"If you build it they will come." Well, we built it and they came, and they still are coming. I am talking about our Lansing Library. More than 10 years ago it did not exist.
It took the efforts of a few dreamers to get things started. City Councilman Ken Ketchum and I walked up the hill together 16 years ago, April 1992, watching the Santa Fe Depot being moved up the highway on its way to become a museum. We both discovered we had the same dream. He was instrumental in getting things going. The City Council and Mayor Kenneth Bernard gave us two rooms in the Activity Center to use as a library. Not a lot of room, but it was a good start.
My concern then was where will we get the books? I talked to the Northeast Kansas Library System director and he said, "Don't worry about where the books will come from, once the word gets out they will come." And boy was he right.
The first 2,500 books came from a book drive conducted in K-Mart's parking lot by the Optimist Club. For weeks and months following, Ken and I would drop everything and pick up books when anyone in the community called. Thousands came from Wyandotte and Johnson county libraries that were remaining from their annual book sales. This went on for several years.
The configuration of our library has changed from an 8-foot by 8-foot children's area to what is now a full room. The money for the bookcases in the children's room was donated by our local civic organizations, Lions Club, Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club. The mayor and council backed us up with a small budget. With that, we were able to buy bookcases for the adult collection.
After the library opened 10 years ago, we gradually increased the open hours and increased the number of volunteers to 22. Now we have two paid employees along with volunteers, and it continues to grow. We will move to a new larger facility soon.
Tonight is the 10th anniversary milestone with a great program and refreshments. Everyone is invited. Come and visit with the author of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" portrayed by Frederick A. Krebs.
Congratulations to librarian Darlene Dean and staff.