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This isn’t your
grandfather’s library
Platte City Mid-Continent librarian Rachel Rafuse is shown with Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt. The mayor signed a proclamation honoring National Library Week in Platte City. The proclamation encourages school-aged children to experience the world of reading.

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark assistant editor

Since the first celebration of National Library Week 58 years ago, libraries have successfully transformed to meet the evolving needs of patrons in a growing technological world.

In honor of this year’s National Library Week, the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) is hosting a variety of community events through Saturday, April 16.

The theme “Libraries Transform” fits the description of the innovated ways the MCPL has advanced to provide relevant services in today’s informational and digital world.

The MCPL was one the first library systems in the region to have more than one million downloads of eBooks and eAudiobooks in one year.

The MCPL also launched a free service that allows self-published authors to submit their eBooks to have their work viewed by a larger audience. There are countless other transformations the library system has made to help patrons navigate their ever-changing lives, including, four library-to-go locations, complimentary crash courses in computer instructions and photo booths among the stacks dubbed “shelfies.”

“Today’s library looks much different than it did even a few years ago; in fact, the ‘virtual library’ is utilized nearly as often as our brick and mortar offerings,” said library director and CEO Steven Potter.

“However, the mission remains the same. At Mid-Continent Public Library, we strive to enrich the lives of citizens by providing materials, programs, and services that inspire, inform, educate, and fuel innovation. We open up a world of knowledge that can truly transform lives.”

From obtaining a new library card online to creating an original work of art, the MCPL is expanding its services during National Library Week.

The bulk of the activities will be held on Saturday, April 16 at Woodneath Library Center.

Ten free hands-on workshops, including youth self-portraits, blackout poetry and introduction to Adobe Photoshop, will be led by professional instructors.

Participates are urged to registered online by visiting mymcpl.org/AccessArt.

“KCAI’s School for Continuing and Professional Studies is excited to bring our fun, fine art classes to the library,” said Sonja Garrett, director of The School for Continuing and Professional Studies at the Kansas City Art Institute. “Students will be introduced to drawing, illustration, and painting techniques taught by some of the best art instructors in Kansas City.”

The library is also offering drop-in activities, including mythical mask making and doodling with a 3-D pen.

Melissa McCracken, a local artist with the unique ability to see music in color, will transform the images she sees onto a canvas. Her exceptional ability to paint music as colors is in part because of a neurological condition called synesthesia.

“Art, like literature, is an important aspect of our culture, which awakens different parts of the mind and sparks ideas and conversation,” said Paul Smith, MCPL community programming manager.

“We believe that everyone should have the ability to both create and enjoy all types of art, and Access Art provides a free opportunity for members of the community to do so.”

This is the second year the MPCL has teamed up with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kansas City Art Institute to provide a full-day of complimentary art activities.