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Free Knowledge for Everyone

Posted August 15, 2012 in Community Featured, Winterset

Isn’t the concept of a free public library just unbelievable? Free knowledge for everyone, absolutely nobody excluded.

The public libraries were gathering steam in the late 1800s and were being established by the Code of Iowa and the city councils around the state. Winterset’s library ordinance established a “free public library” in August of 1891.

I can’t dream up a better bargain. For comparison, have you ever gone shopping for clothing, checked out some outfits free of charge for a couple of weeks, and then brought them back to the store for the next shopper? I hope not. Anyway, books are much better than clothes because they nourish our minds.

“What Reading Does for the Mind,” by Anne Cunningham and Keith Stanovich, was published in Journal of Direct Instruction. As you can guess, Cunningham and Stanovich document the fact that readers have higher GPAs, higher intelligence and more general knowledge than non-readers. Reading also upgrades our analytical skills as we learn to recognize patterns more easily. What about increasing our vocabulary and our spelling skills? Oh, yes — those are also part of the perks from that simple habit of r-e-a-d-i-n-g.

The Winterset Library has been offering a summer reading program for many years, using themes and artwork from the Collaborative Summer Library Program, a consortium that provides high-quality summer reading materials for children at a very low cost. This year, 310 children played the summer reading game and earned prizes while reading books. Fifty-two youth and 45 adults also played the reading game. Sponsors of the Summer Reading Program were Union State Bank and the Friends of the Library.

Blank Park Zoo brought in animals on three occasions. Kids used their imaginations making rockets and marshmallow flingers, not to mention mystery bags. Items checked out of the library in June and July totaled 19,368. Minds were expanded, vocabularies were enhanced, and probably best of all, many of us deeply enjoyed the experience of reading a great book.

Winterset is outstanding in our care for our children — we want to prevent “summer reading loss,” we want to help children who are struggling, we want to enrich our children’s lives, we want to help our kids develop good reading habits for the future, we want our kids to feel safe, supervised, cared for, useful and valued. Good news: It’s also the mission of the library.

Winterset Public Library
123 North Second St.
Mon. – Thur.: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Fri. – Sat.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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