Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Reading aloud to kids isn’t just fun – it’s essential for your child up for success in life. Kids whose parents read to them get an edge when it comes to learning to talk, bonding with their parents, and making sense of the world. Sitting down with a book improves a child’s ability to pay attention.
To help prepare every child for kindergarten the library and United Way of Greater Topeka are working together to make the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available to all children up to 5 years old in Shawnee County. Each month a new, carefully selected book is mailed in the child’s name directly to their home for free. Nearly 4,800 children are currently enrolled in Imagination Library, which is about 30-percent of the Shawnee County population, birth up to 5 years of age.
Imagination Library Statistics
2017 (April – December)
Improving a Community Destination
Claire’s Courtyard is a $1.3 million private investment in making the library the ultimate community destination. This project is made possible by a gift to The Library Foundation from Dr. Glenn Swogger and named after his beloved late wife Claire. This new public space will include a year-round all-weather pavilion, an outdoor courtyard and an outdoor amphitheater for programs and classes. The Courtyard will be complete in early 2019 and is part of a 10-year facilities master plan to maintain and improve the library.
Other areas of the facilities plan that were addressed in 2018 include remodeling the large print area and circulation lobby, and contracting for roof repairs and to replace the flooring in the rotunda, circulation lobby and main hallway. The large print area is being remodeled with reconfigured shelving to make it easier to find the items you want. The Business Center will be moved from the large print area to a larger area where the customer service desk was previously located. The circulation lobby is being remodeled to make the customer service and information desks more visible from the library entrance. The flooring is being replaced because several tiles in the previous flooring were damaged. The new flooring will be more durable and is expected to last for at least 50 years. These changes are planned to be completed in spring 2019. View the full Facilities Master Plan.
Learn & Play Bus Success
With only 31 percent of children in Shawnee County having access to preschool, the Learn & Play Bus brings the learning experience to where families live. A child’s learning is play, and both children and their adults have a fun learning experience at the weekly stop with stories, songs, games and toys. In 2018, two stops were added to the schedule, bringing our service to eight stops in the community. We saw a 32 percent increase in visits to the Learn & Play bus in 2018 with 3,812 visitors compared to 2,812 visitors in 2017.
Award Winning Service
Each year the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading (GRL) recognizes deserving communities as “Bright Spots” to capture the most inspiring and promising work in communities, schools and programs across the country. The Learn & Play Bus initiative was recognized as a “Bright Spot” in 2018.
TARC Children’s Services Service and Support also recognized the Learn & Play Bus for our partnership that has provided increased opportunities and improved services for children with disabilities in our community.
Book Rich Environment (BRE)
In the spring the BRE team gave away more than 800 books to students at Ross, Highland Park Central and Scott Elementary Schools. Librarians provided fun music and stories to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. These events are a part the BRE grant focused on ensuring children who live-in low-income housing have access to books of their very own. The program is a collaboration with the Topeka Housing Authority, United Way of Greater Topeka and the library.
We hosted a spike event early July in to draw attention to sites that offer free summer meals to kids throughout the community including the library. Event partners included the United Way of Greater Topeka, Topeka Public Schools, Kansas Appleseed, Harvesters, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Topeka Metro, and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. Huscarl Hobbies and Games gave away comic books and United Way gave out books, so kids were able to refresh their reading just by walking through the doors. There were activities and/or giveaways focused on nutrition and health at every table.
On August 10 we held end of summer / beginning of the school year events with a Read and Ride between Deer Creek, Pine Ridge, Echo Ridge and Dornwood Park. Celebrity readers shared stories at each location and more than 50 children who live in the three public housing communities received a bicycle, helmet, bicycle safety training and their own book. Our partnership expanded to include the Topeka Community Cycle Project, Neighborhood Opportunity for Wellness and the Topeka Police Department.
We finished our year with a book giveaway initiative for the holiday season. Families with children who were adoptees of the United Way of Greater Topeka’s Christmas Bureau received a book along with their other Christmas presents.
Library Board Changes
Betty Greiner, Duane Johnson and Melissa Masoner left the Library Board of Trustees in May 2018. Shawn Leisinger, Kristen Brunkow O’Shea and Kacy Simonsen were appointed to the board.
David L. Leamon, who served as Executive Director of the library from 1992 to 2005, died on April 23, 2018, at age 78. He oversaw the renovation and remodeling of the library, which included the expansion designed by renowned architect, Michael Graves.
Librarians all over Kansas mourned Duane Johnson’s passing in October 2018. He served on the library’s Board of Trustees for eight years, sharing his experience and wisdom as the retired state librarian of Kansas. “He was my board chair for two years and I so appreciated having his support and counsel,” said library CEO Gina Millsap. “He was a true gentleman and a great library leader.”
75 Years of Bookmobiles
We celebrated the 75th anniversary of library bookmobiles during National Library week, April 8-14 with an article in Library News and free cookies for bookmobile visitors on National Bookmobile Day, April 11. Banners were up in the library all year to acknowledge this important service to the community.
Curiosity Central Summer Learning
Summer reading and events were extended to 12 weeks in 2018. There were more than 300 events held with fun learning activities to combat the summer slide using STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math) strategies.
Everyone Reading 2Books
2Book Topeka, our community reading initiative started in summer 2017 and has been going strong. Three times a year we encourage the community to read two books on a theme, and attend related events. The themes for 2018 were adventure – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, music – After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Album, and WWI mystery – A Test of Wills by Charles Todd and Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Combined the six books checked out a total of 2,717 times.
Sources of Financial Support
Fees & Reimbursements $472,656
Grants & State Aid $52,102
Investment Income $216,665
Salaries & Benefits $11,176,265
Other Operating Exp $2,275,329
Debt Service $1,652,250
Library Materials $1,812,798
Equipment & Capital Imp $2,417,396
Programming & Events $133,290