Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month

Each day this week, to celebrate Kansas Reads to Preschoolers month, local volunteers will visit Ms. Davenport’s preK classes at the Ernie Price Annex to read to them. Kansas Reads to Preschoolers is an annual event that promotes reading to all Kansas children from birth through age five. Through the Kansas State Library’s statewide program, parents, librarians and caregivers are encouraged to read the chosen title, “I Like Myself!” by Karen Beaumont, during a selected week and month.

The State Library purchased copies of this year’s Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month title — one book for each public library location. The books can be used to celebrate the event in any way our libraries choose. For the last seven years, the Pleasanton Library has been asking volunteers to visit the preK classes each day during a week in November. Some of them are excited to read to these four- and five-year-olds, while others are a bit self-conscious about reading aloud. But once they get over their initial jitters, they have a wonderful time. The students are always excited to hear books the readers bring to read. Some choose the books they want to read, while some are happy to let us select one for them.

This week, our scheduled readers include Pleasanton Library employees Berta Willis and Lia Duckwall, Labette Bank’s Brianna Laver, Farmers State Bank’s Kristin Simons, and Police Chief Tristan Snyder.

In addition to this special week, regular visits to the preK class continue on a monthly basis. In addition to reading a book to the students I take a craft and snack, all relative to a letter of the alphabet they are studying that week. Another volunteer, Allene Campbell, also visits the preschoolers on a monthly basis to help them work on their small-motor skills. A number of years ago, Allene was a Kansas Reads to Preschoolers volunteer, and she’s been involved with the students ever since.

If you are interested in reading to children during next year’s Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month, please contact me at the library to schedule your day to read!

Libraries Build Community: Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

Several Linn County Library directors attended the 2019 Kansas Library Association Conference held in Overland Park last week. We attended sessions that provided information about how to help our library guests be “Healthy, Wealthy & Wise.” One of those sessions was provided by Janet Reynolds of the La Cygne Library. She shared how they built a “lunch and learn” program for their over-50 population. Averaging 25-30 seniors per week who attend a meal, they also learned about cooking, art, houseplant care and computer safety. Over the past year, they served over 3,600 meals in their community.

As a Friends of Kansas Libraries board member, my participation focused on encouraging interested attendees to form Friends organizations. The collaboration of people and businesses in a community can help libraries provide services like those mentioned above and many others. Our annual FoKL luncheon featured the newest Kansas Poet Laureate, Huascar Medina. In a short conversation with this young author, we discussed the importance of young students writing their thoughts and feelings, rather than bottling them inside.

Emporia State University’s senior, Camille Abdel-Jawad, provided a poster session titled “Using Creative Writing to Serve Teens with Multi-faceted Identities.” She used a guided activity that utilizes a fill-in-the-blank template “I am from …” It allows poets and non-poets alike to express themselves creatively and think deeply about different facets of growing up and how where we’re from as part of who we are. One of her objectives was to engage students and foster new connections with those who may have similar experiences or develop empathy with those who have different experiences.

In addition to the many breakout sessions provided attendees, we also had time to network with librarians from across the state. We shared stories of ways we collaborate with those in our community to provide service to our populations and ways we can improve those services. These conferences are an ideal way to gain a great deal of information in a condensed period of time. Afterwards, we can strive to put it to use in our own libraries and to help make our communities “healthy, wealthy & wise.”

Festivals, Events & Holidays

This seems to be the busiest time of year! As soon as our Summer Reading Program ended, we began creating holiday displays at the library. Like larger stores in the area, we may be overlapping Halloween, Fall and Christmas with our displays and decorations. Our library is ripe with Fall decorations among our craft and book displays, but we’re morphing into Halloween, and Christmas won’t be far behind.

In the midst of all this, renovation has been going on in my corner of the library. While I was out of state for my high school reunion wondering where the last fifty years had gone, my office was emptied for repairs and updates. I returned to a nearly completed project, and hope to repaint and paper over the repairs soon.

Like many people, I try to get everything done before I leave on a trip. It’s not always possible, but I gave it my best. On my return, I was immediately busy with paperwork and answering phone calls. But all the preliminary effort was worth it to return to my hometown and see friends and classmates. I even visited the tiny building where I worked as a library clerk at age 14. It’s now an Art League facility and holds painting classes for children and adults. The current library is near the high school and is much, much larger. They recently received a bequest of over $600,000 and I visited to see the changes. They had replaced their carpeting and re-designated their rooms to make more space for computers. The facility was quiet but busy. Students walk over after school to study, just as I had done while in high school and junior college.

My visit included trips to numerous venues including the North Brevard Historical Museum where I’d volunteered in 1990. It gave me a chance to review my high school yearbook and brush up on faces and names before the reunion. I toured the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and saw many birds and even a gator or two in view of the launch sites at Cape Kennedy, where my dad worked for 24 years. A newer space museum now resides in Titusville, and I took a tour of the rooms that included a children’s area to inspire future astronauts. Near my childhood home is the Harry T. and Harriette P. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc., honoring an early Civil Rights leader in Florida. His former home which was bombed in 1951, was recently rebuilt from photos and memories of his oldest daughter.

I returned to the Morse Museum in Winter Park which contains work by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The exquisite stained glass creations were displayed with the care their beauty and grace deserve. The gift shop was filled with books about his work and that of many contemporaries. I got ideas for our library by visiting a used bookstore in Sanford where the owner works seven days a week stocking and organizing books placed floor to ceiling. My younger brother and I visited a Manatee Museum Center in Fort Pierce, and later toured the branch library there. It contained artwork by local painters and was filled with light from windows on the east side facing the Atlantic Ocean.

My camera was nearly worn out from all the photos I took, and it will be weeks before I can post them all on Facebook. I so appreciate having the opportunity to take the time away from work to go home for a couple of weeks to the warm, sunny south. I even had the chance to stick my toes in the sand and watch the waves roll in a couple of times. Now, back to work and I hope to see you all soon!

Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals & More

At a recent library conference session, a professor from the UNC Greensboro’s Department of Library Science & Information Science shared important facts. Three-quarters of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas. We are certainly aware of this in Linn County with the closing of LaCygne’s grocery store, the struggle to keep Pleasanton’s viable, the attempt to start a community garden and food bank.

Dr. Noah Lenstra’s program covered how public libraries feed America: 1) Distributing food at the library, 2) Teaching and supporting gardening, 3) Teaching how to prepare healthy food, and 4) Offering the library’s support to food programs (e.g. Food for Fines). He shared how we can use the resources of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including its Cooperative Extension, Summer Food Service, 4-H, and Master Gardener programs. Finally, Lenstra moderated an interactive discussion about how we can start feeding America at our libraries.

For several years at Pleasanton Library, we have enlisted local K-State Extension agents to teach children to cook healthy meals and grow vegetables. The classes are fun and informative, and the First Baptist Church in Mound City generously shared take-home bags of food for those who attended those programs. But we hope to do more. One of the many ideas we have considered includes working with the Friends of Pleasanton Gardening to revamp our raised beds to include vegetables. This is a seasonal project, but certainly doable.

We hope to continue working with the Extension office to build additional programs to feed more people. Seed Savers already have programs in place we could access. One idea we will put into practice right away is providing space to display food donations for those who need assistance. Non-perishable items would be placed on the metal rack near the north door. Another collection point will contain items that cannot be purchased using food stamps. We’ll post this list for those inclined to donate items. During harvest season, we will also provide a space where gardeners with extra bounty can share their vegetables.

On our Wish List is a Little Free Pantry (Take What You Need, Leave What You Can). If we could find someone willing to build a water-tight cabinet similar to our Little Free Library currently outside the library, we could begin stocking it with food donations accessible at all times. The Methodist Church in Mound City has one of these they call a Blessing Box.
The list of ways the library can get involved goes on, but we cannot do everything ourselves. If you are interested in helping library staff with our wish to help provide food, and programs for our residents in need, please contact us at the library, 913-352-8554.

Making space

Photo: The big yellow school bus that served the library well has a new home at Pleasanton Elementary. Caleb Secrest is sure to recognize it.

We continue to weed our shelves of books and movies that are damaged, or haven’t been checked out in some time. Our storage area has been filled to overflowing, so we’re reviewing what to keep and discard there as well. One of the items we recently determined might be useful elsewhere is a big yellow school bus. It was generously donated to the library by Mary Lynn Sylvester and Kenton Bell years ago. Once filled with stuffed animals and toddler books, it’s been languishing in our storage shed due to lack of space in the children’s area. We offered it to the Pleasanton Elementary School library and they happily accepted it!

Not willing to add too much to the landfill, we try to re-home some of the items in our vast collection of “stuff.” Our local residents are good to offer donations of books, craft supplies, puzzles and furniture. We’ll make every effort to reorganize our space to utilize these items. As they are received, we review what they might replace. Many times the donations are upgrades of what we currently have. Especially after the old library burned many years ago, we accepted many donations of discarded shelves and books from other libraries. These served us well, and most are still in use. Our online library list-serv often contains messages from other libraries about items they are willing to give away. We’ve accepted numerous chairs and books this way and, most recently, a rolling cabinet that holds over 4,000 DVDs. Kansas is a large state and, unfortunately, some items are too great a distance to retrieve and must be passed up. Hopefully, libraries closer to the items can benefit as well.

Our generous residents have provided monetary donations over the years allowing us to purchase book collections, and upgrade furniture. We strive to retain seating areas for our visitors’ use, and maintain the building for everyone’s comfort. Recently, we had three overgrown trees removed from the front of the library to prevent roots seeking moisture and damaging the foundation. Smaller slower-growing ornamental plantings are being considered. Another recent upgrade is new guttering, with gutter guard to prevent clogged downspouts and water infiltration inside the building. Both of these are intended to save the cost of more serious damage to the building.

We’re always open to suggestions about how to improve the library, so please contact us if you have ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tapping into new ideas

This past week, I had the good fortune to be able to attend the wonderful Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference. The committee members who developed the conference live across the country and all have jobs in rural and small libraries. The conference sessions included a range of diverse topics, and I selected those I hoped could best be utilized at our library. The first concerned “Serving Hidden Patrons” and focused on serving people in the community who are unable to visit the library. This is also known as outreach, and we currently do this on a limited basis by visiting preK classes and a local daycare, but hope to expand services to include others.

“Libraries and the 2020 Census: Ensuring rural residents get counted” is a topic that’s being promoted to large and small libraries throughout the nation. As the time to conduct it draws near, small libraries hope to learn more about how they can help their communities can obtain their fair share of funding for schools, health centers, roads, housing assistance and other vital programs.

At the session “Reframing issues in your library and community” speakers encouraged librarians to reframe problems into opportunities for positive change. As we walked from session to session, we had the opportunity to engage with vendors to obtain information about their services. Our luncheon featured popular children’s book cartoonist and author Sandra Boynton. Some of her books are available at our library. Meals also gave us the chance to meet and talk with librarians from across the country and share ideas.

Friday’s sessions included “Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals are More!” We were encouraged to collaborate with organizations in our area to: distribute food at the library; teach and support gardening and healthy eating; and support food programs. We also learned to access resources of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Additional topics followed on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. An important meeting I attended was in preparation to hold next year’s conference in Kansas. Previous conference attendance has grown to 750 attendees from Alaska to Arkansas, and Vermont to Washington state. Preparation has begun to promote “S.O.A.R. Sharing Our Amazing Resources” in Wichita Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Committee members were asked to share our strengths and interests, and will be contacted to learn how they can be engaged with planning and implementing the 2020 conference.

All was not work for the large number of librarians at this conference. We were treated to the beauty of the surrounding landscape of Vermont, which sits on the banks of Lake Champlain, and is home to the University of Vermont. Though the leaves had barely begun to change color, the air was at times crisp and breezy and there were opportunities to walk. It was a wonderful visit to a beautiful state and a refresh for many of us who serve our public. The opportunity was so appreciated!

Keep it only if it gives you joy


Photo above: This is a good reason to borrow books and movies from the library, so the floors of your house don’t sink from the weight of those you buy.

Once again, my home projects have inspired this weekly library column. I’m slowly reviewing boxes of memorabilia, trying to choose what to keep and what to recycle. Artwork and cards from my kids when they were little? Check. Letters from friends and relatives no longer with us? Check. Duplicates I’ve discovered along the way? Recycle. Concert tickets from so long ago I don’t remember going? Recycle.

How does this relate to the library? Well, if we wanted to, we could keep every book and movie we have. It’s difficult to pull reference books from the shelves if we think someone might ask for it one day. But if the information is outdated, if the subject is no longer interesting or the book is damaged, it will be moved to the sale rack. If unsold, recycled. This allows the remaining books space to breathe, and gives visitors a chance to see those on display.

While I’m not necessarily a proponent of the “keep it only if it brings you joy,” there is a limit to how much stuff you can fit into your space. In addition to reviewing library books for deletion, we’re doing the same with the DVDs. If it hasn’t been checked out in two or three years, it gets considered for removal. You might watch for these on our sale shelf as well.

So this is hardly spring cleaning. It is a cyclical task we perform at the library. It makes room for new books and movies. That will certainly bring visitors joy!

Because I’m less emotionally attached to the items we pull from the system, it’s easier to add them to the delete cart. But I must admit to saving way too many books from the “chopping block.” This is a bad habit when you run out of shelves and end up with boxes of books and nowhere to put them. Maybe I should read that Marie Kondo book about releasing things to the universe after all.

If you would like to begin your own decluttering projects at home, visit the library to get some ideas on how to begin the process. We still have them. It seems decluttering is more popular all the time. Now, if I could only make more progress at home.

Big change at the library

A big change this past week at the library. The three overgrown trees that shaded the raised beds
were removed and smaller replacements are being considered.

Weeding … it’s not what you think, or IS it?

Gardeners know that weeding is necessary so they can remove unwanted vegetation that might crowd out their preferred plantings. We all know weeds can take over a lawn or a flower bed in no time. At the library, we must weed our collection of books and movies for similar reasons.

This periodic reassessment of materials should reflect the changes in the community and in the library’s goals. It helps make space for more current materials and it can help reduce damage to materials caused by overcrowding and space limitations. It helps ensure the materials we keep are attractive, useful and accessible.

As we review our stacks of books we follow some guidelines referred to by the acronym MUSTIE:
Misleading – it might be factually inaccurate; Ugly – if it’s worn beyond mending or rebinding; Superseded – it might have been superseded by a newer edition or by a much better book on the subject; Trivial – it may have no discernible literary or scientific merit; Irrelevant – it may have no relevance to the needs and interests of the library’s community; Elsewhere – the material is easily obtainable from another library.
Generally speaking we look for items that are over five years old, or that haven’t been checked out in three years. These are guidelines, but not hard and fast rules. Some books have enduring value as classics, or might be used for reference at some point.

There are similar guidelines for media. This time, the acronym is WORST: Worn out; Out of date; Rarely used; Supplied elsewhere; Trivial or faddish. Those of you who worry about book burnings, or finding these materials in the compactor can rest assured. They have several opportunities for salvation. First they are reviewed for salability, and are displayed on a rolling cart in the library for a month. If not purchased from the cart, they are boxed up for donation to concern, where their price will be reduced. If not sold there, they travel to Pittsburg to travel to other locations where they might end up overseas, or sent to a location for recycling.
If you’d like to grow your own garden of books, visit us at the turn of each month to view the items on the rolling cart. Some of these are nice enough to give as gifts, or to those less fortunate. Perhaps you will find children’s books to share with young friends. You might even find something new in our Little Free Library in front of the building.

Many other descriptions of this process can be found online. This one was derived from the Buffalo and Erie County, Public Library System in New York.

Dog days of summer

Though our Summer Reading Program ended yesterday, there are still a few weeks left before school begins. We’ll miss having children in the library, making crafts, playing with toys, reading with babysitters, and choosing books to take home for parents to read to them.

We’ve also had a steady stream of tweens playing video games each day, and the library will be too quiet when they head back to class. But of course, there are always afternoons and Saturdays. As the older tweens get involved with sports, we’ll see them less. But a new round of youngsters will likely fill the seats of the five computers in the Tween/Teen area.

Our summer went by rapidly, with two-to-three activities each week during June and July. We’ve been asking those who attended what types of activities their children enjoy most, and what times of the day, and days of the week work best. If you have children or grandchildren, please weigh in and we’ll adjust our schedule. We’re already determining whether to change up our events, breaking out age groups to better meet those needs. This is especially true with the movies we show. We want them to be age appropriate, and will take suggestions for new movies to show next year. I’m sure the kids would tell us fresh popcorn is non-negotiable.

We’ll continue offering incentives for children and adults to read all through June and July. Our prize baskets have been especially popular this year, but coupons and books made wonderful prizes too. We enjoy spreading the fun of reading, with readers mainly competing with themselves.

August may bring the dog days of summer, but the library remains cool and we have lots of comfortable seating where you can sit to ready and relax. You might even find a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge to enjoy in the Cafe while you chill. Stretch your summer out just a little longer!

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