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Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Poetry can illuminate the path through our daily lives, revealing beauty in the mundane tasks and objects that we often overlook. As poet Naomi Shihab Nye observed, “Poetry helps us to see something worth seeing everywhere, whether inside or outside of us.” Emotions triggered by everyday items — the memory of a lost mother, or the anxiety that comes with hope — often go unseen but are given voice through poems that span continents and generations. As Kansans, most of us can appreciate memories connected in limestone postrock, birdhouses, soap dishes, soup bowls and sunset light. With words and music, this presentation will uplift our daily experiences by exploring what poet Pablo Neruda called “odes to ordinary things.”
This Saturday at 1 p.m., Kansas Poet Laureate Kevin Rabas will be at the Pleasanton Library to entertain and delight us with some of his own poetry, as well as a few from others who have inspired him. The author of seven books of poetry, Rabas also inspires students as the co-director of the Creative Writing Program at Emporia State University. Please join us to hear him and lose yourself in the words. The program is made possible through a grant from Humanities Kansas, and is free to the public.

Who owns the library?

A number of young visitors to the library have asked me if I own the library. I smile and tell them, no, I was hired to manage the library. I try to explain to them the owners of the library are the tax-payers of north and south Potosi townships. They are represented by a group of elected local residents who volunteer their time. This brings a blank look to the faces of the inquisitive youth.

It occurred to me that an explanation might benefit the adults in the community as well. So may I introduce my collective “boss” — the members of Pleasanton Lincoln Library’s Board of Trustees. Our esteemed board chair, Kenton Bell, is a long-time member not only of the community, but also of the library board. He has served as chair for many years, with only a brief hiatus of a year before being re-elected. Both he and his wife, Mary Lynn, have been ardent supporters of the library over the years. It is Kenton’s job to lead the board meetings, and he does this with a gentle hand.

Other officers include long-time trustee, Tel-lea Cox, who serves as treasurer, and Kathy Secrest, who serves as secretary. Tel-lea oversees the financial aspects of the library, signs checks and assists with the budget process each year. Kathy attends meetings and takes minutes of each, that are maintained in a notebook for posterity.

They are not the only trustees with great responsibilities, though. Every member helps decide library policy. This document can only be altered by a democratic vote of the members. While the policy has been altered over the years for various reasons, it is the most important document in the library. It ensures protection of the library, its contents, maintenance, and most of all, its purpose.

Other current trustees include Mark Willard, Ron Howard, Florine O’Rourke, and newest member Stephanie Brown. Each of these members has skills that help them determine how the county tax revenues, state and district funding we receive should be spent. They have varied backgrounds in how to run a business, manage funds, and make decisions based on facts. Each is important singly, but even more so as a group. They serve four-year terms, and can be re-elected by vote at the library’s annual meeting in March.
These trustees receive no compensation for their involvement on this board. Yet they benefit by getting the satisfaction of supporting one the community’s most important educational and entertainment resources — a free public library. If you see these volunteers out and about in the community, please thank them for their service, and let them know how much you appreciate having your public library.

Josiah: The Story That Sparked the Civil War

Saturday, May 26 at 11 a.m., this story will come to life in a documentary shown at Mine Creek Battlefield Historic site, sponsored by the Pleasanton Library. This one-time showing will enlighten those who have never heard of this amazing historical figure. Including interviews with leading experts and Henson descendants, Josiah is a 39-minute documentary that traces Josiah Henson’s harrowing journey from slavery in Maryland and Kentucky to freedom in Canada. This short film won’t put a big dent in your weekend, but will have you reflecting on the nature of what can be accomplished with fortitude and perseverance.
This sweeping story immortalizes the man who was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in an epic tale of courage and bravery in the face of unimaginable trials.

Josiah Henson overcame incredible odds to escape from slavery and improve the lives of hundreds of freedmen throughout his long life. He found international fame — including visits to Windsor Castle and the White House — as the real “Uncle Tom” in the novel that fueled the abolitionist movement and ignited the Civil War. But his story has been mostly lost to history, until now.

A dynamic, driven man with exceptional intelligence and unyielding principles, Henson spent forty-one years in bondage before he was finally able to escape with his wife and four children, carrying the youngest two on his broken shoulders for 600 miles. He eventually settled with his family as a free man across the border in Canada. Once there, Henson agitated for racial equality, raised millions for the abolitionist cause, won a medal at the first World’s Fair in London, and became a beloved preacher. He returned to America and rescued 118 more slaves, including his own brother, and helped purchase land to build what would become one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, a 500-person freedman settlement called Dawn.

The Road to Dawn retraces Henson’s improbable journey from slavery to freedom and restores a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.

This documentary is shown through a grant from The Brock Stewardship. A book by the same title was written by author Jared Brock, and will be available on Amazon after May 15.

We hope you will join us to view this amazing story. Thank you for supporting your local library and historic site!

The power of social media

For some years now, your library has had its own page on Facebook. We promote upcoming events like our monthly jam sessions, author visits and storytime. During the school year, photos were posted of my visits to Ms. Davenport’s preschool class. This drew numerous “Likes” from moms, grandmoms and friends. You may have missed those photos this past year when I took a hiatus from those visits. I was so wrapped up in research for the Carnegie libraries project for Friends of Kansas Libraries that I wasn’t able to prepare a monthly book, craft and snack for the children. I’ve missed those visits, and hope I can begin them again during the 2018-2019 school year.

In lieu of the photos of preschoolers, you would have seen photos of our new library cardholders, holiday decorations and book displays on Facebook. We also receive messages from visitors asking if we have certain books, and if we are open during bad weather. More recently, we’ve added occasional photos of new books that are ready for checkout.

We also have a web site hosted by our district library in Iola. These Linn County News library columns are archived there. You can find the names of our library trustees, dates of their board meetings, library hours, and even see links to many other web sites you may find useful.

If there is other information you would like to see on either of these sites, please let us know. While we don’t mail a monthly newsletter, that’s not beyond the realm of possibility. The main reason we haven’t provided post office boxholders with a newsletter is the expense.

Social media is not your thing? You are always welcome to visit us in person. We love to locate hard-to-find books and movies for our visitors, and cardholders can access them through our affiliated libraries if we don’t carry them. It’s a librarian’s second nature to research information, so don’t hesitate to contact us with reference questions. Not everything is on the internet, but if it’s out there we may be able to locate it for you. If you are a Kansas resident, we can also provide you with a state library card. That would allow you to access e-books and a plethora of information stored on the site. Registration only takes a few minutes, and the time is so worthwhile.

Thanks for supporting your local library!

Libraries need Friends … it’s that simple

For the past six years, I’ve been privileged to serve as a board member of the Friends of Kansas Libraries. I was introduced to the organization at a program held in Savonburg by two library directors in Southeast Kansas. They had both been long-time members of the board, and noting my interest, they invited me to attend a board meeting in Lawrence. I was impressed with what the organization did to help Kansas libraries, and so I joined the board and have been a member since that time.

Established in 1982, Friends of Kansas Libraries (FoKL) is a tax-deductible, non-profit organization governed by a board of officers and trustees from all regions of Kansas. Membership includes individuals, libraries, Friends organizations, and businesses who are interested in promoting and supporting libraries in their communities and state-wide.

The FoKL mission statement is: To encourage and support new and existing local Friends groups, to facilitate the exchange of useful information among organizations of Friends, and to advocate for excellent library services.

The FoKL Board Officers and Trustees: assist with the development of new and existing Friends organizations; provide start-up grants to new Friends groups needing assistance; provide grants to Friends groups for library programs and support of group projects ? provide a booth at the annual Kansas Library Association (KLA) Conference; provide opportunities to learn and grow through workshops at the annual Kansas Library conference and other forums; publish a newsletter, FoKL Point, at least three times a year; and are effective library advocates for improving library funding

During the time I’ve served on the FoKL Board, I’ve met some fascinating people who energetically support libraries. Not those who believe libraries are no longer needed because you can find everything on the internet. But those who believe libraries remain viable by providing services people can find in few other places these days. When attending board meetings, I’ve visited numerous libraries around the state, on my own time and expense. These libraries are as large as those in Topeka-Shawnee, Manhattan, and Lawrence, and as small as the ones in Norton, Belleville and Savonburg.

Board members have met in the State Library of Kansas, visited with the governor, and attended Legislative Day at the Kansas State Capitol to greet legislators and share our message. We contract authors to speak during our luncheons during the annual KLA Conference, usually held in Wichita or Topeka, and present our grants and awards to some amazing library supporters for their efforts.

Anyone who is interested in supporting libraries in Kansas is welcome to become a member of this organization. For more information, you may go to the web site: HYPERLINK “”

Upcoming programs bring entertainment and education

The Pleasanton Lincoln Library staff have worked hard over the years to bring interesting events to the community. Visits from an astrophysicist to marionettes, farm animals to a juggler, we try to blend entertainment with education. This past Saturday was no exception. Adrian Zink’s visit to talk about his new book was fascinating as well as fun, and the audience enjoyed every minute. We were approached by Zink and asked if we’d like him to come to the library. The book had its roots in this area, since its genesis occurred when he worked at Mine Creek Civil War Battlefield Historic Site. During his downtime (after his daily duties or on a rainy day), he spent time researching Kansas history. He worked hard to become knowledgeable about this area, and other parts of Kansas.

The result of his research is his new book, “Hidden History of Kansas.” The first edition has been so well-received that a second edition is in the works. He told the audience that a quick deadline caused him to leave out many of the stories he uncovered, and there might be enough material to produce volume two. But, he already has another book idea he’d like to pursue, so we’ll watch how that takes shape. He shared that idea with the audience and they loved it! Those who attended purchased his book, and they could fill out order forms for additional copies. You may contact the library for more information in case you were unable to attend.

We have two more adult programs coming up that you’ll want to put on your calendar. The library is sponsoring a special showing of a documentary about the former slave Josiah Henson. Escaping after 40 years of slavery, Henson helped other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. He even founded a town named Dawn for freed slaves in Canada. This event will be held at the Mine Creek Battlefield Historic Site, sponsored by Pleasanton Library. The documentary is only 39 minutes long and begins at 11 am on Sat., May 26. More information will be forthcoming over the next few weeks.

The following weekend, we’ll be back at Pleasanton Library to welcome Kevin Rabas, the 2017-2019 Kansas Poet Laureate. His presentation takes place Sat., June 2 at 1 pm. Sponsored through a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council, Rabas’ program will feature readings of his poetry as well as recitations of other fascinating poets. The presentation is entertaining and educational and even includes some drumming. Stay tuned for more information about this program.

Sat., June 9, the library will participate in Prairie Day at Mine Creek Battlefield in conjunction with our children’s Summer Reading Program, “Libraries Rock!” We’ll have more information about that soon, so watch our library website (, Facebook page (Pleasanton Lincoln Library) and this Linn County News column.

If you have ideas for future programs, please share them with us. We’ll do our best to provide the community with continued entertaining and educational things to do.

History comes to Pleasanton Library

Celebrate spring with a book talk and signing presented by historian Adrian Zink about his new book “Hidden History of Kansas.” The event will take place Saturday, April 14 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the Pleasanton Lincoln Library.

“Hidden History of Kansas,” published by Arcadia Publishing/The History Press in November 2017, digs deep into the Sunflower State’s history to reveal hidden and overlooked stories of fascinating firsts, humorous coincidences, and intriguing characters.

Adrian Zink is a native of Larned, Kansas. After earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Kansas, he has worked as a historian for over fifteen years at museums, universities, archives and historic sites. Zink previously worked as the administrator of Mine Creek Civil War Battlefield here in Pleasanton. He currently works at the National Archives – Kansas City, and lives in Overland Park, Kansas.

Music on Main!

Several years ago I attended the Kansas Library Association’s annual conference in Kansas City. In addition to keynote speakers, the conference committee schedules numerous sessions to inform and inspire us. That year one the last sessions they held was about a way to bring music into your library. The Olathe Public Library sponsored the session and a couple of musicians entertained us with songs. The music as interspersed with the story of how the library’s jam session came to be. Musicians meet on a monthly basis in the library, and a mix of musicians take turns playing a song of their choosing.

Olathe Public Library is a much bigger library than ours, with a larger budget. I was enamored of the idea but concerned about the cost since they pay the musicians a small fee for performing. My other concern was finding enough musicians to make this work in our library. The next year when the conference was held in Wichita, the youth librarian from Atchison presented a similar program on a smaller scale. A musician herself, she performed in nearby St. Joe, and had many musician friends. She invited them to join her at the library to play, and soon the group grew. They enjoyed playing so much, that after playing from 6 to 8 p.m., they would take their instruments to a nearby cafe and play there until it closed for the night.

After absorbing her enthusiasm for her library’s success, I began thinking this might work here. It was to my delight that I came across Morgan Brown at the bank one day. We chatted for a while about my idea, and he shared the history of the jam sessions held in our very building. He told me he and his friends played in the former Brown’s Feed and Farm supply building we now inhabit. I asked if he thought they might enjoy getting together again and he told me he would round up some of his former musician friends and we could give it a try. Morgan told me when they had previously met and we set our date for the same night of the month and time. Music on Main! Jam Sessions were born.

At an early gathering, I discovered Mound City Library had been holding a jam session on the same night. I asked if those attending our jam sessions if they felt we should change dates, so as not to conflict. At that time, they wanted to keep to the routine. That was over a year ago, and our jam sessions have been a big success. Many of the musicians he knows participate in the sessions. Most have been playing for years, and know each other well. Others drop in and play with the regulars, watching carefully for chord changes and choosing a song they enjoy playing when their turn comes around. During the winter months, Mound City Library doesn’t hold their sessions, so the circle grows at ours. Age is no obstacles, as we have musicians of all ages join us. We’ve enjoyed the variety of musicians and songs they play, and appreciate all those who take the time to visit.

Several weeks ago the musicians decided to change the date of the jam sessions, to accommodate more venues. Now, our sessions will be held the first Thursday night of each month, while LaCygne Library’s will be held on the second, and Mound City Library’s on the third. Since distance is not a barrier to musicians who love to play together, we hope all three libraries will benefit from having music within their walls. As for us, we will continue to hold the sessions as long as the musicians want to play. Perhaps you can join us sometime. “Let the circle be unbroken.”

Is it Spring yet?

After last week’s cold temperatures and icy roads, we’re probably all ready for spring. Unfortunately, that’s not what Punxsutawney Phil said would happen on Groundhog’s Day. But if we only have another couple of weeks to worry about, there’s at least some light at the end of the tunnel.

It was a little windy Sunday afternoon, but with the sun shining, a walk around West Lake was just the ticket. There was only one fisherman out, but a couple and a whole crew of happy children running along the path burning off some energy and shouting excitedly.

We try to keep the library open during all kinds of weather, but last week was an exception. The safety of not only our employees, but visitors as well, entered into the decision to be closed most of the week. For those who don’t have internet at home and couldn’t see the posts on the four different Facebook pages, our apologies. One of our employees made a trip to the library on Tuesday morning to post a sign on the door, but those who dared to venture out on the icy streets and sidewalks were likely disappointed when they arrived. We understand a lot of folks crowded the library’s parking areas to access the free WiFi.

Some of our visitors planned to stay home during the bad weather that was forecast, and stocked up on books and movies to entertain themselves. Books can be checked out for two weeks, and movies for one week. We were open Saturday until 1:30 pm, so those who planned ahead were covered. Monday was President’s Day, our “we will be closed” sign was posted well in advance. But being closed an extra three days put some folks in a tizzy.

Typically if school is closed during bad weather, the library will be closed. There will be a sign on our front door stating this until nicer weather arrives. We hope this will help visitors plan in advance. In case we are closed in the future and you need copies made, you can visit Linn County News if they are open. Both banks are able to send faxes, though there may be a charge for non-account holders.

They say you never miss something until you lose it, and I’m sure many realized that about the library last week. We’ll do our best to remain open, and to provide you with the best service we can.

Board of Trustees Meeting

The next meeting of Pleasanton Lincoln Library Trustees will be Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 5:15 p.m. The library is located at 752 Main St.

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