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by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

Literary Rabbit Holes

Literary Rabbit Holes

By Jared Richards, Adult Services Librarian

In 1865, Lewis Carroll sent Alice down a rabbit hole. Fast forward 150 years and the rabbit hole, although rarely literal anymore, remains a popular literary trope. Whether protagonists find themselves in an alternate reality, a parallel world, or on the other side of the universe, the rabbit hole, in all its various forms, can get the job done. Books in general already provide us a rabbit hole into new and exciting worlds that we can get lost in, but sometimes it is nice to follow a character and discover a new world through their eyes. You may consider some of these books a stretch, but fiction is pretty flexible, so I think we’ll be okay.

There are countless retellings, adaptations, and stories set in the world of Wonderland, but I would like to focus on other stories. Classic stories in the same vein include Peter Pan, in which the children fly off to Neverland, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which involves a tornado and an entire house. Some stories even let you know in the title how the characters will reach their destination, like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe or James and the Giant Peach. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is the first in a novella trilogy that posits the idea that some of these classic stories were actually based on real events, like the children finding secret doorways into fantastical worlds. They have now returned and live in a home with similar children after they or their parents found their return too difficult.

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter both involve parallel worlds. In A Darker Shade of Magic, magic is used to traverse among four very distinct versions of London. In The Long Earth, parallel versions of Earth can be traveled to by creating a simple device, called a Stepper, which is powered by a potato. These parallel worlds are devoid of humans and become more and more chaotic the farther you get from our Earth.

In Coraline by Neil Gaiman, our protagonist, Coraline, discovers a small door that should lead into the vacant apartment next door but instead leads to a nonsensical version of her world. Here she finds her Other Mother and Other Father who have buttons for eyes and may not have Coraline’s best interests in mind.

Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji, and its sequel Zathura, utilize a board game for their rabbit hole. In each book there are slight variations in how the games work, but the idea is the same, where the moves in the game are manifested around the children playing. Rather than falling down a hole or stepping through a doorway, the world is brought to them with a roll of the dice or the push of a button.

Many novels over the years have used technology to create a rabbit hole to a virtual world. Ernest Cline did this effectively with his novel Ready Player One, in which people can connect to a virtual world called the OASIS and go to school or become legendary heroes. One of the best parts about this book is all the ‘80s references.

The best way to fall down a rabbit hole at the Manhattan Public Library is to come in, wander through our shelves, and engage in a little serendipitous browsing. Stumble across new books and discover your next favorite author. Another good rabbit hole is NoveList Plus, one of our online resources that you can access from home. It lets you browse books by age group within certain genres, like diverse speculative fiction books for teens or historical fiction books about immigrant experiences for adults. You can also search by appeal factors, like the types of characters, pace, or tone you like in a story. They even have a growing list of suggestions for fans of various movies, books, and TV shows, like Gilmore Girls, The Girl on the Train, Doctor Who, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Lastly, you can search for your favorite author or book and get a list of similar authors or books with a reason for why they are comparable. It is easy to fall down a rabbit hole looking for your next book, but at least you don’t have to worry about losing your head or being trampled in a stampede.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Books to Help You Capture Beautiful Moments on Camera

by Vivienne Uccello

photo of the book cover for "Expressive Photography"Photography is so important in modern society, that there are thousands of books on the subject. While we can all admit that it’s not necessarily the camera that takes a good picture, you may be tempted to invest in expensive equipment as the first step to improve your photographs. However, you would be wise to invest time and effort in mastering photography technique before making that purchase. These are a few books which I’ve found useful and inspiring, and have helped me become a better photographer.

Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart is full of gorgeous images with explanations of their elements. Learn about composition, find basic techniques for capturing beautiful shots, and enjoy a wealth of photo examples. One great point the authors offer is to “imagine what the world might look like through the eyes of your subject.” For instance you might lie down in the grass to capture a photo of your puppy and create a story instead of a routine snapshot. After flipping through these pages, you will start noticing new things. One day, you will see the quality of light coming through the window and usher your children outside to capture a few special moments. It will feel wonderful and you will be rewarded with incredible images.

The authors also provide ideas to overcome common problems. For example, if you are trying to capture a picture but the background is unattractive, try shooting from below the subject and using the sky as a backdrop instead. Also, one trick to making your photos more interesting is to move in extra close and capture small details the casual observer might have missed.

The information in Expressive Photography would be helpful for any photographer, no matter the level of experience. One of the main things I liked about this book: the photos take up more space than the text so you don’t have to wade through too much information to find useful points.

Another fantastic book, with more photos than text, is Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson. This is billed as “the modern photographer’s guide to finding beauty in everyday life.” After reading it I felt the urge to slow down and take a second look at the simple objects around me. One photo featured an abandoned bowl of noodles, to illustrate the chaotic fun of a youngster eating pasta. It’s an object which I would never have thought to photograph, but the photo carried emotion and told a funny story.

While the book has advice for beginners, such as, “turn off the lights, disable the flash, and pose your subject by a window,” I believe the practical and artistic advice would be useful even for a seasoned professional. Be intentional in your approach, she says, and challenge your vision for the shot. Why not try photographing the edges of life? How about obscuring critical elements of the photo to create tension? Wilkerson also provides creativity exercises to develop your sense of composition. The section of black and white photography is very helpful and serves to scratch the surface of this complicated form.

If you would like to delve a little deeper into black and white photography, a new book by Harold Davis, The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook, will give you the tools you need. This text is geared toward the serious amateur who wants to take their work to the next level.

Without the “distraction” of color, principles of composition become even more important. Davis talks about “making the best use of internal and external boundaries, acknowledging and working with the underlying shape in the image; and constructing and depicting exciting and dynamic forms.” These are classic design principles and will help you transition from taking snapshots to creating art, no matter what type of photography interests you.

The next part of the process is working with software to alter the original image. Davis will step you through Photoshop to learn split-toning, selective and soft focus, and tinting a photograph, but actually learning Photoshop might take a little more than the advice he presents in his book.

Photoshop can be a daunting program. As the industry standard for photo editing, it’s what all of the pro’s use. It enables you to do everything from refining your photos to putting a gorilla head on your best friend’s body. It contains all of the tools you need to make almost any visual creation, but it takes some time to learn.

If you are new to Photoshop and would like to jump into the deep end, the library now has a Creation Station in the Tech Center computer lab. This station is equipped with the entire Adobe Creative Suite and has dual, high-quality monitors. You can watch tutorials from lynda.com on one screen and follow along with the practice files on the second. This is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, or any of the other fabulous programs offered by Adobe. It’s also a wonderful tool for professionals working on a project. The Creation Station, as well as the lynda.com tutorials, are available for use at no charge.

Visit the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue to check out any of the books mentioned above or to begin experimenting with the Creation Station.

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

CAPTURING BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS

CAPTURING BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS

By Vivienne Uccello

Photography is so important in modern society, that there are thousands of books on the subject. We can all admit that it’s not necessarily the camera that takes a good picture. You may be tempted to invest in expensive equipment, but you would be wise to invest time and effort in technique first. These are a few books which I’ve found useful and inspiring.

Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart is full of gorgeous images with explanations of their elements. Learn about composition, find basic techniques for capturing beautiful shots, and enjoy a wealth of photo examples. After flipping through these pages, you will start noticing new things. One day, you will see the quality of light coming through the window and usher your children outside to capture a few special moments. It will feel wonderful and you will be rewarded with incredible images.

One great point the authors offer is to “imagine what the world might look like through the eyes of your subject.” For instance you might lie down in the grass to capture a photo of your puppy and create a story instead of a routine snapshot.

The authors also provide ideas to overcome common problems. If a background is unattractive, shoot from below the subject and use the sky as a backdrop. To make your photos more interesting, don’t forget to move in extra close to capture small details the casual observer might have missed.

The information in Expressive Photography would be helpful for any photographer, no matter the level of experience. One of the main things I liked about this book: the photos take up more space than the text so you don’t have to wade through too much information to find useful points.

Another fantastic book, with more photos than text, is Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson. This is billed as “the modern photographer’s guide to finding beauty in everyday life.” After reading it I felt the urge to slow down and take a second look at the simple objects around me. One photo featured an abandoned bowl of noodles, to illustrate the chaotic fun of a youngster eating pasta. It’s an object which I would never have thought to photograph, but the photo carried emotion and told a funny story.

While the book has advice for beginners, such as, “turn off the lights, disable the flash, and pose your subject by a window,” I believe the practical and artistic advice would be useful even for a seasoned professional. Be intentional in your approach, she says, and challenge your vision for the shot. Why not try photographing the edges of life? How about obscuring critical elements of the photo to create tension? Wilkerson also provides creativity exercises to develop your sense of composition. The section of black and white photography is very helpful and serves to scratch the surface of this complicated form.

If you would like to delve a little deeper into black and white photography, a new book by Harold Davis, The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook, will give you the tools you need. This text is geared toward the serious amateur who wants to take their work to the next level.

Without the “distraction” of color, principles of composition become even more important. Davis talks about “making the best use of internal and external boundaries, acknowledging and working with the underlying shape in the image; and constructing and depicting exciting and dynamic forms.” These are classic design principles and will help you transition from taking snapshots to creating art, no matter what type of photography interests you.

The next part of the process is working with software to alter the original image. Davis will step you through Photoshop to learn split-toning, selective and soft focus, and tinting a photograph, but actually learning Photoshop might take a little more than the advice he presents in his book.

Photoshop can be a daunting program. As the industry standard for photo editing, it’s what all of the pro’s use. It enables you to do everything from refining your photos to putting a gorilla head on your best friend’s body. It contains all of the tools you need to make almost any visual creation, but it takes some time to learn.

If you are new to Photoshop and would like to jump into the deep end, the library now has a Creation Station in the Tech Center computer lab. This station is equipped with the entire Adobe Creative Suite and has dual, high-quality monitors. You can watch tutorials from lynda.com on one screen and follow along with the practice files on the second. This is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, or any of the other fabulous programs offered by Adobe. It’s also a wonderful tool for professionals working on a project. The Creation Station, as well as the lynda.com tutorials, are available for use at no charge.

Visit the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue to check out any of the books mentioned above or to begin experimenting with the Creation Station.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Sensory Storytime

In addition to the nine storytime sessions held at the Manhattan Public Library each week, a Sensory Storytime has been developed to benefit those children who are less comfortable in larger groups. Sensory Storytimes are limited to 12 participants creating a calmer atmosphere for children ages 10 and under who are on the autism spectrum or are sensitive to sensory overload.

Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager, describes the Sensory Storytime as an option for children to engage in reading activities where librarians will use preschool-level books, appropriate songs and movements.

Both evening and morning sessions are available. Please register by using the links below or by contacting the library at (785) 776-4741 ext. 400.

Tuesday, October 3 at 6:30 PM

Wednesday, October 4 at 10:00 AM

Tuesday, October 10 at 6:30 PM

Wednesday, October 11 at 10:00 AM

Additional sessions will be offered in the spring of 2018.

photo of a child's hand holding a flower

by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

2017 Kansas Book Festival and Kansas Notable Books

2017 Kansas Book Festival and Kansas Notable Books

By Diedre Lemon, Adult Services Librarian

This past weekend, the State Library of Kansas hosted its annual book festival at the capitol building in Topeka, Kansas. Authors around the area and those authors who have books about Kansas were invited to read and discuss their work. Also, it is during this event that the Kansas Notable Books are honored. Kansas Notable Book Awards go to authors who are from Kansas or whose books were about Kansas. Over a dozen titles were honored this year.

While at the festival, I heard several of these authors read and discuss their books. One that is on my to-read list is Dodge City by Tom Clavin. Clavin tells the story of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson as young men learning to be lawmen in the west. The book rounds out their friendship by telling about their arrival in Dodge City and their return to the town years later. What appeals to me about this book is not just Earp’s and Masterson’s stories, but also the fascinating characters and adventures they encounter along the way in Dodge City. Clavin painted a vivid picture of all that was happening in western Kansas in the mid-1870s.

Julianne Couch examines small towns in Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas in her book The Small-Town Midwest. Norton and Sedan, Kansas fill two chapters in her book. What drew her to write about these towns? Hope and resiliency are the characteristics each of these small towns possesses. Couch herself lives in a small town where she appreciates people who want to keep small towns alive and resist the pull to urban life. Couch explores–with genuine curiosity– how these small towns keep thriving and are going to survive once the older generations pass on or retire. She raises questions about the towns’ futures and reflects on their solutions.

Never Enough Flamingos, by Janelle Diller, tells the fictional story of the Peters family during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in Kansas. Cat Peters’ family must accept a loan from a wealthy man, Simon Yoder. Cat must work at Yoder’s house to help pay off the loan where she discovers he is more sinister than she expected because Yoder wants to steal the souls of young women. Diller has also written a sequel entitled Never Enough Sisters.

Two poetry collections made the Kansas Notable Book list: Fast-Food Sonnets: Poems by Dennis Etzel Jr. and Ghost Sign: Poems from White Buffalo by Al Ortolani, Melissa Fite Johnson, Adam Jameson, and J.T. Knoll. Etzel’s collection sparked my interest at the festival. Hearing the author read poems about the fast-food industry brought to life mundane work tasks and revealed that one can truly write about anything. His sonnets were humorous and relatable even if you have not worked in food service. Etzel’s poems are in the sonnet form while experimenting with subjects in fast-food; consequently, the second collection of poems—which was written by four poets—keeps with tradition in subject. Conversely, Ghost Sign reflects on southeast Kansas, Pittsburg, Kansas. This collection would appeal to those who like history about Kansas.

The Kansas Book Festival, a free event, also offered activities for children. An area on the front lawn of the state capitol building had crafts, balloon animals and face painting for children. Famous storybook characters, like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George, attend this event, too. Children’s authors showcased their work at the festival for children, parents and educators. Andrea Davis Pinkney kept children entertained with her books and stories.

Book vendors and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library had booths for visitors to shop during the day. A food truck provided snacks and lunch for spending the day at the event too. Author signings took place after the authors spoke to audiences. Save the date for next year’s festival: Saturday, September 8, 2018. Of course, you do not have to wait until next year to read the Kansas Notable Books, as you can come check them out at Manhattan Public Library.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Star Wars Reads Day Press Release

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Manhattan Public Library hosted Star Wars Reads Day! Visit the library on Saturday, October 7 from 10:00 AM to noon for games, trivia, and activities for all ages. Then at noon, gather in the auditorium for a movie screening.

Crafts and activities will include trivia, Jedi training with bubbles, and a cosplay panel discussion. Costumes are encouraged and participants are invited to join the cosplay/costume parade which will take place at 11:15 AM. Door prizes will be awarded to several lucky attendees! You must be present at the time of the drawing to win.

At 12:00 PM, enjoy a movie screening on the auditorium’s recently updated audio visual system courtesy of Capital Federal Savings Bank and Reddi Systems.

Star Wars Reads Day was started in 2012 by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners as a way to highlight the vast number of books written about Star Wars, its characters, and its universe. Last year, there were over 2,000 schools, bookstores, and (of course) libraries that marked the day with read-a-thons, movie showings, and creative activities that feature the beloved sci-fi series and its characters.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Welcome to Flipster Digital Magazines

Read magazines online or download the Flipster App to enjoy the content offline.

These magazines are available in Flipster:

  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Country Living
  • Discover
  • Food Network
  • HGTV
  • Highlights for Kids
  • New Yorker
  • O, The Oprah Magazine
  • Popular Mechanics
  • Popular Science
  • Prevention
  • Ranger Rick
  • Rolling Stone
  • Seventeen
  • Teen Vogue
  • Woman’s Day

Library staff can assist you if you have questions and the resources below can help you get started.

Video tutorials:

Flipster on Desktop

Flipster for Mobile Devices

Here are some handy guides for getting started:

Getting Started with Flipster

iOS App for iPad and iPhone

Android App

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Welcome to hoopla Digital

Hoopla is a groudbreaking digital media service offered by Manhattan Public Library that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels, and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, phone – and even  your TV. With no waiting, titles can be streamed immediately or downloaded for offline enjoyment later. More than 500,000 titles are available, with more added daily. You will even find same-day releases available to borrow.

How to Use

You can stream titles instantly through your desktop browser or the hoopla mobile app. The mobile app will allow you to download titles to your device for use offline.

Each library cardholder may borrow five titles per month. At the end of the borrowing period, the title will no longer be available. There are never any late fees or charges for this service.

Log In

The first time you visit hoopla, you will be asked to create an account.

  1. Download the App (recommended) or go to hoopladigital.com
  2. Click log in
  3. Click sign in for the first time
  4. Select Manhattan Public Library as your provider
  5. Create an account using your library card number, password, email, and a new password you create
  6. The next time you visit the site, you can log in with your email address and hoopla password, or simply open the App to get started

No holds

All of the 500,000+ titles are available immediately with no waiting and no holds.

No Fines

Anything you check out is returned automatically at the end of the borrowing period.

Kids Mode

To make sure kids don’t have access to adult materials, simply toggle the Kids Mode switch under the settings menu of the App.

Five Per Month

Each library card can access five titles per calendar month. The library is charged per checkout, so the limit ensures that everyone can use the service, not just a few enthusiastic borrowers.

  1. Movies and TV shows: 3 days (note: each TV show episode counts as 1 checkout)
  2. Audiobooks, ebooks, and graphic novels: 3 weeks
  3. Music albums: 1 week

Troubleshooting

BLOCKED CARDS

People with blocked cards will not be able to check out items on hoopla until the block is removed.

ITEMS DISAPPEAR

  1. When the borrowing period is over, items will no longer be accessible on your device. If you have not yet reached the five item limit, you can check out the item again.
  2. All of the downloaded content is available offline using the Hoopla App, but you have to select “download” while connected to the Internet.
    1. To find downloaded content, click on the app and you will be directed to the “my titles” portion. Listen, read, or watch from there even when you’re not connected to the Internet.
    2. Files are not “saved” in the traditional way. The app is the only way to access the downloaded content.
by Mary Wahlmeier Mary Wahlmeier No Comments

K-State Book Network Picks ‘Curious Incident of the Dog’ as winner

K-State Book Network Picks ‘Curious Incident of the Dog’ as winner

by Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Once again K-State Book Network has picked a winner for their annual common book. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is written from the perspective of Christopher Boone, and what a unique perspective it is. Christopher, a British 15-year-old, is very gifted at some things such as math and physics, but he faces many challenges in other areas like human relationships. Animals are much easier for him to understand.

The book begins with Christopher discovering that a neighborhood dog, Wellington, has been killed. As he writes, “I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.” His love of dogs and solving puzzles leads him to investigate the murder, although he is discouraged from doing so. Christopher, however, doesn’t always do what he is asked. His affinity for animals is made clear throughout the book with his determination to find Wellington’s killer and also his love for his constant companion, a rat named Toby. Animals’ thought processes are more understandable than humans’ to Christopher.

His investigation unexpectedly opens up his world, giving him the motivation to talk to his neighbors who know who he is and obviously care for him, but whom he has never found any reason to approach before. The neighbors don’t help him solve the mystery, but they reveal truths and provide him with another source of encouragement. They also provide a glimpse into working-class British life that we don’t always get to see.

Christopher lives with his father, who loves him but isn’t always sure how to best parent him and often gets frustrated. Haddon never names why the boy is in a special education program, but he is clearly challenged in communicating with others and is sometimes overwhelmed with stimuli. His father wants the best for him, but also struggles to keep him safe. He’s been told that his mother died a few years before due to a sudden heart condition and her absence is a huge gap in his life. As the investigation progresses, Christopher keeps uncovering information that he isn’t supposed to know, and his father’s frustration reaches a dangerous and frightening boiling point. Once Christopher’s trust in his father is violated, he seeks out other people to turn to, leading Christopher on the most challenging quest of his life and his father to greater understanding of his son.

The story is told from Christopher’s perspective, which gives us an unreliable narrator, but also an entire book to be completely immersed in the mind of this fascinating character. His behavior is baffling to those around him, but when you see things from his perspective, it becomes clear that he is merely processing the stimuli he’s receiving in the only way he can.

Haddon wraps bildungsroman, adventure, scientific thinking, mystery, and much more into this gripping tale, but really it is just a great story. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a dryly humorous yet bittersweet look into the life of a young man who is trying to figure out how the world works and on whom he can rely. Winner of several awards, including Library Journal Best Books, Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, and New York Times Notable Books, Haddon has created a character who will move you to appreciate those that process life in their own way.

We’ll be discussing the book at the library Thursday, September 7, at noon. You can explore the book further with a series of lectures at K-State. For more detail on the book discussion, go to www.mhklibrary.org. To find out more about the lectures, visit www.k-state.edu/ksbn.

by Vivienne Uccello Vivienne Uccello No Comments

Creation Station Press Release

Manhattan Public Library now offers a Creation Station where people can retouch photographs, edit movies, design logos, and use all of the software programs available from the Adobe Creative Cloud.

The goal, says IT Department Manager Kerry Ingersoll, is “to provide an opportunity for people to learn new skills, work on projects, and explore their creativity using specialized software and equipment.  Some examples are editing a photo or video, creating a logo, or designing a business card.”

In order to provide a professional-level experience, the library has dedicated a quiet computer workstation with two monitors, headphones, and provided access to the Adobe Creative Cloud.  Included in the Adobe Creative Cloud, library patrons will be able to use:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Lightroom
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • After Effects
  • Acrobat Pro
  • Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Audition
  • InCopy
  • Character Animator

Training programs to learn the software are also available at the workstation, by logging on to lynda.com, which is another service provided for free through Manhattan Public Library.

To use the Creation Station, visitors can simply sign in at the service desk in the library’s Technology Center, located on the library’s first floor at 629 Poyntz Avenue. Check in with the desk staff to get a unique username and password.  Each session is four hours in length and this

People who wish to use the equipment should bring an external storage device such as a flash drive or portable hard drive to save their work. No library card is required to access the equipment, but anyone who would like to sign up for a card can do so at no cost by visiting the library’s check out desk or by filling out this online form.

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