Sexy, Sexy Poetry

So we’re trying this new thing at my library.  We’re starting a monthly poetry night for the fall and spring, and are pretty excited about the opportunities and challenges this presents.  Main opportunity?  Poetry is awesome.  And main challenge?  Poetry’s got a little bit of a dusty reputation.  We’re hoping to do something about that.

Manic Mouth Congress

And so taking to the ever-amazing Internets to get some ideas, I typed “awesome poetry events” into my google search bar, and discovered this beautiful little poetry tumblr that I’m now obsessed with: Manic Mouth Congress.  Manic Mouth Congress!  I want to be everything that is the Manic Mouth Congress.  In reading more about the Mouths, I learned that they do things like a Night of Erotic Poetry.  Yowza! Continue reading


Beat Manhattan!

Take Charge Challenge

This fall, my library is offering a series of community events to support the Take Charge Challenge, which is a friendly year-long competition between Lawrence and Manhattan for a $100,000 energy efficiency grant! I’m super excited to announce the line-up of events at the Lawrence Public Library very soon, which will include hands-on workshops, art exhibits, and public lectures.

So how the heck does Lawrence win this thing?  We’re competing with Manhattan, KS, in 3 main areas: 1) Home Energy Audits, 2) Switching to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs), and 3) Community Participation in a Westar Class or Take Charge Challenge event. We’ve been trailing in Community Participation… but that will all change this fall!

One thing you can do right now is to click this link and log any light bulbs you’ve switched from incandescent to CFLs this year. (FYI, Cottin’s Hardware at 1832 Mass. is offering 10% discounts on CFLs for the Take Charge Challenge.) For every 5 CFLs you switch out, you’ll pocket $75 in annual energy savings. You can also help just by spreading the word… and the link 🙂

For more info and a great list of media features that have covered the TCC, click here!

Read What You Want

So, I pretty much have to share this article with you from today’s local paper.  Hey, if this were 1995, I’d be cutting you a clipping and sending it to you in the mail!

Failed Summer Reads

About a month ago, one of our library’s favorite reporters from the Lawrence Journal World called us up to pitch a story about tips on getting through mammoth Summer Reading projects.  I think we surprised her with our unanimous advice: if you need tips to slog your way through it, then you’re reading the wrong Summer book!  Far from the retro “shushing librarians,” we suggest saving the Tolstoys and the Melvilles for December.

For more on why our library thinks you should read what you want (and to rehash an infamous War & Peace Bookclub incident), read on: LJWorld: “Failed Summer Reads”

I’m Throwing a Big Party

While all of you have been taking finals, graduating, planning weddings, weathering thunderstorms, etc., I’ve been busy planning a big ol’ party!  At the library, late May means one thing, and one thing only: school’s out, and Summer Reading’s in.

This year we’re dressing up Summer Reading a little more fancy for adults, and our patrons seem really excited about it.  Tomorrow’s party launches the adult side of Summer Reading, where we sneakily sign up unsuspecting partygoers for a summer of books and reading, their mouths too full of free desserts to protest.  I had lots of fun writing the blurb that we then slathered all over our promotional materials:

Lawrence Public Library is kicking off Adult Summer Reading with a mixed-media Final Fridays extravaganza, featuring art for your eyes, ears, brain and mouth: from the visual to the literary, the musical to the culinary.

This year’s travel-themed Adult Summer Reading program highlights popular media from around the world. Tour the globe one continent at a time as you mingle your way through this unique social exhibit, chatting with library tour guides about what’s hot in the international literary arts scene, viewing visual art objects from Mexico to Indonesia, and tasting sumptuous culinary arts crafted by Four and Twenty Blackbirds pastries.

Cathy Hamilton, Director of Downtown Lawrence, will headline the event with tales and photos from the international cruise she won from Food and Wine Magazine this spring. Free and open to the public.

Today as we were setting up, my colleague and work buddy put it most aptly when she said “I feel like I’m back in high school decorating for the prom.”  Who knew that being a librarian could feel a little bit like prom-committee?  Throw in a dash of books, movies, arts, and culture, and holy cow… that’s my job.

Have I mentioned how excited I am that Cathy Hamilton, aka Boomer Girl, is helping us get this party started?  Wish me luck tomorrow night, and come on down to the party!

Hanging Out With Civil War Buffs

When kids in Lawrence, KS, are in second grade, they go out to the banks of the Kaw River to build mud huts and learn about the time Quantrill came over from Missouri to burn down the Free State.  15 years later, this Kansas-Missouri rivalry matures into college students chanting “Muck Fizzou” at basketball games.  And then there’s the civil war re-enactors…

Black Jack Costumes

This Wednesday, I met my first true Lawrencian Civil War Buffs!  My library plans to be involved with the Civil War on the Western Frontier Festival this August, which commemorates the anniversary of Quantrill’s bloody raid.  And so I was in the thick of it all, sitting at a planning meeting with the most hardcore of a town full of hardcore buffs.  When we went around the table for introductions, half introduced themselves as their civil war persona:  “John Brown.”  “Reverend Cordley.”  “The Honorable S.A. Riggs.”  Later someone suggested a Civil War movie, and a hush fell over the room: “That one’s from the Missouri perspective.”

I’ve never lived in a place that took such pride in its Free State Civil War roots.  It’s one of the things I love about living here  — slowly learning the culture, understanding what makes this community tick.  The arts.  College basketball.  Civil War re-enactments.  Who knew??  I think public libraries are in a great position to vitalize our communities by offering programs that really mean something to the people who live there, and I’ve been doing my best to learn what that means in Lawrence!  I can’t wait to see what the CWWF festival brings this August.  And I can’t wait to build my mud hut.

Twitter Book Club

To Kill a Mockingbird

These last few weeks have been pretty crazy!  I’ve been helping plan my library’s Read Across Lawrence festival, which has been on hiatus for a few years but is back with a vengeance this April.  This year’s book is To Kill a Mockingbird, which I’m really loving during my first post-adolescence read — Scout, Boo, and Atticus stand up to the test of time, unlike certain other beloved novels that I wish I’d never tried to reread… has that ever happened to you?  And then there’s Dill!  After reading Charles Shields’ biography of Harper Lee, I Am Scout, I realized that Scout Finch’s childhood friend Dill is based on Truman Capote, who was Harper Lee’s next door neighbor growing up in Monroeville, Alabama.  Crazy!

We’ve planned a lot of fabulous events for Read Across Lawrence (stay tuned), but one of the events I’m most excited about is our library’s first ever Twitter Book Club.  And my first ever, too.  Local tweeps @larryvillelife, @THERaymondMunoz and @nuthousepunks will be using the hashtag #TKAMB to help us explore the hipster dilemma: “what can Atticus and Boo and Scout still tell us about ourselves, as contemporary scenesters?

And now, back to the “Lyla’s disillusionment” episode of Friday Night Lights

Reviving Local Stories

William Stafford

Last night at my library I attended a great book discussion about Kansas Poems by William Stafford, edited by Denise Low.  Denise was Poet Laureate of Kansas from 2007-09, and she was our discussion leader last night!

Denise talked to us about William Stafford, a Quaker poet from Hutchinson, KS, who published his first collection of poems when he was almost fifty, in 1962.  That collection, Traveling Through the Dark, went on to win the National Book Award, and he was named U.S. Poet Laureate just a few years later.  His Kansas poems are written in plain language and reflect on death, loss, and rural poverty, but with a deep sense of acceptance and even twinkle-in-your-eye humor.  He was also a noted pacifist; in 2007, NPR’s All Things Considered ran a National Poetry Month feature on him called “A Pacifist’s Plainspoken Poetry.”

And yet!  Most of us in the audience had never even heard of Stafford prior to the book group.  But how could that be ~ a U.S. Poet Laureate and National Book Award winner, from our very own state?  And a KU grad, no less?? Continue reading

1973 Archives: “The Frightening Computer Trend”

Dave Unplugs HAL

Yesterday as I was scavenging historical tidbits to share via my library’s #todayinhistory Twitter feed, I came across this treasure from the August 23, 1973 edition of the Lawrence Journal-World.  I’m fascinated that this satirical piece was published long before the Internet (and especially social networks) were widespread.  Viva technophobia!

To help put this in context: just five years earlier, in 1968, Stanley Kubrick had debuted “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which the computer HAL takes on an eerily human personality.  In 1970, both the VCR and dot matrix printer were introduced, bringing more tangible, enduring qualities to personal technology.  Then, in 1971, IBM introduced the first speech-recognition software (with a vocabulary of 5000 words), and the first synthesized computer voice was also demoed.  And finally, in 1972, the floodgates burst when Atari released Pong.

Yet none of this explains the article’s bizarre fixation with marital infidelity.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present:

by Art Buchwald

WASHINGTON – Somewhere in this great land of ours there is a computer stashed full of information on you.  Whenever you want a bank loan, a credit card or a job, this computer will, in a matter of seconds, give some total stranger almost every detail of your life. Continue reading

Curating Local Twitter Lists for Your Library

List Me, BabyMy public library’s Twitter account has over 1800 followers.  1800!  This fall, a handful of us sat down to brainstorm how to get the most out of our amazing following.

In the end, we came up with three big goals.  First was to pare down the number of Tweeters we were following back, in order to focus on core users and really zero in on newsworthy happenings in our community.  Second, we came up with some key themes or “series” of tweets that we thought would appeal to our network, such as a “new to the collection” series and a “#todayinhistory” series.  And third, we set out to curate public Twitter lists that anyone in our community could subscribe to.

Ever since we began curating these lists, I get more and more excited about their potential every day.  I love that they’re so community oriented, which I believe really builds goodwill and adds an invaluable service that not many other local organizations are situated to offer.  We’re aggregating lists of individuals who have put themselves and their work out there via Twitter, thus leveraging our position in the community to help them be discovered by others who might have an interest in their work.  Some of our local lists include Lawrence Arts, Lawrence Techies, Lawrence Businesses, Lawrence Events, Lawrence Athletics, and Lawrence Bloggers.

My favorite of all these lists is Lawrence Bloggers!  Where else can you go to find a list of local bloggers??  To curate this list, we combed through all of our local followers and identified those who listed a URL in their bio (seriously, we went through 1800).  Continue reading

Reference Reciprocity

People are pretty weird!  In public service — or in customer service of any sort — it’s easy to get swept up in our clientele’s bizarre quirks.  And really, it wouldn’t be any fun without them.  But on the other hand, nearly all of our library patrons — even the exceptionally bizarre — are very decent people.  That’s what I love about my career in public service.  So, in honor of the decency of library patrons everywhere, I’ve got a quick story for you tonight.

Car Repair DiagramIt’s usually pretty slow on Friday nights, but that’s also when I’m asked some of the most unusual reference questions.  Tonight a patron came in to ask me how he could log-in to our website to see our Chilton’s auto repair manuals from home.  First he told me he was a mechanic, then he told me he didn’t know how to read.  I think he was expecting me — the librarian — to laugh or something, but instead I told him he could come around to my side of the desk and I’d show him where to go on the site.  He admitted then that he could read a little, but very slowly, and then he winked and told me he was a really good mechanic.  He loves the Chilton’s manuals because they have detailed visual diagrams, which are exactly the kind of information he needs to accomplish his work.  I showed him how he could get to the diagrams from home on our website, and he was so ecstatic that, at the end of the whole thing, he wrote down the name and number of his business and told me to call for free diagnostic services whenever I want.

I’m a little unsure about the policies and ethics surrounding this exchange; as a civil servant, I’m not sure that it would be right for me to accept a gift from a patron in exchange for my work — what do you guys think?  But what I loved about this exchange was that a) the patron’s information need was satisfied at the library, even though he’s not a big reader, b) we had a reciprocal exchange, viewing each other as peers who could contribute equally to the dialogue, and c) he was just really super nice.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you back at the library soon!