HPL presents Crisis to Conservation to Conversation: A Hays Water Story


Six rural Kansas locations were selected to host the traveling Smithsonian exhibition Crossroads: Change in Rural America. Other locations, including the Hays Public Library, were then selected by Humanities Kansas as partner sites responsible for creating their own displays and programming related to the Crossroads theme. The library’s exhibit will be on display May 1 through June 13, accompanied by a variety of programs.

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, by 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.

After careful consideration and visiting with various community members, the Hays Public Library reached the decision that the most pressing “crossroad” facing the area is water conservation. HPL is partnering with the Hays Water Department to present Crisis to Conservation to Conversation: A Hays Water Story, the display will explore three different time periods, the past, present, and future of Hays water issues.

Hays is unique in that it is the largest Kansas community without a reliable water supply. Community leaders and their citizens have stepped up to be water conservation leaders while planning for the stark realities of water security. This display and its corresponding programming will spark a conversation about Hays’ relationship with water and the community’s future. In addition to water-related content, this also will be an opportunity for the Hays community to have a larger conversation about rural America. 

Event Schedule:

May 1st – Opening of Exhibit “From Crisis to Conservation to Conversation: A Hays Water Story”

May 8th at 2 p.m. – Rex Buchanan Presents, “Water, Energy, and Rural Kansas: How They are Connected, What the Future May Hold”

May 12th at 12:15 p.m. – Brown Bag Lunch and Public Screening of the Short Documentary, “When the Well Runs Dry”

May 20th at 6 p.m. – Julie Roller-Weeks Presents, “A Boomerang’s Approach to Reimagining Rural Tourism”

May 25th at 6:30 p.m. – Hannes Zacharias – Virtual presentation about his kayaking trip along the entire length of the Arkansas River

June 3rd at 6 p.m. – Hays Water Conservation Specialist Holly Dickman Presents: “Water Smart Landscape”

June 11th at 6:30-9 p.m. – “Let’s Walk Water” Event at Frontier Park, led by Stacie Minson, Watershed Specialist

You can find out more about this and other library programs at hayslibrary.org or by calling 785-625-9014.