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.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We hope you all have someone special to share this day with, but if not please visit us at the library and we’ll fix you up with one of our books to keep you company. You don’t have to love books to work here, but I’m pretty sure we all do. Our reading tastes vary, and we’re all busy at home with chores and projects. In spite of that, we find lots of time to read and can help you find something you’ll enjoy, if not absolutely love. We may ask you lots of questions about the type of books you like to read. That will help us guide you to a book or author that might match your interests.

That’s actually something we do everyday. If a patron visits with a specific book they want to read, but we don’t have it, we’ll try to order it from another library. This is called “interlibrary loan” and we have five-day-a-week courier service that picks up and delivers these books. Sometimes it only takes a few days to get them, though popular books may take a little longer. When they arrive, we’ll call you to let you know they’re here. It’s almost like receiving a present.

If reading is not your thing, we also carry nearly 2,000 DVDs you can choose from, and many are romantic ones. While we haven’t watched everyone of them, we have seen many of them. Again, we can help you decide by asking questions similar to those for book readers. DVDs are also available to order from other libraries through interlibrary loan, so don’t hesitate to ask. The only difference from books is the borrowing period is only one week, and fines for late returns are $1.00 a day. They cannot be renewed for a second week, unlike books.

It’s going to be cold for several more weeks, according to Pauxatawny Phil, so you might want to stock up on your entertainment needs, whether they are books or movies. If we’re unable to obtain what you want through interlibrary loan, you may also place suggestions for purchase consideration. If we think your items might be enjoyed by others, we’ll put them on the list.

In the meantime stay warm, stay safe and enjoy your loved ones!

New Year, New Books

We have a great team working at the library and it takes all of us to make sure we have the materials you enjoy reading and watching. If you don’t see something you’d like to check out, you may ask any one of us to order selections from other libraries for you. We participate in a five-day-a-week courier delivery system and can usually obtain items in a week or less. Items may come from our Southeast Kansas consortium of libraries, libraries throughout Kansas or beyond. The courier system is funded by the Southeast Kansas Library System (SEKLS) in Iola, with additional funding from your local library.

You need not request these items in person, though we’re always glad to see you. Requests can also be sent via e-mail to:, or by calling the library at: 913-352-8554. You could even make a suggestion on our Facebook page: Pleasanton Lincoln Library. If you’d like to go old school, you could even drop us a line by mail: P.O. Box 101, Pleasanton, KS 66075.

We often receive requests for the newest books by a patron’s favorite author. But when those authors don’t keep up with our readers, they ask us to find similar books. Lia Duckwall maintains lists of similar authors and suggests new ones for our regular customers. She’s also our resident Movie Maven, and has a lot of recommendations for those looking for a particular genre.

Recently, Frances Marshall’s persuasive writing skills garnered us a collection grant from SEKLS that allows us to purchase additional Large Print paperback books. We’ve had requests for these books from folks who find the hardcover versions of large print books too heavy to hold for any length of time. A couple of our new titles are: “Huckleberry Hearts” by Jennifer Beckstrand and “Harvest of Blessings” by Charlotte Hubbard. Frances carefully reviewed the list of large print books available and chose a list of those our patrons might like. We’ll continue to post new titles in this column and on Facebook.

We have many sources that help us determine what books and movies to buy, for example, magazine and newspaper reviews, book- and movie-related websites, suggestions from other librarians and friends. One we watch carefully is the New York Times Bestseller book list. While we don’t buy every book on the list, we select those by popular authors and others we hope you’ll enjoy. We display these on the credenza just behind the circulation desk. Some of these recent titles are: “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn, “the Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, “Blood Fury” by J.R. Ward, “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur, “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin and “Operator Down” by Brad Taylor. Other new books are displayed on the marble shelf below the “New Arrivals” sign on the west wall of the library.

Once new books and movies are purchased, it’s up to Susan Brown to catalog and process them. As you might guess, we keep her quite busy. She’s up to the challenge though, and will expedite an item if requested to do so. We gently tease her that it’s great job security.

Consider making a purchase suggestion and we’ll review its possibility. If it has limited interest for only you, but perhaps not others, we’ll search for it outside our library so you’ll be able to read it. We look forward to serving your literary and movie-watching needs.

Be our guest

We often think of the library as a place like “Cheers,” without the alcohol. I would add without the noise, but we’re not a typical library. We will ask the youngsters to keep it down if they get a little too excited while competing in their Roblox games. But we allow the use of cell phones, and people often visit with us, and each other, when they come to the library. We appreciate those who visit regularly, learn their names and greet them when they arrive.

We want everyone to be comfortable, so we incorporated chairs and couches in grouped seating areas. A few pieces have had to be removed due to damage. Others have been replaced by other furniture, like the Maker Space tables. Recently we purchased a hand-me-down from another library that it no longer needed. One young boy labeled it our “chocolate cake.” It can be grouped in the center of the children’s section, or split apart and rearranged for additional Story Time seating.

Our shelving has been upgraded in that area as well, thanks to a generous donation from the Umphenour family in memory of their mother. The oak shelves hold all the children’s books and fill both walls of the children’s area. This same area is used for monthly Music on Main! Jam Sessions, when musicians place comfortable folding chairs in a circle to play their favorite songs. This past Thursday was meant to celebrate Morgan Brown’s birthday, but he was out-of-state on business. The former owner of our building, Morgan helped revive the jam sessions in the building where they were once held. Guests are welcome at these events as well.

Soon, we’ll be seeing quite a few guests as tax preparers from AARP come in to do taxes for those with appointments. These volunteers help our visitors send their information electronically, which allows them to receive refunds more rapidly. The appointments are held in our meeting room at the back of the library, so discussions with the tax preparers are essentially private. These appointments begin Feb. 12 and are held every other Monday through mid-April. You may call us at the library, 352-8554, to make an appointment.

In addition to seating areas where guests can relax and read, we also have the cafe area with a banquette and large table. Visitors like to sit there to plug in their laptop, have coffee and a snack while they work. It is the only place in the library where food and drinks are allowed. The lighting is bright and the room is open. The area is shared by adults as well as children, when they take a snack break from their games.

In contrast to our previous location, this building is expansive and we thought we would never fill it. But we have added furniture and shelving throughout and wondered how we ever fit into our former space. Come in and see for yourself how this library is one of which residents can be proud. Please be our guest!

Time flies

You’ve heard people say time goes faster as we grow age. That’s the way this year went at Pleasanton Library. To wrap up the year, we thought you’d enjoy knowing what kept us busy the last 12 months. Employees participated in training webinars and workshops provided by the Southeast Kansas Library System in Iola. In addition, their technical support employees visit to update our computers and help us with issues. Youth Coordinator Sandy Wilkerson visited during our Summer Reading Program, helping with crafts and serving cake during our Harry Potter Party. Library Consultant Kim Rutter visited to see progress we’ve made and give us guidance.

Our Music on Main! Jam Sessions took place monthly and reached a one-year anniversary of this gathering of talented musicians. We hope their December chili supper becomes an annual event, and we look forward to Morgan Brown’s signature beef chili. We set up the space for the musicians, but audience members are welcome as well. Around the circle musicians each choose a song to play while others join as backup.

Since 2010, I’ve represented the library on the statewide board of Friends of Kansas Libraries. I’m currently secretary of the board, and write and produce their quarterly newsletter. Several of my talented friends visited the Kansas Library Association conferences as FoKL luncheon speakers. This October, Pleasanton’s Ken Robert Baugh talked about his book, “Just Passing Time,” and shared the importance of literacy. I gathered photos of Kansas Carnegie libraries throughout the state to produce a PowerPoint presentation shown at FoKL’s booth during the conference.

Beginning in 2011, members of the Friends of Pleasanton Library volunteered to help with projects and fundraising. Last February, they held a bake sale to raise funds for the library, and they donate Scholastic books from their annual sale in the school’s annex.

Since December 2012, I’ve visited the pre-schoolers on a monthly basis to read stories, help them make crafts and enjoy snacks. I had to take a break this fall, but missed them and hope to pick back up this Spring.

In March, the board chose to pay off the lease/purchase loan, and now own the library. Mortgage payments and interest fees will now be available for repairs and upgrades to the 40-year-old building. This year we replaced all the ceiling fixtures with LEDs that now save $50 a month in electric costs.

April found spirited 7th and 8th graders back at work in the library’s garden, providing community service. In spite of drizzle, they accomplished a lot and had fun despite muddy conditions. Friends of Pleasanton Gardening continue to meet monthly the last Tuesday evening in our meeting room. They take a winter break, but resume meetings in February.

Summer raced by, with two or three programs each month. Our kickoff event at Mine Creek Battlefield was a Story Walk and salsa garden planting with a program by Abbie Powell from K-State extension office. Erica Kern shared recycling information using a game, and we visited Jason Johnson at Mid-State Rental to “operate” equipment. We also held healthy cooking classes taught by Carolyn Cochran from the extension office. LeeAnn Davenport’s “Fun with Money” where participants got to purchase items from her “store.” Our end-of-summer party included an art show and fashion revue, complete with paparazzi, Courtney McConico of Glamour Girl Essentials. We had so much fun, we’re planning for next summer’s reading program, Libraries Rock! and look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Holiday joy

For about 35 years, I’ve been part of a group of women who meet on a monthly basis. We were the first group of working women among numerous groups of doctors’ and lawyers’ wives who supported the Springfield Art Museum. We called ourselves Pastiche, which means a mixture of various styles of art. Each meeting we’d gather to learn a new craft, hear a program about art or collectibles, visit an art show or share stories about trips or books.

I’ve been living in Kansas for ten years, so I’m no longer able to attend the monthly weeknight meetings. But when I can, I visit for the annual Christmas dinner and cookie swap. Getting ready for these can be frenetic, as we have busy jobs, and making a dish and cookies for eight to ten people takes time. But the result is always worth it because we have so much fun. Every year, we share stories about cookie fails, and I’ve had my share. We tell these not to complain, but to make each other laugh, and there’s plenty of frivolity when we get together.

We decided it’s not so much about fixing the yummiest dish, or baking the perfect cookies that makes these gatherings worth attending. It’s the ongoing friendships we formed and maintained over the years. It’s a celebration of life, and we share the holiday joy with gusto.

So much of the season has become about getting the best deal on the latest toy or gadget. We stress about how to buy what we think each other wants, and worry about paying our bills at the same time. When what matters most is that we share the joy the season brings, the celebration of a special birth in a lowly manger over two thousand years ago. Yes, there were gifts that night, but more importantly there was a gathering of souls both rich and poor, to attend that miracle.

Show the same kind of love not only to family, but also to friends and even strangers. Share the greatest gift of all, your love for your fellow man. Do what you can for others, and reap the most real kind of holiday joy.

Here are two examples of opportunities to do that at the library this season.

Attend our holiday jam and chili dinner during the Music on Main! Jam Session Thursday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. Several kinds of chili will be served, and others attending are invited to bring a dish. It can be as simple as chips and dips, shredded cheese, a beverage or a homemade dessert.

Visit our School Break Storytime, held on Friday, Dec. 22, Wednesday, Dec. 27 and Friday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. Make memories with your children by listening to some fun stories with Miss Lia.

Christmas comes to the library

Elves have been happily at work decorating the library the last few days. The tree is decorated and garland appears over the door. Christmas books are on display for busy moms and dads to run by and grab a few to read to the children over the holidays. We’re still in North Pole construction mode, but you’re welcome to visit and watch the interior become magical. If you need an amazing background for your family’s holiday photo, you can pose in front of the Christmas tree.

Though the exterior of the library isn’t covered with lights, we’re looking into getting an outdoor outlet. Then we can look as bright and colorful on the outside as well.

In the meantime, we have a number of holiday plans in the works this month. The library trustee’s will hold their annual Christmas meeting and meal to welcome their newest member, Stephanie Brown. She is filling the term of outgoing board trustee Sheilah Umphenour, who has been serving as co-chair. We are appreciative of Sheilah’s thoughtful input over the years, and wish her the best.

The following week we’ll hold our holiday jam and chili dinner during our Music on Main! Jam Session. Several kinds of chili will be served, and others attending are invited to bring a dish. The music will be cheerful and musicians and listeners will be smiling brightly.

While the winter break from school is going on, we’ll be having a number of School Break Storytimes. On Friday, Dec. 22, Wednesday, Dec. 27 and Friday, Dec. 29 you can visit the library with your children to hear some fun stories with Miss Lia.

With all that’s going on, he library elves need a short break, too. We’ll be closed Saturday, Dec. 23 and Christmas Day, Monday, Dec. 25. We’ll also be closed on Saturday, Dec. 31 for New Year’s Eve. But first, we have the rest of the month of December to wow you with our Christmas spirit. Be sure to stop in so we can wish you a Wonderful Holiday!

What happens in the library …

After writing over 320 library columns since early 2009, I wondered what readers might like to read about the library. For those who have never visited, or only stayed long enough to choose a few books or a couple of movies, you might wonder what else goes on there. Here’s a random sampling.

Our days begin just before opening at 10 a.m., Monday through Saturday. During the summer and on Saturday mornings, there are usually several pre-teens anxiously awaiting our arrival. They want to be first in line to choose their favorite computers and begin playing the wildly popular online game, Roblox. Roblox’s website calls it “the world’s largest social platform for play” … helping “power the imaginations of people around the world.” These young boys (and a few girls) are in the library all day, barely stopping to eat or drink. Our computer policy is 30 minutes per person, unless no one is waiting. They may get “bumped” by one of their friends, but can return to play at least two more times each day.

Meanwhile, we check the dropbox for books deposited overnight, call borrowers with overdue items, and process books requested by people at other Kansas libraries. Our library visitors request books through this system as well. Sharing materials allows us to access items we don’t have to purchase, process and shelve. Print as well as audio books, movies and even documents may be requested. Some of our regulars rely on us being able to find older books and movies this way.

Every six weeks, we receive an assortment of rotation books from our district office in Iola. They’re delivered in sturdy wooden boxes, but we shelve them throughout the library. Children’s books are placed on a shelf in the back corner of the children’s area, books for tweens and teens in the northeast corner, and adult books right inside the front door for easy access.

While some of our visitors stay only a few minutes, others spend an hour or longer in the library. They visit with us, order books, or sit in one of our many areas to read, relax, or check phone and e-mail messages. They might sign in to use our computers to do the same, or print documents for everything from concert tickets, to boarding passes for trips to other cities or even countries. They might apply for jobs, or take online tests toward advanced degrees. Or, they might keep up with friends and relatives on Facebook. We’ve even had several authors work on books while visiting our library. Visitors from outside of Pleasanton visit occasionally and have included bicyclists traveling from the East coast heading West, and a young woman following the Monarch butterfly migration.

Those who need a quiet space to work or study are able to utilize our meeting room at the back of the library. That space was created as a place for library board meetings. But since they only occur once a month in the evening, it opens the space to other groups that might need a space to meet. We don’t charge non-profit organizations for this room, but a minimal fee of $15 is required for sales organizations. Friends of Pleasanton Gardening meet there monthly during the season. The AARP tax preparers use the room on a weekly basis February through mid-April.

Adult programs have included book readings by authors, card-making, coloring, monthly jam sessions and even a baby shower since we opened in spring 2012. Summer Reading Programs have entertained children from birth to age 14. Our weekly programs occur begin when school ends and run through mid-August, and include entertainment, education, crafts and much encouragement to read.

We invite you to visit us as well. Stay awhile, enjoy hot chocolate or coffee, warm up, read the newspaper, a magazine or book while you relax in your library.

Transforming Literary Frontiers

The Kansas Library Association conference, in conjunction with the Kansas Association of School Librarians, was held in Wichita on Oct. 25-27. Meeting rooms were filled with librarians of all ages. They came to hear about changes in the library world, gear up for the 2018 Librarians Rock! Summer Reading program and connect with each other.

On Wednesday of the conference, Pleasanton Lincoln Library was well represented by author Ken Robert Baugh and Director Wendy Morlan. Baugh’s successful book reading last December during our Music on Main! Jam Session, prompted the suggestion for him to speak at the Friends of Kansas Libraries (FoKL) luncheon Oct. 25. The conference theme “Libraries Transform Learning,” was inclusive of public, as well as academic libraries.

FoKL members tweaked our theme to accommodate our membership booth. Our theme, “Transforming Literary Frontiers” gave us the opportunity to feature Kansas Carnegie public libraries. These were built with grants from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie between 1900 and 1921. Fifty-nine of these libraries were built across Kansas in small rural towns which would otherwise not have such facilities. Consequently, his funds thus helped transform the literary frontier. In addition to a power point presentation that includes all 59 libraries, our booth featured a large 1918 map indicating the locations of the libraries. FoKL members hoped this presentation would attract visitors to the booth, and could also be utilized as a program at libraries.

Those with special memories of visits to Carnegie libraries were invited to share them in writing. Notecards of six selected Carnegie libraries were available at the booth for interested shoppers. A drawing was held for a fictional book about Carnegie libraries titled, “To the Stars Through Difficulties,” by Romalyn Tilghman. We have a copy of this book at our library available to checkout.

At our western-themed luncheon, Ken “Cowboy” Baugh spoke to attendees about the hardships of ranching. His early one-room schoolhouse learning prompted his love of books, which he feels are critical to a successful education.

While the conference is intended to inspire and educate librarians, it also gives us the opportunity to meet and share information with each other. Many of these librarians work in libraries in small Kansas communities, so this chance to connect is a welcome annual event.

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