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Great Bend Public Library is an honor
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Dear Editor,
Not all of us were around in 1965 and 66 to appreciate the work of a dedicated team of librarians and legislators when they wrote and passed statutes that set up Regional Systems of Cooperating Libraries, known today as Regional Library Systems. The Central Kansas Library System, one of seven set up in the state originally went to Hoisington while Great Bend built a new library. Ever since, the Library System has been part of Great Bend community. Housed in the lower level of the library, more than 20 professional (with multiple advanced degrees) consultants and staff have served 16 counties from Ellis in the west to Saline in the east and north to the Nebraska boarder. The statutory mission is to help libraries provide excellent library services to rural areas that were not served well by local community libraries. One-fourth of the CKLS budget is given directly to 54 rural and community libraries. The rest of the budget goes to support and exemplary services to public libraries, including Talking Books, Books by Mail, Rotating Books, IT support and programming and lifelong learning workshops. Our funding is derived from a 1.72 mil levied on rural property not already taxed for a library in our 16 counties. For more than 43 years the city of Great Bend has derived a major financial and cultural advantage from the system being housed at the Great Bend Public Library. CKLS is completely independent of the library and would benefit from a more central location in our 16 counties. However CKLS chooses to remain in Great Bend because the library corrects problem library components such as the HVAC. For over 42 years the most inadequate heating system has plagued offices and meeting rooms. The Library System not only pays substantial yearly rent to the library it also pays a great deal for shared staff essential for operating the library. It has remodeled offices and improved meeting rooms that are used by the System for continuing education events and many GBPL adult and children’s programs including movies, magic shows, workshops, training, and crafts. The many hundreds of people attending workshops, caterers for meals, motels that house speakers and restaurants that feed non-catered events all benefit from the traffic brought to the community. The Central Kansas Library System is a cultural and financial boon to the city; it is an honor that Great Bend Public Library keeps it located in Great Bend.
Harry Willems
Central Kansas Library System
Great Bend Public Library