by Alicia Rudnicki, Library Mix
Like the mythological phoenix bird that arose from its own ashes, Greensburg, Kansas, is emerging from the rubble of its near total devastation by a tornado on May 4, 2007. This weekend is the second anniversary of the town’s survival.
Traveling home through southern Kansas last weekend, my husband and I visited Greensburg. We were curious to see how it is incorporating environmentally friendly technologies into its new construction and rebuilding itself as “GreenTown.”
Despite being dominated by temporary trailers and a stark landscape punctuated by trees brutally pruned by Mother Nature, Greensburg is busy with fascinating building projects. These include concrete houses that are so tough you could drop an auto on them and not cause damage as demonstrated by a CNN video
Three summers without a library
As the sign reads on one of the town’s many temporary trailer buildings: “Hope grows in Greensburg.” So do plans for building a new library to replace the one demolished along with 95% of the town’s buildings.
Each year at this time, I get excited about the summer reading programs and activities that will be available at the numerous excellent public libraries near where I live. But for Greensburg, this will be its third summer without a local library.
Greensburg is the county seat of Kiowa County. Residents have access to branches of the county library in towns to the east and west. However this means driving many miles to drop off a book, participate in a storytime, use a computer, attend a job workshop or enjoy a special event.
But some construction projects are simply more pressing such as the county hospital, city hall, and a public schools campus for students from early childhood through 12th grade.
The county is planning to house the new Greensburg Library in a “Commons” building that will also contain the county historical society, the county extension office, and a media center. Although the initial design of the Commons has been completed, it is unclear when construction will begin.
Recession slowing recovery?
In the May 1 edition of the local Kiowa County Signal, Editor Mark Anderson reported that Kansas’ state budget crunch might slow Greensburg’s recovery.
But we can keep hope growing in Greensburg. Though these are financially difficult times for so many of us, perhaps we can reach out to help grow a library in this inspiring town. As the saying goes, “every little bit helps.”
What would happen if countless library lovers were to place “Grow a Library for Greensburg” penny donation jars on the counters in their classrooms, businesses, and offices?
For those who want to help, the Kansas Library Association Educational Foundation has set up a fund for donations. The Foundation is a 501c3 organization and all donations are tax deductible. But please do not send books at this time, since there is no library to house them.