Discovering your roots

If you’ve read my columns over time, you may have discovered that I have a great interest in history. Recently, there was information about your library’s early beginnings. Before that information about Kansas Carnegie libraries filled a column. It’s important we know about our history, whether it be personal, or worldwide. It can bring a wider perspective to our thoughts, beliefs and understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

I’ve had a lifelong interest in my background, thanks to grandmothers on both sides of the family. When I would visit they would show me photos of ancestors. I would sit for hours looking through a box of unmarked photos trying to match people by their eyes, noses and ears. Later I discovered I didn’t even have similar features with my own siblings. My fraternal grandmother owned a printed genealogy of her mother’s side of the family. Published in 1937, it was 1270 pages long. It tracked our line all the way back to England. As the only female grand-daughter I hoped she the book left to me, but that was not the case.

When I was young, she had given me a few photos of ancestors and some of their belongings that had been passed down to her. Many years later, the internet spawned www.ancestry.com. I hoped to learn more about the people in those photos, but remembered only a few names from the book. After searching online, I discovered a company in New England had reprinted the genealogy and found it for sale on www.abebooks.com. Now I had more to go on, so I joined Ancestry.com to begin serious research. Eight years have gone by, and I’ve filled two large notebooks with information about various branches of my family tree. I’ve communicated with cousins in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, Australia and Ireland. It’s a consuming hobby, and only followed when I have time.

If you are interested in your family’s background, there are many ways to begin seeking more information. There are many public libraries with genealogy sections filled with books from various states, and countries. Pleasanton Library doesn’t have a collection of these. But we have a wonderful resource in Dunlap Park at the Linn County Historical Museum and Genealogy Library. You can obtain assistance from Ola May Earnest and her volunteers to track local ancestors who lived in the area.

As a Kansas resident, you can also obtain a state library card to access Heritage Quest, which is powered by Ancestry.com. It isn’t as comprehensive as Ancestry.com, but is easy to navigate and doesn’t involve a fee. It may be a way for you to begin a search into your background. Aside from learning about your family’s history, genealogy is a fascinating hobby that gives you a sense of belonging to a wider world. Visit us soon to learn more about the resources available at your fingertips in your library.

How can we better serve you?

Some time ago we researched Pleasanton Lincoln Library’s beginnings through Ola May Earnest at the Linn County Historical Museum and Genealogy Library. She located an old newspaper article about a benefit concert held for the Library Association Feb. 5, 1881. It likely took place on Main Street at the Opera House, which has since been demolished. Another article stated 75 books were donated to the Library Association on Feb. 26, 1881. The Pleasanton Library Association was formally organized in March 1881.

On Feb. 12, 1903 the Lincoln Club Literary Society was formed. Those who supported the library through this organization included some of the most influential women in Pleasanton. Their goal was to increase literacy and they offered a lecture course that began on Oct. 10, 1909. During the early years, many libraries book collections were maintained in the homes of local townspeople. This may also have occurred in Pleasanton.

By Dec. 16, 1913, the library was located on Main Street. It contained reading areas as well as a public restroom and gave young people a place to gather rather than congregating aimlessly on the streets of Pleasanton. The same is true today. We are still located on Main Street, contain reading areas and public restrooms. We give young people a place to gather, and provide a bike rack for those who visit on two wheels.

Of course there are many features in our modern-day library that weren’t present at the turn of the century. They couldn’t have imagined access to an ever-expanding amount of information available at the fingertips of anyone using the internet. While their programs were likely of an informative nature, today’s programs have a wider range. Now they might include cooking classes, music events, children’s performers and more.

We know libraries must change with the times to remain viable. About ten years ago, we surveyed our visitors to learn what they liked about the library and what they would like to see added or changed. We formed a teen advisory board to determine how to revamp a small room in the old library to call their own. Since nearly a decade has passed, we would like to know how we might better serve the community, not just today but into the future. If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas please visit the library, comment on our Facebook page (Pleasanton Lincoln Library), drop us a line in the mail (PO Box 101), or e-mail us at pleaslinlib@ckt.net. Every suggestion will be carefully considered. We care about Pleasanton and want to make your library the best it can be.

Making your pennies count

Pleasanton Lincoln Library has been in its present location for over four years. If you visited our former location at 904 Main St., where RLC now resides, you know it was a tiny space. The building was larger than the space we occupied with books, movies and computers. There was a large garage space in the back for vehicles, supplies, and office space for Atmos Energy. That area was approximately three-fourths of the building, while the library occupied the remaining 1,000 square feet, and we were cramped. When Atmos Energy built a new building near City Hall, our world opened to the cavernous space they left behind. Unfortunately it was not usable, since it was separated by walls and doors. It huge old windows and high ceilings made utility costs exorbitant.

The library board owned the building, and carefully considered the best way to utilize the space. An architect was consulted, and drawings created with a beautiful new space imagined. But the construction bid brought reality to the process. Capital improvement funds were placed in CDs over the years, but weren’t even close to what renovations would cost. The board considered saving more over time, but knew construction costs would continue to climb. Brown’s Feed Supply appeared on the market, and a board member suggested buying it. A lease-purchase option was considered, with a fifteen-year mortgage. Negotiations to buy the building, and sell the old one were underway.

The board obtained the Brown’s property in the fall of 2011. Theresa Miller volunteered to consult the board on turning the large building into a library. The process took months, and the setbacks included termite treatment, several roof repairs and flooding. Salvaged materials were used from demolished Pleasanton houses, supplies from four different Habitat for Humanity Restores, flea markets, and donated furniture and décor. While other library renovations can cost hundreds of thousands, and even millions in bigger cities, ours was $30,000. While the old library was only 1,000 square feet, the new location is 4,800 square feet.

During renovation efforts were made to make the building more efficient, using special paint with insulating properties on exterior walls, the ceiling and floor. Since moving in early spring of 2012, we continue to maintain, and slowly improve your library. The roof has been repaired and sealed to prevent leaks. The few windows we have were replaced with more efficient ones. A sturdy metal door was added at the north entrance. LED lights have replaced the old fluorescent ones. A French drain was added to prevent water infiltration during storms. The gutters have been repaired and sealed. Toilets were upgraded to be ADA-compliant. All this was done while continuing to purchase books and movies, and replacing old computers with new ones that could be upgraded.

Even with these expenditures, an effort was made to be as frugal as possible in our spending of your tax dollars. While the board entered into a 15-year mortgage when this property was purchased, the loan was repaid this spring, saving $3,000 a year in interest. Funds from the sale of our old building, CDs that accrued interest, money saved through efficiency improvements, and maintaining a small staff made it possible. We provide programs every summer for the children in our community, a meeting space for groups and organizations, free tax services, a cafe where visitors can have snacks and beverages while using their laptops and free Wi-Fi. There are several areas with comfortable seating and outdoor areas including picnic tables and benches. Grant money and volunteers allowed us to enhance the building’s entrance with raised bed gardens, and donations of trees have added shade.

This “new” space is one of which the community can be proud, and we invite you to visit and utilize what your tax dollars have provided with the careful guidance of a dedicated library board.

Traveling the back roads of Kansas

For those who follow my column, and noticed there one missing in last week’s paper, I was on vacation. We didn’t go to the mountains or the ocean, but drove 1,300 miles around back roads and along highways in Kansas. The reason was a project for the upcoming Kansas Library Association conference about Carnegie libraries. The goal was to shoot photos of as many that are still in use, whether as libraries or for other purposes.

These magnificent buildings were generously funded by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the 20th century. The enterprising Scotsman emigrated to America in 1848 and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania where he began work as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory. He had access to a private library and became a persistent borrower. He learned quickly and was determined to succeed in life. He worked as a messenger in a telegraph office, then as a private secretary for Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Carnegie later succeeded Scott as superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division.

During the Civil War, Scott was made Assistant Secretary of War and Carnegie became his right-hand man. The war gave impetus to the American iron industry, and after the war Carnegie began his own company. His acquaintances with railroad men profited his company. He made a small fortune on oil and sold railroad securities in Europe. But his goal was to achieve supremacy in the steel industry, and by 1889, production of American steel surpassed that of the British.

His company was never a corporation, but a limited partnership in which stock was held by men who were active working associates. His talent for organization and the canny behavior for which Scotsmen were known, allowed him to make improvements in his plants in depressed times. He had faith prosperity would return.

The steel business was Carnegie’s avocation, but his real interests were in journalism and authorship, and he authored several books and articles. He believed amassing wealth “is one of the worst species of idolatry,” and set out to use his wealth for public purposes. He began doing this in his birthplace in Scotland, where he founded the first Carnegie library in 1881. He gave money for college libraries as well as public libraries, and endowed many corporations who maintain his legacy through modern-day financial support.

U.S. cities of the second class (based on population) could receive grants to build a library almost for the asking. The stipulations were to provide a site for the building, and to annually support the library with a budget at least one-tenth the size of the grant. In all, Carnegie donated money to erect free public libraries in 59 Kansas communities in 46 counties. The greater number of these were built in south central and southeast Kansas.

Due to population growth, a number of these communities found it necessary to build additions to their Carnegie library, or build new, larger libraries. While many of the original Carnegie libraries still stand, twelve have been razed. More than a dozen are used for other purposes such as cultural centers or historical museums.

While on our week-long tour of Kansas, we were able to visit 29 current and former Carnegie libraries. They varied in size from small, house-like structures, to grand majestic buildings of which any community could be proud. Ours was an unusual vacation, but a productive one that illustrated the ingenuity, foresight and generosity of a famous American immigrant.

We’ve been Building a Better World

What a summer it’s been at Pleasanton Lincoln Library! Lia Duckwall and I focused on collaboration and creativity, with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). A Maker Space in the teen area allowed young visitors to spread their creative wings. They delved into totes of craft supplies to put together projects of all kinds. They crafted gifts and generously shared with friends and relatives.

New skills were learned building complex projects like our robot kits. Josh Ralle and Caleb Secrest studied directions with over 90 steps to build two walking, talking robots. We showered their results with praise at their patience and abilities.

At our first program at Mine Creek Battlefield, young visitors learned about the beauty of the natural world. K-State Extension office’s Abbi Powell taught them about wildflowers found in our area, and they planted salsa gardens to take home. Next, City Administrator Erica Kern gave them recycling tips to practice and to share with their family. We went “off campus” again visiting Mid-State Rental Company where Jason Johnson told us about the big equipment that literally builds a better world.

Throughout the summer, K-State Extension’s Carolynn Cochran turned the library’s Cafe into a fun cooking show to teach young chefs to make healthy meals. She also provided a Fun with Food! program for younger children about eating healthy snacks, especially while on vacation.

Pre-K teacher Lea Ann Davenport provided a wonderful program about money to teach the difference between coins. Children were able to “buy” toys and snacks to take home. What great incentive to save! Storyteller Jo Ho shared entertaining stories with attendees of all ages, and let them know laughter is a wonderful way to Build a Better World!

We held a Mini-Maker Day for younger children. They learned to make paracord bracelets from Mike McCulley, build robots and fairy houses from recycled items, and paint rocks. They really embraced the “A” for art in STEAM that day.

Our special Harry Potter Party celebrated Harry’s birthday, and the anniversary of the first book. We were able to share the wonder of literature, celebrate life and just have fun. A large group of attendees decorated wizard hats, had their photos taken to commemorate the event, and shared delicious cake made by Theresa Haas.

For our final event, young fashionistas utilized the Maker Space to repurpose clothing. During our STEAM FUNk fashion show last week at the Labette Bank, they shared those outfits with an enthusiastic audience. Our summer employee, Jazzmine Cayton, utilized her leadership abilities to guide tentative young participants to walk the “runway” thus building their confidence. Our summer volunteer, Abby Sweat, assisted with programs and tasks around the library to build job skills.

We made a special effort to collaborate with the community this summer. We thank those who provided our programs, and those in the community for generous donations of time and money. The kind ladies from the Methodist Church made delicious snacks for many of our events, and said they had fun gatherings to make them. Whistle Redi-Mix, Page Enterprises, Craw-Kan, Labette Bank, Farmer’s State Bank, Conley Sales, Wade Agricultural Products provided products and monetary donations. A big thank you to Linn County News for continuing to allow us to share these columns on a weekly basis to help promote our activities!

Cook now, or forever hold your peas (and carrots)


The tweens have had such a good time this summer with Carolynn Cochran cooking in our cafe kitchen. She makes learning so much fun, because it’s more interactive than just listening. The best part of all for participants, is that they get to eat the results!

So before the summer gets away completely, we’re going to hold one last Tweens Cook! class on August 16 at 11 am. Registration is advised and the age range for this class is 11-14.

A big thank you to Carolynn and the K-State Extension office in Mound City for providing food, supplies and education for the attendees. It’s great they’ve learned to fix healthy snacks and meals, and we hope they’ll enjoy helping in the kitchen. Who knows? They might just be future television Food Stars!

Arts, crafts, fashion and FUN – full STEAM ahead!

We’re almost ready to celebrate the end of our Summer Reading Program with a special event. On Tuesday, August 8 at 1 pm at Labette Bank we’ll gather downstairs to show off what our young maker space visitors have been creating. The Mound City thrift store Good Buys on Main St. has been the source of clothing purchased for embellishment at the library’s maker tables over the summer. The tweens/teens decorated items to display or wear in a fashion show.

The event will include displays of other projects participants created in the maker space over the summer, similar to an art show or science fair. These will include items made of recycled materials saved by staff, or donated by members of the community.

We’ve opened this event to adults and invite them to bring items they’ve created over the summer as well. There are so many talented folks in the area, and we’d love to display their pieces. If you’ve been painting, shooting photos, making a quilt, or working on other DIY projects, please bring them to the bank between noon and 12:30 pm Tuesday, August 8 so we can display them for all to see. For example, I’ve refinished a dictionary stand and a chair that will be used in the library. You can also bring items for display to the library anytime before that date, and we’ll transport them to the location. Let’s make this a wonderful pastiche of creative projects!

One last Tweens Cook! class will be held August 16 at 11 am. Once again, registration is advised and the age range for this class is 11-14. We hope those who have participated in the classes have enjoyed the opportunity to learn to cook light healthy meals from such a fun chef.

We hope you and your children have been participating in the reading portion of our Summer Reading Program. Just a reminder that you have until Tuesday, August 8 to meet the goal you set and turn in your information toward our fun prizes. Thank you for participating!

Celebrating Harry Potter!

Want to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling? Staff at Pleasanton Lincoln library have planned a party on Monday, July 31 at 1 pm. This event is open to everyone, as people of all ages have been influenced by books and movies about Harry and his friends. In addition to the anniversary of the first book, it’s also Harry’s 37th birthday on July 31, so it’s a double celebration.

We encourage you to dress as your favorite character from the book series or similar fantasy or dystopian themed books, (for example, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Lunar Chronicles, The Maze Runner, The Mortal Instruments).

Activities will include Harry Potter themed crafts, a Prisoner of Azkaban WANTED poster photo booth … and just what every birthday party needs … CAKE! So let’s have fun, and “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Following close on the heels of the party is the next Tweens Cook! Class, Wednesday, August 2 at 11 am. The class is held in conjunction with the K-State Extension office and instructed by “Chef” Carolynn Cochran. Registration is advised so enough ingredients are available for a light meal. Class is planned for 11-14 year olds and is limited to ten registrants. Please call the library to register at 913-352-8554.

A week later we’ll hold our official end-of-summer event on Tuesday, August 8 at 1 pm at Labette Bank. The Mound City thrift store Good Buys on Main St. has been the source of clothing purchased for embellishment at the library’s maker tables over the summer. The tweens/teens have been created items to display or wear in a fashion show held on that date at the bank. The event will include displays of other projects that participants made in the maker space over the summer, similar to an art show or science fair. These will include items made of recycled materials saved by staff, or donated by members of the community.

But, that’s not all! One last Tweens Cook! class will be held August 16 at 11 am. Once again, registration is advised and the age range for this class is 11-14. We hope those who have participated in the classes have enjoyed the opportunity to learn to cook light healthy meals from such a fun chef.

Mini-maker Day

Kids of all ages love to build things. So, this year we created a Maker Space loaded with craft supplies and cute clothes to repurpose for our Steam FUNk event August 8. The area has been used to keep tweens busy imagining an outfit and accessories to wear, or display, at the event. It’s located in the teen area, and also contains games, crafts and project ideas of all kinds to keep young visitors busy and entertained.

We thought younger children might want to have a chance to build and create as well. Hence the Mini-maker Day next Tuesday, July 25 at 11 p.m. in the children’s area of the library. Note: this program will begin earlier than previous ones, to give participants time to complete a project.

There will be plenty of supplies to choose from as we’ve been saving recyclable materials for months. We’ve also had some wonderful donations from folks in the community. Whether your child wants to build a mini robot, a tower or a castle, or even paint a rock, the materials are available. There will be tables and piles of supplies, so bring your little ones to create something fun. You are welcome to join them in their endeavor, as scissors and tape might be needed to hold their projects together. Snacks will be provided for the youngsters as well. A big Thank You to the ladies from the Methodist Church for their generosity and efforts this summer in providing healthy snacks for our events!

Please NOTE: The scheduled Tweens Cook! class scheduled for Wednesday, July 26 has been cancelled. But cooking classes scheduled for August 2 and August 16 at 11 a.m. will still be held. Just a reminder, the age range for these classes is 11 to 14, and there is a limit of ten children per class, so register early to save your space.

If your child is interested in participating in the Steam FUNk party August 8, and they haven’t started on their outfit, or project yet, there is still time left to do so. We have plans for a professional photographer to be there, and will have fun with the fashion show, as well as a display of projects made over the summer. This event is not just limited to children, so if you have a project you’ve been working on this summer, please let us know so it can be displayed as well. Even our employees are getting involved, as they all love crafting. We’re looking forward to a fun event, and hope you’ll participate!

Storyteller Jo Ho visits our library!

We have a special guest visiting on Tuesday, July 18 at 1 p.m. You won’t want to miss this, as it’s sure to be loads of fun. Jo Ho will be telling tales using this year’s summer reading theme, “Build a Better World.” We are able to provide this program with support from the Southeast Kansas Library System. Allow us to share a little bit about our guest.

Ho is an accomplished storyteller, actress, and drama instructor with over 27 years of storytelling. In 1989, she created a storytelling company to delight all ages with collections of folktales, fairytales, holiday stories, and curriculum-enhancement stories. She spins tales year round at preschools, elementary and middle schools, libraries, museums, and festivals, including the Annual Historic Storytelling Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, The Bankoh Talk Story Festival in Honolulu, Louisiana’s Earth Day and Zippity Zoo Day, Kansas City’s Storytelling Celebration, the Kansas Storytelling Festival in Downs, KS, the Nebraska Storytelling Festival in Omaha, the Edina Elementary Schools in Minnesota, and performances across North and South Dakota.

Awarded a grant from the Louisiana Arts Commission to interview naturalist Annie Miller, Ho developed and continues to perform the culturally rich storytelling program entitled “Cajun Tales From Bayou Black” and many more artistically designed programs. Ho was chosen as the Johnson County Libraries Performing Artist of the summer for 2005 and 2009 and was honored by KC Parent Magazine in July 09 as a top entertainer for children in the Greater Kansas City area. In September of 2010, Ho was honored as an Alumni Fellow from Dickinson State University, in Dickinson, ND.

Ho has developed over 100 thematic programs for preschools, elementary schools, seniors, special needs groups, and educational workshops for students and teachers. She attributes her unique theatrical style of storytelling and lively workshops to her background in children’s theatre and musical theatre.

Ho is also a sought-after drama instructor for the Kansas City area teaching an excellent and diverse curriculum for 3-12 year olds. She has personally authored more than 100 student scripts, both original works and adaptations of classic literature. Ho designs and constructs the student sets and costumes.

She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Theatre/Speech from Dickinson State University, Dickinson, North Dakota. Although a native of North Dakota, Ho fondly calls “Kansas” her second “Home Sweet Home!”

We’re glad she feels this way, and are excited to welcome her to our library next week. Come have fun with us!

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