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In the Spotlight

The library isn’t just for books anymore.

When my wife and I moved to Lawrence last August, one of the first places we visited was the library. It wowed us. We hadn’t yet sold our souls to an internet service provider so we were Netflixless, and LPL’s media collection came to our rescue. The video game collection in particular provided an endless supply of entertainment. I’ve been a gamer (but not a gamer gater) for as long as I can remember, and having free access to hundreds of games at once was a very pleasant surprise. My wallet has never been happier.

At LPL we have quite the game collection. We currently carry games for six systems (Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Playstation 4, and Xbox One) and try to keep up with all the latest and greatest games out there, which can be pretty intimidating. A couple of decades ago when gaming was just getting started, people would have never guessed just how diverse the medium would become; these days there’s a game for everyone. Let’s take a look:                     Read More..

Four* Hoopla Faves!

I tend to have very strong and vocal opinions about things I dislike. This can be frustrating for my loved ones AND extremely embarrassing for myself when I realize just how wrong I was. I can think of three specific items which eventually  caused me to eat my words:

1.) Cottage cheese, 2.) Tom Waits, & 3.) Digital books. Read More..

Wild Adventures Grounded in the Historical Roots of Kansas

Lawrence author George Frazier celebrates the wilderness he finds in Kansas, lyrically linking the present with the past in his new book The Last Wild Places of Kansas: Journeys Into Hidden Landscapes. Read More..

Reading In Westeros

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a major obsession with Game of Thrones.  It means that when April comes around, I can’t stop speculating on what will happen in the new season along with beginning my annual reread of the epic 5,216 page series.

While I’m in a Game of Thrones induced frenzy, I often find myself pondering the following scenario: if characters from the show were to waltz into Lawrence Public Library today, what books would I suggest they read?  Although the following list is not exhaustive, or else we would be here until George R. R. Martin finally finishes The Winds of Winter, here are some Game of Thrones character book pairings featuring some of your favorite fictional personalities.

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Road Trip Idea: Haunted Locations in Kansas

Back when I worked in reference, the library received an envelope postmarked from Santa Rosa, California with our address scrawled across the lower left hand corner in untidy, barely legible print. Inside was a 20 page letter, written in the same hand, requesting information on the alleged paranormal activity at the Eldridge Hotel featured on an episode of My Ghost Story on A&E’s Biography Channel. Read More..

Cranky Kirkus

“It has come to this: werewolves on The Titanic.”

Favorite first lines of novels make great discussion fodder, but book reviews rarely begin with sentences as memorable as that one, which led off a review of Claudia Gray’s Fateful in the curmudgeon of professional book review journals, Kirkus Reviews.  Kirkus is so notoriously grouchy there is even a Tumblr blog dedicated to its crafty disses, Sick Burns: The Best of Kirkus Review’s Worst. Read More..

Kim Gordon: More than A Girl in a Band

OK, I’ll admit it. Up until about a month ago, I knew very little of musician Kim Gordon or her band, Sonic Youth. Yes, get your jaws off the floor. I know this makes me sound terribly old and decidedly unhip. Read More..

Time Travel, With and Without Machines

When I was a kid, I lived in a small town in eastern Missouri. Founded in the eighteen-teens, our little town was a goldmine of semi-abandoned artifacts in various states of disrepair: cemeteries (Daniel Boone was originally buried there!), a spooky old log house, a former general store.

I could spend hours digging  in my yard (I wouldn’t say that my parents were crazy about all the holes), searching for buried remnants of the past.

Whether it was an inherent predilection, or because of this early exposure to the mystery of old things, I found that I loved thinking about the past, wondering what it would have been like to be a different person living in a different time. So, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve spent some of my career working as a public historian, and it’s probably also no surprise that I am drawn to stories about time travel. Read More..

Ode of Time

“April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

                                                                       Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

                                                                         A little life with dried tubers.”

           These are the heralded opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” and words I oft revisit as Mother Nature makes the shift from the dreck of Winter into Spring awakening. At the very least, Eliot is frighteningly accurate about April being the cruelest month in regard to the weather conditions in Kansas. Or, perhaps, he would have altered his word choice if he had been privy to the information that April is National Poetry Month. The world will never know. Read More..

Fresh Cookbooks for Fresh Spring Veggies

For me, there’s no more-definite sign of Spring’s arrival: the return of the Lawrence Farmer’s Market. Beginning this Saturday, fresh, local fruits, vegetables, and more will once again be available to all. Read More..