The More The Merrier

While books are the heart of all libraries, it is people who make this place come to life. The Library has been reopened with reduced hours since Feb. 22. It is so nice to see people in the building again! Even though we were closed for several months and open very limited hours for months before that, we have continued our efforts to serve the community with new services, such as curbside hold pick up, a temporary digital library card and our Lettuce Pick reader’s advisory service. We moved programs for all ages online. And we are offering Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) again. We continue to brainstorm on other ways we can safely provide library services during these strange times.

One of these brainstorming efforts actually began in 2019, with the collaboration of seven local public libraries on a community read program called “One Book, Many Neighbors.” The libraries in Atchison, Basehor, Bonner Springs, Lansing, Leavenworth, Linwood, and Tonganoxie picked one or two selections from a short story collection and each library planned a unique program around those stories. Participants received a passport to attend each library’s program. It was a popular and successful group effort.

We had planned to do it again last summer, but we all know how that turned out. The libraries were looking for ways to work together again this year, with a challenge from the state to help with efforts to educate people on reducing the spread of Covid-19. We came up with the idea to present a series of programs on Zoom called “We’ve Been Here Before.” The programs focus on lessons we can learn from the past, if we choose to learn them.

For the first program in the series in February, the libraries joined forces with The National World War I Museum and Memorial for a discussion of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. We are excited to announce that this program was recently picked up by C-SPAN to air nationally. A recording of this program is also available on our website and Facebook page.

The second in the series is scheduled for Wednesday, Mar. 24 at 7 p.m. It is a discussion on the Polio vaccine with a panel of four experts. They will discuss how mass vaccinations in the 1950s helped eradicate the crippling disease from the United States. The experience the country faced 70 years ago can help us understand how to deal with the current pandemic. To register for this program, contact one of the libraries or use the following link: https://bit.ly/2PgymSV.

We are currently working on the third program in the series for April 21 at 7 p.m., which will examine the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine and learn the medical facts about the virus and the vaccine. Things have been changing rapidly, so having the latest information will help people make good decisions.

We are also reviving “One Book, Many Neighbors” for the adult summer reading program in June and July. Working together helps bring all of us closer, even if we are social distancing miles apart.