Find the Library at Your Place

This is National Library Week. This is the first time in my 45 years as a librarian that I haven’t celebrated it with our community at the library.

Let’s talk about that. What is a library without the building? It’s the people – those of us who serve and all of you who rely on your library for reading, learning, sharing stories and trustworthy information, and participating in your community as an informed resident. The Library Week theme this year, which ironically was chosen long before any of us knew about COVID-19, is “Find Your Place at the Library.” We will now switch that to say, “Find the Library at Your Place.”

The Evolving Library

The reality is the library can be what and where you need it to be. For 150 years, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has been adapting and evolving to meet the needs of our community. Need that next great book? We can help with that –right now that’s through the thousands of titles available online through our digital libraries, OverDrive and Hoopla. Do you have a student who needs research assistance? We’ve got tons of online magazines, journals and reference books that will help students kindergarten through college. Need help finding a job or seeking unemployment assistance? We have staff who will assist you online.

Moving Forward

We’re working on a plan to re-open the building when our public health experts and elected officials tell us it’s safe for you and our library employees. Stay tuned as we continue to serve you at your place and begin to prepare the library to be a place that is welcoming and safe for all. In the meantime, I’m challenging everyone to participate in our Keep Calm and Read On Reading Challenge. Everyone who completes it gets a cool t-shirt.

The COVID-19 crisis is a shared experience we’ll talk about all our lives. Yes, it’s scary and serious, but it also brings out the best in people. We’re caring for each other and learning from this experience how to be better people and to be better as a community. Use this time to read, reflect, learn and share. You’ll find the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is your place!

Gina Millsap was the chief executive officer of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and retired after a distinguished career in 2020.