« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Public Libraries Vital in Hard Economic Times

By Shari L. Wilson
Opinion | January 30, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - I grew up two blocks from my small town's public library. The Independent Township Library, to be exact.

I always wondered why the library had such a strange name, not knowing the history of townships in our state or why they were formed, way back when. At any rate, I would stagger home with my arms full of books from the time I could read.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had read every book in the building, plus hundreds more that the interlibrary loan van would bring every couple of weeks. I taught story time to 3-year-olds, and led the summer reading program.

The library was my window to the world, and through its treasures it made me realize that the world was a big place with a lot of opportunities.

When I was in college, the campus library at Washburn University was my home away from home. I loved studying there in the brightly lit, quiet spaces. When I moved to Kansas City, Kansas, I was able to become involved in Friends of the Library and headed up its book sale for several years. Later I chaired the Wyandotte County Library Board, which oversees the tax revenue levied in parts of Wyandotte County. All along the way, I've been a strong patron of the library system. As internet service has improved, it's nearly a miracle that a person can request a specific print book or audio book and have it delivered to the library branch of your choice within a few days.

Over the years, libraries have become much more than places to check out books. They have evolved to meet the needs of their customers through establishing computer labs and book clubs, teen comic book writing sessions and Wii contests. They also host hundreds of programs in Kansas each year, many provided by the Kansas Humanities Council. Through serving on KHC's board of directors, I know the demand for library books, videos, audio books, and programming (including help with writing resumes and job hunting) has increased severalfold over the past two years, as the recession has hit families hard. Libraries provide nearly all of their services free of charge. In these tough economic times, you can't beat that price, especially when the quality is so high.

But libraries need support, too. Book prices continue to increase, and many libraries have had to cut back on magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Tax levies that support libraries don't bring in as much as they did a few years ago, when times were better. And demand for services continues to increase. In Wyandotte County, a group of citizens is working to raise funds to move a library branch that has outgrown its space to a larger location. It's a tough time to raise money, but the need is definitely there. (If you'd like to help, contact me at sharilea51@gmail.com.)

The Independent Township Library in Claflin has moved to a larger, newer building since I was a kid. But regardless of its location, it still provides the same vital service to a town full of people dreaming big dreams. Ditto for the thousands of libraries in Kansas and all over the country. Lend your support if you can.


1 Comment

Nice article. The beauty of advocating for libraries is that it just makes sense. With the state of Kansas pushing more content and services into an online environment, libraries are also starting to fill that vital role of intermediary between citizen and government.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on January 30, 2010. The one written previous to this is titled "Roeder Convicted of Murder of Doctor in Church" and the story published right after this one is "Lighters Are Tools, Not Toys"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.