A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: With a little help from their friends, libraries continue to improve communities

Like most friends of public libraries, Wayne Onkst is an unabashed bibliophile. As an author, historian, and advocate for literacy, he is proud of Kentucky libraries. “Kentucky has done a good job of establishing a statewide system,” he said. “In 1950, the legislature passed a law that provided for the neutrality of libraries, outside of county government,” he explained, also mentioning the...

Constance Alexander: Author’s visit to Calloway County Library kicks off summer of reading

If they are opened at all, most local libraries don’t unlock the doors until 1 p.m. on Sundays, leaving enough time for church and dinner afterward. Most weekends, library patrons drift in from mid-to-late afternoon, but last Sunday in Calloway County things were different. According to library employee Madeah Daubert, “People started arriving before we opened the doors. Some were already...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating the simple gifts of the holiday season with ‘A Christmas Memory’

The weather has turned cold. Mornings are quiet because the birds have gone south, and when church bells ring, the sound cuts through, loud and clear, in the still winter air.   For a seven-year-old boy named Buddy and his elderly cousin, Miss Sook Falk, that means fruitcake weather has arrived. They have thirty cakes to bake and send to friends from near and far; a tree to be chopped down, dragged...

Constance Alexander: Speaking up, speaking out, speaking the truth even when it hurts

Last week in Murray, about a hundred twenty citizens showed up for a town hall discussion about plans for expansion of the Calloway County Public Library. The same night, close to a hundred people gathered at the Market House Theatre in Paducah for “Democracy & the Informed Citizen,” a statewide project to encourage civil discourse, focused on the novel, “All the King’s Men,” by Kentucky...

Constance Alexander: Three little words from classic book spark timely discussion of timeless issues

Politics, power, and corruption. Can you think of three better words to spark a lively community discussion? On Monday, September 24, at 6:30 p.m., the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a program focused on Robert Penn Warren’s groundbreaking novel All the King’s Men. The book reflects those three little words and provides a launching pad for civil discourse on timeless issues. Readings...

Constance Alexander: Author Rick Bragg’s new book offers intimate look into his mother’s kitchen

Anyone who thinks the Calloway County Public Library doesn’t need more space for community gatherings should have been on hand for Rick Bragg’s visit the other day. The down-home writer typically attracts so many followers, the Friends of the Library asked people to sign up in advance to make sure there were enough chairs. The 118-plus who registered sat elbow to elbow in the library meeting room,...

Constance Alexander: Celebration of Kentucky writers attracts words for all seasons

A realtor, two feminists and an elected public official walk into a public meeting room… It could be the beginning of a joke, but those four — plus about 40 more random individuals — showed up last week to celebrate Kentucky Writers Day, National Poetry Month, and Shakespeare’s Birthday at the Calloway County Public Library. Dr. Bob Davies, President of Murray State University,...

Constance Alexander: Calloway Co. Public Library to honor Kentucky writers during National Poetry Month

Ask any Kentuckian about misconceptions associated with the Bluegrass State and responses range from horrendous to hilarious: “Yes, we wear shoes,” or “No, we are not inbred,” or “Sorry, but everyone in Kentucky doesn’t get tickets to the Derby.” Most of us are content to break out the mint juleps at home and watch the race on TV. One area in which Kentucky claims an impressive and undisputed...

Calloway County community reading event to focus on Jackson’s classic short story “The Lottery”

According to American transcendentalist philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” When those minds form groups blindly devoted to “the way we’ve always done it,” it can lead to rituals that have lost their meaning and actually harm passive participants, according to Murray poet and writer Constance Alexander. On Thursday, October...

Constance Alexander: New York Times best seller ‘Out of My Mind’ inspires community forum

Melody Brooks is overwhelmed by snowflakes. She is not, however, referring to the derogatory term for young people who are too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge her own. Instead, she thinks of words as snowflakes. “Each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands,” is the way she puts it. Melody’s passion for language goes back to her earliest memories....

Constance Alexander: Calloway library situation more ‘Field of Dreams’ than Virginia Woolf

At home, one of my weekly chores was to return my mother’s library books and select new ones for the coming week. She trusted me with the task because I never delivered one she’d already read. Moreover, I discovered new authors she sometimes enjoyed, and introduced her to titles she may not have picked herself. Mother preferred mysteries, so I dutifully read the blurbs and picked the kind she...

Constance Alexander: Historical novel ‘Stella by Starlight’ unites multi-generation group

Nothing could have been more inspiring than attending the special community reading event at the Calloway County Public Library on Monday night, and no one was more excited about it than Sandy Linn, Community Relations Coordinator. “This is the first ever multi-generational reading,” she said as she welcomed the crowd. Kids age 8-12 had been invited to read Sharon M. Draper’s “Stella by Starlight”...