A snowy day

We’re not talking the title of Ezra Jack Keats children’s book here. This is about the half foot of snow that fell Saturday. The library’s policy is to be closed if the school closes during inclement weather. But the library doesn’t have a policy about being closed on a weekend day. Our sidewalks were cleared in time for us to open, but the snow kept falling.

During a quiet stretch around noon, I donned my snow boots, gloves and big coat and headed outside with our snow shovel. At the very least, I hoped to clear part of the sidewalks again. No sooner did I have a dozen or so shovels full tossed to the side, then Danny McCullough pulled up and hopped out to help. Then neighbors Chris and Robert Stark and their young friend appeared with shovels to help. If that wasn’t enough, their dad arrived and offered to plow the parking lot. I threw salt while the boys moved a big pile of plowed snow. Being boys, they took a break to dump shovels of snow on Chris after he plopped backwards onto the pile. I wish I’d had my camera to shoot a photo of that!

The amazing thing about this story is that they all just pitched in to help without being asked. They would accept no payment for their services, and they saved my back. I hope others helped those in need all over our snow-covered area. I’m very glad it happened here.

Please be careful as you remove the snow on your driveways and sidewalks. If you’re not used to heavy physical effort, you can really hurt yourself. Go slow, take breaks and stay hydrated. If you don’t have to get out, stay inside with a cup of tea and a good book or movie. That means planning ahead by stocking up. We’re happy to take care of that end of your plan. Stay safe, stay well, and we hope to see you soon.

New Year, New Resolutions

How are you doing keeping your New Year’s resolutions so far? Maybe it would be easier if we chose little ones, or maybe just one or two. There are dozens of ways to tackle your resolutions such as magazine articles, books, and internet posts. Resolutions about losing weight drive advertisers to spend millions on television commercials for systems and diets to help you. The same occurs right after the holidays with commercials for exercise equipment. Those can be tempting if you’d rather walk outside, but you don’t like the cold weather. They even make treadmills with book stands so you can read while you exercise.

One resolution we like at the library is to read more books. There are ways to track what you read this year. The website Goodreads allows you to locate books you’d like to read, track them, review them and communicate with friends on the site. It’s kind of like Facebook, for book lovers. You must sign in to use the site, but it’s worth it to have access to a treasure trove of books to choose. Should you go this route and find some you’d like to read, check with your library to see if it’s on our shelves. If not, we could order it from another library and you could pick it up.

If you don’t want to sign up on Goodreads, but you’d still like to know what you read this year, ask us to print your circulation history. It includes all the books you check out from your local library, and those we order for you from other libraries in the southeast Kansas system. You may hear us talk about KOHA when we do this search for you. Of course, we can always go outside the system and find items for you at far-flung libraries. But KOHA doesn’t track these on your local library record. If you let us know in advance, we will try to help you track these as well.

Our regular readers have known for some time how this system works and they ask us to put books on “hold” so they have some waiting for them as soon as they finish the book they’re reading. For book lovers, this is a good way never to be without something to read. If you have a computer or phone, you can also do this on SEKnFind. We’ll help you register for this, if it sounds like they way you’d like to go.

So challenge yourself this year to see how many books you can read. It’s only a competition with yourself, and there is no dieting required!

It’s a wrap!

Another year ends at the library, and an exciting new one is about to begin. I’m occasionally asked how I find things to write about after ten years of weekly columns. With all that goes on at the library, it’s easy to tell the story of how viable we are. If there’s any doubt about that, just visit our Facebook page. Click on the “Photos” link in the left column and spend some time scrolling through the hundreds of photos posted since the library went live on the site.

In preparation for writing the last column of the year, I began compiling a list of the happenings since I came on board in January 2009. But the list kept growing, and the column might have turned into a book. So I’ll just hit a few highlights.

We used to be located at 904 Main St., after a fire destroyed an earlier library adjacent to the old City Hall. Our space had dark paneling, and usable space was only 1,000 square feet. In spite of that, the place was hoppin.’ I wrote about our activities in weekly columns beginning in February 2009. I utilized my graphics training to create a new logo and stationery, which we still use today. Several of us enjoyed decorating, and we filled the building with framed prints, plants, and floral arrangements. We had a small Christmas tree each year, and a Santa who posed for photos with children brave enough to sit on his lap. Storytime was held in the tiny children’s area with readers Sherry Hindman, Sally Paine, Theresa Miller, Daniel Craig, and Allene Campbell.

After painting walls and rearranging how we used the space, it was time to move on to greener pastures. It was appropriate to buy Brown’s Farm & Feed Supply so we could stretch out. We enlisted the help of Theresa and Freddy Miller, their son Robby and a number of other workers to renovate the space at 752 Main St. and had the ribbon cutting in April 2012. Our special guest was children’s author Andrea Warren with about 75 people attending the event. Much planning and effort went into how to use our new space, which seemed huge at first but already feels small. We continually move furniture and shelves to better utilize the space. While some items are stationary, we include lots of items on wheels to provide open space for monthly jam sessions, speakers, Summer Reading entertainers and meetings.

We have enjoyed the meeting room space that was created by the Friends of the Library, and have used it for Friends of Pleasanton Gardening meetings, AARP tax appointments, library board meetings and space for other events. We’re constantly looking for ways to serve the public with our larger space. We’ve held a baby shower in the cafe, a 90th birthday party for outgoing board member Florine O’Rourke with 87 people attending. KC Wolf has visited, as well as numerous musicians, marionettes, and more.

There’s also space for a growing number of books for all ages, an expanding collection of DVDs, audio books, and public computers. A blink of the eye is what the last ten years feels like to me. But when I look back at the thousands of photos of library visitors and activities, I know time has passed. We look forward to having you help us celebrate the coming year, and beyond!

Gearing up for the new year

Now that Christmas is (barely) over, the year-end reports begin. It’s not the most fun part of our year, but recording library statistics is important at every level. It can increase our funding if we show that we are a viable part of the community. We can also determine goals for the coming year. While monthly reports are provided to the library board members, other reports are required by our district system on a quarterly basis. Then annual reports are required by the state and passed on to the federal government. We also have to provide an annual report to our insurance company with any changes to our building, equipment or employees.

Once all these reports have been completed, we can get on with planning for our Summer Reading Program. You’ll be hearing a lot more about that in the months to come, as we have some exciting events to share with you.

But first, we want to celebrate our local law enforcement employees. On National Law Enforcement Day we’re holding a Coffee with Cops event on Wednesday, January 9 at the library between 9 to 10 am. We’ll serve coffee and cinnamon rolls and you can visit with Police Chief Tristan Snyder, and deputies Adam Smith and Angie Mitchell. This event gives you a chance to get to know your local law officers, and thank them for their service to the community. Watch for the Blue Line flag to fly in front of the library as a reminder to join us that day.

In the meantime, we thank you all for your continued support and interest in your library. We wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Collecting Christmas

When the library was located at 904 Main St. there was limited space for books, and even less room for Christmas decorations. The move to 752 Main St. increased usable space from 1,000 square feet to 4,800 square feet. Former owners of the building, Marsha and Morgan Brown, graciously left us several items still in use. These include the east-southeast section of the circulation desk, a card display rack and an antique display case. Throughout the years we’ve filled the case with collections, our own as well as those from the community. Currently, there is a display of vintage children’s books and a few toys.
Those who enjoy collecting know collection price guides are often found for sale in flea markets. They might help you determine the brand of your great-grannie’s prized china, but they become out-dated in no time. So, we don’t have those among the library’s inventory. But we do hold a lot of decorating books, and craft books about making your own collectibles. If you enjoy making crafts, you might get some gift ideas for next year. It’s never too early to start! Over the last month we’ve held several adult craft sessions where some interesting Christmas crafts could be made, that could well be collectibles in years to come.

Many may remember collecting cars and trucks, or dolls when they were young. The anticipation of getting a new addition to a collection was part of the joy of Christmas for many children. These were played with and showed signs of wear. These days, some children are given gifts in boxes that go straight to closet shelves, never to be opened. As collectibles they are assumed to increase in value one day. Not much fun for children who receive them right now, though.
In trying to remember what I collected as a child, I thought about my dolls. I still have some of them, but they are worth little because they are well-traveled. One shelf high on the wall of my room held my collection of horses. There are only three left, and those are also worse for wear. My grandmother gave me a collection of old coat buttons in a little box that began a lifetime search for others like them. I still add to the stash now and then.

As the only girl in my family, I’ve become the recipient of items from both grandmothers, a step-grandmother, my mother-in-law and several older church friends. Many of these have mostly sentimental value. In addition, I began visiting flea markets in the 1970s to begin choosing my own collectibles. Most are not on display, as I’m not fond of dusting. I also know the younger generations of my family will not want them. Historical museums turn down many items due to space constraints, and only want photos of the items. If you’re overwhelmed with your lifetime of collections, we have books that suggest how to let them find new homes. I’ll never be a minimalist, but I need to read these myself.

In the meantime, if you have a collection of which you’re proud and would like to display it in the library, please let us know. You’ll spread the joy of your meaningful items and may spark an interest in a young person to begin collecting. If they begin at age ten as I did, one day they may show off their collection in a library of the future.

Christmas past

My memories of my earliest Christmases are few, although I have a few black-and-white photos to prove there were some. I do remember winter though. For the first five years of my life my family lived on Long Island, east of New York City. My mother bundled us in multiple layers, the last being a snowsuit and snow boots. She and I once built an igloo in the front yard. The snow on the east coast was wet and easy to pack into blocks of ice. I also remember Dad breaking off a long icicle that dripped from the roof. Mom put one across the kitchen sink, and we’d lick the iciness as we walked by.

Mom was an ice skater and took me with her as she skated on a small pond near our neighborhood. I tried to emulate her as she swirled around. Only I had no skates, just snow boots, and often plopped down. We had a sled and there are photos of me being pulled around the yard. Funny thing, though, I don’t remember being cold.

Indoors, our grandparents would visit for the holiday, and we’d open gifts and pose for photos. Once we moved south, though, many of our Christmases were just our family of five. We often had a cut tree, maybe from the woods across the street. There were long-needle pines, scrub oaks and cedar trees there, so our trees were cedar. I loved the large multi-colored bulbs that wrapped the tree, and the conglomeration of hand-made and vintage ornaments that graced the tree. When I left home for college, Mom kept with the times and bought one of those metallic trees. When I first married, our tree was made from a collapsed easel that was wrapped with blue-green tinsel garland from which a few bulbs were hung.

As we decorate the library for Christmas, I look back on simpler times with fondness. For I believe it’s not the decorations that counted, it was the love of family that meant the most. For those who don’t decorate, you are welcome to come visit the library to enjoy our spirit of Christmas and share the joy we find as we add color and sparkle to one of our favorite places. We hope to have our tree decorated by the time you read this. Gather around it for a photo and make your own memories of a happy time. You’re also welcome to join us for our third annual Music on Main! Chili Jam Session at 6 p.m. We look forward to seeing you whenever you visit.

The history of Thanksgiving

Growing up, many of us learned that the early settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts held a feast with the local Indians to celebrate their harvest. In kindergarten we might have traced our hand on construction paper. Our thumb became the turkey’s head, and our remaining fingers were Tom’s feathers. We might have made a headdress out of additional construction paper, stapling on colored feathers. Interested in learning more, I visited www.history.com to find out what happened at, and after, that first shared harvest meal. Here are excerpts from the website.

“In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers — an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the pilgrims began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

“Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years.

“In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Gov. William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving” — the festival lasted for three days.

“For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.”

To read more about Thanksgiving, the pilgrims, and the Native Americans, visit the history.com website and the library to check out our many books for children and adults about these topics. Pleasanton Lincoln Library staff and board members wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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!

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