Have you ever heard of Harmon Killebrew? What about Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean?
No? That’s OK. It takes a pretty in-depth knowledge of baseball to know those men are legends enshrined in Cooperstown.
For me, those names bring back childhood memories of a storefront in a south Kansas City strip shopping center. The space sat between a large hardware store and a veterinary clinic. It had rectangular fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling, thin gray carpeting, and rolling step stools with squeaky wheels.
This was the Mid-Continent Library’s Red Bridge branch, where I cemented my love of reading by checking out books about baseball immortals. My interests have broadened since then, but my appreciation for libraries is why I serve on the Johnson County Library Foundation board.
My parents’ volunteerism taught me the importance of giving back to the community. As a teen, a friend of mine and I spent part of our summer sprucing up the youth lounge of our synagogue. My volunteer activities as an adult have included walking dogs at an animal shelter (with my mom), delivering groceries to home-bound individuals, and working at fundraising events.
Community service is always rewarding. I sought a seat on the foundation board because it helps fund the library’s array of programming. The library is so much more than books and magazines.
The branches provide essential access to computers for patrons who don’t have one at home, and if you can’t find an activity that interests you, then you just aren’t trying. Offerings range from an intro to soldering, to book discussions and homework help for elementary students.
Libraries also exude calmness. It seems as if my anxieties drain away when I enter a branch.
It has been that way even before my time at the Red Bridge branch. I still remember filing down metal stairs in the boiler room of my elementary school to reach the library. Dinosaurs were my special interest back then.
Baseball chapter books came a little later, and just to fill you in:
Killebrew was a slugger for the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s, and Dean was a strikeout king while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s.