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Straight Talk About Kansas Health

What can we do to make healthcare accessible to all Kansans? Where are we at in the Affordable Care Act process? Are there alternatives?

Join us for a frank discussion about the state of health in Kansas with Sandy Praeger, former Kansas Insurance Commissioner, and Jim McLean, executive editor of the Kansas Health Institute News Service.

Bring your questions and get some answers on Sunday, October 25 at 2 PM in the Auditorium.

Driving While Black

Join us in the Auditorium on Wednesday, October 14 from 7-8:30 PM, for a new conversation in the Diverse Dialogues on Race and Culture Series.

Leading the discussion is Chuck Epp, professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, and co-author of Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship.

Epp and his colleagues have conducted some of the richest studies on police stops to-date and show that, “who is stopped and how they are treated convey powerful messages about citizenship and racial disparity in the United States.”

This on-going series is co-sponsored by the Lawrence Public Library and the University of Kansas’ Langston Hughes Center.

NEXT MONTH: A timely discussion about Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamist group responsible for bombings, assassinations, and abductions in Africa’s most populous country. Wednesday, November 11, 7 PM.

10 Questions for Karen Russell

Our excitement for Karen Russell’s visit to Lawrence is now in overdrive, especially after meeting for coffee last week (at our respective computers) to talk about books, movies, and the world in general. If you haven’t had a chance to read Russell’s work yet, the following is a great primer for understanding the mind behind Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon GroveGrab some free tickets at the library to Russell’s talk Thursday night, October 15, 7:30 PM at Abe & Jake’s Landing.

1—What are five new books everyone should know about?

Karen Russell: Ok, I’m biased, but my brother Kent’s truly amazing nonfiction book, “I Am Sorry To Have Raised a Timid Son” and my best friend Carey McHugh’s debut book of poems, “American Gramaphone” are two must-reads on my list. And in recent months I’ve been raving about Jim Shepard’s “The Book of Aron,” Joy Williams’ “The Visiting Privilege,” Claire Vaye Watkins’ “Gold, Fame, Citrus,” Robin Black’s “Life Drawing,” Daniel Torday’s “Poxl“—but there are so many more!

2—If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing now?

KR: Oh, my God. What a grim question. Before I could even imagine an answer, I thought, “I’d be fired.” What job would I have recently been fired from? Let’s see. In high school, like Kanye West, I worked full-time at the GAP. After graduate school, I worked at a wonderful veterinary clinic, Symphony Veterinary Center. I loved that job. I also worked for many years at Putney Student Travel, taking teenagers on trips abroad. So I guess that’s my range: folding clothes, getting rabbits their ear medicine, or teaching teenagers Spanish on a tour bus. I’ve always wanted to write, or failing that, to somehow read for a living—it’s hard for me to imagine doing something that didn’t involve the written word. I’m fascinated by science, but I don’t think I have the right skill set to be a scientist. Just ask those rabbits.

3—Did you have a significant mentor?

KR: I’ve had many excellent mentors—amazing writing teachers Edith Skom and Sheila Donohue at Northwestern (I’m always hoping they will self-Google and spot this, so I can publicly thank them). Terrific professors at Columbia University, Ben Marcus and Sam Lipsyte and Stephen O’Connor among them. My editor at Knopf, Jordan Pavlin, is such a source of inspiration and the guiding lighthouse beacon that directs me through the shoals. But I also think you can find your mentors in books—Flannery O’Connor, Joy Williams, Kelly Link, Virginia Woolf, they are mentors, too.

4—How would you describe the world at the time of this interview?

KR: This is a shockingly sad moment here in Oregon—the morning after the Roseburg shootings. But President Obama’s response is a powerful reminder, I think, that our species has the ability and the responsibility to make different choices, to push for a more peaceful and just world. Joy Williams, an author who I deeply admire, was just in town to do a reading, and she talked about the strain of human narcissism, greedy optimism, and self-interested myopia that has resulted in the poisoning of our planet. But we also expressed our hope that a genuine shift in values is occurring–we humans are a mimetic species. It’s encouraging, I think, to see so many people working for change on the local and the national level. I get the sense that people realize we are at a definite turning point, that we really do have to change the way we live, in relation to one another and in relation to the nonhuman world. Just last week, here in Portland, our mayor declared a state of emergency on homelessness, for example.

5—What’s the last great movie you saw?

KR: I really loved “Force Majeur,” and before that “Coherence.” I cannot wait to see that Austrian horror movie with the two twin brothers and the spooky masked lady, “Goodnight Mommy.”

6—What would readers be surprised to know about you?

KR: You know, I’m drawing a real blank here. I’m surprised that I live in Portland, Oregon. Does that count? I grew up in Florida and then spent a decade bouncing around, so it feels incredible to have a permanent address where the mail comes.

7—What haven’t you explored in your work that you’d like to?

KR: Oh, gosh. I feel like one of those Angler fish swishing around with their little umbrella of light, I’ve barely explored anything! I’d love to try and write from the point of view of a sane, well-adjusted adult, for example. That would be a challenging experiment, I think, for me. It would be fun to play with the conventions of a detective story, or do something for young adults. Right now, I’m really interested in trying to write about the fantasy of “home,” and how humans are shaped by their physical landscapes, and vice-versa.

8—What would be the title of your memoir?

KR: “The Botulism Had the Last Word”

9—Why do you write? What’s in it for you?

KR: Yeah, good question! Where’s my gold atrium, where’s the indoor swimming pool? Really, I think the reward is in the making of a story, what you learn as you move forward, and I do often anticipate sharing a world under construction with a reader—it’s the intimacy that has meant the most to me, the merger of minds that can only occur inside a book. I can’t imagine my life without reading and writing—it would be a lonely, narrow life! Jeanette Winterson has a beautiful quote to the effect of, “I need art so that I can feel through form.” I think that’s true for me, too. Feeling through form, thinking through form—there’s a way where a book opens up a world outside of ordinary time, where you can often feel more deeply, and consider a moment more fully, and maybe see something hidden from your view in everyday life. Also, you know, and I always feel strangely shy admitting this, but it can be really fun.

10—What do you want future generations to remember about you?

KR: Oh, dear. You know, I wrote a story about a barn filled with dead presidents who had reincarnated as horses, each of them obsessed with his legacy. I think that story cured me of really worrying too much about how future generations regard me. It’s hard enough to do right by the people you love in this life.

2015 Banned Book Trading Cards for Sale

Check out our gallery of Banned Book Trading Card submissions. Huge thanks to our judges, Porter Arneill, Ben Ahlvers, Meredith Moore, Alicia Kelly, Miriam Wallen, and Heather Kearns, who had the difficult challenge of selecting only 7 pieces out of over 60 entries. Huge thanks go to all of our wonderful artists who submitted work. You blow our minds year after year!

If you’d like to purchase this year’s cards, just click below.


Hey, Parents…It Doesn’t Have to Be “Talkward”

Scared to talk to your teen about sex?

Lawrence Journal World’s “Double Take” columnist Dr. Wes Crenshaw will show you how to have those difficult conversations that revolve around consent and building healthy relationships for your teen.

Join us (and other parents) Wednesday, September 30, from 7–8:30 PM in the Library Auditorium.

You have a voice — register to vote!

Need help filling out the form? Stop by the library and we’ll walk you through it!

Since 2013, Kansas law has required those who are voting in Kansas for the first time to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship during voter registration.

Voters who did not submit proof of citizenship at the time they registered are currently on a “suspense” list, and their registration will not be complete until proof is received by the Douglas County Clerk’s Office.

Did you recently register to vote, and aren’t sure if you’ve completed the process? Click here to check the current Douglas County suspense list. Aren’t sure what forms of I.D. can be used to prove your citizenship? Click here for a list of valid documents.

Have you previously registered to vote in Kansas, but aren’t sure if your registration is current (have you moved, changed your name, or changed your party affiliation)? Check here! Looking for the online Voter Registration Application? Here it is! (You can also print out a form and mail or deliver it to the Douglas County Clerk @ 1100 Massachusetts Street.)

Want more information about the voter registration process in Kansas? Check out the Douglas County Clerk’s website and the Kansas Secretary of State’s VoteKansas website.


Banned Book Trading Cards Revealed

Friday, September 25th at 6:00pm

As part of part of Banned Books Week, we are celebrating the freedom to read with a new series of Banned Book Trading Cards. Local artists will submit their work and a panel of judges of will select seven winners. These winners will be revealed on the September Final Fridays on our grand staircase by none other than the enigmatic Jay Gatsby. Which books will be portrayed? Which artists will be selected? How many knees will give out when we do the charleston? All will be revealed on this magnificent occasion!

Fall Ball

Calling all mathletes, athletes, and fantasy baseball fans!

Mathletic Adventures with Bill James

Sun, Sept 20, 2:00pm

Enter the fascinating world of runs, hits, and pythagorean expectation with Bill James, the local Lawrence legend who inspired the film Moneyball. He’ll talk about how he’s developed and championed the use of sabermetrics to more accurately measure individual player and team performance.

An Evening with Karen Russell

We are thrilled to announce that Karen Russell will open the next chapter in our Ross and Marianna Beach Author series October 15th, at 7:30pm, at Abe & Jakes’s Landing. Russell is the author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Swamplandia, and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Her work is a surrealist mashup that is both funny and haunting. Join us for an evening of humor and stories as Karen talks about what inspires her and how she gives life and voice to her magical worlds. The Raven Bookstore will have copies of her work for sale, and there will be a book signing following Russell’s talk.

Free tickets will be available at the Welcome Desk starting October 1st.

An Evening of Poetry

We are delighted to host our new 2015-2017 poet laureate, Eric McHenry. Come and hear his distinctive voice that wanders from baseball to mysterious parachutists. McHenry is the author of two books of poetry, Potscrubber Lullabies and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, and is the recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007 and the Theodore Roethke Prize in 2011. Join us in the Library Auditorium at 7:00 pm Thursday, August 27th, for and evening of poetry.