Best Small Public Library in Kansas

    The Kansas Library Association (KLA) is pleased to announce that the Ashland City Library in Ashland, Kansas has been named the 2018 Best Small Public Library in Kansas. This award is presented annually and is co-sponsored by KLA and Auto-Graphics, Inc. The Ashland City Library will be honored during the Kansas Library Conference, October 24-26, in Wichita, Kansas. Award winning libraries are presented with a traveling banner to hang in their library, a plaque, and a check for $500 from Auto-Graphics, Inc. This presentation will take place during the Awards Reception on Thursday evening, October 25.

    The Ashland City Library was selected as the 2018 Best Small Public Library in Kansas for providing innovative programming to their community. The Best Small Public Library Award was created by regional library consultants, in conjunction with the Kansas Library Association, to recognize creative and excellent library services, programs or activities in a service community of less than 5,000.

    Besides summer reading programs such as Mad Science, Choctaw Indian Exposure, Sternberg Museum Program, the PBS storyteller and a classical guitarist, Ashland hosts weekly/bi-weekly children’s activities such as:

    Art Class-- Funded by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office appropriated drug funds, a healthy snack is donated and library staff lead an art class. The local thrift store often supplies free materials. Classes average 25 to 30 kids, there are around 90 kids in the grade school.

    LEGO Club-- Both local banks and the Civic Club gave $600 to buy LEGOs. The club builds on a theme, such as creating a car to race down a propped-up table. Once the initial cost of the bricks was covered, the library augments the collection with bricks that come into the local thrift store.

    Learn and Play-- This incredible program is supported by Russell Childhood Development. The pre-school teacher leads it at no cost, other libraries can get them too.

    Music lessons—The Home Lumber office donated funding used for music lessons after the library hosted a classical musician. The library pays half of the lesson cost and supports children and adults taking lessons in the meeting room on a donated Steinway grand piano.

    The Ashland City Library advertises various programs and activities through a variety of methods but the most successful advertising is done by the Reading Bear. A huge teddy bear goes around and “reads” in different locations and patrons are given chocolate when they tell library staff where they saw the Reading Bear and what he was reading.

    Children receive 30 minutes computer time, but can earn more time by doing observed reading. This may not increase our circulation, but it helps the kids and is supported by their parents.

    Summer Reading also included two learning camps this year. The 3rd grade teacher led a writing camp where they produced their own book and the retired music teacher led a theater camp which finished with skit performances. These teachers donated their time, so costs were minimal. Library staff plan to continue the five and six week camps.

    The library hosts two major children’s parties a year, spring and fall, with reading and fun activities. The Barbie Party encouraged little girls to enjoy being beautiful. The Under the Sea party this spring featured sushi for the first time, costs are underwritten by the sheriff or the banks.

    The Friends of the Library produced a dinner theater fundraiser and a “Beer, Brats and Banned Books” fundraiser, netting $16,000 in donations. Library staff work hard to help and promote these activities. Seniors often meets to read a story aloud and check out materials, the nursing home brings the seniors to the library for outings as well and they are invited for most of the children’s summer programs as well. The library also hosts a weekly quilting club.

    Every Christmas the library hosts a catered Library Luncheon with entertainment. Different patrons decorate a table with place settings, so patrons are included in setting up the fun.

    The library has started having reading competitions for adults during the summer as well, this year the winner read 17,376 pages to win the wine and chocolate basket from a local bed and breakfast. The library set up a booth at the county fair and the local health fair to promote library services. At the county fair, the library set up a table with a tri-fold showcasing summer activities and then set up discarded books for free takeaway. The library also showcases blind and physically handicapped services.

    The library pursues available grants. A renovation grant of $275,000 was received after a local patron began volunteering and saw the children’s activities the library provides. After the Starbuck Fire, the library received $3,400 from the Kansas Humanities Council to do 69 audio interviews with local patrons who dealt with the fire and its aftermath. Ashland City Library also received $24,000 from the Kansas Health Foundation to publish a book of the transcribed interviews. The library plans to pursue interviews with local cattlemen regarding the origins of their ranches and then Vietnam War vets and their experiences. Through the interviews, the library has have interacted with patrons who have never set foot in the library.

    Congratulations to the Ashland City Library as the Best Small Public Library in Kansas for 2018.

    The Best Small Public Library Award was created by regional library consultants, in conjunction with the Kansas Library Association, to recognize creative and excellent library service, program or activity in a service community of less than 5,000.

    Award Information for Best Small Public Library in Kansas 2018 Applications

    Past Winners

    2017

    Cimarron City Public Library, Cimarron City, KS

    2016

    Horton Public Library, Horton, KS

    2015

    Hesston Public Library, Heston, KS

    2014

    Wamego Public Library, Wamego, KS

    2013

    Kinsley Library, Kinsley, KS

    2012

    Garnett Public Library, Garnett, KS