How the Library Impacts Kids

every child ready to read

The library is your best resource for raising a reader and a lifelong learner. Our first Community Impact Goal is “Every child will be ready for kindergarten.” And we mean every child. For children ages 0-18, the library’s youth services leaders, librarians and staff are their experienced educators, armed with research and an ironclad commitment to advocate for children to improve their futures. Learn some of the ways we’re helping transform the lives of children in Shawnee County.

Learn & Play Bus

In Shawnee County, only 31% of children have a formal preschool experience. We bring the preschool to families right in their neighborhoods on the Learn & Play Bus, where kids can learn vital literacy skills for free and in a super fun environment. The library’s early childhood learning coordinator makes sure all the little ones are developing through playing, talking, reading, singing and writing so that they’re prepared to enter school.


Dolly Parton Imagination Library

With the Imagination Library, every child under the age of five will be mailed an age-appropriate book each month. That will give kids a home library of up to 60 books to study, read and share with parents. Studies show that participation in the program positively and significantly improves early childhood literacy.

For the program to be sustainable over five years, the library, in partnership with the United Way of Topeka, need to raise $1 Million. Donate today to get the Imagination Library started in our community. $25 covers the cost for a child for one year.


Outreach Storytellers

Our storytellers share stories with more than 3,700 children ages 3-5 each month at 75 daycare centers and preschools throughout the county. At storytime, kids have so much fun they hardly realize they are learning vocabulary skills, narrative skills, letters and shapes and practicing the concentration skills they’ll need to be ready for kindergarten.


Family Place Library

The Family Place Library initiative focuses on the development of children birth to 5 years old by providing interactive games and activity stations, Parent/Child Workshops and storytimes that grow a love of reading.



When the AdventureMobile rolls up to a Shawnee County school, students come out with their assigned classroom to return their books and check out 2 items. Teachers can also request library materials to be brought out to supplement their lesson plans. In the summertime, the AdventureMobile features a new critter each week, and kids can join the Critter Club to win prizes.


Kansas Connections

Turn your classroom into a fun learning environment with these free programs. Over 40 programs on animals, science, language and fine art, or social studies.

Meal Programs

Because, as of summer 2015, several schools have not stayed open as usual sites for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Meal Program, it became apparent to library management and staff at the time that someone would need to step in to help fill that void. They ultimately decided to help. “A hungry child can’t learn and retain like a child who is fed,” said Chief Operations Officer Rob Banks.  In 2016, the library served 3,105 lunches total to an average of 60 kids a day.

During the school year, kids who visit the library after school are hungry, but their next meal is at least a few hours away. When kids are hungry, it’s harder to read, learn and get their homework done. That’s why the library has Snack Time! @ Your Library for kids ages 0-18, every weekday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in David J’s place. Nutritious food is provided by the Millennium Cafe and the program is funded by Harvesters.



We’re at the table in community discussions

Youth services staff are out in the community, offering their skills as information professionals and helping to facilitate discussions involving the welfare of our community’s children. This is where you’ll see our librarians at the table:

For ages 0-5

  • United Way Community Impact Councils – The Councils discuss community issues and promising/best practices for addressing them. They then help appropriate and mobilize financial, volunteer and community resources toward achieving the goals to ensure the highest return on investment on donor dollars.
    • Early Education Impact Council
    • Community Impact Council

For ages 5-12

  • United Way, Grade Level Reading Network – The Shawnee County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is dedicated to narrowing the gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers.
  • United Way, On Grade Achievement – Growing up in poverty can result in a  smaller vocabulary, less time spent listening to books being read aloud and significantly lower kindergarten readiness scores. United Way targets these students for extra help to increase their success.
  • Topeka Public Schools, William’s Magnet FEATS program – Expanded day and after school academic program that emphasizes tutoring provided by certified teachers in core academic subjects including reading, language arts and mathematics. Curriculum also includes physical health, nutritional health and social skills development.
  • Topeka After School Coalition

All ages

Shawnee County K-State Research and Extension 4-H Program Development Committee(PDC). PDC members work with the agent to develop programs that meet the needs of the youth in Shawnee County.