At bill signing in Eudora, Gov. Kelly goes off script to praise immense value of libraries

photo by: Mike Yoder

Gov. Laura Kelly, seated, conducts a ceremonial bill signing at the Eudora Public Library, 14 E. Ninth St., on Tuesday. Behind Kelly, from left are Carol Wohlford, Eudora Library director; Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City; Sen. Randall Hardy, R-Salina; Rep. Eileen Horn, D-Lawrence; and Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie.

EUDORA – A group of children seated on the floor of the Eudora Public Library reminded Gov.Laura Kelly how a library had been her salvation as a young mother.

Kelly arrived at the library at 14 E. Ninth St., Tuesday morning for a ceremonial signing of legislation that authorizes the Eudora City Commission and Eudora Township Board of Trustees to pass a joint resolution creating the Eudora Community Library District. She had prepared a brief talk, but after looking at the 18 kids in front of her, she set her prepared remarks aside.

The kids reminded her of how important a library was when she first moved to Kansas. New to Salina, and fairly new to parenting, she walked into the town’s library and was amazed at the children’s section, which was filled with engaging materials for her daughter. She found that the little girl got the intellectual and creative stimulation she craved — and so did she as a mother in a new town.

When they moved to Topeka, a library again played a central role in their family life. Their home was within walking distance of the library, and Kelly’s husband, Ted Daughety, a doctor, worked at the hospital across the street from the library. He walked to work every day and took a book with him because he was such an avid reader.

“He spent an inordinate amount of time at that library,” Kelly said. “But I always knew where he was.”

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who introduced Senate Bill 59 during the 2019 legislative session, attended the ceremonial signing Tuesday. The bill that Kelly signed gives the library board the authority to annually raise property tax revenue with a levy of up to 5 mills to fund the library’s operation. Holland told the Journal-World that that authority preserves a critical funding mechanism for the library so that it can continue to deliver important content and programming for its users.

Kelly told the audience crowded into the small room and lining up along the stacks of books, “Obviously, libraries have become so much more than checking out books; they are the hub of the community. The things provided through the library are incredibly meaningful to a community, and I am so glad that Eudora recognized that and that they wanted to get this legislation passed.”

The Eudora Public Library currently has a capital campaign underway to help raise money to build a new 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot library across Ninth Street from the 2,500-square-foot building that has been the library’s home the past four decades.

Carol Wohlford, director of the library, told the Journal-World in May that the campaign had raised $400,000, and the goal was to raise at least $100,000 more before asking voters to approved a bond issue for the new building.

— Journal-World reporter Elvyn Jones contributed to this report.


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