Library ushers in decade of service
For librarian Darlene Dean, the past 10 years with the Lansing Community Library have been a whirlwind of excitement filled with great amounts of growth and new programs for the community.
"It's amazing how far we've come in just 10 years," she said. "And just wait till they see what I do with the next 10."
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the library, which was officially opened Jan. 10, 1998. As this monumental moment approached, Dean said she's spent a lot of time looking back at the library's history and where she hopes to take it in the future.
Back in 1998, Gene Young and former City Council member Ken Ketchum spearheaded the idea of giving Lansing its very own library. With two small rooms in the Activity Center, 108 S. Second St., a library was formed that Dean said was focused more on adults.
While visiting the library with her daughter that March, she mentioned to a volunteer that the small children's corner really wasn't enough. The response she got was, "OK, what are you going to do about it then?"
"It just grew from there," she said.
She began a children's program with about 26 students enrolled that would meet Saturday mornings to read stories, make crafts and play games.
Every program the library had and every hour that it was open was made possible only by the help of volunteers, who ran the entire library until Dean was hired on in September 2002. When those volunteers started, Dean said, they started from scratch and created their own procedures for how the library should operate.
From there, the notebook patrons would sign with the title of the book they just checked out blossomed to a fully automated system. While five years ago the library's total circulation was about 4,800 for the year, Dean said it's grown so that it now gets that many in just one month.
The library's collection now numbers more than 32,000 items that range from books to DVDs and audio CDs. Dean said the majority of the collection has come from donations.
"Donations have been huge and it shows the community really supports us," she said.
Because it's received so many donations, the library has taken one of the two original rooms, which was first designated as a "coffee shop," and turned it into an entire room filled with children's books. One of her favorite accomplishments of the library was making a section specifically for the Advanced Reader books used at the elementary school.
"It makes it really convenient to find AR books they need for school," she said.
The library also has been able to improve the Internet access it provides patrons. At its opening, the library had one donated computer and now it has four computers that are less than a year old and two that are less than 2 years old.
While Dean said she considered the library fairly new, she said she and the other volunteers are constantly trying new things. She said it was important to keep up with everyone, whether that be creating a My Space page for the teenagers or providing most of the books on the New York Times Best Seller list with almost no wait for the adults.
"I want (patrons) to feel like the library is special, that they're a part of it and that they belong here," she said.
This year especially has been an exciting one for the library. In 2007 the City Council approved the purchase of the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative building, which is across First Terrace from City Hall, as the new, bigger location site of the library.
Dean said she hopes to make the move sometime this year. The new location will allow for special quiet areas with chairs for people to sit and read as well has room to grow, which is definitely in the forefront of Dean's mind.
"The more things we can offer the more people we can serve," she said.
She said she'll miss the old location and the memories she's made there, but she said it's time to move. She's not sure what the future will hold just yet for the library but she said she goal was just for "more growth in all areas."
"Every year gets better than the year before," she said.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary, the library will be hosting an event at 6 p.m. today at the library. There will be a presentation by Frederick A. Krebs with the Kansas Humanities Council. Krebs will present the life of "Wizard of Oz" author L. Frank Baum, in character, and then take questions both as the author and himself. The program is free of charge and open to the public.