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GBPL Board to help fund Dolly Parton Imagination Library
Whelan Funds to be designated for 2018
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Monday afternoon, Regan Reif, representing the United Way of Central Kansas and the proposed Dolly Parton Imagination Library program that will start this Fall, shared information with the Great Bend Public Library Board of Trustees about the importance of reading to Great Bends youngest residents. Pictured are: GBPL Director Harry Willems, United Way representatives Mark Mingenbackand Regan Reif, UWCK Director Gaila Demel, and GBPL Board of Trustees Krista Smith and Rose Kelly - photo by Veronica Coons, Tribune staff

When the Great Bend Public Library learned it was one of six community organizations to receive annual support from the Don and Phyllis Whelan Endowment Fund, the Board of Trustees began exploring ideas to carry out the wishes of the Whelans. Monday night, they made plans to begin spending the first installment of $6,769, presented to them in March by the Golden Belt Community Foundation.
Representatives from the United Way of Central Kansas, Gaila Demel, Mark Mingenback and Regan Reif, were invited to make a presentation at the beginning of the July Board of Trustees Meeting about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The program provides a free book each month from birth to age 5 to any registered child within the designated zip code. It works by requiring families to come to their local library and register, and when they do they become familiar with the services provided by their library, and can sign up for library cards. Once registered, the free book arrives in the mail each month, addressed to the child.
Reif shared a startling piece of information that had board members shaking their heads. She has met with preschool and kindergarten teachers who report some of the children that are entering their schools have never been read to by their parents, and do not understand what a book is.
“They haven’t even felt a book. They haven’t even seen a book. They might have seen a phone book around their house, but that is. They haven’t read them or picked them up,” she said. She added that the kids gain a real sense of ownership when the books arrive each month, and that when they get them, they seek out someone to read it to them.
Mingenback spoke about the costs involved with the program. While the books are free to the children, the communities raise funds to cover the $2.10 the Dolly Parton Imagination Library assesses for each recipient. The cost covers a retail-quality book and postage. Already, enough funds have been raised to kick-off the program in Great Bend this fall, he said. He explained that perpetual funding was needed for upcoming years to ensure the program continues.
Demel shared that she had been in contact with the youth services personnel at the library about when the program will start in Great Bend. The exact date is still to be announced, but it will likely be in conjunction with a story hour.
After the presentation, board members discussed best uses of the funds. They approved a resolution to provide $1,000 from this year’s Whelan Endowment Fund disbursement to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for Great Bend, designated to be used for 2018. They also approved a resolution allowing Director Harry Willems to spend up to $1,000 of the funds at his discretion without requiring the board’s okay. The funds come with no strings attached, so there is no deadline in which they must be spent.

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:

* Willems provided his monthly report, including information about the need for volunteers to serve on the Central Kansas Library Association Board of Trustees.
* The library’s internet usage policy needs to be updated and turned into the state library in order to continue taking part in the e-rate program. * The board approved the proposed changes.
* Advertisements will be placed this week through the Association for Rural and Small Libraries for a new director to fill Willems’ position when he retires Dec. 31.
* The board thanked Derinda Bussman for eight years service. She and Marla Davidson have completed their terms. Pat Cale and Caren Schnittker will be the incoming board members who will begin their terms in August.