Did you know…theManhattan Library Association has a long history in our community?
A group of pioneer men formed the Manhattan Literary Institute in 1856 to “encourage industry, promote virtue, and mutually assist each other in the acquisition of knowledge.” While the purpose of this institute was to conduct “literary exercises” among its male members, its single greatest contribution was the purchase of a lot at 5th and Poyntz to be dedicated to the construction of a library.
Then in 1900, a group of concerned women saw the need to further promote this aim and organized the Manhattan Library Association. Their goal was “the erection of a building for library, reading room and other purposes.” Not only did the original sixteen women target a membership of 200 with an enrollment fee of $5.00, they also took the initiative to pursue a donation from Andrew Carnegie to build the library.
Through the leadership of Elizabeth Purcell, president of the Manhattan Library Association, this goal was reached in January 1903 when a $10,000 gift from Mr. Carnegie was confirmed. Construction began on the Carnegie Public Library in February, and the building was completed in time for a December opening.
Fast forward to 2014. The Manhattan Library Association, the Friends of the Library, is alive and well. Our strength today can be attributed to all of you, our dedicated members, who share a kindred spirit with the founders of the Manhattan Literary Institute and the original MLA. Our goals are similar: encourage gifts to the Manhattan Public Library; enrich the resources and facilities of the library; build support in the community for expansion of the facility and its programming; and undertake specific projects as determined by the library director.
Through the support of MLA members and the direction of the MLA board and library director, Linda Knupp, we have made great strides in contributing to these goals. Our annual book sale, as well as the sale of books at Rosie’s Corner Book Store in the library, allow the association to fund numerous programs that serve a broad range of patrons. With the aim of fostering literacy in our youngest citizens, MLA donations fund Kansas Reads to Preschoolers, providing free books to youngsters. Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager, appreciates the financial support for all of the story time supplies, interactive toys, early literacy activities, and special events for school-aged children and families.
We are all eager to enjoy the new spaces and explore the neighborhoods as the children’s expansion project nears completion. The library and MLA will be throwing a party on January 17, 2015 to celebrate this accomplishment!
The Manhattan Library Association is also pleased to contribute to adult and young adult services for library patrons. Summer reading programs are not just for children! Summer reading for adults is one of the many programs mentioned by Susan Withee, the Adult Services Manager, that receives financial support from MLA. Throughout the year, the library provides several opportunities to be involved in adult reading groups. The newly formed Good Books Club meets monthly through the fall, and the TALK program occurs on the 4th Thursdays from January to April. In addition, MLA covers our library’s participation fee for the Big Read sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council. Look for enrollment in this program coming up in November, and enjoy reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.
Young adults are important and active patrons at MPL. With guidance from Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian, an advisory group for teens, TLAB (Teen Library Advisory Board), recommends and supports programming for this demographic. MLA supports their projects, purchases books and gift cards for summer reading program rewards, and provides T-shirts for teen volunteers.
As you can see, the advocacy of our Manhattan Library Association members plays a significant role in supporting a broad range of programming for patrons of all ages. Thank you for your dedicated support. Please use the insert in this newsletter to renew your MLA membership. Just think: this is one way you can beat inflation…membership was $5.00 in 1900 and only $10.00 now! Encourage your friends to become Friends of the Library as well!
Working together for literacy,