You have such a nice library

We moved into our new space just over three years ago, and other librarians told me we’d receive a “bounce” in numbers. We would see more people and more items would be checked out than ever. They said enjoy it while it lasts. We did see that bounce and loved it! While those numbers leveled off we continue to have visitors tell us how much they like the library.

Having been located in a space of about 1,000 square feet, we thought our new space of 4,800 square feet was a cavern. We figured we’d never be able to fill the bookshelves. Yet, here we are a short time later wondering how in the world we ever squeezed into the smaller space. The answer was easy – we weren’t able to purchase many books, or have much furniture. There was a tiny children’s area, no area for tweens and teens, and no privacy for computer users.

What a difference a few years made. We now have seven computer stations for adults, a children’s computer and tablet, and free WiFi for anyone inside or out. Our meeting room is used by numerous local organizations, and “school” has been held there for the past year. Every spring, volunteers from AARP Tax Aide help people file their taxes. Appointments fill up fast, but we also schedule some at nearby libraries. Head Start groups have met in our children’s area since our move, and court-appointed visits are possible in our public spaces as well.

We provide outreach to the preschool and volunteers visit daily during Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week. Our Friends group provides chili and bake sales to help fund books for the library, and prizes during our Summer Reading Program. We work with our district library to bring in special presenters during summer, and had record numbers for our programs. Our fire station visit last year entertained over 60 children, and we were told their tour was better than four they had attended in Kansas City!

This year we’ll work in conjunction with the Extension office in Mound City to provide programs for children, teens and adults that help them make healthy eating choices. A Family Night Meal is planned, so watch for details about time and place.

We continue to stock our Little Free Library outside our front doors, and maintain our raised bed gardens for all to enjoy. There are picnic tables in the former loading dock where you can enjoy the sunshine and have a bite to eat. If the weather is too warm, you can visit our Cafe to work on your laptop while you sip a cold soda.

Best of all, we have a much larger selection of books, audio books, DVDs and magazines than ever. Ready to visit and read or relax? We welcome you to join us in Pleasanton’s “nice” library. Let us know what you think about the improvements to your local library.

April showers bring May flowers

Coleman & James small

Ever since we received a grant from the Friends of Kansas Libraries last year for entryway improvements, we have had gardens on our minds. It all began with Pleasanton school students visiting to help us prepare to put in raised beds at our west entrance on their Community Work Day. 17 students and 6 teachers arrived that morning. The teachers not only instructed the students as they went about their tasks. They also got down on their hands and knees to work alongside them. What great role models they were for the students, and we were appreciative of everyone’s efforts.

They plan to return this year, and we look forward to their help. This time they won’t be carrying buckets of gravel, hauling away dirt removed from the trench for edging blocks and moving concrete planters. This year they’ll have the opportunity to work with the plants we planted. They’ll learn which ones are weeds to be removed, and which ones over-wintered. They’ll learn how to enhance the soil by adding worm castings, and remove unwanted grass using rock salt, rather than chemicals.

Depending on the weather, which was perfect last year, they should enjoy the day. They’ll not only be outside the classroom learning about the natural world. They’ll be learning about providing community service, giving back to their hometown and accomplishing something of which they can be proud. They’ll even learn a little about caring for the Earth, which is in desperate need of their concern. For they will be the ones making the decisions about how she fares in years to come. They’ll be voting on issues that concern us all.

Here at the library, we would like to keep these young people involved. We would like them to grow up to be thoughtful, intelligent adults ready to face the larger world. They have much to learn and though much of it can be learned in their classes, even more can be learned outside them. They don’t have to go away to college, or travel the world to do this. That helps, but isn’t necessary. What is important is that they learn all they can about the world by learning how to care for it. That can be done in their own backyards, in the town where they live, even if it is a small town. They are young, and seem to be totally distracted by electronics. But it’s the real world they should see. Their Community Work Day is an excellent way to begin, and so appropriate for it to be held near Earth Day, April 22.

National Library Week

Drop everything small

National Library Week is observed this week April 10-16 with the theme, “Libraries Transform.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Celebrations during National Library Week include: National Library Workers Day, celebrated the Tuesday of National Library Week (April 12, 2016), a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers; and National Bookmobile Day, celebrated the Wednesday of National Library Week (April 13, 2016), a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.

In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious. They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”

In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

National Library Week was observed again in 1959, and the ALA Council voted to continue the annual celebration. When the National Book Committee disbanded in 1974, ALA assumed full sponsorship.

Credit: American Library Association website

Sherrie brings Silly Willard to life

Sherrie Philpott

Earlier this year, the Linn County News covered a story about budding young author Sherrie Philpott from Linn Valley. Her new children’s book, “Silly Willard It’s Time for Bed,” was published this year and she’s been visiting nearby libraries and schools ever since.

Sherrie contacted me about visiting Pleasanton Library, wanting to present her new children’s book to the children of Pleasanton. Due to our space restrictions, I suggested she could reach many more children by visiting the elementary school and contacted them for her. Happily, it will work out for her to visit next week. Thursday, March 31, Sherrie will travel to Pleasanton Elementary School to read to each of the classes, and offer her book for sale.

Written in rhyme, the book begins, “Silly Willard was a sweet little boy, who brought his family lots of joy.” The story follows Silly Willard through his day and into the evening as he readies for bed. The colorful illustrations were done by Christopher Friend.

Be sure your child attends school next week, so they can experience meeting a real author and hear this delightful story.

Sherrie, as well as two other authors are scheduled to appear during General Pleasanton Days on Saturday, October 1. Stay tuned for more information about their appearance this fall.

For those of you interested in the outcome of last week’s State House presentation of House Bill 2719, it was revised in committee and libraries were removed from the bill altogether. This was welcome news as so many rural libraries, like ours, are dependent on the funding our regional systems provide. One of most notable ways they help us is the ability to provide library customers with access to materials from other libraries. These are delivered to us five days a week. This is an invaluable service that allows us to share materials between libraries, and saves us from purchasing more books and movies than we can afford.

Sharing is a good thing, in the case of a young author generous with her time and talents, and libraries willing to transfer their holdings for others to borrow.

Will we remain a district library?

In 2008, supporters in Potosi Township petitioned to become Linn County Library District #5. No longer part of the city’s budget, we could offer critical services to the local community. By the time you read this, this may have changed. Please read the following from the Central Kansas Library System:

“In 1965 legislators sensing the need to provide equitable library service in all corners of the state set up 7 Regional Library Systems; Southeast, Northeast, North Central, Central, Northwest, Southwest and South Central library Systems. Our mission is to provide the best library service to rural patrons by making sure our city libraries remained relevant and vital in their communities. We were given a ¾ mil levy with provisions to move to a 1.5 mil. As Budget levy limits were sunset (ed) in 1999, with the ever-changing nature of library service, we moved our mil levies between 1.5 and 2 mils. Systems have been excellent stewards of tax monies. HB 2719 would not only remove funding authority and set the mil levy back to ¾ of a mil, but require a vote in every county every year to keep the levy. The cost of an election in every county would far exceed the revenue produced. This bill will destroy Regional Library Systems in Kansas.

“There are 329 public libraries in Kansas. Of these, 294 libraries serve communities of less than 10,000 (and are considered rural). 503,326 people are served by these 294 libraries. If HB2719 passes and makes it impossible for these 294 libraries to be funded, more than half a million Kansans will be without library service including access to the Internet (which is often only available to these residents through their library). This is undesirable especially in an age when government is becoming more and more dependent upon providing its services through the Internet (including income tax receipt). CKLS libraries in my 16 counties would lose:

1.Enough grant money (over 300K) so 10-15 communities will lose their library (Just in CKLS, 48 possible in the state).
2.Interlibrary loan resource sharing will stop
2.The state-wide courier will go away
3.Rural patrons will be charged to use city libraries
4.As school libraries have been disseminated so will your local library
5.The promise of small libraries having the resources of large urban libraries will no more

“CKLS Director Harry Willems urges you to call your local legislator to protest the ill-conceived, badly written HB2719. It was introduced into committee March 9 and will be heard in committee Monday, March 14.

“Points to stress to legislators:
All library material across the state can currently be shared efficiently and effectively through existing programs facilitated by the regional library systems. Loss of regional library system services due to this legislation would eliminate these programs and deny residents access to reliable, accurate information Sharing keeps everyone’s mill levy lower.

32.4 percent of libraries in Kansas have budgets less than $20,000. These libraries cannot survive without grants and professional services from the regional library systems. 48 communities lose their libraries; 58 more would be at risk.

Regional library systems publish their budgets and conduct annual public budget hearings. There is oversight at multiple levels. The statutory processes provided for budget oversight for regional library systems have worked well for 50 years. Regional library systems have proven to be prudent and fiscally responsible.”

Dig into your history


A recent meeting I attended helped formulate an idea for a program I hope we can provide through the library. We learned that a branch manager of a library in a small town in Indiana received a grant to help provide a program to help young girls under age 15 get a sense of who they were. They learned how they could find out about family who came before them, what their ancestors looked like, and if they were related to someone famous, or infamous. The program taught them to research their family’s ancestry and they put together scrapbooks of what they found.

They even went on a day-long field trip to their state’s historical society and museum, and held a High Tea and lunch they shared with a significant woman in their lives. Their findings were displayed for those gathered to view. This year is Indiana’s bicentennial, and the library will open the program to young boys as well. They’ll be learning about the history of their families as they help Celebrate Indiana’s History.

There is so much history in our area, and we are also blessed to have a wonderful resource right her in town. The Linn County Historical Museum and Genealogy Museum has been directed for over forty years by Ola May Earnest. She has a wealth of knowledge about the families who have learned here for many years, and about all the local cemeteries. The collection of books and documents in the genealogy library is astounding. While there are bigger library’s with more books and documents, none focus on our town or county like the one right here.

I was introduced to my ancestry through my grandmothers on my mother’s and father’s side. One grandmother shared old photos in a velvet-covered album with a mirror and brass trim. The other grandmother had a box of loose, unmarked photos. She let me sit for hours and compare those photos trying to figure out which of them were family members by matching eyes, ears and noses. That box of photos has long since disappeared, but I’ve retained many others. There was also a 1937 published genealogy of the first immigrant to America. I flipped through the pages laughing at the unusual names of my ancestors, like Happiness and Zipporah. I love researching those from my past and it has given me a sense of who I am. It would be wonderful to share this fascination with younger generations.

If a program like this interests you, or you would like your children to participate in a similar program this summer, please contact me at the library. Help them discover how to dig into their history through resources at the library, and beyond..

A sense of community

A high school classmate is currently working on her sixth book. This one is about beloved Florida author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who wrote “The Yearling.” The story takes place on the St. John’s River near where we grew up, just west of the Atlantic Ocean. We’re very proud of Ann and look forward to the publication of this one. Because she’s an author, she feels strongly about independent bookstores. She recently posted a story about one in California that strives to survive the onslaught of bookstore giants like Barnes & Noble, and online competition from Amazon.

Booksellers like those don’t provide the sense of community that independent bookstores provide. They are typically run by people who love books and want to share them with others. The article’s author, James Utt wrote, “They are so much more than sellers of books. They have open mic nights, poetry readings, book clubs, authors, both locally and nationally known.”

Though we don’t have an independent bookstore in Pleasanton, there are at least two in Kansas City.

According to their website, Rainy Day Books prides itself in providing a ‘Legacy of Literacy’ for the community. It’s the oldest independent bookstore in the Kansas City metropolitan area. They are internationally famous for their knowledgeable staff, exceptional customer service, and commitment to the Kansas City community. A full-line, full-service bookstore, they carry an array of carefully selected new books for adults and children alike. In addition, they provide a forum for debut novelists destined for greatness, to prize-winners, bestseller, and the biggest names in the news.

Prospero’s Books include three locations, and cater to the artistic sensibility of the communities they serve. They offer new releases, as well as previously published books. Their uptown location features Cafe Caliban, specializing in “soups and panini sandwiches, creative sides, pastries and the finest pour-over coffee in the city.” Imagine the cafes and coffee houses of Paris when artists and authors gathered to discuss life and their art. You can’t get this at Amazon.

Yet, independent bookstores must be patronized in order to remain viable. Many chain bookstores have failed over the past twenty years. Remember Walden Books, Borders, and B. Dalton? They offered many of the same features as those that survived. Those that remain possess what is most important, a sense of community.

This is what libraries offer as well. Staff makes an effort to learn your reading preferences, help you find your favorite authors and guide you toward new ones. We have summer reading programs to introduce children to reading and develop a love for it. Staff helps those with limited computer skills stay connected to the world on our computers, and offers those with superior skills the ability to connect on our WiFi. Let us help you expand your world through reading, listening and connecting. Support your local libraries to keep them viable.

Community pride?

Since the inception of the Council-Community Work Day a few years ago, I have participated in those annual efforts like replacing worn flags on Main St. My flag detail included school-aged children and they were enthusiastic helpers. The idea of the work day was to model the importance of community service. During those work days I also repainted curbs and parking stripes, and repainted restrooms around East Lake. I was joined by hard-working volunteers of all ages willing to spend a day of their free time making the community look better. Many of these folks were busy individuals who worked full-time during the week.

Closer to the library’s locations, I have scraped away grass, weeds and dirt from the curb on numerous occasions. At our new location, the garden we installed was the culmination of planning, grant-writing and sometimes back-breaking work to enhance the library’s entrance. We hoped to inspire others to improve the look of their buildings and businesses along Main St. By no means can we take all the credit for that. But it’s beginning to happen. Building exteriors are being repainted, new businesses have opened and a sidewalk grant is being sought. The Community Center is coming along and will soon be the jewel of Main St.

Most of us would like to live and work in a place that’s thriving, and where beautification becomes the norm. Yet, in spite of activities that should instill pride in the community, there are those who would work against this trend. Much research has been done about inner-city decay. In Chicago, large Federally-funded housing districts became unlivable, ripe with crime and doomed to desecration. They were eventually torn down and residents had to be housed elsewhere. Researchers determined if everything were handed to residents, and they didn’t earn or own their homes, they wouldn’t take care of them.

Is this what’s happening in Pleasanton? It’s one thing to have a beautiful Main St. for businesses, but if visitors drive down streets where houses look abandoned and piles of debris accumulate, why would they want to return, patronize a business or move here? If we want to broaden our property values and thrive as a community, we must revive the pride residents of Pleasanton once had.

At the risk of sounding like an editorial writer or “preaching to the choir,” I urge all of you to do any small thing you can to make Pleasanton a better place. If you walk through town and see trash, pick it up and throw it away in one of the city’s trash barrels. If you drive, or park somewhere avoid throwing trash out the window. If you live or work in town, keep your own location free of debris. If you see someone littering, loitering or defacing property, make note and report them to City Hall. It will take a village to rebuild this community. Each of you can do something to help.

Family tradition

Ask young children what they want to be when they grow up and they’ll likely answer, “Superhero!” or share a profession they know like fireman or policeman. As teens, this may change to “NFL player,” or another profession that makes an ungodly amount of money. Then reality sets in and they must think about how to pay for college, or how they’ll support a young family. Those fortunate to have parents and teachers guide them will make good choices in behavior, study hard and learn to get along with adults. If they continue on that path, they will succeed. That may not make a lot of money, but they’ll be more likely to have enough and hopefully choose to do something they love.

Last week, my family lost my step-grandmother Ruth. She was nearly 96 when she lost her battle to Alzheimer’s. Her parents were built-in guidance counselors, by example and through their support. She was very proud of her father, who was raised in a small farming community with four brothers and sisters. The family couldn’t send him to college, so he worked hard and earned his way. He graduated from Indiana University in 1908, and began work as a bank clerk. He married an educated woman named Helen and together they raised two children, Owen and Ruth. He continued to work for a trust company, then the family printing company. He began his own real estate and insurance company in the 1920s, and later his own printing company.

Ruth began school and worked hard to earn good grades. She was especially fond of music and drama, interests she retained the rest of her life. The Depression changed everything for the family. They moved often, but managed to retain their printing and advertising business. Ruth graduated from high school in 1938 and also attended Indiana University, majoring in History. She worked in her local library as an assistant, and then an apprentice. Her brother, drafted in World War II, died in an accident in North Africa in 1943. After her father died shortly after, Ruth remained in her hometown for several years to help her mother run the family business.

Intent on continuing her education, she left for Philadelphia. She receive her second degree in Library Science, the field in which she’d remain the rest of her life. She worked as a children’s librarian in Bronxville, N.Y. and later as a cataloguer and reference librarian in Lake Worth, Florida. She retired after working there 33 years.

Ruth - PBJC Library

She never suggested I follow in her footsteps, but may have mentioned it to my mother. Mom encouraged me to volunteer at my hometown library at age 14. After receiving my work permit at 16, I was employed there and remained until going away to college As I begin my eighth year as a library director, I can’t help but think about the difficult path Ruth took to attain her dreams. I’m proud to have continued the family tradition.

Visiting other libraries

It may be a strange past-time, but I really enjoy visiting other libraries when I have time to do so. Most recently, I traveled to Topeka and then on to Manhattan for a library meeting. This gave me the opportunity to tour Manhattan Public Library and Topeka-Shawnee County libraries. Of course, these libraries are both located in much larger towns than Pleasanton. But I always get ideas that I can apply when I return to ours. An added bonus is to see what they have available in their bookstores that I can bring home with me.

Having never been to either of these libraries, I was glad the director of the Manhattan Public Library had time to give us a guided tour. This way, we could see more than the average visitor. We went behind-the-scenes to the basement where their Friends members sort donations of materials and ready them for their big book sales. Soon these sales will be held in a huge room on the same floor as their meeting rooms. What really stood out in my mind was the fabulous sculpture that spanned two floors at their entrance. A modern stainless steel rendition of an Aesop’s fable, we had to look hard to see the animals among the leaves of a huge tree.

Aesop's fable tree

Their newly renovated children’s area was larger than our entire library and filled with light, bright colors and child-friendly furnishings. There was an emphasis on crafts and there was a huge story time space. Our meeting space was large enough for 200 people, so our meeting of about a dozen was dwarfed by the room.

Saturday, I took extra time before returning home to visit the Topeka-Shawnee County Library. It was even more impressive than the first. The high ceilings, marble walls and art exhibits were magnificent. A friend gave me a tour through the entire library, and allowed me time to photograph the various rooms and fun décor in the children’s area. There’s even a giant dinosaur whose head pokes through the ceiling!

dino break

There were no checkout clerks, as cardholders used their cards at a machine that reads the barcodes of a stack of books all at once. Have fines? No problem. You can swipe a credit or debit card to pay them and be on your way. That’s not to say there weren’t any librarians around. Everywhere you looked there were clerks shelving books, answering questions and researching.

My favorite room was their genealogy room, which was furnished with beautiful antiques. Their books contain records from all over the United States for those researching their ancestors. I can’t wait to visit again. I encourage you to do so, too, should you ever find yourself in our State Capitol. The public library is truly a treasure.

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