Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2005

Community library’s platinum anniversary approaching

From humble beginnings 20 years ago, Basehor library has emerged as a community staple

February 10, 2005

In 1985, officials weren't certain what lay in store for the future of the newly founded Basehor Community Library, but they were hopeful for something positive nonetheless. Fast-forward 20 years and the same holds true.

March 15 of this year will mark the library's 20th anniversary. Carla Kaiser, Basehor Community Library director, said an open house will take place on the anniversary date and other celebration-type events are being considered.

"We'll do something to let people know that we've grown and what we're looking forward to in the future," said Kaiser, who's been with the library since it's inception.

Though the library has much more solid footing than it did two decades ago, its future still remains undetermined. The primary question facing the library today is whether it will operate the next 20 years from its original downtown Basehor location or from a new facility.

Last year, Basehor voters rejected a $3.79 million bond issue that would have paid for a new library on 158th Street. Library officials are currently reviewing responses from a survey sent out last year, the feedback from which could help craft a future bond proposal.

With Basehor's history of rejecting bond issues, procuring the necessary funds from voters may seem like an uphill struggle.

But then, so was the task of opening the library, officials said.

In 1985, the scope of the library operation was much different than it is currently. Kaiser said they had no full-time employees, approximately one-fourth of the space they do now and were open only 20 hours a week.

The collection featured a few recent books, but mostly included a dusty collection of old books donated from other libraries.

Today, the library has three full-time and four part-time employees and is open to patrons 56 hours per week. The library's collection now includes more than 21,000 books, a full array of multi-media, and a computer station so patrons can browse the Web.

Kaiser said the library turned the corner when Basehor voters approved designating a library taxing district.

The funds provided through the district allowed the library to begin offering patrons the same quality services and solidified its standing as a community staple, Kaiser said.

"I think we all hoped that it would (succeed)," Kaiser said. "I think what made it seem very possible for the future was when the district was approved."

Although part of the library's future is uncertain, officials have targeted a goal of raising approximately $20,000 this year to sustain existing services.

It has a series of upcoming events planned in coming months to help reach that total and library officials will soon be releasing more information regarding them, Kaiser said.

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