Month: October 2022

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Indigenous K-State

Indigenous K-State

By Audrey Swartz, Adult Services Librarian II and Reader’s Advisory

Indigenous Kansas was the theme of this year’s October 10th Indigenous People’s Day, hosted at K-State by the members of the Indigenous Faculty Staff Alliance (IFSA). IFSA is composed of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty and staff from across the university. They work through all levels of the university and community to support diversity and inclusion across the board. I have proudly been a member since my arrival in Kansas in 2016.  With their encouragement, I quickly found a home, gained many new Aunties, and became curious about the Indigenous history at K-State, which led me on a multi-year journey and research project. This focus on Kansas Indigeneity respired my curiosity about how Indigenous students were or weren’t documented in K-State history.

For this article I re-visited several K-State history books that we, at Manhattan Public Library, have in our collection.  The first book I read is “The History of Kansas State College of Agricultural and Applied Science.”  J.T. Willard’s book, along with the index, documents the university from 1862-1939. Willard’s book is extensive and covers everything from where and who the earlier settlers were to each budget line of a department. He was specific in the topics he chose and painstakingly exact about every detail, minus one. There is no mention or clue in his book of who the first Indigenous students could be. His book ends before the university’s first Black students can be mentioned, George Washington Owens graduated in 1899 and Minnie Howell Campbell in 1901. Other K-State history books in our collection follow this template but tend to be less intense, such as J.D. Walters’s book, “History of The Kansas State Agricultural College”.  Walters’ book is a brief overview of university history from 1855-1908. He also fails to mention any students of color. These resources did not aid me in attempts to re-insert the Indigenous narrative back into the institutional record, a problem that is not new.

There was a clear hole in the collection that needed to be filled. This is a reality across the board, in relation to people of color. Work, hard work, is just producing results to find, document, and insert peoples into the collective narrative that were purposefully left out. In her book, “Born of Lakes and Plains,” Anne F. Hyde follows 5 mixed-blood families through the 19th century. She documents the displacement of mixed-bloods during the 19th century because of blood quantum and land allotment politics. She deftly demonstrates the challenges that mixed-blooded folk have with keeping their history in the bigger story. In a similar vein, Margaret D. Jacobs’ book, “After One Hundred Winters,” traces the systematic racism and racial injustice Indigenous people face. She documents how communities are working together to heal historical wounds. Her book also takes time to examine the history of colonialism and the efforts people are going through to heal.

In this case, I was trying to both document and put this story back into the collective narrative. I began this research as a side project, but that quickly changed. With help from Alex Wulfkuhle and Cassie Wefald, we tracked any mention of Indian/Native/Native American/American Indian/Indigenous people in the digitized newspapers at K-State.

Following a trail from the “Industrialist”, we found two likely candidates: the Davidson brothers from Indian territory-Fort Sill and the Cobb family from Indian territory-Oklahoma. The Davidson brothers proved easy to track, because of their connection to a fort, and it is likely they were traditional white students, whose father happened to teach Military Sciences at the college. The Cobb family proved more difficult to trace. In an “Industrialist” article we found a sentence about Samuel Cobb Jr. sharing his Cherokee culture to fellow students. Latching onto that, I went down a rabbit hole of genealogical research, archives research, and a bunch of Googling. What I discovered was fascinating. This family lived on Cherokee land, ranching it, in Georgia, and were forcibly removed to Indian territory, now Wagoner, OK. I can easily trace this family through the federal Indian and tribal rolls, documents that state where people were removed to, what their names are and their family members, and even their blood quantum (the Cobbs’ mother was Cherokee and their father was likely mixed or white). Once they were in Oklahoma, they rebuilt the ranch and helped build the town.

While many history books about K-State are detailed and cover much ground, there is still much work to be done to put the people who were forgotten back into the narrative.

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Regency Remixed: New Twists on a Familiar Genre

Regency Remixed: New Twists on a Familiar Genre

By Crystal Hicks, Collection Services Manager

Since “Bridgerton” first took Netflix by storm in 2020, there’s been a renewed surge of interest in Regency romances. On screens, there’s been “Bridgerton” season two, a similarly-cast adaptation of “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a second season of “Sanditon,” and a remake of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” In print, there’s the usual steady stream of Regency-set romance novels, but a growing swath of these focus on narratives that have thus far been decidedly outside of the mainstream.

The Truth about Dukes” is the first book I’ve read by Grace Burrowes, but it won’t be my last. Robert has had epilepsy since he was a child, and his father sent him to an asylum and even pretended he had died. Years later, Robert has become Duke of Rothhaven and is courting his neighbor Constance, who has a scandalous past of her own. The plot of this book largely revolves around a lawsuit to find Robert mentally unfit because of his epilepsy, with a basis in similar historical legal proceedings. This book is the fifth in its series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Vanessa Riley’s “A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby” focuses on Patience, a West Indian heiress who is imprisoned and separated from her baby after her husband dies. After escaping Bedlam, Patience disguises herself and sneaks back into the house to care for her baby, where she meets her child’s new guardian, Busick, her husband’s cousin. Though Busick has his own war wounds to heal from, he becomes attached to both Patience and baby Lionel, and together Busick and Patience oust the uncle who sent Patience to Bedlam. Riley continues her Rogues and Remarkable Women series with “An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler” and “A Duke, the Spy, an Artist, and a Lie.

Erica Ridley’s newest book about the sprawling adoptive Wynchester family, following the delightful sapphic romance “The Perks of Loving a Wallflower,” is “Nobody’s Princess.” When Kuni de Heusch arrives in London, she’s secretly on a reconnaissance mission to ensure the King of Balcovia’s safety on his future visit; unfortunately, Graham mistakes her for part of the Balcovian royal family and decides she’s a damsel in need of his help. Both Graham and Kuni are Black; one of Graham’s brothers is Black, and he has sisters with hearing loss and chronic illness. For more fun from the Wild Wynchesters series, look for Ridley’s tie-in novellas on Sunflower eLibrary.

Unlike the previous two authors, who set their racially-diverse series within a more-or-less-historically-accurate Regency England, J.J. McAvoy goes for an alternate Regency England in “Aphrodite and the Duke,” one free of racism, like the “Bridgerton” adaptation. Biracial Aphrodite was the diamond of her first season, but unforeseen circumstances and family secrets left her abandoned by her betrothed, Evander. Years later, both of them return to the marriage mart to support family members in their debut seasons. This time, widower Evander hopes to win Aphrodite back, but can he regain her trust?

Prolific romance author Alexis Hall (of the fabulous books “Boyfriend Material” and “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake”) turns to Regency England with “A Lady for a Duke.” When Viola was presumed dead at the Battle of Waterloo, she seized the opportunity to live life on her own terms and transitioned to living as a woman. Back home in England, Viola acts as paid companion for her sister-in-law and tries to forget about her childhood best friend, Justin. Justin, meanwhile, hasn’t recovered from the loss of his best friend at Waterloo and has fallen into a deep depression, so his sister calls on Viola’s family for aid. When Justin and Viola reconnect, they share an attraction even before he recognizes her, and it only deepens from there.

An honorable mention goes out to Adriana Herrera’s “A Caribbean Heiress in Paris,” since it’s not a Regency book, but instead takes place at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Luz Alana travels from Santo Domingo to expand her family’s rum business, planning to avoid love and focus on business. Of course, she captures the attention of James, an earl in Paris to sell his whisky, and a marriage of convenience—plus love—blossoms. Let’s hope this is the first in a series!

Whether romance is your thrill or another genre gets your heart pounding, the library has plenty of new books to satisfy every reader. Stop on by to see what new books we have on the shelf!

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Stories to Share on Sweetest Day

Stories to Share on Sweetest Day

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Today is Sweetest Day, a little-known holiday reportedly started by the candy industry more than 100 years ago, and celebrated similarly to Valentine’s Day in some spots of the Midwest. But Sweetest Day has the added impact of encouraging other sweet actions as well, such as helping your neighbors, doing acts of kindness, and giving gifts to friends and people in need. These themes show up in many children’s books, I think because children have a big heart for people who need some uplifting, and children are excellent purveyors of love and kindness with the ability to melt the hearts of others. Here are some sweet books to share with children to celebrate the holiday.

Still This Love Goes On” by Buffy Sainte-Marie and illustrated by Julie Flett just came out this fall. If you recognize the author’s name, you may know of Buffy Sainte-Marie as a singer and songwriter. She’s been around since the days of Janis Joplin, singing and advocating for Indigenous rights, and she now adds author to her list of accomplishments. “Still This Love Goes On” is a beautifully-illustrated picture book that is a love song to “the people and our Cree ways, precious like the fragrance of sweetgrass,” Sainte-Marie says in her author’s note. The earth-toned pictures focus on the land and seasons, and on song and dance, sharing positive vibes of love, strength, and beauty. For an added bonus, search the title on YouTube to hear Sainte-Marie sing the book’s sweet lyrics as you flip through the pages.

Can Sophie Change the World?” by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and illustrated by Aura Lewis is a sweet story about the power of kindness. Sophie adores her grandpop but doesn’t know what to get him for his birthday. When she asks him, he tells her to change the world “by doing kind deeds! Give me a mitzvah, a kind deed! More than anything, that’s what I want.” Sophie spends the week trying to find ways to change the world, but her kind actions don’t seem to amount to anything that big. That’s when Grandpop listens to her and explains that kindness can be big or small, but it always changes the world. This story shows us how we can be agents of change throughout our daily lives, a concept children can get on board with.

A similar message is illustrated in Marta Bartolj’s wordless picture book, “Every Little Kindness.” It begins with a woman leaving her home, looking sad, and putting up a poster for her lost dog. She sees a street musician and decides to give him her apple, which in turn makes both of them feel better, and it is witnessed by another a man passing by. Every small act of kindness inspires another person to do a kind deed as they go along their ways. Eventually the kindness returns to the first woman when her dog is found and returned to her. With no words to guide the story, “Every Little Kindness” must be interpreted by the readers, sparking conversation and attention to details. Bartolj’s story helps children practice empathy as they recognize the emotions characters are feeling and interpret how their actions affect others.

Giving gifts to those we love is a fun part of Sweetest Day. In Lane Smith’s newest picture book, “A Gift for Nana,” a little bunny goes on a long quest to find the perfect gift for his Nana. It isn’t her birthday, or even “a major hare holiday,” but Rabbit knows his Nana deserves a wonderful gift. On his journey, he talks to the moon, a “stickler” (a multi-eyed creature made of sticks), and a volcano, but none have the perfect gift. When he finally finds the perfect thing, he heads to Nana’s house, where she has the perfect, sweetest reply. Nanas really are the best.

Other sweet stories to try from the library’s new books display shelves include “The World’s Longest Licorice Rope” by Matt Myers, “Always with You, Always with Me” by Rowland Kelly, and “Mister Rogers’ Gift of Music” by Donna Cangelosi. Give a hug, plant some kindness, and enjoy your Sweetest Day together.


by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Read a Book or Three on Your Next Vacation

Read a Book or Three on Your Next Vacation

By Jared Richards, Public Services Manager

I recently went on a vacation where I had copious amounts of time to read. That doesn’t happen very often anymore. Despite one of the greatest misconceptions about working in a library, I don’t sit around at work reading books, and when I get home there are other distractions that readily pull me away from reading, like watching a tiny human or doing adult things like washing dishes. But when the opportunity presents itself to sit in the shade on a nice day reading books for hours, I do my best to embrace it.

I stumbled across “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes when I picked it at random for a project. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and this is one of the few times I’ve actually been excited to find out a book is part of a series because I can’t wait to jump into the others.

Our protagonist, Avery Grambs, is a clever teenager who has been through some hard times but is just trying to keep her head down so she can get through high school and make it to college. Then a mysterious billionaire, who she’s never met, leaves most of his fortune to her in his will, with the caveat that she must move to his large estate and live there for a year. The sprawling house is filled with secret passages, multiple libraries, and a bowling alley. Oh, and the family that has just been disinherited, because they’re still allowed to live there. Mysteries and puzzle-solving ensue as Avery and the billionaire’s grandsons attempt to figure out the patriarch’s motive.

It has been quite awhile since a book has sucked me in so thoroughly. This is partially due to the fact that each chapter is only a few pages long, with ninety-one chapters all together. Like Pringles or lives in “Super Mario Bros.,” with chapters so short it’s too easy to say “just one more,” and then find yourself still reading an hour later when everyone else has gone to sleep.

The Gentleman” by Forrest Leo is the funniest book I have read in a while, with a plot even more incredible than a teenager inheriting billions of dollars from a stranger. Lionel Savage is a poet in Victorian London, and he decides to marry for money, not love, after his butler informs him that he’s broke. Lionel immediately regrets this decision because he thinks being married to someone he doesn’t actually like has affected his poetry. This regret is superseded by an even larger regret following a visit with the Devil at a party, after which his wife disappears and he is left only with the assumption that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the Devil, and the dawning realization that he might actually love his wife.

Upon this realization, Lionel enlists the help of his wife’s adventurous brother, his recently expelled younger sister, his knowledgeable butler, and the inventor of a flying machine, with the goal of going to Hell to rescue his wife. Along the way Lionel must survive duels, the barbs of a rival poet, an inventors’ club prone to fires, and the stress of trying to prove that “Devil” can be pronounced as one syllable so it fits in his poem. This book reminded me a lot of P. G. Wodehouse’s characters Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. If you’re a fan of books like “My Man Jeeves,” I think you’ll like “The Gentleman.”

Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable” looks at disasters throughout history, including interviews with survivors, and presents research about why humans react the way they do in those types of dangerous situations. This understanding will hopefully help readers if they happen to find themselves in a disaster.

It’s a fascinating book, but I chose two of the worst times to read it. The first, right before bed, which made it hard to fall asleep with all of the potential chaos running through my head. And the second, on a plane, while reading a passage about plane crashes. So save this book for a nice, sunny day, or maybe when you’re hanging out in a secure, underground bunker. But definitely read it.

Having returned from vacation, my book perusal has predictably dropped precipitously. Not quite to pre-vacation levels, however, because I am actively making time for reading. The structure of it is not quite as fun as lazing about on vacation, but I can put on some ocean sounds and at least pretend.

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

ReadMHK explores the Refugee and immigrant experience through books

ReadMHK explores the Refugee and immigrant experience through books

By Jan Johnson, Teen Librarian

The ReadMHK topic for October is refugee and immigrant experiences. As someone who has grown up in Kansas all her life, this is a topic I’m not familiar with first hand. This is the genesis of ReadMHK: learning about other people, their struggles, their triumphs, and their lives by reading stories about situations that are unfamiliar to us. Even though we all experience life differently, when we take the time to find the similarities to our own lives, it helps us gain more understanding and empathy.

Non-fiction of course gives us first hand accounts of what people experience as refugees and immigrants. But, fiction can give us an account of what someone’s everyday life looks like. Below are several choices of both. Books of both types help some of us foster empathy and understanding, while providing a chance for others to read about their own realities on the page.

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience,” edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond, is a collection of poems. This collection focuses on topics that are typical for many first- and second-generation young adult refugees and immigrants, like homesickness, cultural differences, language barriers, racism, and questioning their identity. As Craig Santos Perez writes, “Remember: our ancestors taught us how to carry our culture in the canoes of our bodies / Remember: our people, scattered like stars, form new constellations when we gather / Remember: home is not simply a house, village, or island: home is an archipelago of belonging.”

We Are Displaced” by Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai takes us on a journey as she recounts stories from women she met visiting refugee camps, as well as her own experience being an Internally Displaced Person in Pakistan. When she was a young child, she lost her home, community, and only life she’d ever know. Yousafzai talks to other young women about their experiences being displaced from the homes they knew and loved. She gets to the heart of their stories, sharing their incredibly personal narratives to allow us to better understand their experiences.

When we meet Natasha in “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon, she is just over 12 hours away from being deported back to Jamaica, after living in New York City for the past decade with her family, because her father got a DUI. Daniel is on his way to his shoo-in Ivy League college interview to become a doctor, the path his South Korean-born father has decided for him, even though his heart is that of a poet. They meet by chance and spend the day falling in love. I’m not one for love stories, but the way this one plays out is unique. We get to know and love these two in the day they spend together, as they navigate their families and reevaluate their expectations of what their futures look like. This is a beautiful look at humans and our stories of how we navigate the world. As a side note, the young man who plays Daniel in the film adaptation is an MHS alumni!

2021 Pura Belpré Award winner, “Efrén Divided” by Ernesto Cisneros, also a nominee for this year’s William Allen White award, focuses on 12-year-old Efrén and his family. An American-born Mexican, Efren takes on the responsibilities of caring of his younger siblings when his Amá is deported during an ICE raid. We get a first-hand glimpse of what happens when a family is divided by deportation and the effects it has on young children. Grab a hanky and get ready to root for Efrén as he navigates his new responsibilities and the hurt of missing his mother.

Join us for several activities centered around our October theme for ReadMHK, refugee and immigrant experiences. On October 6, our DIY night, adult programming librarian Jennie will show you how to make puto ube (Filipino steamed rice cake), alongside her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines; registration is required. On October 14th, Dr. Debra Bolton will lead a film discussion on “Strangers in Town,” a film that tells the story of how global migration unexpectedly transformed and enriched Garden City, KS. Members of the community are invited to attend this free program made possible by Humanities Kansas. For more information, go to