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LPL Welcomes Legendary Gospel, R&B, and Grammy-winning Singer Mavis Staples

We are thrilled to announce legendary R&B and gospel singer Mavis Staples as our 780s Series music storyteller for 2018. She is a Grammy Award winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, and Kennedy Center Honoree.

Ms. Staples will spend an evening in Lawrence to share stories from her 60+ year music career on WedAPR 4 at 7:30 PM at Liberty Hall. Dr. Randal Jelks will lead the conversation. He is an awarding winning Professor of American Studies and African and African American Studies. The 9th Street Baptist Church Choir will sing before Ms. Staples takes the stage.

“The 780s Series with Mavis Staples” coincides with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Mavis Staples is the embodiment of the gospel impulse in music,” said Brad Allen, library executive director. “She has sung songs of that have lifted people up for over 60 years, both as a member of the Staple Singers and as a solo artist. With April 4th marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am humbled and awestruck at our opportunity to bring to Lawrence such an iconic legend of both African American music and the 1960s Freedom Movement.”

The program is free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Doors open at 6:30 PM.

​Here’s Mavis singing for the Obamas at the White House!

Ms. Staples began her singing career in 1948 at age nine, a small girl with a big voice in her family gospel group, The Staple Singers. The Staple Singers emerged as one of the biggest gospel acts of the 1950s, evolved to become an important part both of the 1960s African American freedom movement and folk music scene, and finally ending up as a chart-topping soul group in the 1970s. Their biggest hit, “I’ll Take You There,” has been called “the epitome of the Muscle Shoals sound” and ranks #276 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Now let’s go back to 1972 with “Respect Yourself” from the Wattstax Concert with Mavis, Pops and her sisters…

Ms. Staples, now 78, continues to make records and perform live. She won her first Grammy with the 2010 album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame. Her most recent recording, If All I Was Was Black, another collaboration with Mr. Tweedy, was released in November 2017 and is one of her best, commenting directly on our current racial struggles in the United States.


Named for the Dewey Decimal range for music, the 780s Series is a gift to our community from the Harrison Family Fund of the Douglas County Community Foundation. The Series brings prominent music storytellers to Lawrence to share the stories behind their music. Previous guests have included Booker T. Jones (2015), Kim Gordon (2016), and Jimmy Webb (2017).

780s 2018 Mavis Staples logo suite





AUMI Kindness Jam: What Does Kindness Sound Like?

February is kindness month, so on Tuesday, FEB 27 from 4:30-6 PM in our SOUND+VISION Studio, we’re gathering teams of musicians to practice using the AUMI instrument, then competing for the kindest jam!

What is AUMI? The Adaptive Use Musical Instruments app enables you to play sounds and musical phrases through movement and gestures.

AUMI adapts to all bodies and abilities, so everyone can make, and enjoy music!

PS — There’s a Facebook event to follow, too.

Luaka Bop and the World Psychedelic Classics

Almost 30 years ago, David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) founded a record label “to turn people onto stuff [he] liked.” Because he’s David Byrne, and because he’s eminently cooler than you or me, the stuff he liked was Brazilian pop music.

In January of ‘89 Byrne released his first compilation, Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical. Three other Brazil Classics followed. From there, Luaka Bop–a record label name Byrne nicked off some tea packaging– and along with its eyeballed, “rather obscure Masonic” logo started to jump all over the globe. Cuba, England, India, West Africa, Japan, etc.

I wish I could claim to be a lifetime follower of Luaka Bop, but the truth is I’m a new convert. I hadn’t heard of the label until I stumbled upon the fifth of its World Psychedelic Classics series, Who is William Onyeabor? a year or two back. Read More..

Handpicked Just for You!

Lots of LPL staff are avid gamers, music explorers, and movie watchers. And now we get to share our favorite “looks, plays, and listens” with you.

Our new LookPlayListen display in the media room is chock-full of staff picks. Each item comes with a sweet lil’ summary of why we loved it in hopes that you’ll take it home and love it, too.

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Don’t Forget the Bootleg Series

There’s no dearth of Bob Dylan’s music. Last year the septuagenarian nobel laureate singing  songwriting extraordinaire released yet another LP. That brings him to a total of 37 studio albums, 58 singles, 11 live “albums”—some of which, like the 32 disc The 1966 Live Recordings defy any conventional definition of the word album—another 31 compilation albums, and a whole mess of collaborations. And that’s not all, as any Dylanologist worth their salt will tell you, don’t forget TheBootleg Series. Read More..

Attention Hoopla Users!

If you’re a hoopla user, starting Tuesday September 5, you’ll notice a few changes to the service.

After thoughtful evaluation, we’ve made some decisions that will yield a bigger bang for your buck and allow us to focus on what’s in demand. We’ve tried to anticipate questions below, but if we missed something, email Tricia or William for answers.

In a Nutshell:

  • You’ll have a NEW monthly check out limit of 4 per library card (was 5)
  • Audiobooks, eBooks and Comics will still be available for checkout
  • Movies, TV shows, and music will no longer be available for checkout
  • A daily spending limit will apply (see below)

Q: Why are you lowering the monthly checkout limit from 5 to 4?

The library pays an average of $2.19 for every title you check out from Hoopla — regardless of whether you read it or not. In reviewing our stats, we found that the majority of patrons use no more than 3 checkouts. By lowering the checkouts to four, we can better manage the overall cost to the library while evening the playing field between our power users and those who only check out a few titles a month.

Q: Why are Hoopla videos and music going away?

It’s hard for the library to compete with video and music streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora and other sources for cheap or free popular content. In the past year, we’ve found that Audiobooks and eBooks are the most popular formats on Hoopla. By turning off Hoopla videos and music, we can focus our budget on providing the content that’s most in demand and not easily available to you otherwise.

For streaming video, we would encourage you to check out Kanopy. With over 26,000 movies, documentaries, and indie and foreign films from over hundreds of producers, Kanopy provides libraries content that you normally can’t get from consumer streaming services like Netflix, including The Criterion Collection and The Great Courses.

Q: I got a message that says, “Our daily limit has been reached. Please continue to browse, add favorites and come back tomorrow.” What does that mean?

We now have a daily spending cap on Hoopla to moderate how much we spend on Hoopla each month. For example, when we take the monthly budget of $8150 / 31 days =  $263 per day. When the daily cap has been reached, no one will be able to check out for the rest of the day. This doesn’t mean you’ve lost any of your 4 checkouts — just that you’ll have to wait until the daily limit is reset. This occurs around 7 PM CST.

Q: What time of day is the daily limit reset?

The daily budget resets at midnight universal time, which will vary between 6 PM and 7 PM Lawrence time, depending on daylight savings.

Summer Soundtracks

Ah summer.

Grown-up summer has a lot going against it. The days of three month summer vacation are long gone, and the electricity bill is higher than ever. The humidity leaves your shirt sticking to your back the moment you step outside, and getting into your car will cook you alive. The scent of chlorine is everywhere. But despite it all, I love summertime.

Part of that is the soundtrack.

Every year, starting in the late spring and going right through August, I do a little time travelling. Old friends like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, and, of course, the “Fab Four” keep me constant company. A couple of classic seventies acts make appearances as well.

Is it the weather? Is it the image of hippy dippy types frolicking in the sun? I don’t know. There’s nothing to stop me from listening to these fellas year round, but for whatever reason they inevitably take over around now. It just makes sense!

Am I alone here? I got a handful of LPL audiophiles to share their summer soundtracks to find out. Read More..


On Thursday, July 20  at 11 AM and 2 PM in the Auditorium, FIRE DOG will be performing at LPL!!!!! FIRE DOG is a powerful trio of musicians that skillfully harness youthful energy and sophisticated songwriting. Their songs are humorous, poignant, original, and entertaining. This summer FIRE DOG brings you new educational tunes from their album “Endangered Species Project. TWO FREE SHOWS! ALL AGES!

All-ages Dinner + A Movie: LEGO Batman

Join us on Friday, June 23 from 7:30-11 PM for hot dogs, and smoothies, and crepes, oh my!

Downtown Lawrence Inc. and Lawrence Public Library invite you to eat some grub, listen to some music, and watch a movie. Grab dinner from local vendors at 7:30, settle in for some music from Joel Bonner and the Boot Stompers, then at 9, we’ll push play!

Watch the trailer!

Dreaming the Beatles

Rob Sheffield, a music columnist with twenty years experience who currently writes for Rolling Stone magazine has recently released a new book: Dreaming the Beatles. Roughly ten years ago, I read Sheffield’s first book, Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, a heart wrenching autobiographical memoir concerning his late wife and their shared passion for music via the art of the mix tape.

And in 2016, Sheffield produced another emotional collection, On Bowie, a homage to David Bowie’s legacy as told through fan’s memories, as well as his own. It was a read that left me as gutted as Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, due to the artist’s passing months prior. Now, if there is one thing that Rob Sheffield excels at, it’s portraying the visceral connection between music fans and the musicians they admire, so when I picked up Dreaming the Beatles I knew it was my ticket to ride. Read More..