Hello, my name is Tim carpenter. Welcome to the Kansas flicker podcast. And today we're going to celebrate the idea of books and reading. And because you know who doesn't love a good book? I'm here with Wolf James, a writer of poetry and a staffer at the Kansas State Library. Welcome. Good morning. Thank you for your time today. I wonder if we could start by just seeing you know, what, what, perhaps are some of your favorite books or the favorite book?
My off the top of my head answer that I secretly plan way in advance for that question is Peter Bentley's girl in the Sea of Cortez. Because then it gets to be the cool kid and be like, yes, that's the guy that wrote jaws. But this book is better. Let me tell you why. Always an English major at heart,
who? And then and then just to lay the groundwork for talking about books and in writing and learning is why do we think books are important?
Books are the transmission of knowledge. Libraries have historically been a place where people gather knowledge and stories and share those things with each other. And that's just as important now as as ever.
Yeah, I think they play a significant role in people's lives. Think about how children reading when they're young, just trying to learn how to communicate with the people around them. You know, it's knowledge, intellect, history, culture.
Dolly Parton. Thanks. So
to she does, yeah. Enhances imagination, creativity. There's a lot of things. All right. So the real not here, Wolf is we're going to we're going to delve into the services and offerings and and just really what what Kansans all Kansans can draw from their state library system. So you want to you want to introduce the system that we have here in Kansas, because I have a feeling there's some people that don't even know where to begin.
And I would be one of them. As I have begun learning about all the ins and outs of the State Library of Kansas. I have discovered many different services and ways of getting to information that even as an avid reader, I had never, I had never encountered before. The place that most people start I think is ebooks, audiobooks. Folks who like those are generally always looking for, hey, where can I find that in the format that I like. And the State Library has some nice resources to look around and find new books or just books in a different format. And then that kind of brings us to other things that are in digital formats. Research Databases and things that people probably most of the public equate to scholars and academics, those are things that are available to everyone, everyone from you know, K through 12, to, you know, looking up how to work on your 1987. Jimmy, or whatever. All of those resources are available to Kansans.
The beginning point might be to get a user card, you use your card, or could you just walk into the State Library in the Kansas capitol building and start plowing through the online resources,
there are a few different ways you can go about it. Most users are going to get an E card from their public library that's local to them. Anyone can go to the State Library's physical location and to pico when we're open Monday through Friday, eight to five. And there is a physical library card and physical materials that can be checked out. Those can also be checked out through Interlibrary Loan. Lots of fun stuff, there are some you know academic things, very old things like a book from the 1700s. It's in a nice little cage because it's very old. That you know that don't leave the building. But there are lots of things that you can check out
with such quickly about the library building that's in the capital. It's on the third floor of the Capitol which the whole place has been renovated and it's quite nice. And the library to one of the unusual things. Sometimes I sit in there at a at a, at a table and work on new stories. And the ambience is lovely. But sitting around me, there are many old books. There's some newer books, there's audio books sitting over there, I think. And, and so I can see a big file cabinet that if you pull a drawer out it has a bunch of maps in it. They're their old county maps. And I just think that's fascinating. But one of the things that occurs throughout my time sitting there from there for a couple hours is people on tours, but walk into the building, and they go up in the second floor. We'll call it of the library and do what?
They walk on the glass floor. Yeah. So
pretty cool. Tell me about the glass floor. I always I do it. And you think yeah, surely I'm going to fall through. But no,
if I haven't, you won't either. So tourists come through all the time, school kids. Politicians have people visiting just folks wandering through Topeka and, and walk in and do that. When the tours get to the State Library, generally this field starts with kind of what we've already talked about, here's where you can get library things. And then they talk about the brass sunflowers in the iron work around the magazine railings, and the stenciling and all of the different things. But yeah, the glass floors seems to be the big attraction. And there are reasons for those not just because they're pretty. The first female state librarian any digs around 1900 chose the shelving and those floors and the electrical lighting for that matter, purposely to reduce the incidence of fire in the library. The glass floors let in more light electric lighting, you know, in 1901 was probably not super bright. And every little bit helped.
Yeah, it is it is such a lovely space and and the floors is is unique. I think I mean, I've never seen anything like it before. It's certainly certainly wouldn't build such such a thing today, you wouldn't think probably not. Yeah. So that's the third floor, any sense of the reach of the State Library Network in terms of serving the interests of of Kansans out there?
Well, there are just under 70,000 active state library digital cards. But not everyone who uses State Library Services necessarily has an E card. The electronic digital resources that the State Library provides, sometimes come to Kansans through their public library or their school. For 2022. Those resources served 374 public library buildings, just over 2.5 million patrons 2,024k through 12 school buildings serving just over 500,000 school students and 86 academic institutions serving just under 200,000 students.
No, I think certainly, certainly Kansans are have the opportunity to take advantage of these resources, and many of them do so.
We're thinking about other programs, the library, there's ebooks, but there's a Kansas talking books system. There's Braille books. It's a federal repository library of US government publications.
Yeah. There. There are records of every state agency and organization housed there either physically or digitally. If you have a hankering to read agricultural reports from 1873 Have at it there there.
Not a lot of tractors.
Probably roll not, I would guess.
Steam rolling it STEAM tractors rolling around. Well, I
guess you could name your horse tractor that might Yeah, there you go. Some of the other resources KGI Kansas government information online library has more records and I can even rattle off. There are some cool blogs. If you're into you know Kansas history that's a really good place to get some of your research
interrupted, what is the internet? Internet? It's dot gov what what is it? Where can people go to start exploring the talking books and the repository,
the homepage is ks li b dot info. We also have, you know, Facebook and Instagram because, okay, cool like that, even though we're old,
because you can just Google State Library and being it would be, it absolutely does other than trying to remember anything.
But you mentioned the Kansas Talking Books program, that is a program that serves Kansans with print disabilities, of all ages, could be someone with low vision or who has issues holding a book, whatever the issue is, that may prevent them from enjoying our fine library services. And that program actually has dedicated library services to help eligible patrons find things that they want to read, get things in a format that's usable for them. Their apps, they're the you know, the cassette readers that some folks may remember all kinds of things. And I think the most unique thing about that particular program, other than, you know, they have their own library programming, book clubs and, and all sorts of things. They also have a studio where they are able to record and locally produce titles that are relevant to Kansas and Kansas. And that could be magazines or books by Kansas authors. It's a pretty amazing resource. Some of those locally produced books do really well, in the national catalog, more, folks, that's
fascinating. I love that resource. Real. I've tried to, you know, you run your hand across Braille, it's a little bewildering.
Well, they have those resources, too. We actually unveiled a Braille resource kit to circulate, just in March,
to try to introduce more people to the potential of Braille. Yep,
children's books, different toys. coloring pages with race lines, so that they can experience what someone with low vision or who is blind may interact with. Their are a couple of great children's books in that set that actually have the Braille overlays so that kids can experience that with a couple of story walks. If you've seen those different parks, there's a couple of those in the state that actually have Braille.
Oh, yeah, sure. Sure. Sure. There's a part of of what y'all do that I love. It's called Kansas, notable books. And do you want to explain what the program is?
Notable books is an annual, an annual program that selects 15 books that were published the previous year by Kansans, or about Kansans. And they are celebrated throughout the year. There are bookmarks and posters and all that sort of thing. There's also a grant that we offer to public libraries across the state to have those books available in their collections.
So I, I looked online last night, it looks like this program has been run for, we'll say 15 years or so maybe 2006. And so, you know, the it's the selections are books by Kansans, but also of of Kansas, so there's some that are, you know, I have this book called White Hot hate, and it's it's about the Garden City terrorist bombings of a handful of years ago. It was written by somebody who doesn't live in Kansas, but certainly really a piece of Kansas there. And another book in this list that I was familiar with was the policing sex in the Sunflower State. It was about how women who contracted venereal disease 1000s of them over Over the years were put into an industrial farm facility and held there because they had an illness. But, you know, it's just this bit of history that somehow gets buried just by the decades, you know. Yeah. And so when somebody can write about it and pull it all together, and and, you know, I think that's just really valuable other books on this list that that, that you've read or interested in. There's a blue collar St. It's book of poetry.
There are a couple, actually, right before the list was released last year. Lucas? I can never say his last name correctly, but busier, but it's brassiere he's from Oh, you. Down down in Norman. It's the one about water.
Oh, on on on the Ogallala Aquifer. Yeah. So I know what you're talking about. I actually just draining the aquifer,
I was able to hear him speak at Topeka Public Library. After having read that book, and that was a really awesome experience just
news fascinating when you can read something, and then you hear from the authors themselves. And with this program, if I'm not mistaken, when these are announced, and they have an event of capital, and some of the authors do come to Kansas and interact with people.
Yeah, for the most part. I mean, there is a ceremony at the Kansas Book Festival in September, there's a bit of a speech and they are awarded medals and that sort of thing and, and recognized
festivals open to the public, people can come and and enjoy the books and kind of get in touch with this, this, these lists are great, I think because, you know, I could quit my job and read 200 books a year, or I can have people help me with list of good books that that will winnow it down for me, I need these lists. It's just like music. So yeah, I appreciate these lists. And I really think it's important to tip your hat to Kansans, you know, and Kansas subjects.
A little birdie says that you may really enjoy this year's list.
Oh, okay. All right. Good deal. Excellent. So when will that come out?
I'm not sure what the exact release date is. But we're finalizing
sometime in the summer. Yeah, it comes out, it comes out in advance of so people are aware of when the September event occurs, and
public libraries will have had them for a while and that sort of thing.
Right. Good deal. So there's a there's a lot of joy that comes from books, there's also some sorrow, I guess that's part of writing, you know, laughter or something for everybody, a little laughter, a little few tears. But there is this movement afoot in the United States and probably other countries about book banning and just trying to get books removed from shelves. You know, to me, it just smacks of censorship. It's a little odd. That that you know, and perhaps a threatened to democracy you know, as a, as somebody who works in a library, somebody who cares about books has written poetry, what how do you how do you react to this kind of movement?
We're in the business of sharing books. You know, there are a lot of things that can be said,
for the goings on in the greater library community. But I think when it comes back to Kansas the overall movement is for more connectedness, our summer reading program nationally, but that has really kicked off in Kansas already is all together now. Is the theme. Really adjusting? And the theme focuses on kindness and caring and working together. And I think that, while it may be a national theme, it is also a very Kansas theme. And I think that that is an issue that most of us can agree on. Sure, that Kansas,
at least at least theoretical terms in the capitol that those kinds of those good vibes good pitched out of the fifth floor window, but I know what
cookies downstairs are delicious. But yeah, the Kansas Book Festival was started by Mary Brown back. I think you're right. Brownback was in office and so, you know, those, those things have carried through. She was actually supposed to be with us just a couple of weeks ago to see Celebrate some grant recipients through the Kansas Book Festival, which is kind of part of that whole notable books Kansas reads to preschoolers, there
are some grants. Yes, programs.
And so, you know, she wasn't able to make it. But the fact that that's still a program that, you know, was started back when her husband was in office, and it's still something that she feels strongly about. And you know, that we are still doing
it is a real achievement to start something like this and have it continue after, after use you the originator. In this case, the the wife of a Kansas governor, steps back from it, and it continues on. I think that's just really remarkable. And clearly a great achievement. I just certainly certainly filled a void, you know, Yep, absolutely. So when we, when we banned books, you know, we were, I was trying to think about this, and it is trying to think about libraries themselves, they're kind of the arbiters of democracy, that the whole idea of education and libraries was to take all these ideas and just flood the room with them. But when we decide to take well, you know, Bluest Eye and the Toni Morrison book, when we decide to just, we'll just pull that one off the shelf, because people don't need to see that, or one of my favorite books To Kill a Mockingbird, which always puzzled me as to why, you know, I could sit and reread that that's the book, I think I could reread 50 times, you know. So. So, in the library world, do you know, do you? Is there an answer to this movement of any kind? I mean, what would what would the American Library Association think about? What do they think about book banning?
Oh, you'd have to ask Cindy Hall. She's the newly elected president of the ALA. She's also over here in Kansas City. So you know. Yeah, I think that is that is kind of the question. What do we do now? And that's where we are,
I think about people throwing challenging certain books. And, and my first instinct would be, particularly if I placed myself as a teenager, you know, going way back when, if you want to ban a book, oh, well, I haven't been to a library a while, but I'm gonna go to the library. I'm going to read that book, you know, if you want to ban it, I'm in. And so I just wonder if, if, if there's just sort of the opposite effect when you people object, you know, in various states to certain books, if it just doesn't drive sales? You know, I think that would just be interesting. If that was true, you know, a bit of an irony.
Maybe that'll be a part of my market research next year. All right.
Before we close out, is there anything else that you want Kansans to know about the State Library and their opportunity to make the best use of it?
The State Library is is your library, Kansas, so you can call us you can go on our website and ask a librarian by email chat. However, you know, whatever fits your your needs. public librarians can direct things or get you materials through Interlibrary Loan. They can email you stuff. It's it's really a vast resource. And it's, it's there. And we're here.
I want to thank wolf James. They serve the interest of readers in Kansas in your library, and I appreciate your work on all of our behalf. And I want to thank you for listening today's podcasts