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In the Spotlight

Strangers in a Strange Land

Things have changed a lot around here, if you haven’t noticed. With instant RFID check-out stations, solar tubes, and a huge automated check-in machine, the newest incarnation of your Lawrence Public Library might seem more like a spacecraft than a book repository. It looks like it could lift off for a cosmic voyage. Read More..

September is Teen Health Month

September is Teen Health Month at the Lawrence Public Library.

We want teens to start the school year off right by eating nutritious foods, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. The benefits: more energy, better grades, healthy growth and reduced risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes.

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Adventures in Extreme Reading

Author Phyllis Rose wants to take you on a literary experiment like none other.  The Shelf: From LEQ to LES opens in the stacks of the New York Society Library, where Rose has taken it upon herself to read across a single shelf of fiction in order to learn about a variety of novels in a completely arbitrary way.  “Usually we choose our reading from a preselected list of books, compiled by reviewers, award panels, librarians, teachers, and professors,” Rose explains.  “What about all those books that are never read at all, never even considered?  Let me, I thought, if only for a change, choose my reading almost blindly.  Who knows what I will find?”   Read More..

Sleepreading

One of the great joys of parenting toddlers for me has been the newly acquired skill to perform basic human functions while half asleep.  Specifically, I’ve found much pleasure in recent years reading aloud to my kids, and silently to myself, in a state approaching unconsciousness.  Having never come close to mastering the art of lucid dreaming, which always sounded so fun, this may be as close as I will get to operating in the plane of the surreal (unless you count an ill-conceived game my 3-year old and I play sometimes called “Food Coloring and Shaving Cream”).  I find the benefits—strange connections between the text and various subconscious flights of my own weary, wandering mind—usually outweigh the drawbacks, which have included the replacement of P. D. Eastman’s deathless prose with my own inappropriate word salad.  My biggest complaint about reading half asleep is the simple inevitability of falling totally asleep within a few paragraphs or pages, and frequently forgetting most of what I’ve read.  But I figured there must be writing that lends itself to this mode of consumption, and after a brief quest for the perfect book to read in a half asleep state, I believe I’ve found it. Read More..

YA for Grownups

There’s been a bit of an uproar about a recent  article on Slate about how grownups should be embarrassed to read young adult literature.  But if you’ve been a part of the vibrant, thriving community of adults who these books for long, you know this is nothing new. There are all kinds of click-bait articles written with the intention of shaming the (mostly women) readers who enjoy books with teen characters and coming of age stories, whether they are poignant and realistic or dystopian drama.

Confession: I used to be one of those people.

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New Catalog

Although this isn’t a review of great books, our new catalog is awesome for exploring new titles, seeing patron and library staff comments and reviews, and organizing books into lists – a lot of what we do on our In the Spotlight blog!

If you want to check out the new capabilities before we officially switch over, give it a trial run at www.lawrence.bibliocommons.com. So far, we’ve received great feedback on the new site! Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.

Some of our favorite features of the new catalog include:

  • Patrons create a username (won’t have to type your barcode every time you want to place a hold!)
  • Ability to make, share, and see other people’s book lists (great vacation reads, mysteries for middle grades, Matilda’s epic reading list, and more)
  • Can rate and review titles you like (or dislike!)
  • Add books to your shelves: read, in progress, or for later
  • See great staff picks
  • Better search capabilities (want to find new music? Type “new music”)
  • Future mobile app!
  • Plus all of the previous features of placing holds, renewing books, paying fines online, and more.

*Bonus: if you visit the library, we have the new catalog on one of our new touchscreen monitors!

We’d love to hear what you think of the new catalog or if you have any questions!

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” –Jorge Luis Borges

I walked into the Carnegie building that chilly spring morning as the newest employee of the Lawrence Public Library.  The library had moved to its temporary location and this all-staff gathering was an opportunity to meet as team and envision our library’s future.  The keynote speaker that day was Nancy Rosenwald who, having recently helped elevate her South Carolina library to Best Small Library in America, was there to share her expertise.  Rosenwald invited us to be “agents for change” in this profession of “vital and transformative work”.  She spoke of public libraries as “third places”, free grounds for social interaction that are not in the home or work sphere, where the magic of community can unfold.  “Foster the human connection,” she urged us, “love the children and get to yes!”

It was inspiring.  And it got me to thinking: Where would we be without our public library system?   Read More..

Listing Heavily

As the dust settles on our big RFID tagging project, I’m left, as usual, with a bunch of titles.  Like many a bookworm, I’ve kept lists of books for years: books to read, books I have read, books that balance really well on top of my head, etc.  It seems at times that the compulsion to make lists of books may be just as powerful as the one that leads us to rack up library fines or stay up later at night reading than is good for us.  During RFID week, we all pitched in to unshelve each item in the library, place an adhesive RFID tag on it, program each tag with the ability to communicate with our catalog, then reshelve it.  This assembly line was designed to function as quickly as possible, but also seemed custom-made to pollute my life with yet another list of books, since the time involved in handling each allowed only the briefest exposure, just long enough to notice, one after the other, the hundreds of titles passing through our hands.  When a book called The Un-Constipated Gourmet came to me, as I’m sure you would agree, I really had no choice but to start a new list.  Read More..

Nerd Nite 27: Earth, Wind, and Fire

 

 

 

 

Nothing says spring in Kansas like Earth, Wind, and Fire. If you want to dig deeper on the subject, our presenters have put together some great resources for your perusal.

Don’t know what Nerd Nite is? Check out our local page (http://lawrence.nerdnite.com) for speaker bios and the origin story involving a bar, a nerd, and an indigo bird!

And you should probably put a hold on this, since we’re all thinking it anyway (unfortunately we just have one Earth, Wind, and Fire album, something that will be remedied soon).

Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture

With the role of the landscape architect increasing in importance, this first comprehensive survey of the art and practice of landscape architecture fills a great need. Norman T. Newton has included over 400 illustrations in his book, which conveys a basic understanding of the aims and scope of landscape architecture and offers visual analyses of major historic works, each in the context of its own time. The first third of the study is concerned with landscape architecture in the Western world, mainly Europe, from ancient times to the mid-nineteenth century. But the major part of the work is devoted to the development of landscape architecture in the century that has passed since it acquired the status of a profession and an independent discipline. Concentrating primarily on the United States, Mr. Newton reviews his subject from its beginnings in colonial days to the work of Olmsted, Vaux, Cleveland, Weidenmann, Eliot, Platt, and the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He discusses the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the “City Beautiful” movement and the growth of city planning, the Country Place Era, town planning in England and America, American national and state parks, parkways, urban open spaces, and recent variations in professional practice. Mr. Newton concludes his book with a timely discussion of the vital role that landscape architecture plays in the conservation of natural resources and in protection of the environment.

Architecture: Form, Space, and Order

For more than thirty years, the beautifully illustrated Architecture: Form, Space, and Order has been the classic introduction to the basic vocabulary of architectural design. The updated Third Edition features expanded sections on circulation, light, views, and site context, along with new considerations of environmental factors, building codes, and contemporary examples of form, space, and order.

This classic visual reference helps both students and practicing architects understand the basic vocabulary of architectural design by examining how form and space are ordered in the built environment. Using his trademark meticulous drawing, Professor Ching shows the relationship between fundamental elements of architecture through the ages and across cultural boundaries. By looking at these seminal ideas, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order encourages the reader to look critically at the built environment and promotes a more evocative understanding of architecture.

The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm

tornado

Filled with dramatic accounts of tornado touchdowns, this book addresses the whirlwind of questions surrounding the phenomenon of the tornado. How often does a tornado hit a particular location? How fast are the winds? Do tornadoes really seek out trailer parks? Can they actually defeather a chicken? How many tornadoes hit the United States every year? How big can tornadoes grow? Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado research meteorologist and founder of the Tornado Project, has been a consultant for television specials including Cyclone (National Geographic), Target Tornado (The Weather Channel), Forces of Nature (CBS), and others, providing answers to these questions for the general public. Here he sets the record straight about tornado risk, the Fujita Scale, and the number of tornadoes occurring annually. He also sheds light on misconceptions and contradictory theories about tornadoes. Recreating the incredible drama so often accompanying interactions between people and tornadoes. The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm provides detailed meteorological and statistical information on these marvels of nature, which are among the most fascinating scientific puzzles on the planet.–BOOK JACKET. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Tornado Chasers

storm kinds

James Espy, the first meteorologist in America, thought of tornadoes as “rapidly rising column[s] of air” that operated according to the laws of steam power, pumping warm air into cold; his lifelong rival, William Redfield, maintained that the storms were “gigantic whirlwind[s], spinning around a moving center like a top.” Though they were essentially espousing “two halves of the same process,” they were never able to reconcile their differences and find common ground. Sandlin, however, deftly synthesizes and illuminates the duality of his title-both the tornado itself, which early settlers in America referred to as “the Storm King”; and the individuals who made it their life’s work to document, predict, and better understand those despots of the plains. Legendary storms roil throughout the text, from the funnel of fire-or as one eyewitness (whose eyeballs were consequently seared) described it, “the finger of God”-that destroyed Peshtigo, Wis., in 1871, scorching over a million acres and killing 1,500 people, to the Tristate Tornado of 1925, which rampaged for 219 miles across parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. On ground level, Sandlin describes mankind’s efforts to comprehend storms, from Ben Franklin’s famous kite experiment to the F1-5 intensity rating system developed by Japanese immigrant Tetsuya Fujita. Sandlin makes talking about the weather much more than a conversational nicety-he makes it come brilliantly to life. 16 pages of b&w illus. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne and Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Tornado Alley: Monster Storms of the Great Plains

tornado alley

Bluestein, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, has been pursuing tornadoes since long before storm-chasing emerged as a hobby of choice for thrill seekers. Though his motivation is primarily scientific, he acknowledges the role awe plays in his quest to understand these violent yet magnificent storms. He invites readers to accompany him on his two decades of storm-tracking through the famed “Tornado Alley” of the American Great Plains. When Bluestein points excitedly at a tornado or cloud formation, he directs the reader’s gaze not to the power of the event alone, but also to details of its form and dynamics. In doing so, he employs the straightforward and often detailed discourse of the enthusiastic scientist discussing the topic that has driven his intellectual life. The book’s historical organization traces the development of severe-weather science through the last half-century, from early anecdotal observations to today’s high-technology measurements. The story ends where it began: at the dawn of a new quest into fuller understanding of the origin and development of these monster storms, demanding ever more detailed observations using ever advancing technology, plus an ample dose of old-fashioned human curiosity and awe. Myriad illustrations and vivid photographs, many of which Bluestein himself shot, help break up the dense technical prose. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes

economic and societal impacts of tornadoes

For almost a decade, economists Kevin M. Simmons and Daniel Sutter have been studying the economic impacts and social consequences of the approximately 1,200 tornadoes that touch down across the United States annually. During this time, Simmons and Sutter have been compiling information from sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census in order to examine the casualties caused by tornadoes and to evaluate the National Weather Service’s efforts to reduce these casualties. In Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes, Simmons and Sutter present their findings. This analysis will be extremely useful to anyone studying meteorology and imperative for anyone working in emergency disaster management.

 

 

 

The Charcoal Foundry

charcoal foundry

If you can build a sand castle or make a mud pie you can make a sand mold to produce castings for your metal shop projects. It really is cheap and easy with a simple solid fuel furnace.Here are plans to build the melting furnace and instructions for basic pattern making and molding to get your shop project under way. Charcoal is the fuel and aluminum and zinc alloys are the metals to cast. None of the pulsation or roar associated with gas fired furnaces. Build your own molding bench and flasks. Make your own melting pots and most of the simple tools required. Discover how cheap and easy it is.Even if you already have a lathe and other equipment this simple foundry setup will greatly expand the capacity of your shop by providing you with a supply of cheap castings for your projects.Discover why so many shop hands say “Metal Casting has opened a whole new world of shop experience”. Heavily illustrated with many photographs that will show you step – by – step how to build a foundry.

 

 

 

Building a Gas Fired Crucible Furnace

crucible furnace

Dave designed this furnace especially for the home shop foundry. Very quiet in operation. Easy to light and simple to operate. The body and lid raise for safer crucible handling. Operates on natural or bottled gas. Costs only a fraction of the price of a commercially built unit and it will melt aluminum, brass and even gray iron.

 

 

 

 

The best page on the net for hobby foundry & casting ideas.

The best forum on the net for nearer-to-professional quality foundry & casting advice.

 

 

 

 

Three to Share

For some of us, the beauty of a book lies in the solitude, the way we dive into the pages and lose ourselves in the gentle current of others’ lives.  The world falls away, time is contained and dispersed through the whim and work of the author.  Left to revel in silence, the reader listens only to sound of the imagination.  For others, a book is something to be passed around, a currency of connection that can spawn ideas, spur inspiration.  A coffee table book, a novel read aloud to a lover, a family’s favorite bed time story: we crave these literary tangos much in the way we savor cooking together, sharing a good movie.  Lately I’ve taken to keeping a few interesting library books on my coffee table, ready to be recommended to family and friends. Today I’d like to share with you a few excellent shareables, all new to our library, and all relying on photography to tell their unique tale… Read More..