The State Library of Kansas, located on the third floor of the Capitol Building, is an agency of the governor’s office and though we are one of the oldest library organizations in the state, it is sometimes difficult to inform and educate the public about our work.


Not to let a great opportunity go to waste, the following is a partial overview of a few services we provide at no cost to you, our patron.


The State Library makes available to all residents an extremely wide range of resources for work, life and leisure. These include research databases covering a multitude of topics and disciplines through magazine, periodical and news coverage; encyclopedia and critical analysis; video; photos; statistical data; activities; and games.


Our skill-building collection includes language learning (non-English and ESL courses); resume, career and job-seeking skills; literacy and reading skills; business and computer training; parenting and family information; crafts and hobbies; real estate; self-help; pet training; and much more.


The collection of digital books, in audio and ebook formats, circulated over 680,000 titles last year, and in our continued effort to meet current demand, popular and literary fiction along with timely nonfiction titles are featured and added constantly.


Since most digital books circulate from reader to reader, one checkout at time, just like books off the shelf, an individual account is necessary to request and check out a title. The Kansas Library eCard is not a traditional library card. Rather it is an account that lets readers borrow from any of our digital book providers.


The research and skill building collections generally don't have this requirement, so for most Kansans, they are available and usable right from our website. When this doesn't work (for Kansans traveling, attending school or in military service outside the state), the eCard also lets you take your library with you, by providing alternate access to the same online materials available in-state.


During this current time of isolation and difficulty, it should be recognized that some of our content partners like Encyclopedia Britannica, EBSCO and Tumblebooks are providing all Kansans with new and expanded book and research resources at no additional cost to the State Library.


Another service of the State Library is the Talking Books of Kansas. Just this month, Talking Books celebrated 50 years of providing personalized support and materials specific to Kansans who are blind, have physical impairments or are otherwise print disabled. Accessible audio and braille reading materials are available via mail at no cost to the patron or by direct download, to all qualifying Kansas residents of any age.


Public libraries across the state are staying engaged with their communities online through so many exciting and imaginative ways — interactive story times, book clubs, trivia nights, author talks, photography clubs, writing workshops, cooking classes, genealogy groups, just to name a few that I have seen on Facebook alone.


Everything now feels strange, and temporary, and unstable, and frightening — but the State Library of Kansas and your local public library have been stalwart in our dedication to serving our communities.


A letter from Keri Strahler was titled "We need to lean on libraries," and I couldn’t agree more. If I have learned anything in almost 15-years of working with and for public libraries in Kansas — we are here for you.


More information about the State Library of Kansas and contact information can be found at our website.


Eric Norris, of Topeka, is the state librarian of Kansas.