State Librarian of Kansas Jo Budler spoke to the club about the importance of reading and creating life-long learners which can help sustain literacy and decrease the crime rate. In some states, Budler said, prisons determine the number of beds they will need based on reading levels. "If we had a nation of readers, crime would be very little. When we educate life-long learners they will make better choices, have more options and be more productive. When we invest in that end, we don't have as many beds in prisons."
The State Library of Kansas assists all branches of state government and is housed in the Capitol building in Topeka. They also sponsor statewide programs (such as eBooks), focusing on providing equitable services so that every resident can access books. Kansas is the only state in the nation that can say that. "It is important that everyone is able to read, but it's really about learning," Budler said. People who go to college make more than $1M more in a lifetime than people who don't further their education beyond high school. 
She discussed a little bit about the paradigm shift in library service. Every time something new comes along, it's toted as the end of the book - paperbacks were going to phase out hardcovers, casettes were going to phase out books, etc. And now there are playaways, downloadable audiobooks, talking books for the blind and physically challenged and view devices for beginning readers. Instead of receiving new ideas as the end of something, librarians embrace them as an additional format and find ways to help patrons use them. "Everything we add just adds to reading power and librarians have to be ready," she said. "Reading is the key to learning."
The library is the only place where quality of service is equitable for everyone who participates. Technology, the internet specifically, provides a different set of expectations. The assumption that libraries are less needed as technology is more prevalent is untrue. Anyone can find anything on the internet - libraries are needed more than ever to help searchers discern how to access authentic information. The State Library subscribes to databases for that purpose - and to make them available to every person in Kansas.
They spend $1.3M per year for databases on learning languages, health & wellness, encyclopedias, newspapers and other resources. If each library in Kansas subscribed on their own, it would cost $53M, so the cost avoidance is incredible. The most important outcome is that the library is the only place where people can access the internet at no additional cost. "Libraries aren't just filling a reading need," she said. "We are an information place and a community center."
Jo's daughter is a psychologist who shared with her some of the dangers youth experience in brain development. While middle-aged and older adults have developed collaborative, meditation and negotiation skills, youth aren't developing those. They don't go outside and play games with their friends where there are leaders and followers, disagreements and compromise. Instead, they are isolated, often sitting next to each other communicating through technological devices instead of actual conversation. She stresses that it's not the same skill-building developed in organized sports. 
"We need places for civic discourse to learn to collaborate and communicate," she said. "We offer that in libraries."
State library assistance encompasses all library types - public, academic, law, etc. One challenge school libraries face at this time is the unfortunate belief that educated librarians belong in the classroom instead of the library and are therefore replaced by paraprofessionals. Paraprofessionals aren't qualified to provide the variety of assistance that students need and it has been proven that test scores are higher when there is a librarian in the library - they provide a higher quality of life. 
When asked about the duplication of efforts between strong school libraries and a public library, Jo explained the difference in missions between the two. School libraries work to support a curriculum. Public libraries work to support the public. There are separate collections, missions, cultures and outcomes. 
In Other News:
  • Our Guest List was library heavy today: Jo Erin Stuteville, library board member; Rusty Folsom, technical services; Danielle Folsom, programming; Connie Powell, administration; Elizabeth Ellis, youth; Kathy Baker, interlibrary loan; Dawn Eggers, Collection Development; Jo Budler, State Library of Kansas; Candace LeDuc, communications coordinator at the State Library of Kansas.
  • Tom gave a dollar just to find out who was running the library from 12-1 AND for the Royals, who are back on top since he stopped attending games
  • Craig questioned that a dollar was enough to help the team recoup their beer sales and the devastation of Lunny's streak-ending appearances to Kauffman
  • Damon gave a Happy Do$$ar for Andy's recovery from pectoral surgery
  • McRaymond gave for coming in under budget
  • Bowes gave because he's going to be a grandpa again...they may name it Saberhagen
  • Sandy gave in honor of fellow Rotarian & Paul Harris Fellow Bob Couch who died this week