From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
Kansas literature often gets a bad rap. No doubt people who call us “flyover country” don’t even think there is such a thing. About the only book related to our state that comes to mind for most people is “The Wizard of Oz” and even then folks say, “Dorothy just wanted to get out of Kansas.” To which I respond, “but the book is about her desire to return home.” (“In Cold Blood” is the other well-known Kansas literary work, which probably isn’t the best PR for the state, but it is a good read).

There’s so many books set in Kansas—some better than others—and/or books written by Kansans and I have felt duty-bound to promote them. Because I’m very nerdy when it comes to books and reading, I’ve enjoyed attending the Kansas Book Festival and listening to various authors speak about their books.

I try to make sure our collection holds most of the titles on the annual Kansas Notable Books lists. Hosting authors here at the library gives me a rush—they are my rock stars. From A (Tom Averill) to Y (Max Yoho) and in-between, there are Kansas authors on our shelves writing in various genres and nonfiction subjects for all ages.

Many of you may not be aware we have a special Kansas section with shelves full of mostly non-fiction titles. Many are first-person accounts, both historical and modern-day, of growing up and living in Kansas. Want to learn about Kansas oddities or outlaws or the inland sea that once covered our state? Well, I can grab you a book about those. Perhaps you’d rather read a biography of famous Kansans—we have those, too.

The historian part of me wants everyone to learn about our state—the good and the bad. The motto, “Ad Astra per Aspera” (To the Stars Through Difficulties) is so appropriate when you know the the history and background of Kansas statehood. Here’s a bit of trivia for you: James Buchanan was president when Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861—not Abraham Lincoln. Although elected in November of 1860, Lincoln did not take the oath of office until March 4, 1861. Most people assume it was Lincoln; if they read books about Kansas, they’d know.

If you’re out and about on Monday, stop by the library and grab a book off our Kansas display. I might even sing “Home on the Range” for you.