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Brush Up Your Shakespeare

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

  Brush up your Shakespeare

Start quoting him now

Brush up your Shakespeare

And the women you will wow


 Just declaim a few lines from Othella

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

Brush up your Shakespeare

And they’ll all kowtow


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Documentary DVDs (performance DVDs also available):

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

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The Taller the Better: Bigger-than-life American Folk Heroes

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Is there anyone who doesn’t know the legend of Paul Bunyan? How it took five storks to deliver him, and how he formed the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe along behind him as he walked. The Paul Bunyan myth also explained the Great Lakes, formed as a watering hole for Paul’s Blue Ox, Babe.

Bunyan’s character originated in tales circulated among lumberjacks in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, possibly as early as the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. Michigan journalist, James MacGillivray, published the first Bunyan stories in 1906. William Laughead reworked the stories for a logging company’s advertising campaign in 1914. The 1922 edition of Laughead’s tales inspired a host of imitators and spread the Paul Bunyan legend far and wide.

Today young readers can learn about Paul Bunyan in several books including “Paul Bunyan: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg; and “The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan,” by Martin Powell. In “The Story of Paul Bunyan,” Barbara Emberley tells the tall tale of the legendary woodsman, the biggest man who ever lived. His shirt buttons were wagon wheels, and his double-edged axe took an entire town a whole month to build.

Pecos Bill is another big man among American folk heroes. Pecos Bill was said to have fallen out of a covered wagon near the Pecos River in Texas. He was raised by coyotes, used a rattlesnake as a lasso, and his favorite food was dynamite. He rode a horse named Widow-maker, when he wasn’t riding a mountain lion, and he had a girlfriend by the name of Slue-foot Sue (who Pecos was smitten with when he saw her riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande). Pecos Bill was actually the creation of Edward O’Reilly, who first published stories of the larger-than-life cowboy in 1917.

Young readers who want to know more about Pecos Bill should check out “Pecos Bill: a Tall Tale,” by Steven Kellogg, or “Pecos Bill, Colossal Cowboy,” by Sean Tulien.

John Henry was more powerful than a steam-powered hammer. This African-American steel-driver may have been based on a man who worked on and died at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad’s Big Bend Tunnel around 1873. It could be that John Henry was based on a 20-year-old New Jersey-born African-American freeman, John William Henry. Henry drifted down to Virginia to work on the clean-up of the battlefields after the Civil War. Henry was arrested and tried for burglary, and released by the warden to work as leased labor on the railway. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books and novels. In “John Henry, Hammerin’ Hero,” by Stephanie True Peters, the bigger-than-life folk hero challenges a steam-powered steel driver to prove that he is the match for any machine.

Our own Johnny Kaw is younger than most other big men of American folklore. His legend was created in 1955 by George Filinger to celebrate Manhattan’s Centennial. He might be younger, but Johnny Kaw is no slouch. He dug the Kansas River Valley, planted wheat, invented sunflowers, and grew giant potatoes. Johnny Kaw chopped the tops off tornadoes and ended droughts by wringing out clouds. His pets were a wildcat and a Jayhawk (what else?), who caused the dust bowl with all their fighting. You can read more about this Kansas hero in several books including “Johnny Kaw: a Tall Tale,” by Devin Scillian, “Johnny Kaw: the Pioneer Spirit of Kansas,” by Jerri Garretson, and George Filinger’s own “The Story of Johnny Kaw: the Kansas Pioneer Wheat Farmer.”

Finally, editors David Leeming and Jake Page have gathered together the great myths and legends of America in “Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: an Anthology.” Beginning with the creation stories of the first inhabitants, the editors reveal how waves of immigrants adapted their religion and folklore to help make sense of a new and strange land. This collection illuminates the myth making process, and sheds light on what it means to be American.

Today is Paul Bunyan Day, but the giant lumberjack and his big blue ox aren’t the only larger than life heroes in American folklore. “Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme of this year’s summer reading program. Visit Manhattan Public Library to read about your favorite hero.




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Monarchs Baseball History at MPL

by Janet, Adult Services Librarian

14541-illustration-of-a-baseball-pvMost people have heard of Jackie Robinson, some have heard of Satchel Paige and many have heard of the Kansas City Monarchs – but few know how connected they were to the Manhattan community. In honor of the 90th Anniversary of the Monarchs’ first World Championship in 1924, author Phil S. Dixon will be speaking in cities where they played to present the team’s unique history as well as discuss the history of African-American ball players from our community who participated in the Negro Leagues. Help us and our co-sponsor, the Riley County Historical Society, welcome Mr. Dixon to the Manhattan Public Library on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. For more than thirty years Mr. Dixon has recorded African-American sports topics with a vast array of in-depth skill and historical accuracy. He is widely regarded for his expertise on baseball history. He has authored nine prior baseball books and won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992. Join us for this fascinating program about Manhattan and Baseball history!


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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.



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The History of Baseball

by Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian

With spring just around the corner, that means it is once again time for baseball, the all American pastime. To get yourself ready, or just to impress your friends with your vast knowledge, why not read up on the history of the sport?

If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the Negro Leagues, we have several books on the subject. Here are just a few to get you started.

monarchs“The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball” by Janet Bruce:   This book traces the story of the Kansas City Monarchs from their beginning as a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 until their demise in the mid 1950’s due largely to the integration of the sport. The Monarchs were a powerhouse in their league and employed some of the great stars of that era, such as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Did you know that the Monarchs were the first team to regularly play night baseball? They brought a portable lighting system with them which they quickly assembled at each new location when they travelled on the road. Bruce fills the book with many other interesting anecdotes as well as over 90 photographs of various players or scenes.

“Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams” by Robert Peterson:   Originally published in 1970, this is a classic book that thoroughly covers Negro league baseball from start to finish. There is detailed history about the league and some of its greatest players. There are also biographical sketches of many great players who never had the chance to play in the major leagues. Peterson manages to capture the heart and soul of Negro league baseball, while underscoring the tragedy of the lost opportunities of Negro league players because of segregation.

jackie“Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy” by Jules Tygiel:   No baseball history would be complete without the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Tygiel, through interviews with players, newspaper accounts, and personal papers, recounts how Jackie Robinson influenced not only baseball, but American society as well.




For a general look at baseball history, the library has many books to offer. Here are a few of my picks:

boys“The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn:   Many are of the opinion that this is the best baseball book ever written, or at least somewhere on the list.  Kahn describes his youth  growing up in the 30’s and 40’s near Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his time as a beat writer covering the Dodgers in the early 50’s. In a very poignant section, Kahn then recounts what happened to these great players long after their baseball days were over. Even non-baseball fans should appreciate this book.

“Mudville Madness: Fabulous Feats, Belligerent Behavior, and Erratic Episodes on the Diamond” by Jonathan Weeks:   For a lighthearted look at baseball, give this one a try. Weeks takes you chronologically from baseball’s earliest days up to the present day, recounting the strange, bizarre, and little-known events that happen on the field of play. For instance, in 1957, while a woman was being carted from the game on a stretcher after being hit in the face by Richie Ashburn’s foul ball, she was hit in the leg by another Ashburn foul ball during the same at bat.

baseballwomen“Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball” by Barbara Gregorich:   The story of women in baseball is a fascinating one. I had no idea that there were a number of barnstorming “bloomer teams” that travelled across the U.S. playing against men’s teams. Or, that during the 1930’s in an exhibition game, one woman, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Gregorich’s book is an entertaining account of this little known piece of baseball history.

These are only a fraction of the baseball books that MPL has to offer, so be sure to stop in and see what we have. Also, don’t forget to come hear Phil Dixon speak at the library on March 29 at 2:00 p.m. Mr. Dixon is an African America sports historian, author of nine baseball books, and co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Mr. Dixon will be discussing the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, games the Monarchs played in Manhattan, and the history of African American baseball players from this community.




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March Events at the Library Include Baseball and Charles Dickens

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager 

What do Internet safety, the Kansas City Monarchs, Manhattan history, Charles Dickens, and great books for sale all have in common? They’re all at Manhattan Public Library in the month of March.

Last weekend, the Manhattan Library Association (the Friends of the Library) annual book sale was a huge success, in spite of the snow, and the effort raised thousands of dollars to support summer reading and other library programs for all ages. The tremendous generosity and support of our Friends and the tireless year-round efforts of book sale volunteers are truly appreciated. Thanks, also, to all those in the community who donate so many wonderful books each year for our library sale. It’s a gift that benefits us all.  If you didn’t get a chance to stop by and browse the thousands of books for sale, don’t worry! You can find great deals on gently used books all year long at Rosie’s Corner Book Store on the first floor of the library.

Mark your calen20monarchsdar for Sunday, March 29, for a fun and informative program that’s sure to appeal to fans of baseball, local history, and African-American history. Author and historian Phil Dixon, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, will present “The Kansas City Monarchs and Our Home Town,” a program about the Monarchs’ unique history, with special emphasis on their connections to Manhattan and on the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. Mr. Dixon has authored nine books and will offer his books at the program for sale and signing. Join us at 2:00 p.m. in the Library Auditorium. This program is appropriate for all ages and is co-sponsored by the Riley County Historical Society.

Join us for tea, cookies, and Brit Lit on Thursday, March 26th, 7:00 p.m., when our monthly book series will continue with a discussion of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” We’ll meet in the Groesbeck Room and our discussion leader this month will be KSU Professor Michaeline Chance-Reay. “Great Expectations” is the story of orphaned Pip, his desperate early years, his struggles to overcome his past, and his dreams of becoming a gentleman. Drawing on the his frequent themes of Victorian wealth and poverty, love and rejection, weakness or strength of character, and the eventual triumph of good over evil, Dickens weaves multiple storylines into a tight plot, imagining scenes rich in comedy and pathos and introducing a succession of unforgettable characters. This TALK series of programs is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council and the Manhattan Library Association.

book discussionThe Tech Tuesday series at Manhattan Public Library continues in March with two different technology programs. On Tuesday, March 10th, at 2:00 p.m., members of the Riley County Genealogical Society will lead a workshop on “Intermediate Ancestry and Kansas Resources,” a look at more advanced techniques for using the online resource and at unique genealogy resources for the state of Kansas.

Our second March workshop will discuss privacy and security in the digital world of the 21st century. On Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m.,  we will feature “Online Privacy and Security,” led by Lucas Loughmiller, Director of Library Services at USD 383, who will focus on ways in which adults can get the most out of the online world while maximizing the safety and security of their own personal information. Tech Tuesday programs are held in the library’s Groesbeck Room. You can register for Tech Tuesdays on the library’s website at or by calling us at 785-776-4741 Ext. 141.

Hope to see you in the library this month!



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Celebrate National Geographic’s Birthday!

by Mary, Adult Services Librarian

natgeoThe National Geographic Society has been producing fascinating magazines, books, television programs and movies ever since their founding on January 27, 1888. On that day a group of 33 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.”  The first National Geographic magazine was published nine months later in October 1888.  The Society is 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 multi-media outlet that reaches over 600 million people monthly.

Manhattan Public Library patrons will find quite a number of National Geographic’s publications available at our library ranging from books, ebooks,  videos to magazines.  A computer card catalog search for books shows a return of over 670 titles.  They are nearly equally divided between children’s books and adult books. Prereaders are enchanting books for little ones just beginning their journey with books.  A quick glimpse offers beautifully illustrated books on the Titanic, Saving Baby Animals, Race Day, and Dinosaurs to name a few.  Every grade level can find something fun.  Adult books are also hugely varied… Expeditions, Gypsies, Space, Medicinal Herbs, Tales of the Weird, Travel Gems

We have 35 dvd’s 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 they have covered.

geoWe subscribe to four different magazines published by the Society:  National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler.


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Happy Birthday to the Movies!

movies  by Janet, Adult Services

The Cinema has come along way since 1895. Today you can sit at home watching movies that you borrowed from the library, got from a red box or downloaded through the internet. The very first cinema began on this day 119 years ago. Two brothers, Louis and Auguste Lumiere, projected short films to paying customers at the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris, France. This history-making presentation featured ten short films projected with a hand cranked projector with each film running approximately 50 seconds. Find the newest videos in our collection to take home to your own personal home cinema viewing for free.

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Remembering Pearl Harbor

pearl harborby Linda, Adult Services Librarian

Pearl Harbor Day, anniversary, December 7, 1941 “A day that will live in infamy,” said President Roosevelt after the sudden catastrophic bombing in Hawaii by Japanese aircraft. The raid which lasted little more than an hour, left nearly 3,000 dead and since most the entire U.S. Fleet was anchored there, few ships escaped damage and 200 aircraft were destroyed. The attack brought an immediate Declaration of War which was announced on December 8.

Manhattan Public Library has a multitude of books for adults and children on the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Two dvds, “Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack” and the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” will give viewers a good idea of the devastation.

Remember Pearl Harbor, The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Why Did the Whole World Go to War? will help youngsters who are curious about the times.

FDRSome of the most popular for adult reading are Reflections of Pearl Harbor: an Oral History of December 7;   At Dawn We Slept;   Day of Deceit: the Truth About FDR The Way It Was: Pearl Harbor– the Original Photographs   and Eyewitness Pacific Theater: Firsthand Accounts of the War in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Atomic Bombs.


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The Real History of the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
The story of the first Thanksgiving is rooted in history but the mythology surrounding it has grown over the centuries till it barely resembles actual events. As is nearly always the case with history, the truth turns out to be far more complicated and vastly more interesting than the myth. If you’re interested in learning more about the real story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and about our country’s complicated, fascinating history, try one of these books from Manhattan Public Library.

mayflowr“Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick details the history of the Pilgrims as Separatists in England and as religious refugees in Holland, and then follows their voyage on the Mayflower, chronicling the early years of Plymouth Colony and examining relations between European settlers and Native Americans. Philbrick adds depth to what we know of familiar historical figures like William Bradford, Chief Massasoit, Squanto, Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, and Edward Winslow, and reveals unexpected and surprising historical details.

“Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World” by Nick Bunker is another richly-detailed historic overview. The author, an Englishman, writes about the Mayflower Pilgrims as Englishmen themselves and places them in the context of the political world in which they lived. It’s an exhaustively detailed recounting of the first years of settlement which “scoops up every relevant character and links all to the basic tale of indomitable courage, religious faith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics.” (Publisher’s Weekly). (more…)

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