ten begin being murdered one by one. Will they discover the murderer before all ten are dead?

For something a little different, “Doctor Who” is a good alternative. For those of you unfamiliar with “Doctor Who,” it is a long-running British science fiction TV series (recently celebrating 50 years). The Doctor, who is a Time Lord, explores the universe in his TARDIS, a time-traveling space ship that resembles a blue British police box. Along with various companions, the Doctor travels throughout time to save civilization and right various wrongs. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, co-creators and writers for “Sherlock,” are also writers for “Doctor Who” (Steven Moffat is also the executive producer for “Doctor Who”).
If you just want to see more of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the library has several of their movies. To see the two of them together again, watch “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” See Martin as Bilbo Baggins, and hear Cumberbatch’s marvelous voice as Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon.

imagesRRCDMDWQWhile none of these movies can take the place of “Sherlock,” hopefully they will help to tide us over for awhile. All of the above titles can be found at MPL. And, while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the original Sherlock Holmes adventures by Sir Arthur Conan D

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Coming Soon to Theater Near You–Favorite Books Made into Movies!

In the coming weeks and months, several books that have been favorites at Manhattan Public Library have been made into films and will be coming to a theater near you! Some of the films coming soon are:

hundredThe Hundred Foot Journey, coming to theaters on August 8, stars Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal, tells how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian restaurant and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. It is a fable that is a testament to the inevitability of destiny.

Before I Go to Sleep, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is scheduled for release August 12.  Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life. (more…)

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Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Women

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Learning about other people’s lives can be endlessly fascinating, particularly if they are people who inhabit another place or time very different from your own. In my case, I love to read about the domestic and personal lives of ordinary women in American history as told through their journals or letters, the artifacts of their lives, or the evidence of historical sources and documents. Here are some outstanding books from Manhattan Public Library about the lives of American women.

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Martha Ballard, the subject of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, was a housewife, midwife, and healer in Maine in the 18th century. Her diary is compelling reading, an intimate, personal view of the daily concerns and events in Ballard’s own life and the lives of the women she served, as well as happenings and social dynamics in the communities she traveled.

perfectionPerfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, by Laura Shapiro, recounts the development of the Domestic Science reform movement in the Progressive-era U.S. between 1880 and 1930. The movement was an ambitious plan to improve the lives of American women and their families by applying “modern” scientific knowledge to common domestic activities, thereby boosting efficiency, promoting better health and sanitation, and improving food and nutrition. The impact of this movement on American homemakers and its legacy up to the present time include both positives and negatives. This is an enlightening and entertaining book.

Never Done: A History of American Housework, by Susan Strasser. Using plentiful illustrations and primary sources, this book offers a comprehensive overview of housekeeping and women’s work in U.S. history, from colonial and pioneer households through the industrialization of America to the consumer culture and time-stressed lifestyles of the 20th century.

No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald. Great fun for knitters as well as armchair historians, this book chronicles the role of “the womanly art of knitting” through our national history. “From the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin to her Victorian counterpart who enjoyed knitting while visiting with friends, from the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort to the modern woman who knits as a creative and artistic outlet, this book offers a unique perspective on American women’s changing historical roles.

The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, follows 14 handmade artifacts of American domestic life through their history and the lives of the people who made and used them. An engaging combination of women’s studies, history, and the study of museum artifacts, this book guides the reader through American material culture of colonial times, Revolution, frontier life, the growth of commerce, and the Industrial Age in America.

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860, by
Jane C. Nylander. The image of the early American home has been idealized over time and infused with great nostalgia. In “Our Own Snug Fireside”, author Jane Nylander draws from the journals of four women to discover the truth about the customs, traditions, friends, families, and work of the historical New England household, and creates a “fine social history of forgotten routines.”

Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930, by Marilyn Irvin Holt. Studying the Domestic Science movement and the resources and programs it offered to the lives of rural women in America (home economics education, Extension Home Demonstration Units, etc.), this is a very readable, well-illustrated history of changing roles for women in agriculture that is significant in its inclusion of African-American and Hispanic American farm women.

somethingSomething from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Laura Shapiro. The story of how post-war overcapacity in the food manufacturing industry intersected (collided?) with the needs of 1950s housewives to produce dramatic changes in American kitchens, women’s lives, and family life. Characters in this entertaining history include modern marketing and food science, the advent of television advertising, advances in the American kitchen and diet, changing race relations in America, and the appearance of homemaking and cooking icons, both fictitious and real, from Betty Crocker to Julia Child to Freda De Knight. Close enough to present day to strike the chords of memory for many of us, this is fun and fascinating social history.

 

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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.

 

(more…)

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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!

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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…)

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