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My Missouri 2021 Photo Project Exhibit

In celebration of its 200th year, Missouri 2021, an initiative of The State Historical Society of Missouri, coordinated the My Missouri 2021 Photo Project and it’s visiting our library!

In 2018, Missouri 2021 invited professional and amateur photographers from across the state to capture and share unique and meaningful aspects of place in Missouri. Of the nearly 1,000 photographs submitted, 200 were chosen for a traveling exhibition – including several of Joplin and surrounding areas!

My Missouri 2021 is oriented around the four seasons and showcases the geographic and cultural landscape of the state. They provide an opportunity on the occasion of Missouri’s Bicentennial to reflect upon and increase the understanding of the state’s rich diversity while recognizing the many things its people share. My Missouri 2021 will be in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery (off of our lobby) from Saturday, September 4, 2021, through Sunday, September 26, 2021.

Shelter Insurance® is the platinum sponsor of the My Missouri 2021 exhibition. The exhibition was designed by PRO Expo Exhibits, the gold sponsor for the show, and supported by contributors to The State Historical Society of Missouri. Exhibits in the library are curated by Post Art Library. For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

 

 

Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

This book review is a celebration of sorts of both the Missouri Bicentennial (2021) and National Preservation Month, also known as Historic Preservation Month (May). In Historic Missouri Roadsides, author, historian, and preservationist Bill Hart takes us on a two-lane highway trip through several of Missouri’s small-town destinations, introducing us to, or reacquainting us with, what they have to offer.

Before taking us on the road, Hart breaks down the “how to” of using his book, pointing out that how long each trip takes to complete is, in fact, up to the traveler. Each stop along two-lane Missouri includes basic historical information about the place, suggestions for where to eat and stay, as well as for where to visit and what to do. Hart reminds us that these trips are meant to be leisurely rather than a race from point A to point B: “Chill. You’re not traveling on two lanes to win any races […].”

These adventures are arranged neatly into six road trips: Missouri Highway 79 / The River Road; El Camino Real; Route 100 / Gottfried Duden & the Lewis and Clark Trail; Osage Hills and Prairies; Mostly Route 24; and The Platte Purchase. Each tour begins with a summary about the trip and information about where, exactly, to start, and each town visited within a given tour clearly directs us to the next town. Although it is possible to reach some of these points using freeways, I recommend following Hart’s directions, as exploring what’s along our byways (rather than the sameness of our freeways) is the beauty of venturing out in the first place.

I feel a special kinship with this book as I start to travel about again. It’s a fantastic resource for those of us who wish to start by seeing what the places close to home have to show us. One of my favorite things about this title is that the largest city we’re guided through is St. Joseph, with a current population of about 73,400, give or take, whereas the smallest cities are only in the double digits.

Don’t get me wrong – I love visiting Kansas City, St. Louis, and other larger Missouri cities – but Missouri has much outside of those cities to show us. For example, a 1910 Beaux Arts-style post office in Nevada; the historic Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs; a theatre in Blackwater, where productions written and directed by a local playwright are featured and locals serve free punch and cake during intermission; and landmark bluffs and other natural sites in tiny towns like Arrow Rock. We may even opt for additional “side trips” that take us into more remote areas of the State, such as Lithium, which, once upon a time, was a Victorian resort town.

Hart touches on the prehistory of Missouri, mentioning which Indian tribes traversed which areas before European American settlement, as well as tells the story of town names and sites that take their name from Native American and early European American history. He also makes mention of conservation areas, national register listings and districts, state parks and historic sites, persons of note, and more.

Not to mention the wonderful photographs, which enhance the stories of these lesser-known Missouri places. Check out the magnificent 1884 Second Empire Federal Courthouse on page 20, the picturesque view from the Fourche à Duclos Roadside Park on page 43, or the Old Dutch Hotel and Tavern’s neon sign in Washington on page 86.

It’s worth mentioning that two editions of this book are published and that the second edition is expanded to include “Destinations,” which are meant as stand-alone places to visit rather than a guided road trip. These destinations include St. Joseph, Glasgow, The Boonslick area, Fulton, Sedalia, and the Arcadia Valley.

As noted in his foreword, this book is “a travel book, a history book, a photography book, and more.” Indeed, it is all that and more. It is an opposition to what Hart describes as “Generica,” or the commodification of place and product. The fast-food chains and big-box stores found along our freeways and in our commercial districts, for example, all of which look the same regardless of locale. Hart encourages us to turn away from Generica for the uniqueness of “what lies right beneath [our] noses here in the Show-Me State.” Not only does he encourage us in this direction, but he literally tells us how to get there.

Happy trails and, as always, happy reading.

Find in catalog.

Random Treasures from the Stacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disasters: Poems  selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins with pictures by Wolf Erlbruch

Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers: A Little Book of Whimsy and Wisdom from the Files of the New York Public Library  New York Public Library, illustrated by Barry Blitt

Smithsonian Handbook of Interesting Insects by Gavin R. Broad, Blanca Huertas, Ashley H. Kirk-Spriggs, and Dmitry Telnov

Sometimes in life you find treasures where (or when) you least expect them–in a sock drawer, a box in the attic, a coat pocket.  (Hello, $20 bill!)  I love those moments of serendipity, those little happy accidents that bring a surprise and brighten my day.  On my way to this week’s book review, I happened upon some delightful gems tucked away on the library shelves, and I’m excited to share them with you!

I found this treat in the Children’s Department.  Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disasters: Poems is a picture book of 14 poems just right for “one of those days”.  In a year overflowing with “those days”, this book nails it.  Editor Lee Bennett Hopkins gathers from a variety of poets verses designed to validate children’s feelings in situations that make a day “one of those”.  Ranging across regret (cutting off your braids on dare), fear (being stuck alone at the top of the Ferris wheel), loneliness (watching your friend move away), stage fright (freezing up during your big debut), panic (being separated on the first day of school), embarrassment (giving the wrong answer during class), and more, the poems–some poignant, some humorous–allow readers to recognize and understand that life is a mix of the good and the not-so-much.  Illustrator Wolf Erlbruch balances the potentially overwhelming feelings with warmth and humor.  I chuckled and groaned at Kate McAllaster Weaver’s poem about disgust, “Oh, No!”: “Hello apple! / Shiny red. / CHOMP. CHOMP. / Hello worm. / Where’s your head?”  The look Erlbruch drew on the boy’s face is priceless.  Give this book to early elementary students and their grown-ups to read and discuss together.

I never thought I’d use the words “beauty” and “delight” to describe a book of insects, yet here I am applying them to the Smithsonian Handbook of Interesting Insects by Gavin R. Broad, Blanca Huertas, Ashley H. Kirk-Spriggs, and Dmitry Telnov.  Finding it was truly a happy accident!  In my experience, insect books are for identifying recently-dispatched intruders.  This is not a dry, clinical field guide to household pests; instead, it’s a gorgeous photography book.  Thick yet compact in size, it is an easily portable and robust collection of striking beetles, flies, ants, moths, bees, wasps, and butterflies.  Each entry is a two-page, minimalist spread of a full-color photo on a white background accompanied by the specimen’s common name, scientific name, size, “distribution” (current range), and a paragraph of basic information or an interesting fact.  Don’t look to this title for comprehensive coverage of the insect world; it is exactly what it advertises–a book of interesting insects, many of them not found in the American Midwest.  Enjoy the photography that places their quirky natural beauty front and center.  The specimens are truly a wonder!  The purple shine of the Darkling Beetle’s shell is deep and radiant like a Siberian amethyst, and the Orchard Cuckoo Bee’s blue-green iridescence is almost three-dimensional in the way it pops from the page.  The hairy patterns on the Thistledown Velvet Ant surprisingly resemble a Halloween costume.  This book is an eye-opening look at select insects (no murder hornets here, thankfully) and is guaranteed to spark the interest of nature lovers elementary age to adult.

And now for something completely different!  From the 1940s until the late 1980s, the New York Public Library kept a file of intriguing reference questions written or typed on index cards.  Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers: A Little Book of Whimsy and Wisdom from the Files of the New York Public Library brings highlights from those files to a Google-centric world.  Compiled by a committee of New York Public Library staff and illustrated by Barry Blitt, this pocket/purse-sized title offers chuckles and makes you say, “hmmm”.  Some entries are dated, very much of their time, and some remain relevant today.  Each entry consists of an original question from the files and its year asked followed by an answer as if it were being asked currently.  Muted watercolor illustrations in a palette of blues, greens, browns, and reds are sprinkled throughout.  One of my favorite questions was asked in 1983, “Is there a list of buildings that were designed and built in the shape of fruits and vegetables?”  Across the page, King Kong sits atop a giant carrot swatting at airplanes.  Someone in 1944 desperately needed to know, “Is it possible to keep an octopus in a private home?”  (Spoiler alert: be sure to keep a tight lid on the tank because they’re escape artists.)  If you’re an adult looking for a book that’s short and light and fun, try this one.

You never know what treasures you’ll find at the Joplin Public Library.  Stop by or call us at (417) 623-7953 to find out more.  See you soon!

Antique Photographs on Display

Gone are the days of laborious photographic processes. Most of us use cellphones rather than cameras to take photos. No doubt – and more often than not – the photos we take remain stored on electronic devices or in virtual clouds instead of tangibly tucked away in albums gracing our shelves or frames decorating our walls.

With modern technology, it’s understandably easy to forget about historic photographic processes, such as those used to make ambrotypes, CdVs, and tintypes. Fortunately, we still benefit from the results of these processes by way of antique photographs, such as those in Allen Shirley’s collection, a selection of which we’re showing now through March 2019.

Although the display is largely comprised of tintypes, a photograph made by a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark enamel, it includes a small selection of ambrotypes, a positive photograph on glass, and carte de visite photos, a type of small photograph patented in Paris. The photographs depict George and Martha Washington; Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln; Edgar Allen Poe; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Frederick Douglass; Albert Einstein; Sitting Bull; Calamity Jane; Annie Oakley; the aftermath of Gettysburg and other Civil War era photographs; and more.

Library exhibitions and displays are curated by Post Art Library. Their mission is to enrich the community of Joplin by perpetuating Dr. Winfred L. and Elizabeth C. Post’s love of art, architecture, history, and history preservation through public access to arts-related library resources and services, educational programming, events, and exhibits. Visit www.postartlibrary.org for more information.

A Trio of Space Non-Fiction Titles

The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA, text by Nirmala Nataraj

The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration: From the Ancient World to the Extraterrestrial Future by Roger D. Launius

The Practical Astronomer by Will Gater and Anton Vamplew

 

Temperatures have been chilly and, by the time you see these words in print, winter weather may have made its mark on the Four States.  What better time to think ahead to summer reading! I’ve spent the recent grey days anticipating sunshine and combing through titles for next year’s summer reading program.

Space is the theme for 2019’s summer reading fun, and the library is preparing to share “A Universe of Stories” with everyone.  It’s a rich topic: mechanical space exploration continues with the recent InSight lander on Mars plus next July will mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.  Publishers have noticed, and many interesting books featuring space and astronomy are out there. Take a look at these featured titles for engaging non-fiction with adult and teen appeal.

If you like space exploration but aren’t ready to commit to astronaut life, try The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration: From the Ancient World to the Extraterrestrial Future by Roger D. Launius.  Don’t let the long title deter you from the interesting content.  Chock full of illuminating text and a variety of illustrations, this selection provides a broad look at mechanical and human space endeavors.  The book follows chronological order with the first chapter an overview of astronomy and rocketry from ancient Egypt to World War II–a tall order for a single chapter.  The rest of the nearly 400-page tome brings space flight from the 1940s to the present encompassing lunar expeditions (the Apollo program), orbital systems (Space Shuttle, International Space Station), and observational voyages in and beyond our solar system (Voyager, Pioneer, Cassini).  The book ends with chapters featuring current efforts (Mars, space tourism) and speculating about future possibilities (lunar colonization, interstellar exploration). It’s a lot of ground to cover, but it’s done broadly and serviceably. This title is packed with fantastic illustrations–photographs, diagrams, charts, posters–plenty of engaging eye candy.  There are sidebars on various topics scattered throughout along with sections highlighting outer space in pop culture. Offer this book to teens with a passion for space exploration, aeronautics, or innovation history and to adults with broader interests. Approach this book over multiple, short visits for maximum enjoyment; don’t take on the entire universe all at once.

Picture books can be tons of fun for all ages.  The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA is a fantastic example for the 12-and-older crowd.  With text by Nirmala Nataraj and a preface by Bill Nye (the Science Guy), the content pairs perfectly with the rich photographs.  Concise, informative captions pack facts with just the right amount of detail plus an observational tone, resulting in readable paragraphs that leave you eager for more without feeling overwhelmed.  It’s easy to linger over the amazing photography, enjoying the book in small portions and coming back to it again and again. There is definitely something new to see each time. Or, equally rewarding, indulge in all 251 pages at one sitting.  The book is versatile enough to handle either approach. Arranged in solar system order with a chapter for each planet, The Planets includes Pluto in the chapter “Other Bodies of the Solar System” along with the sun, various moons, a comet, and an asteroid.  However, NASA’s stunning photography is the real star here. Whether color or black-and-white, the images range from intriguing (“Martian Dust Devil”, page 107) to spectacular (“Venus Transit”, page 34) to achingly beautiful (solar images, pages 208-9).  The spread “A Backlit View of Saturn” (pages 150-51) alone is worth picking up the book.

Even if you love NASA photography, there’s something to be said for personally viewing the night sky.  The Practical Astronomer (2nd edition) by Will Gater and Anton Vamplew is a handy tool for doing just that.  Published by Dorling Kindersley, this book offers the usual DK goodness–clear illustrations, clean layout, bite-sized informative text, helpful sidebars–albeit in a compact package compared to their children’s titles.  The photographs, diagrams, drawings, and artworks shine without overpowering the factual content. Topics include an introduction to celestial bodies, star charts for both hemispheres year round, tips for viewing and recording the heavens, plus valuable reference tables of star stats to aid viewing.  My favorite section is “Pathfinders” which introduces constellations from around the globe; each two-page spread shows how to find the sequence in the sky, the location of major stars or objects within it, and the story behind its name. This title begs to be used rather than merely read; it’s a fantastic resource for casual stargazers, budding astronomers, family entertainment, Scout badges, or homeschool coursework.

Whether you’re an enthusiast or a dabbler when it comes to outer space, there are plenty of good books on the subject.  You can find these and many more at the Joplin Public Library–stop by and try one today!