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3… 2… 1… Blast-off! Astronauts are headed to Lawrence!

The countdown to Read Across Lawrence 2016 has officially started!

The Lawrence Public Library, in partnership with KU Libraries and the Friends of the Library, has a jaw-dropping lineup of events for February that starts with a big bang!

For Adults

Read Across Lawrence for Adults blasts off Thursday, January 28, at 7:00 PM in the Library Auditorium with free copies of The Martian by Andy Weir and an evening with science fiction authors and KU professors James Gunn, Chris McKitterick, and experimental particle physicist Philip Baringer, for a conversation about the marriage of science and technology throughout the history of the science fiction genre.

Heading into February, Barbara Anthony-Twarog, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, will lead the 110th birthday celebration of Kansan and Jayhawk Clyde Tombaugh — discoverer of Pluto — at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library (Feb 4). Lawrence’s Nerd Nite will focus on all things martian (Feb 10) and Leslie Von Holten, director of programs for the Kansas Humanities Council, will lead a discussion at The Wine Cellar about Mars, potatoes, and Matt Damon (Feb 11).

Music and movie lovers can explore the art of science fiction soundtracks with the KU Electronic Composition class, who will be scoring excerpts from the Japanese B-movie extravaganza, The Evil Brain from Outer Space (Feb 18). Bodacious bibliophile Kate Gramlich, LPL Readers’ Services Librarian, will lead a book talk about The Martian (Feb 21).

Read Across Lawrence for Adults enters its two-day grand finale at the Dole Institute of Politics on Wednesday, February 24, at 7:30 PM with award-winning 20/20 and ABC News reporter and author Lynn Sherr who will delve into her definitive biography, Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space.

On Thursday, February 25 at 7:30 PM, Lynn Sherr returns to moderate Two Astronauts, One Stellar Night, a discussion about the science behind The Martian at Liberty Hall. Her guests are KU physics and astronomy professor and former astronaut Dr. Steven Hawley, and Dr. John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate. Doors open at 7 PM. Free tickets will be available starting February 5 at the Lawrence Public Library Welcome Desk.

To celebrate Read Across Lawrence 2016, the library is hosting an elegant, after-hours space-age fundraising party on Saturday, February 27 at 7 PM at the Lawrence Public Library. The theme is “Out of This World” and will offer food from Lawrence restaurants, music from the library’s SOUND+VISION studio, and a themed basket auction from Lawrence book clubs. Tickets and information can be found at

For Teens

Read Across Lawrence for Teens is nothing short of exceptional. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner enters Lawrence’s orbit on Wednesday, February 3 from 4-9 PM in the Library Auditorium with a book giveaway and testing of a homemade planetarium.

The library has a late-night teen movie lined up (Feb 5), a crystal radio-building afternoon (Feb 13), and a chance for teens to design their own galaxy-themed bags or shoes (Feb 20). The Kansas Cosmosphere will present Rockets: To the Moon, a program on the history of rockets through the story of Dr. Goddard — explosive demonstrations included. Teens can stick around to build their own paper rocket to launch with an air compressor. Space will be limited, so registration at the library will be key (Feb 19).

Read Across Lawrence for Teens peaks with a 12-hour Library Lock-in starting Friday, February 26 at 7:00 PM until 7:00 AM the following day. A lucky group of 25 6-12th graders will participate in the library’s own brand of space camp. A Skype interview with These Broken Stars authors Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner will start things off, then crafts, movies, and games — perhaps some sleep? — will occupy the wee hours until 7:00 AM Saturday morning. Registration and permission slips are required. Permission slips will be available starting February 3, and participants will be selected February 19.

For Kids

Read Across Lawrence for Kids kicks off in style with a pizza party provided by Papa John’s on Saturday, January 30 from 2-3 PM in the Library Auditorium. Lawrence’s youngest readers will get free copies of The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and watch as the library reveals a time capsule to be filled throughout February and sealed at the Read Across Lawrence finale.

Kids are invited to “capture time” by creating and decorating objects to be included in the library’s time capsule with help from the folks at the Spencer Museum of Art (Feb 3), and soar through the solar system in a dance workshop presented by Ellie Goudie-Averill of the Lawrence Arts Center (Feb 10). Local artists Kent Smith and Matthew Lord will guide children through a wacky hunt to find aliens — and who knows what else — in the library (Feb 13).

On Friday, February 19 from 2-3 PM in the Library Auditorium, the Cosmosphere returns to talk with kids about life in space and what it’s like to be an astronaut. Mad Science will be at the library for an exploration of gravity, centrifugal force, and the laws of motion with a rocket-propelled car demonstration carrying one brave kid from the audience (Feb 25). The Spencer Museum of Art will investigate outer space, constellations, and planets with kids while creating art that is out-of-this-world (Feb 26).

The finale event for Read Across Lawrence for Kids will include a Skype interview with the author himself. Adam Rex, artist and writer, will answer questions about The True Meaning of Smekday and the library will seal its time capsule until Read Across Lawrence 2021!

For more information call 785-843-3833.

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IMAGE: Detail of “Library After Hours Fundraiser” invitation by Billy Pilgrim—we owe him an astronomical high-five for the wonderful design! Read Across Lawrence is an annual community-wide reading event that encourages everyone in Lawrence to read and discuss the same book. Scheduled for February 2016, Read Across Lawrence features books for children, teens, and adults that explore outer space.

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