Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our library: A little history

March 31, 2011

After 17 years of thinking every day about my dream of having our own library, I have served my last term on the Library Board.

What a pleasant ride it has been. It started the day the old Santa Fe station was pulled south across the 7-Mile Bridge up the highway to Kansas Street to be the new home of our Lansing Museum. Utility crews lifted lines to let the tall building pass. The traffic line was several blocks long now. State trooper cars were stopping traffic.

As Ken Ketchum and I walked on the east side of highway almost to the top of the hill, Ken said, “You know, I always thought Lansing should have its own library.” I said, “Ken I’ve thought the same thing for a long time.”

We both agreed to start working on that idea. Ken was on the City Council at the time, and the city gave a room in the Activity Center on Seconnd Street to use. Ken made out the first work schedule, our wives helped us. The City Council set up a budget of $12,500 that we operated on for a time. The service clubs helped collect books and paid for many of the bookcases. The Optimist Club had a vehicle set up in the K-mart parking lot and collected 2,500 books in a short time. The volunteers came from everywhere.

What started out as a coffee shop to help to get people to stop in, we soon had a children’s corner about 8’ x 8’. With books and toys, fiction, non-fiction, and mysteries, we finally were a real library, small but nice.

We started picking up truckloads of books in Johnson and Wyandotte county libraries. We had applied for and received grants, the best of which came from The Commerce Bank with the help of Norma Medill and Bill Petrie. Organizations and individuals gave us money. We had large book sales in the gym of the Activity Center. Inmates from our Lansing Corrections Facility came to help move boxes of books. At one time we had 100,000 books in storage.

We gave a truck load of books to each of the following: federal prison, McLouth Library, and a school library in Kansas City that had lost its library due to a fire.

We had 22 volunteers to help fill the schedule. We had many programs and activities for the children.

Our little library grew and grew and now we are in a nice new building across from City Hall. Our circulation has doubled since that move thanks to the great staff and interesting activities. The ribbon-cutting was July 2009.

I have enjoyed being a part of the Library Board all these years. It was a dream come true. All of this would not have happened without Ken Ketchum, Mayor Ken Bernard, the City Council and Warden Dave McKune and all the super volunteers. Thank you all.

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