Partner Spotlight: Kansas City Public Library

When did your organization launch and why?

Kansas City Public Library was established nearly 150 years ago. KCPL, and all public libraries, have served as cornerstones of their communities, providing public access to information. Among the many valuable resources at the Kansas City Public Library today, library cardholders have free access to computers/devices and the internet.

What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

In terms of media literacy, we are uniquely positioned to provide free access to reliable news sources and teach people the skills to discern the information they see online. 

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

The Library serves as one of the only places where patrons can come in an access information and resources for free. In 2019, the Library got rid of all overdue fines to eliminate that barrier keeping patrons coming in to utilize services. We are deeply committed to our community and that shows up every day in our outreach efforts to connect people to community resources as well as to information, Kansas City’s entrepreneurial and nonprofit ecosystem, civic literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, and legal resources

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

We developed professional development training as a refresh and baseline for information literacy and media literacy for our staff. The idea was to ensure that patrons would be able to ask media literacy-related questions at any branch, with any staff member, and that our staff would be prepared to assist. We highlighted a collection of critical thinking and fact-finding skills on our website to assist patrons and staff independently. We are using the foundations of that professional development for webinars we will share with our community during virtual lunchtime programs Monday through Friday during National Media Literacy Week.

What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

They are definitely linked and complementary. Libraries love literacy in all its forms. Our mission is to be a doorway to all knowledge for all people.  As that portal and with our deep commitment to our community, we connect media literacy as an essential component for our community to thrive because media literacy is an integral part of each “stage and facet” of our lives.

Why is media literacy important to your organization?

There is a saying in libraries: “You can ask Google and get a million answers or you can ask a librarian and get the right one.” We are passionate about the quality of information that our patrons get.

Anything else you want our readers to know about your organization, your mission, or your staff?

All of our programming is virtual right now, and you can engage with us from anywhere with internet connectivity. If patrons have questions that require one-on-one assistance, they can make appointments with our community reference specialists or pop in to our Central Library during the week to meet with dedicated community resources staff.

The views and opinions expressed in the Organizational Spotlight blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the Organizational Spotlight blog is to highlight our Organizational Partners and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.