The aroma of hot soups and fresh breads greeted patrons at the door on a bone-chilling Saturday as Friends of the Lindsborg Library hosted the annual We Are Thankful meal. The event is a delicious way for the organization to thank the community and engage Lindsborg in conversations about what’s next.
“I love being able to help people find books that they enjoy,” said Suzanna Swenson, Director of the Lindsborg Community Library.
Swenson grew up on a farm near Smolan and says spending time at the library in Salina as a child helped shape her love for books. “I love doing the story times, and getting kids to love reading and learning, and helping elderly people find large print items and audio books.”
In 1960 the Lindsborg Community Library was founded by a group of ladies who wanted a place for the local children to have a summer reading program. The loan of 200 books from South Central Kansas Library System (SCKLS) helped them open the new library for three months.
Those 200 books were checked out 1,050 times that summer. Now the numbers have grown to more than 30,000 books and include movies, magazines, interlibrary loans and internet access, all available free to the entire community.
Surrounded by books, Swedish archives and movies, children and adults shared their own stories over the soup lunch about how they’ve enjoyed the library through the years. “I’ve been playing with this train since I was little,” 11-year-old Judah Cooper said as he pushed a well-worn locomotive through a wooden tunnel.
The train set has been a centerpiece for children to enjoy for 25 years. During that stretch of time the library has kept pace with changing demands by adding not only great books, but movies, audio books and computers with internet access to help people connect beyond Little Sweden.
One of the ongoing challenges for the library, Swenson says, is adding materials to the collection that people really want. “There’s always more books than budget.” By adding members to the Friends of the Lindsborg Library group, the reasonable annual dues help defray costs and increase the impact of the library even more.
Swenson added that SCKLS is another major funding source, “matching new program grants, etc. for computers, Lego Club, storytime, and more over the years.” The Lindsborg Lions and the Kiwanis Clubs were significant donors this year, and the Lindsborg Arts Council was a major funding source for summer reading program, covering all the music events. And around a dozen community businesses contributed to the summer reading program.
It’s that kind of teamwork that makes a community library like this a viable learning center in Little Sweden.