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Newspapers return to library reading area
Library preps for Summer Reading Program
Assistant Director and Youth Services Manager Amy Mayhill stands in the reading area of the Great Bend Public Library. Newspapers and magazines returned to the racks and shelves this week as COVID-19 restrictions have eased. - photo by Susan Thacker

It’s time to get back to the stacks.

Stacks of magazines and newspapers, that is, now that they have returned to the adult reading area at the Great Bend Public Library. Assistant Director and Youth Services Manager Amy Mayhill said some of the hands-on children’s activities are also going to be available again, now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased.

This comes as welcome news as the library prepares for its Summer Reading Program, set to start in just three weeks from Friday on June 4. Mayhill said that in the past, some summer programs have drawn as many as 1,700 people to the library.

The library’s response to COVID-19 has changed over the course of the pandemic. Its doors closed in March 2020 but the library found ways to offer story times and other programs and services online. Some curb-side service was available by May and the library reopened on June 8, 2020, although it was closed temporarily in December when several staff members were quarantined due to COVID-19.

In addition to making hands-on materials available, meeting rooms are again open for reservation.

Summer Reading Program

The theme for this year’s Summer Reading Program is “Tails & Tales,” so expect animals and safaris to be featured prominently. The kickoff will be held at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, June 4, with storyteller Jim Two Crows Wallen at 3 p.m. His stories will include Santa Fe Trail adventures, as 2021 also marks the 200th year since the trail was opened as a commercial route between Missouri and New Mexico.

Sponsors' donations to the Summer Reading Program primarily pay for guest speakers and special programs. This year’s programming will feature the Salina Zoo, Sternberg Museum, Mad Science, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and Great Bend’s Dan Dan the Magic Man, as well as movies on the lawn.

“As the kids go to the programs and they read, they can track their time toward their goal,” Mayhill said. Those who reach their goal are eligible for prizes.

“We have programs for all ages,” she added. Adults who read books or listen to audiobooks can also win prizes.

Participants can log their activities online or on paper, but Mayhill recommends the Reader Zone app. Those who register for the summer program will receive a registration bag. Signup starts June 1.

All of the special events, contests and crafts can be found by picking up a program at the library or online at The library is also on Facebook.

Benefits of reading

Studies have shown that children lose two months of grade-level equivalency over the summer if they do not read, Mayhill said. But daily reading can reverse that loss. “We encourage them to read 15-20 minutes a day or more.”

According to, reading books can also positively affect adult lives. A 2013 study that used MRI scans to measure the effect of reading a novel on the brain saw brain connectivity increased as subjects read and for days afterward.

Reading with children at home increases the benefits for all, building vocabulary, increasing ability to empathize and generally building happy memories and a love of reading.