Libraries can be such wondrous places.
Not long ago, during a Bookmobile stop at Benilde Hall, an addiction treatment center in the city’s historic Washington Wheatley neighborhood, a visitor signed up for a Kansas City Public Library card and was quickly immersed in the array of resources that comes with it.
They checked out a Chromebook computer and picked up a job seeker kit offering everything from resume writing tips and sample interview questions to a flash drive with resume templates. They took in a Black history program and came away with a copy of the Library’s award-winning Kansas City Black History booklet.
Altogether, it was an eye-opening introduction. “I’m overwhelmed right now,” the new patron said. “This is all so beautiful.”
That testimonial – one of many – resonates all the more during National Library Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday, April 29. This year’s theme, There’s More to the Story, calls attention to the wealth of services, programs, and other resources provided by libraries beyond their traditional (and still crucial) role as lenders of books.
The weeklong observance comes during a period of unprecedented distress for both public and school libraries as challenges of books and other materials mount and lawmakers in a number of states, including Missouri, push measures threatening intellectual freedom. Among other things, a new administrative rule drawn up by Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft will require state-funded libraries to adopt age-appropriateness policies while facilitating parental challenges. It goes into effect May 30.
It's an appropriate time to celebrate – to reappreciate – the indispensability of libraries to their communities. Take just a sampling of this week’s calendar of events and activities across the Kansas City Public Library system:
- Kids Café meals are served Monday through Friday to children and teens at the L.H. Bluford, North-East, Southeast, Trails West, and Waldo branches in partnership with Harvesters.
- Get guidance on Medicare enrollment Wednesday at the Plaza Branch, on legal matters Thursday at Bluford, and on advance care planning in an online session Thursday.
- There are fitness classes or yoga sessions Monday at Waldo, Tuesday at Buford, Wednesday at Southeast, and Thursday at the Bluford and Irene H. Ruiz branches.
- The first session in a two-part series of online writing classes for adults starts Wednesday, April 26.
- University of Virginia transit historian Peter Norton discusses the need to revise our concept of city streets Thursday, April 27, at the Plaza Branch. It’s the latest installment in the Library’s Making a Great City signature programming series.
- The Bookmobile makes stops at seven separate locations on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday and sets up Friday at the NFL Draft Party in the City Market.
That’s not to mention free access to computers and the internet at all of our locations, technology training, personal finance coaching, connections to small business resources, voter registration and information, book clubs, children’s storytime sessions, and innumerable other offerings that touch, enrich, and lift all corners of the community.
If you’re already one of our more than 200,000 card-carrying patrons, thank you. We love serving you. If not, we’re here for you, too (and will be happy to help you get your own library card).
We’re proud to be your Library – Kansas City’s public library.