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In the Spotlight

Our New Friend Libby

It’s no secret how much I love Hoopla. I’ve been known to chat to anyone about it at the library and in my book clubs (and at the grocery store, the bar, the laundromat… pretty much anywhere.) It’s just so easy to use and I’m a bit of a give-upper when it comes to confusing technological processes. That’s why I was SO excited when I heard that Overdrive (something I shied away from in the past) released a brand new user-friendly app to use! Meet my new friend, Libby. Not only does Libby offer amazing audiobooks and ebooks for free with your library card, but it does it with a way more visually appealing and easy-to-navigate interface than before.

Because Hoopla offers content constantly without holds (yay!) it sometimes means that there are titles that aren’t available in that catalog yet (boo.) Libby, on the other hand, offers access to some of those hard-to-find hits, and the occasional holds list is usually super short (or nonexistent.) It also gives you the option of previewing audiobooks, whether or not they are immediately available, which is AWESOME for those of us who judge a book pretty quickly by its narrator.

If you’re tech savvier than I am, feel free to just head to your preferred app store and get going on Libby. If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a little walk-through for browsing for, checking out, and opening content…

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Reading Water, Hearing Trees

It’s Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday! In honor of the man who’s mostly famous for sitting by a pond, here’s a look at a few recent books that might be of interest – whether or not you choose to go to the woods, build a cabin, and live deliberately. Read More..

I See London, I See France

Is brevity the soul of wit, or just briefs?  I should have asked my 8th grade English teacher Mr. King, the seat of whose pants ripped wide open as he sprinted toward first base during our annual kids-versus-teachers softball game.

Like all great teachers, he was a master at problem-solving on the run: rather than hold up at first and face down scores of us 8th graders yucking it up at his expense, he never broke stride after he hit the bag, but made a beeline straight for the teacher’s parking lot, jumped in his car, and drove off. Read More..

Into the Woods: A Different Take on Beach Reads

When I was growing up, “going on vacation” was synonymous with “going to the beach.” Every summer, my parents loaded me and my brothers in our beat-up Ford Aerostar – books and Barbies in tow for yours truly – and trekked seven hours straight south from our house in Alabama to a condo in Florida, where we’d spend a week splashing in the pool and building sandcastles with our grandparents and cousins.

I know how fortunate we were to have access to vacations like that.  But growing up, even as I loved visiting our favorite beach haunts, I was also frustrated that we never took trips elsewhere. If my parents had vacation time, we went to the beach. The end.

I would love to say that I handled that preference with generosity of both spirit and manner, but alas, I was a human child, so instead I complained about it endlessly. Even today, when summer rolls around and I get the chance to do some traveling, I’m unlikely to head toward a coast. (I’m also so pale that I basically reflect the sun back on itself, but that’s neither here nor there.)

The result: I have a somewhat fraught relationship with so-called “beach reads.” Read More..

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..

Hope for Social Justice

I am hopeful that this 4th of July will inspire more than just a feeling of patriotism or nationalism. I am hopeful that it will instead encourage hope for social justice and move away from a nationalism that leans dangerously toward prejudice and injustices—especially during this national holiday.

I offer the books highlighted here as powerful tools for instilling hope to energize us towards social justice work and unify our differences.

Local author Diane Silver is writing a series of books using hope as daily meditations. Her first, Your Daily Shot of Hope, is a positive way to counter aggression and prejudice expressed by politicians. Meditating on hope becomes energizing fuel—energizing us to stand up to injustices and allowing us to trust that we can make a positive change if we take action. Read More..

Tips and Tricks for Overcoming a Reading Slump

It’s no secret that I love books and that reading and exploring new stories is a major part of who I am as a person. Consequently, when I encounter a particularly brutal reading slump, it’s like a part of me is missing.

It’s hard not to take it personally, when so much of my life revolves around spreading the joy of reading and introducing new people to books that might change their life or perhaps even make their day that much better.

For whatever reason, the past few months I haven’t been able to enjoy much reading at all. Nothing seems to call out to me, and when I do manage to pick up a book, there is a pattern to them – they’re non-fiction books that a) cover important topics, but are also b) incredibly depressing. Occasionally I have picked up a fiction book only to quit in frustration after only a few pages. I can’t seem to shake this literary black cloud that’s been hovering over my head. Read More..

The Chaperone Keeps Rolling with PBS Adaption

When the news was announced last month that Masterpiece would be adapting The Chaperone by Lawrence author Laura Moriarty and that it would be scripted by Julian Fellowes and starring Elizabeth McGovern (both of Downton Abbey fame, left), I was so emotionally overcome, I nearly got the vapors.

The news was announced smack-dab in the middle of my Moriarty Read Fest. I had recently plowed through The Rest of her Life and The Center of Everything and had become an instant fan. The Chaperone was already next on my to-read list… and, of course, I’ve been building and sculpting my obsession with Downton Abbey for years now. I mean, what isn’t there to love? The drama! The fashion! The villains! And the fact that every over-the-top scenario takes place before a beautiful background (in Downton’s case the rolling, English countryside) just makes the show all that more enjoyable. Read More..

For the Love of American Gods

Brian Reitzell is one of the greatest contemporary composers of our generation. You may have heard of him from his well-known work on The Virgin Suicides or Lost in Translation, but I first fell in love with Reitzell’s music after watching the canceled-way-too-soon series Hannibal on NBC. Reitzell manages to create music that is unlike anything you’ve ever heard, so imagine my delight when he joined forces with Bryan Fuller again after their stellar collaboration on Hannibal to bring the world of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to life for Starz. Read More..

Listen Up: Audiobook Month Listener’s Advisory

This summer, whether you’re traveling, commuting, or taking a little staycation, audiobooks can be a perfect companion. The challenge is finding one that matches your tastes, which can be a little trickier than just picking a “great book.” Here are a few tips and suggestions for helping you find your next great listen:

Audiobook-recommending guru Renee Young has some appeal terms that you can use when browsing or asking for audiobooks. Think of these as basic lingo that can help you feel less overwhelmed and narrow down your selections. Read More..