Keep it only if it gives you joy

Photo above: This is a good reason to borrow books and movies from the library, so the floors of your house don’t sink from the weight of those you buy.

Once again, my home projects have inspired this weekly library column. I’m slowly reviewing boxes of memorabilia, trying to choose what to keep and what to recycle. Artwork and cards from my kids when they were little? Check. Letters from friends and relatives no longer with us? Check. Duplicates I’ve discovered along the way? Recycle. Concert tickets from so long ago I don’t remember going? Recycle.

How does this relate to the library? Well, if we wanted to, we could keep every book and movie we have. It’s difficult to pull reference books from the shelves if we think someone might ask for it one day. But if the information is outdated, if the subject is no longer interesting or the book is damaged, it will be moved to the sale rack. If unsold, recycled. This allows the remaining books space to breathe, and gives visitors a chance to see those on display.

While I’m not necessarily a proponent of the “keep it only if it brings you joy,” there is a limit to how much stuff you can fit into your space. In addition to reviewing library books for deletion, we’re doing the same with the DVDs. If it hasn’t been checked out in two or three years, it gets considered for removal. You might watch for these on our sale shelf as well.

So this is hardly spring cleaning. It is a cyclical task we perform at the library. It makes room for new books and movies. That will certainly bring visitors joy!

Because I’m less emotionally attached to the items we pull from the system, it’s easier to add them to the delete cart. But I must admit to saving way too many books from the “chopping block.” This is a bad habit when you run out of shelves and end up with boxes of books and nowhere to put them. Maybe I should read that Marie Kondo book about releasing things to the universe after all.

If you would like to begin your own decluttering projects at home, visit the library to get some ideas on how to begin the process. We still have them. It seems decluttering is more popular all the time. Now, if I could only make more progress at home.

Big change at the library

A big change this past week at the library. The three overgrown trees that shaded the raised beds
were removed and smaller replacements are being considered.

Weeding … it’s not what you think, or IS it?

Gardeners know that weeding is necessary so they can remove unwanted vegetation that might crowd out their preferred plantings. We all know weeds can take over a lawn or a flower bed in no time. At the library, we must weed our collection of books and movies for similar reasons.

This periodic reassessment of materials should reflect the changes in the community and in the library’s goals. It helps make space for more current materials and it can help reduce damage to materials caused by overcrowding and space limitations. It helps ensure the materials we keep are attractive, useful and accessible.

As we review our stacks of books we follow some guidelines referred to by the acronym MUSTIE:
Misleading – it might be factually inaccurate; Ugly – if it’s worn beyond mending or rebinding; Superseded – it might have been superseded by a newer edition or by a much better book on the subject; Trivial – it may have no discernible literary or scientific merit; Irrelevant – it may have no relevance to the needs and interests of the library’s community; Elsewhere – the material is easily obtainable from another library.
Generally speaking we look for items that are over five years old, or that haven’t been checked out in three years. These are guidelines, but not hard and fast rules. Some books have enduring value as classics, or might be used for reference at some point.

There are similar guidelines for media. This time, the acronym is WORST: Worn out; Out of date; Rarely used; Supplied elsewhere; Trivial or faddish. Those of you who worry about book burnings, or finding these materials in the compactor can rest assured. They have several opportunities for salvation. First they are reviewed for salability, and are displayed on a rolling cart in the library for a month. If not purchased from the cart, they are boxed up for donation to concern, where their price will be reduced. If not sold there, they travel to Pittsburg to travel to other locations where they might end up overseas, or sent to a location for recycling.
If you’d like to grow your own garden of books, visit us at the turn of each month to view the items on the rolling cart. Some of these are nice enough to give as gifts, or to those less fortunate. Perhaps you will find children’s books to share with young friends. You might even find something new in our Little Free Library in front of the building.

Many other descriptions of this process can be found online. This one was derived from the Buffalo and Erie County, Public Library System in New York.

Dog days of summer

Though our Summer Reading Program ended yesterday, there are still a few weeks left before school begins. We’ll miss having children in the library, making crafts, playing with toys, reading with babysitters, and choosing books to take home for parents to read to them.

We’ve also had a steady stream of tweens playing video games each day, and the library will be too quiet when they head back to class. But of course, there are always afternoons and Saturdays. As the older tweens get involved with sports, we’ll see them less. But a new round of youngsters will likely fill the seats of the five computers in the Tween/Teen area.

Our summer went by rapidly, with two-to-three activities each week during June and July. We’ve been asking those who attended what types of activities their children enjoy most, and what times of the day, and days of the week work best. If you have children or grandchildren, please weigh in and we’ll adjust our schedule. We’re already determining whether to change up our events, breaking out age groups to better meet those needs. This is especially true with the movies we show. We want them to be age appropriate, and will take suggestions for new movies to show next year. I’m sure the kids would tell us fresh popcorn is non-negotiable.

We’ll continue offering incentives for children and adults to read all through June and July. Our prize baskets have been especially popular this year, but coupons and books made wonderful prizes too. We enjoy spreading the fun of reading, with readers mainly competing with themselves.

August may bring the dog days of summer, but the library remains cool and we have lots of comfortable seating where you can sit to ready and relax. You might even find a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge to enjoy in the Cafe while you chill. Stretch your summer out just a little longer!

Growing up in the shadow of rockets

As we near the 50th anniversary of man’s first lunar landing, I can easily say this has been my favorite Summer Reading Program. Here’s why …

My family had a unique opportunity to watch the race to land on the moon up close. Most of my relatives, and ancestors, lived in New York. Very few moved away, but when they did, they had good reason. This was the case with my family. My grandfather had polio when he was a young teen, and as he grew older moved to south Florida for his health. Knowing my folks loved to play golf, he encouraged them to move south where they could play all year round. Dad hoped to work for Pratt & Whitney Co. in West Palm Beach, but due to his technical radio and electrical training, they encouraged him to apply for a job with Douglas Aircraft at Cape Canaveral. Douglas later became McDonnell-Douglas, and was one of the many companies contracted by NASA.

He began work there in 1956, and we began building a home ten miles north of Titusville. My brothers and I attended schools in Titusville within a few miles of where rockets were built and launched. In elementary school, we were allowed to cross US Hwy. 1 with our teachers to watch the missile launches. Most of us knew little about our dads’ work, as much of it was secret. We were in a race to the moon, and information about our efforts must be guarded from the Russians, who wanted to beat us to the moon.

My brothers and I were personally affected by our Dad’s job, as he worked many overtime hours in an effort to meet then-President Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade. Dad was even sent to California to train to build Skylab. Six weeks was an eternity to me as a sixth grader, but had to be even more difficult for my mom to raise three children by herself while he was away.

I graduated in May 1969, just before we landed on the moon in July. Though I wasn’t near the site when Apollo 11 launched, my brother and I climbed a ladder to our roof to watch. Of course, like many others, we sat for hours in front of our black-and-white television to follow the astronauts’ flight.

My brothers and I lived in Titusville until we left to go to college in different directions. As the space race wound down, families were invited to visit the Cape where their relatives worked. My youngest brother was the only one nearby to join my Mom to see Dad’s workplace and of that, I am envious. Of course I’ve visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex several times, taking the bus tour past the launch pads where Dad had worked. I toured the Vehicle Assembly Building where the Saturn rockets were assembled. At the time it was built, it was the third largest building in the world. It had its own atmosphere and rained inside before the cooling system was installed! The Center has changed considerably over the years, and now includes a real space shuttle and many exhibits about science and the astronauts. I highly recommend it to Florida vacationers, and plan to visit when I return home for my high school reunion this fall. I’m sure I’ll well up with pride when I think of the effort my Dad and thousands of others made putting men, and women, into space.

To learn more, join us Thursday at 6:30 pm at the library for our Lunar Landing Luau, and hear Astronomy Ambassador Jackie Beucher’s presentation about the 50th Anniversary of man’s famous visit to the moon.

Where has the summer gone?

Photo above: Joe Ferrero holds his daughter Caroline as she Reaches for the Stars.

With weekly Summer Reading Program events and sometimes even two to three per week, summer had flown by quickly. But it’s not over yet. The K-State Extension agents return today for another “Learn to Grow” class at 10 am. On Friday, we’ll show “Space Buddies” for our bi-weekly “Movie Under the Stars.” The following week we’ll be very busy beginning with the Tuesday, June 16 crafts “Encounters of the Alien Kind.” That will be followed by a visit by Astronomy Ambassador Jackie Beucher for our Thursday, June 18 “Lunar Landing Luau.” It will be held at 6:30 pm, so families can join us at the library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. We’ll serve a light summer meal, and you are welcome to bring a dish if you like.

Friday, June 19 at 1 pm, we’ll continue our bi-weekly “Make & Take” adult crafts. These have been so fun and those attending have made some memorable crafts to take home with them. A big thank you to Melissa Streeter for her recent class at Just 4 You where attendees made pressed plates. Melissa has fired these items and you are welcome to pick up the finished pieces if you haven’t already done so. Please visit Melissa’s shop as it’s filled with beautiful fabrics and ceramics you can purchase. She also holds classes so you can learn something new this summer.

We’ll have more events to tell you about later this month. In the meantime, remember to keep reading so you can win prizes. This has been particularly popular with adult readers this summer. It’s easy to take along a good book on vacation and find time to read and relax. Perhaps your children are already bored this summer, so send them in and we’ll help them choose a book that will provide entertainment. Perhaps the heat has kept you in, and you’d just like to sit in the air conditioning and read. Who needs an excuse if you enjoy reading, right? Visit soon to see what’s new or ask for a book or movie recommendation.

Too hot outside? Stay in and read

Some mornings it’s hot and muggy when you first walk outside. We try to fit in a walk, or mow our yards first thing. Or we switch to the evenings for outside activities. Either of those choices puts you at risk of being joined by pesky mosquitos. If you work outside all day, we applaud you. Perhaps you’ve become acclimated to heat. Then you probably know how important it is to stay hydrated. Our young visitors know where our water fountain is located, and make frequent stops for a cold drink as soon as they arrive on bicycles. They swing by there again just before hopping on those bikes as they head home.

If you don’t have to be outside during the heat of the day, you can choose to stay inside where it’s cool and read a book. We are in the middle of out Summer Reading Program, and reading can earn you prizes. New books arrive almost every week, and there are a lot of good ones to choose from throughout the library. In addition to the New York Times Bestsellers, we have four new large print books each month. We also have two new multicultural selections for children each month.

Perhaps you prefer to listen to books. We’ve got you covered. There are two or three new audio books arriving on a monthly basis. Every six weeks, there are books that rotate through southeast Kansas libraries as well. They are located on the shelves just inside our front doors.

Maybe your children are already bored and need something to do. If they are over 10 years old, they are welcome to visit the library on their own. We have five computers in the teen/tween area as well as board games, puzzles and crafts.

Our summer events continue through the month of July too. Next Tuesday, we’ll host a program called “Robots, Robots Everywhere!” by a visitor from the Cosmosphere. Our children’s “Learn to Grow” classes continue on July 10 and July 24. Can’t wait to see how the sprouts fare. We know the children have grown over the summer.
We’re adding a special event to those already posted on the calendar. An astronomy ambassador will join us for a “Lunar Landing Luau” on Thursday, July 18 at 6:30 pm. It’s a celebration of the first lunar landing almost 50 years ago. In addition to her program, we be serving a light summer meal and punch.The program is for all ages as we toast the astronauts with some ice cold punch. Aloha!

Continuing education is important

One of the ways employees and board members of the library help keep it viable is to engage in continuing education. No, we don’t necessarily have to return to school. But we’re often in a classroom, whether it be in a building or online. There are a multitude of webinars out there where librarians and board members can learn more, and stay up to date with what’s happening in the library world. We can learn about technology, how to advocate for libraries in the political realm and how to better serve the public.

The recent library bus tour the district library provided is an example of continuing education, and we were pleased three of our local board members were able to participate. They have also attended presentations on state library standards and budgeting. Staff members travel to the district library’s training center in Iola to stay abreast of the latest changes to our technology, learn about mental illness, building maintenance and a variety of related topics. Once a year the district library holds an annual meeting where southeast Kansas librarians gather to approve the district’s budget, and listen to a speaker share insights into how to improve our libraries. Last week, we learned our board members should advocate for libraries in general, participate in the budget process and support their local library. When they do this, they are able to speak with confidence to others in the community and beyond about the importance of libraries, and help ensure their continuity.

Not everything can be found online, and many people continue to enjoy reading paper books. But there are so many more ways to enjoy your library. Whether you commute and want to ease the drive by listening to an audio book, or relax after a long day’s work by watching a current movie, the library can provide these for you. Now that summer is near, your children can attend weekly programs. Bi-weekly Make & Take craft programs are available, as well as Movies Under the Stars. We have calendars at the desk if you’d like to plan your visits in advance.

While the physical size of our library can’t possibly contain every book on the market, we can certainly search online for you to see if another library might have what you need. We also accept suggestions for books and movies we will consider purchasing for the local library. Visit us soon and request a book or movie in which you’re interested. We love a challenge!

A Universe of Stories

As this July is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, much of our focus during this year’s Summer Reading Program is on space. The library is decorated and displays of books about space are abundant.

We hope you and your children will participate in this year’s program. There are many ways you can be involved. You can register your children and help them chose library books to read. They can read to themselves, their younger siblings, or even to you while you fix dinner or do dishes. Parents can also read to their children and these books will count toward prizes as well. Reading during the summer helps school-age children avoid the “summer slump,” and keep them ready to hit the ground running this fall.
Adults can also count library books they read this summer and win prizes! This part of the program grows each year, so come in soon to find some great summer reads. If you’re traveling this summer, our audio books count as well.

Of course, we’ll have weekly programs for children including entertainment, movies and maker days. The K-State Extension office will start a Kids Gardening Program at the library soon and we can give you more information. We’ll continue our bi-weekly Adult Craft Make & Take programs on Fridays. On opposite Fridays, we’ll be showing movies to the kids. Come in for a calendar of all these events during the months of June and July. We’ve even developed a refrigerator-sized calendar for quick viewing. Flyers will be distributed around town as reminders about upcoming special events.

In addition to our large selection of single prizes, we’ve added special prize baskets this year. You can earn points toward these baskets by keeping track of the number of books you read. The books must be those checked out from our library, so check all the aisles to find ones of interest to you. There are many new books on the shelves for children as well as adults. As a matter of fact, the library contains a “Universe of Stories!”

Hidden treasure found in Kansas

Like the suspense and intrigue found in books and movies, our party set off in search of buried treasure. Our travels took us north and west within our own state. As we walked through door after door, we discovered visual delights that fascinated and surprised. We listened to stories of villages and cities that built century-old stone structures, and multi-storied buildings of glass and marble filled with art and historical documents from ages past. Where did we go to seek these hidden objects? Join us as we share our travels.
The trip was sponsored by the Southeast Kansas Library System. We rode along with 45 other librarians, board members and SEKLS staff on our adventure. We braved strong winds and rainstorms as we debarked and re-loaded our large conveyance throughout the day. Our first stop was Baldwin City, where we found an historic baseball team display in the public library. The building also featured a history room where visitors could delve into their ancestors’ past.

A truly modern building in the historic town of Lawrence was our next stop. Filled with art that will be highly valued in the future as it is now. We were allowed to go into the inner depths of the Lawrence Public Library where staff members toiled at their tasks. While the town is proud of its past, they are also very proud of the architectural wonder they can now visit.
On to Topeka & Shawnee County Library where we were divided into smaller groups to wander the expansive structure. We watched as tradesmen worked to meet the scheduled date of completion to renovate this city’s treasure. In addition to touring the halls and numerous hidden rooms filled with those who wished to learn more about the world around them. The room of history on the second floor was like time-traveling to an earlier time period. Wonders like precious china, beautifully wrought stained glass and carved furniture were in abundance.

Overbrook Public Library’s community room was filled with raucous women playing a game of chance to win prizes. The main room contained a display cabinet filled with one of the local lady’s prized teapots. The display changes monthly as others share their valued collections with visitors.
Our next stop was Lyndon Carnegie Library, said to be the smallest Carnegie Library in the United States. Everywhere one looked, old books and documents were stacked near to the ceiling. The building itself is a treasure, dating from 1910 and walls in jewel-like colors.
By the time we reached the last library to visit, the sun was shining and we were greeted by a giant stuffed gorilla sitting in a chair to delight young visitors. The Coffey County Library – New Strawn Branch, collaborated with many others in their town to provide jolly entertainment, and festivities throughout the year for their happy community.

My companions on this adventure were Pleasanton Library Board members Stephanie Brown, Kym Hargrove and Kathy Secrest, and staff member Lia Duckwall. This was their first library bus tour, and they were delighted by all they discovered. They can’t wait for their next chance to travel in search of treasures we can bring back to our own town’s library.

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