By Joe McKenzie Ι From January 2016 edition of Cover to Cover

Libraries have developed into dynamic, ever-changing public services, soChildren at storytime, teen at tech club, patron checking out Cultural Pass each year brings something new, in addition to thousands of new books and other resources. That keeps it alive and thriving. There is never a time to stop growing. If you think you know what Salina Public Library has to offer, look a little closer, and you’ll probably discover something new.

One of the “coolest” things we did in 2015 was to replace our original air conditioning system. That’s a bad joke. It was actually noisy and boring, but, when finished, it was cool in the summer, and it had to be done. It’s also more efficient and saves us money. But, that huge project for our 60,000-square-foot building also drained our capital improvement budget. So the library board will work to gradually build that backup.

Our next best physical improvement might just be more parking at our Community Learning Center. We bought the lot east of that busy place last year.

Community at the library

To energize new ideas, we consolidated our programming team since we are creating programs, classes and events in at least four different areas of the library. And, it’s strong and diverse: Brainy Babies, CLASS, Tech Clubs for Kids, book discussion groups, tech classes, gaming tourneys, genealogy and Pinterest. Did you know we proctor exams? Have you tried Lynda.com for free online training classes? Check it out on our website at www.salinapubliclibrary.org. In 2015, we needed some Hoopla. Try this database. Hoopla provides downloadable music,

In 2015, we needed some Hoopla. Try this database. Hoopla provides downloadable music, movies and audiobooks. It’s not yet as popular as our Sunflower e-books, which have a solid following. If you need help in using these resources with your tech devices, come to the library tech center classes. Thanks to many community partners, Dianna Waite and her adult circulation staff started the Cultural Pass project which provides free tickets to many local shows and events. Lori Berezovsky and our Community Engagement Department started conducting community conversations to build stronger relationships and a better understanding of needs. Community volunteers are becoming involved by adopting Little Libraries. And we just updated our Tech Conference Room to add more mobile and flexible furniture and six gaming systems.

Creative staff

As you can see, it’s our empowered staff who make so many good things happen to enhance and transform services. In 2016, new staff teams for engagement, innovation, creativity, data and user experience will work together to keep our library relevant. They’ll have fun working out of their usual jobs and silos. Ideas will flow in new directions.

One of the most exciting initiatives in the coming year is going to be our Summer Learning program. Key words: “exciting” and “learning.” Students lose new knowledge over a hot summer. Now, they’ll be able to come to the library for some interesting lessons with Kristi Wheeler, a local teacher, in our Tech Center. We’ll still do summer reading for thousands, but we’ll add learning.

And, our usual wild summer reading party is about to expand into a new location with new fun features.

Morgan Davis, Amy Adams, Glory Benacka, Kaitlyn Zink and others are planning new events aimed at engaging 20/30-somethings in the coming year. This project holds great promise. Spread the word. Our younger staff members bring tremendous energy and new approaches to public service. And, they welcome your involvement.

Watch for our new StoryCatchers project that Barbara Mulvihill in Information Services has organized. This is oral history. We know there are many great local stories to capture and hear. Do you have a story to share?

A blend of new and old

As you can see, we are moving in multiple directions all at once. That creates a dynamic place.

We have strong identity in the community through our popular pre-school children’s services, technology and CLASS. We still love books and reading, but we’ve grown beyond that. Every year brings fresh ideas. I encourage you to be a part of your ever growing library and to make our fantastic resources an integral part of your life and new year.