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Feature Stories


Every year at the library there are a number of events that require more resources than the library has readily available. Every child that has attended Snack’ With Santa over the last sixteen years, has benefitted from a very special group of Friends. The Friends of the Library support your local library through fundraising efforts and volunteer hours every year.

Mara: Who are the Friends of the library?

Carol: Friends are a group of people who are interested in our public library and who provide support for the library programs.

Mara: How do libraries benefit from a Friends group?

Carol: The group supports with monies to help fund programs throughout the year such as Snackin’ with Santa, Fancy Nancy, etc. as well as providing funds for the purchase of DVDs and other needs that arise. We also provide the yearly Christmas decorations and the manpower to do the decorating.

Mara: Who can become a Friend?

Carol: Anyone who is interested in the betterment and support of the library and its projects.

Mara: If someone is interested, how do you become a Friend?

Carol: Anyone who pays a $10 per year membership fee or a $50 lifetime membership fee is a Friend.

Mara: Can someone support the Friends without being a member?

Carol: We never turn down volunteer help! We hold an annual book sale every spring and it takes a lot of sorting and manpower to move thousands of book into the community room for the multi-day sale.

Mara: How often do the Friends meet?

Carol: The group meets at 1:00 the second Monday of the month after Brownbaggers from September through May (excluding December).

Mara: What do the Friends hope to accomplish in 2018? In five years from now?

Carol: Increase our numbers.


You may have seen him around town in a Cooper’s vehicle, but Bryan does much more than deliver prescriptions. His art can be found around town and for years he has performed at Elvis week as an Elvis impersonator. Bryan is an avid Elvis fan and I learned more about Elvis in 20 minutes of Bryan’s time than I ever had before. Anyone interested in a caricature can contact Bryan through email, his email is elvisinwichita @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces around the “@” sign to email Bryan, to protect his account from spam, spaces were inserted).

Art from The First 35 by Bryan Clark.

Mara: Where can your art be found in town? 

Image of Don Adams from Get Smart

The muse for Bryan’s first caricature, Don Adams.

Bryan: All over at Sugar Shane’s Cafe downtown. On the city channel (channel 7) I drew a piece for Crimestoppers of Sherlock Holmes and a sniffing dog. Hanging at the Augusta Public Library and in two books I wrote and illustrated The First 35 and Hawaii 4 Closer to the Beach.

Mara: Who was the subject of your first caricature? 

Bryan: Don Adams from Get Smart. I’ve still go the caricature. Not my best but I can tell it is Don Adams.

Mara: When did your art really take off? 

Bryan: Looking at a Mad Magazine cover, I saw Mort Drucker’s art. I thought it was so cool that you could draw somebody as a cartoon, but it still look like the person it was supposed to be. I asked my dad if I could have the magazine, Mad was a little [hesitation]…
Mara: Risque?
Bryan: Yeah [laughs] my parents agreed to get the magazine for me and I practiced emulating Mort Drucker’s [art].

Mara: Forty years ago the King of Rock died. What inspired you to impersonate Elvis?

Bryan: My fascination with Elvis started with movies. He wasn’t performing [music] when I was growing up, he was acting in films, that was my first exposure.

Mara: You impersonate and perform during Elvis week, when does that take place? 

Bryan: It varies, it usually starts around the 8th of August and ends with a candlelight vigil starting on the 15th going into the 16th when he died.

Mara: What is your favorite Elvis song to sing? 

Bryan: I don’t know that I could say for sure that I have an absolute favorite, but one of my favorites to sing is Poke Salad Annie, but I love so many of [his songs].

Mara: Do you remember what you were doing the day Elvis died? 

Bryan: Yeah, I was at work, down at Plaza IGA. I was walking through the back room. I’d been up by the produce department, headed for the courtesy booth going up the back aisle. When a friend of mine that was off that day came in the back door, just as I was about to the back door. He had this look on his face, I asked him, “Hey how you doing?” He told me Elvis just died. I thought that’s a really unfunny joke, ha ha. He told me they announced it on the radio, and it was like someone knocked my feet our from under me and I collapsed onto a sack of potatoes. I asked him a couple questions, he didn’t know the details. Then I was called to take a call, it was my dad. I knew when my dad called me that it was real, that my friend wasn’t pulling my chain. It was a weird day.

Mara: Did you ever see Elvis in person? 

Bryan: No, it’s one of my big regrets. I’ll go to my grave regretting that. The last time [Elvis] was in Wichita was in December 1976, about 8 months before he passed away. I was at a science fiction convention with a friend of mine at the Broadview Hotel and it was the same night Elvis was in town. We ran into another friend of mine who was also a science fiction and Elvis fan like me. After awhile he said he had to go, Elvis was about to be on at Henry Levitt. I knew Elvis was in town, but I didn’t have a ticket. My friend asked if I wanted to go with him, I told him I didn’t have a ticket, and I thought about my friend I came to the convention with, was I supposed to ditch him? I thought Elvis would be back in a year or two. If I’d known what I know now, I would have said, “Here are the keys to my car, would you mind taking my car home, I’m going to go see Elvis.” I heard later it was one of his best shows in a long time, it was the first show of a 5 city tour, he had lost weight, he was energetic, he sounded good …he even sang Poke Salad Annie.

Image of the Jungle Room at Graceland.

The Jungle Room at Graceland.

Mara: Have you traveled to places where Elvis has lived? 

Bryan: Yes. I’ve been to Tupalo, Mississippi, where he was born. I’ve been to where his ranch was in Walls, Mississippi and I’ve been to Graceland. There is a room called the Jungle Room at Graceland (read the story below to find out why Elvis initially bought the furniture), the room has a lot of heavy wooden furniture with leopard spotted and tiger striped [upholstery]. Carpet is on the ceiling, which was at the time a big decorating fad in California.

Elvis’ dad came home from being downtown one day and Elvis overheard his dad saying how Donald’s Furniture had the ugliest furniture he had ever seen and he didn’t know who would buy that ugly furniture. Elvis got all the guys into cars and they went down there that night and bought every stick of furniture in the window. On his way out Elvis said, “Make sure my Daddy gets this bill”. 

FUN FACT: Elvis recorded two albums in the Jungle Room in 1976, the last two albums that Elvis recorded with RCA. To accomplish the task RCA parked their recording truck in the backyard and put their equipment through the back windows (they had to remove the glass to get the equipment through). The carpet buffered the sound and made a natural studio.


Mara: What part of Elvis’ legacy do you hope lives on? 

Bryan: His music and his generosity. He recorded over 700 songs between his studio and concert performances. He sang some songs in concert that were never recorded in the studio. For a number of years Elvis would donate to various charities in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1966 Elvis donated $105,000 to charity.


One reporter asked Elvis, “Do you ever get tired of people coming up and asking for autographs and pictures?” Elvis responded that he would be worried when [his fans] quit asking.


Kristie Sojka is a graduate student, wife, mother to four boys, and our new Youth Services programming librarian. If you’ve heard any 80s era heavy metal music recently, you might have passed Kristie on her commute here to Augusta. A Wichita native-Kristie will graduate with her MLS degree in December. Kristie brings experience in both public and academic libraries and we are pleased to welcome her to Augusta!

Kristie Sojka


“Programs will provide opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life to come together to get to know each other and spend time together.”




Mara: What’s your first memory of a public library? 

Kristie: My dad would take us to Wichita’s Central Branch when we were young. He is a photographer and was drawn to the art section located on the third floor, nearby the children’s room. I have always had a special attachment to that floor of Central.

Mara: What attracted you to be a librarian? 

Kristie: I have always loved to read. When I was completing my Bachelor’s degree in History, I spent a lot of time doing research in the library and that’s when I first started thinking about a career as a librarian. I have also worked with children my entire working life, mostly in preschools and child care centers. My goal is to help children develop not only a love for reading, but also a love for libraries. I hope to help them become life-long library patrons.

Mara: How old were you when you got your first library card? 

Kristie: 10? It’s been a really long time…

Mara: What did you do before joining the APL team?

Kristie: My most recent position was with Wichita Public Schools as the library paraeducator at Payne Elementary School. I was also a youth services assistant at Derby Public Library for several years.

Mara: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about the work of public libraries? 

Kristie: Public libraries are so much more than books. We offer many types of materials, as well as lots of services and programs for people with a variety of backgrounds and interests.

Mara: What do you find most challenging about being a librarian? 

Kristie: Keeping up with ever-changing technology.

Mara: What do you wish other people knew about public libraries or librarians? 

Kristie: Librarians enjoy assisting people with accessing information. You are not bothering us when you seek our help-it’s our job and we love to do it! Also, I’m sad to say, we don’t get to read all day.

Mara: What do you think will change about public libraries over the next five years? 

Kristie: I think public libraries will continue to evolve as a hub for community activity. Programs will provide opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life to come together to get to know each other and spend time together. Books and materials will still be relevant, but community interaction will be vital, especially in our digital age.

Mara: What do you do when you aren’t working or studying? 

Kristie: Since I’m in my last semester of graduate school, I have very little free time. However, I try to spend most of it with my family, who keep me busy. My husband and I have four sons who range in age from 12-18. I also read books (I prefer the paper kind, even though I own an e-reader)and I play the violin.

 We hope you are excited as we are to see what Kristie will bring to Augusta!