Minimum to maximum

mini-books-2

At Pleasanton Lincoln Library, we are delighted when new visitors enter and we have the opportunity to show them around. If they are interested, we go into detail about how we incorporated all the lovely donations of furniture and décor. We tell them how we worked hard to save money gathering building supplies from a wide variety of sources that include Habitat for Humanity ReStores, flea markets, and homes in the process of demolition.

We’re most proud of the recycled wood projects created from Rob and Freddy Miller above our front doors and around the base of the circulation desk. The desk itself is a mash up of pieces from ReStores in Kansas City, as well as a former children’s library desk from the Arkansas City Public Library.

The comfy couches and many of the chairs came from ReStores, and many of the beautiful antiques were donations, or were purchased at the Barn Antiques. Every item in the library has a story, and it gives the space so much personality.

It’s been almost four years since we moved from 904 to 752 Main St. and we still can’t believe our good fortune to find such a large building to house all our books and events. As a matter of fact, we wonder how we ever fit everything into such a small space. Well, we didn’t. There are so many more books and movies in our current library and much more furniture. As our collections grow to match the needs and desires of our customers, we find our space is already limited. But we aren’t planning a giant expansion. We will just continue to utilize the space as best we can, culling materials that aren’t used, and carefully selecting replacements. Visitors love to peruse the sale rack for those items, whether they are library deletions, or donated books and movies.

We feel as though the library has gone from miniature (a one-room space adjoining the former City Hall) to maximum. One can really get a sense of this by visiting the beautifully remodeled National Toy & Miniature Museum in Kansas City. I visited the day before Thanksgiving and spend several hours peering into the tiny world of miniatures that even included little “rooms” of books and book shelves. What a delight of people of all ages, though I believe adults were more interested in how in the world items could be made so small, in such detail.

I spoke with one of the employees about the tools it must take, the patience that must be shown in building these tiny items. She told me many artists use dental equipment to create the pieces, and many of the silver pieces were created by jewelers. This collection must be seen to be believed.

We feel the same way about our library. It is not typical of a library space. Millions of dollars weren’t spent to make it larger, just a lot of planning, patience and perseverance. Please visit the miniatures in Kansas City, and then maximize the experience by visiting your community library. We’d love to show you around, and the tour doesn’t cost a dime.

We gather together

In spite of what you have seen in the stores since before Halloween, the holiday season begins tomorrow with Thanksgiving. It’s a time for family and friends alike to gather together to share food, make memories and let each other know the things for which they are grateful. Even young preschoolers practiced this making construction paper turkeys to post on the wall outside their classroom. Every turkey feather was labeled with things each child mentioned that were glad to have in their lives. It’s a great practice and one we should all participate in, especially this year.

Perhaps I began thinking of this last Thursday evening when musicians in the Music on Main! jam session at the library took turns around the circle sharing their favorite songs. There were bluegrass numbers, a classic rock song, a folk song, a country song or two and several hymns. When I woke up early Sunday morning, I remembered a tune we sang in church every Thanksgiving. Being a typically inquisitive librarian, I decided to do a little research about it.

I discovered it is a Christian hymn of Dutch origin, written by Adrianus Valerius to celebrate a Dutch victory over forces of King Philip II of Spain in a war of national liberation. The phrase “We gather together” was especially meaningful as Dutch Protestants were forbidden to gather for worship. The hymn first appeared in print in 1626 in a collection of Dutch patriotic songs, while the modern English text was written by Theodore Baker in 1894:

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;?
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
?Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
??
“Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,?
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;?
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
?Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!??

“We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,?
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.?
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;?
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

The song continues to be sung in modern churches the day before Thanksgiving. It is a good reminder to thoughtfully consider everything we have to be grateful for in this country, and to pray for healing and stability in the coming days.

Falling back

Last week’s presidential election brought about big changes in this country’s future. There was no doubt about its outcome in Kansas, as the state is heavily Republican. Locally, the time change brought about more immediate results. Now we must wake up and go to sleep in pitch darkness. For those who drive home after a day’s work, there’s an obstacle course of deer crossing the roads. Smaller animals that didn’t make it cause drivers to swerve to miss their decimated bodies. Harvest trucks were flying up and down the roads in a desperate attempt to bring in the crops before the first frost, which also occurred this past week.

What Fall means at the library is that more people are thinking about staying indoors to avoid the cooler temperatures. Summer kept people outdoors in the lengthened daylight, with activities that lasted until near bedtime. Yes, the bright lights of school football fields might mean a few extra hours outdoors this time of year. But for the most part, we’re thinking of big, warm meals in a toasty house. We’re planning for family gathering at Thanksgiving, and what to presents the children might want after watching dozens of commercials that entice.

Those holidays may bring extra guests to your home, and that would mean extra cleaning and cooking. But after all the buzz, we just want to curl up under a blanket and read a good book. This works for movies as well, because just how many Hallmark Christmas movies can one person watch? They began showing them near the end of Summer!

We have been purchasing some great new selections at the library in the past few months and staff members are reading them as quickly as we can to make knowledgeable recommendations. We also have free copies of Book Page for those who want to read synopses on their own. Our new DVDs continue to be displayed on the black shelf near the front door, so check there first when you visit.

We had fun the last few weeks with our evening event, Colorful Nights. Some beautiful coloring pages were created while we chatted and snacked. It was relaxing and we want to continue the opportunity on Saturdays in our Cafe. You can bring your friends and we’ll supply the coloring pages, pencils and snacks. Just drop by between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. To join the fun. Next Spring, we’ll expand the fun to one afternoon per week. Stay tuned for more information.

For those who want to brave the darker evenings, our new event begins this week. Music on Main! Will take place on Thursday evening, from 6 to 8 p.m. This open jam session welcomes acoustic musicians to drop by and play. They won’t have all the fun, as the event is open to those who just want to listen. We plan to hold this event on a monthly basis on the third Thursday night. Come out and support these local musicians as we revive these jam sessions where they began – in Brown’s Farm Supply store!

Everyone be safe as you wander the woods during deer season, and travel the roads in the dark. We hope to see you in the library soon.

Have you got the music in you?

val-ventro-smallWhether you’re a seasoned musician who likes to jam with other musicians, someone who just knows a few chords, or you enjoy listening, we’d like you to join us at the library Thursday, Nov. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. For Music on Main!

Last Fall, I attended a great breakout session at the Kansas Library Association conference in Kansas City. Folks with the Olathe Public Library shared information about a program they held on a regular basis. They invite local musicians to play in the evenings at the library. They have regular musicians who help guide the event, while others visit when they can. I loved the idea, but wondered if we had enough local musicians to pull this together.

This past summer, we invited local guitarist Val Ventro to perform for the Summer Reading Program. We talked about having him return in the evening for adults who love music. He said he’d like to have a place for his students to perform as well. While recitals can be threatening, we hope to provide a more casual environment. He said he often gathers with musician friends to jam. This set our minds in action.

This year’s KLA conference in Wichita had another musical breakout session. The Atchison Public Library redecorated an area in their space to create Cafe Boheme, where local musicians could play their instruments. It began with just two or three people, but has grown to 25 each week. While Atchison’s population of 10,000 is much larger than Pleasanton, some of their musicians drive in from St. Joe to participate.

Then last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Tim Pitts, Alex Pederson and Morgan Brown. Tim plays guitar and has friends visit his home to jam. Alex owns G-Sharp Guitars and is interested in helping us obtain some equipment for our events. Morgan, former owner of Brown’s Feed Store where the library now resides, used to hold jam sessions in the building. He had local musicians join him, as well as others who visited from other towns and even states! Since he held his sessions on the third Thursday of every month, we thought we’d try that as well.

So if you would like to participate as a musician or just a music lover, please join us. We may start off slowly, but hope to get the word out and become the gathering place for those with talent and those who want to learn to play. While we’ll start with those who have their own instruments, we hope to add small amplifiers and a mic or two to the mix. Show your support for this adventure and join us in the Pop-up Cafe at the library!

Dedication and desire

atlantis

No, it’s not the name of a new romance novel. It’s about two separate events I celebrated over the last two weeks. How could I know they would intersect?

The first was a trip to my hometown of Titusville, Florida. I scheduled my vacation to coordinate with a very special book reading by a classmate. “Where’s the Moon? A Memoir of the Space Coast & the Florida Dream,” by Ann McCutchan, was launched Sat., Oct. 15. Many of the author’s classmates contributed to the book, and we had anxiously awaited its arrival. About 50 of us gathered on the lawn of the town’s historic Pritchard House, just a block from the Indian River. From the river, you can view the Vehicle Assemby Building (VAB) where missiles are constructed. When completed they are transported to their launch pad to await the countdown to the stars and beyond.

What a fitting place to hold this book launch! The memoir was told from a young girl’s perspective on her youth growing up in the shadow of those missiles. It resonates with everyone who lived there during the Space Race. Thousands of people who lived and worked there then were witness to history. Cape Kennedy was off-limits to anyone without a security badge then, but we all knew the sacrifices its employees, and their families, made to get us to the moon.

I was reticent about visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex while in town. I knew memories would come flooding back. My father worked there for 24 years, from 1956 through 1980. He was there when some of the early missiles didn’t make it off the ground, and later when the deaths of astronauts nearly scrubbed the mission to the moon. But, with dedication and desire, we all carried Apollo 11 to make it’s momentous journey. We all took that “giant leap for mankind.” Beyond that, many of those same employees helped build the space station and the shuttle to get the astronauts there and back. At the visitors’ center, the “unveiling” of Atlantis, one of those space stations, released a flood of emotion as I spoke with a young photographer who offered to take my picture near the ship.

The second event was not as historic, but just as personal. The Kansas Library Association (KLA) held their annual conference in Wichita last week. Kansas is known for its close connection to the history of aviation, and is just as proud of the part it played in space history. KLA celebrated those who champion libraries. This year’s conference theme “Champions by Design,” suggests our collective group is dedicated to the availability of information for the public. Like those space workers at the Cape, our goal is to provide the best service for the least amount of money that we can. Though we don’t literally get anyone to the moon, the materials we provide can certainly help them imagine the journey!

Art, Auction and Authors on General Pleasonton Day

You won’t want to miss the bright Fall day that’s coming up this Saturday. The summer’s heat is finally turning cooler just in time for Saturday’s events on Main Street. Pleasanton Chamber members have been busy preparing lots of activities for young and old alike. In addition to food booths, there will be an assortment of products for sale. The Pleasanton Garden Group will hold a Farmer’s Market early that morning. Maybe you can pick up a pumpkin to decorate your house.

Some new activities are planned as well. We’ve added some local authors who can tell you about the books they published, offer them for sale and sign them. Christmas is just around the corner, so please stop by to meet them and consider the purchase of a gift for a loved one, or for yourself.

We’ve also been gathering artists of all kinds to display their work. There are some very talented people in this area, and we hope this show will continue to grow each year. Some of the work is for sale, while other pieces are just for show. I believe some of the entries will surprise and delight you!

rons-raffle-quilt

There will also be a bright and lovely quilt to try to win. It was presented to the Pleasanton Library to help raise funds for future books and projects there. We are grateful to Ron and Sharon Howard for this donation. Ron will also have some beautiful paintings on display.

These events will be in the Labette Bank on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please drop by to greet the authors and see the beautiful artwork. We look forward to seeing you there!

Shaking up our world

Last Saturday, our ground shook once again. I was not home in Kansas, but visiting Springfield, Missouri. I understand tremors were felt by some on the west side of town there. As Pawnee, Oklahoma is pretty much due south of Wichita, we might assume the cause is once again fracking. I’m sure research will be done, then an accurate determination can be made.

The town where I grew up, Titusville, Florida, had a recent shakeup as well. A SpaceX explosion occurred September 1, destroying a $200-million dollar satellite. I read the explosion could be heard as far as 30 miles away, so it would have been heard at my old home. For local residents, I’m sure it brought back memories of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion January 28, 1986, that killed seven crew members.

Missile explosions occurred frequently during the early years of the space program. The technology was new, computers filled entire rooms, and technicians were learning on the job. My Dad worked there then, and would occasionally bring home small pieces of metal that washed up on the beach near the launch pad were he worked. Those early attempts contained no humans, so the impact was mostly financial, but discouraged those who worked so hard to meet deadlines and aspirations.

In Pleasanton, we’ve dealt with fires more than earth-shaking events. But they also shook up our lives. The town is finally on the road to recovery, with new businesses in our midst. The Community Center’s completion is near with plans are in place to use it on General Pleasonton Day, Oct. 1. We hope you will join us for an art show and auction located there.

Those who live and work near Main St. are used to the ground shaking, thanks to heavy coal trains that often travel the rails. At Pleasanton Library, we often delay phone calls and meeting activities until we can be heard over those trains. We keep a watchful eye on books and décor that shimmy toward the edge of shelves. We cannot imagine what it would be like for a major earthquake to take place. We’d likely close the library to replace fallen books, or maybe to right the shelves themselves.

At libraries in the Wichita area, the resulting damage from earthquakes can be extensive. The earthquakes in our area tend to be caused by plate shifts occurring much deeper in the earth than those to the west, and are not as high on the Richter scale. But it’s disconcerting to have the ground shake beneath us. It may be some time before the New Madrid Fault creates another “big one,” but for the time being we are in a pretty safe place to live. We offer prayers for the safety of those in more dangerous areas of the world and are thankful for the benefits of living and working right where we are.

Traveling the world — by car

My husband Mike and I celebrated our tenth anniversary with a trip out West. We hoped to see the Grand Canyon, but bad weather threatened. We revisited Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos, enjoying lovely weather.

Mike drove, giving me the chance to travel to places far beyond the roads of Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. I rode a Greyhound bus to New York, flew to St. Louis and drove to Chicago with young Kirby Rose in Emily Giffen’s, “Where We Belong.” I borrowed the interlibrary loan book from Iola Public Library, but you can find the audio version on our shelves.

Next I traveled with Julia Win of New York, in search of her missing Burmese father. I heard stories told by mysterious U Ba, sipping tea and learning to be patient as he talked for hours telling Julia about her father’s former life in Burma. The book “ The Art of Hearing Heartbeats,” by Jan-Phillip Sendker. was a donation to our library, a discard from the Johnson County Library.

Running low on books, I visited New England in the May 2016 Smithsonian magazine article, “Traitors and Haters” by Nathaniel Philbrick. I’d recently read, “The Traitor’s Wife, The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America” by Allison Pataki. Its author relates the story of Peggy Shippen, who seduces Arnold and encourages him to become a turncoat so he can afford her expensive lifestyle. The magazine and the book were purchased from the library’s sale rack.
In an effort to find something else to read, we visited the Santa Fe Public Library to find their Friends of the Library bookstore. No one attended the store, locked with an iron gate. But the helpful library clerk directed us to a nearby book store. I bought a book I’d read, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro for our library. The store owner recommended, “The Remains of the Day,” by the same author. It followed the ordered, slow-paced life of head butler, Mr. Stevens of Darlington Hall in England. I traveled the countryside with him in his wealthy employer’s motor vehicle, as he headed to Cornwall seeking his former housekeeper. I plan to order the movie of the same name for our library.

On our return trip, I began “Stealing the Ambassador” by Sameer Parekh. I fly by international jet with young Indian American Rajiv Kothari as he navigates between America and his parent’s homeland of India. I discovered the book in a booth at an Albuquerque antique store.
If you don’t have time or funds to travel, you can visit the world by reading. Choose from books on our shelves including audio books, great for those who can’t ride and read. Or request books through interlibrary loan at our front desk, or online through SEKnFind. Traveling takes you away from the cares of daily life to experience the diversity of people from other times and places.

Success requires goals

Freddy's workwork

Though I typically don’t watch sports, I have always watched the Olympics. I’m amazed at the effort that these young men and women put forth. But we only see part of their story when we watch them compete. We don’t see how them get up early to drive to their gym and work out day after day. We don’t see them compete in competitions leading up to the Olympics. We don’t know how much time, and money, their parents spend helping them as they attempt to reach the pinnacle of their dreams. We don’t hear a lot about their coaches who encourage them for years.

When I first moved to the midwest it was to help my in-laws run a 15-cabin resort near Branson. We arrived near the end of the season. The town was mainly built around tourism, so it emptied of people for the winter. Then my in-laws moved into the city where my father-in-law taught and coached. My husband got a job and I was left to do chores at the resort. I emptied the pole of over 100 30-gallon containers of leaves. I raked five acres of additional leaves. I painted the steps and balconies of the cabins. This was during the Olympics. I was inspired by the competitors, so I filled my work hours as though I was in training. I had rather boring work to do, but the goal to complete it gave me the drive to do so.

It was like that when we decided to move from our old building to the new library location. We had a goal and a plan. It was a tremendous amount of work to pack the thousands of books and equipment. We had to coordinate the packing while remaining open for all but two weeks. We had to physically move all but the heaviest items, which were moved by a Ft. Scott company. Prior to our actual move, Theresa Miller and a revolving crew of workers raced to complete the renovations at our new location. In the photo above, you can see Theresa’s husband, Freddy, retrofitting paneling from Thelma Parker’s former home.

Beyond the goal-setting and planning, this was all very physical work and required a team effort of numerous employees and volunteer supporters. It was not a four-year effort as it would be for Olympians, but it was a big effort for non-athletes. Yet, we were able to accomplish it because we had a goal. Once we reached that goal, we created more goals. It’s still a physical job to maintain the building and exterior. I’ve written that this takes many people to do this. But the result is a library of which we can be proud. Out ongoing goal is to provide an attractive, clean, friendly environment with fun and educational resources for our visitors. No medals involved, but we welcome appreciation!

Apply online

No, we don’t have any positions open at the library. This column is about the trend to have all your official transactions move to the internet. Almost daily, we are asked to help a patron with a detail of the process to apply for employment, or print from an attachment that disappears when they try to open it. Few of us are computer illiterate these days and yet, our online lives seem to get more complicated all the time. It is explained to us that this is to make our lives easier. But how many still believe this?

Most of us have figured out it’s just the opposite for us. More believe it means we are being subjected to the whims of the government or corporations. Many of the support processes for this trend are shipped overseas. This is not a rant against the system, just a commentary on how much our lives have changed in recent years. Each of these transactions are different, and many are personal. So it’s difficult for librarians to stay informed about every online transaction that must take place. But we do the best we can, or contact technical support at our district library if we must.

We often wish we could afford a full-time computer technician. There are so many upgrades to the system, the software and content of online processes that we struggle to keep up. Like the rest of life, the library world has changed considerably from the time I worked in my hometown public facility. I shelved books, read to children, and stamped due date cards. Now I’m on the computer the majority of the day researching information, tracking transactions, and ordering materials. Clerks at the circulation desk also provide online support in addition to actually conversing with patrons.

The speed with which we can find information online is astounding, and will no doubt increase in years to come. But we’ve already seen the effect our dependence has had on our communication skills. We find it difficult to carry on a conversation with young people who are on their phones more than looking us in the eye and speaking. It’s disconcerting to us who were raised to greet someone we meet or from whom we need to get information. So next time you see us on the street, or in the library, please say, “Hello,” and look us in the eye. We will be reassured you’re a real person and not a robot!

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