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Melissa Fisher Isaacs

Digital Douglas County History: Get Digging!

Do you enjoy spelunking for local history? If so, we’ve got a goldmine for you: in January, we launched a new tool for digging into our community’s past–the Digital Douglas County History portal (find it at http://history.lplks.org, or on our Genealogy and Local History page under the Research Resources tab on the library’s homepage). This project, a collaborative venture of the Watkins Community Museum, the Douglas County Genealogical Society, and the Lawrence Public Library, features hundreds of images of Lawrence faces, places, and events. Read More..

Suss Out Your Truthiness

Two definitions:

Post-truth: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Truthiness: “Believing something that feels true, even if it isn’t supported by fact.”

Quick: conjure the zeitgeist with a single word. A decade ago, that word (according to Merriam-Webster) was “truthiness.” This year, the feeling of truthiness is back with a sequel:  citing a 2000% increase in its use during the year, Oxford Dictionaries has proclaimed “post-truth” to be the word that best reflects the spirit of the times. These two words are subtly different in meaning, but both point to a reliance on feeling rather than objective fact in decision-making. Read More..

Tiny Houses, Big Magic

For the last decade-and-a-half, my husband and I have been DIYing our quirky old East Lawrence home. Every year, right around now, our inner squirrels kick in: with skies and temperatures lowering, it’s time to batten down the hatches and start seriously cozifying the nest. Read More..

Three Graphic Novel Recommendations, Part 2

If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class, you’ve no doubt heard the writing workshop mantra: “Show, don’t tell.” Combine that with the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and you’ve got the sweet spot that graphic novels inhabit–a medium that can pair compelling narrative with evocative illustrations can convey nuances of emotion and experience unavailable to words alone. Read More..

Dancing with the Family Skeleton: Family Memoirs

I’ve come to believe that every family is like a country unto itself, each with its own culture and customs, each member of that family a citizen of a singular homeland. In all our interactions with “foreigners”—that is, anyone who is not a member of the family in which we were raised—we come as ambassadors and interpreters from our native land.

So it’s no surprise that someone seeking to better understand their own experiences might delve into their family’s history for insight, or that a well-written family memoir can make for extremely compelling reading. Playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote that “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” Here are a few examples of family memoirs that confront the skeletons in the closet and come out dancing: 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..

Local History And More At LPL

Interested in researching your roots? Investigating the history of your house? Heard about one of the many pivotal historic events that happened right here in Lawrence, and want to learn more about it? The Information Services team at Lawrence Public Library is here to help! Our Local History room is a quiet, light-filled space on our lower level, and a treasure trove of resources to help you get started on your research. Read More..

Prepare For the Worst—And Enjoy Every Moment of It!

Let’s say that a sudden accident has left you stranded and alone on a faraway planet (Does this scenario ring some bells? If not, come by the Library to check out a copy of this year’s Read Across Lawrence pick, Andy Weir’s The Martian). How on (off?) Earth are you going to get out of this predicament?

Between you and me, if you find yourself in this situation, you’re going to wish you had spent some time at the library, because it’s knowledge and know-how that can give you a fighting chance. Want to study up in case you find yourself involved in an interplanetary mishap? I’ve got a few reading suggestions to get you started! Read More..