Congratulations to the Valley Center Public Library for being the October Business of the Month!
We at the Library want to thank everyone who has supported our efforts to explore options for growth. For now, the Library Board has decided to not pursue the purchase of Le Venue. Initial estimates from city‐approved engineers gave us hope the building could be bought and renovated for less than $1 million, a great value for the community. When the city council requested a more detailed architectural assessment, Duane Hickerson, an architect who has worked with the library on previous proposals, determined renovations alone would amount to $1.8 million due to ADA compliance issues.
We were stunned. The Library Board has proposed at least six expansion plans over the last 20 years, affected by a variety of factors. The efforts for expansion will continue.
When I started at the Library in 1990, we had plenty of space on shelves. That was before we added public computers for Internet (five) and card catalogs (two). We added audio books – first on cassette then on CD. We added movies – first on VHS then on DVD. Our book collection has expanded to every genre, with the titles and authors our patrons request – including e‐books. We participate in the statewide interlibrary loan system – ordering books and media for home‐schooling parents and patrons who request materials that we don’t own. Likewise, we provide materials to other libraries who request items they don’t own. We used to spend $5,000 a year for postage – we now participate in a courier service at about half the cost. Our Valley Center library was one of the first in Kansas to computerize (or automate) checkout. That first system was in DOS format; we converted to Windows in 2007 with our current Polaris system – switching out seven computers.
We began hosting teen and adult activities in the last six to eight years, including game and movie nights. Additionally, our children’s programs have expanded from about 55 kids in 1990 (in one session) to more than 300 (in two sessions) weekly. While we’re very gratified to hold popular programs, we want safety to be a priority. Expanded space is essential for boosting the quality and comfort of our community activities – all of which are free.
We strive to be good stewards of our community tax dollars, and are always conscious of our budget. Our funding allocation has not increased for about 15 years. As everyone knows, costs have risen for everything in our lives. We have been seeking grants for all possible areas of the library to alleviate spending from the budget. Grants have funded computers, movie licenses for public performance, books, an Xbox for teen activity nights, digitization equipment for preserving local history recordings and documents to make them available online. We follow the approval of the Library Board in spending for programs, materials, and payroll as detailed in our yearly budget. We regularly accept book and DVD donations; items in good condition that fit our collection guidelines are prepared for checkout, while other items are prepared for sales that benefit our building fund.
The Library is a “must have” in Valley Center, as well as in towns and cities across America. In the steps of Benjamin Franklin, whose books established the first public library in the country, and Thomas Jefferson, whose books established the Library of Congress, the Valley Center Library enables all residents –regardless of income – to gain knowledge and entertainment for free.
Add up the cost for a month of internet ($35), books (two at $15 each), e‐books (two at $8 each), DVDs (two at $10 each) and a family night at the movies ($40 admission, $20 for concessions) – that totals $161. How much would you save?
Come use our Internet or wireless services, check out some DVDs instead of buying them or going to a movie theater, borrow a book and save money, avoid clutter. All these services are free to everyone, including the programs we provide for all ages throughout the year – weekly story times, summer programs for children, teens and adults, and family programs during the year. For a small fee we provide photocopying and FAX services as well as printing in color and black and white, and notary services (for a donation to the building fund).
Libraries aren’t a burden; they’re a public service that embodies the ideals of America.