Library Joining the NExpress Shared Catalog

The Seneca Free Library is joining NExpress, a regional shared catalog service of the Northeast Kansas Library System. Seneca Free Library will be one of over 30 libraries currently participating in the shared catalog.

The transition from the current library circulation system to the new Koha system will take place over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The library will close at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, and reopen on Monday, November 30, at 10:00 AM with a new library circulation software system called Koha, an advanced open-source integrated library system, used by thousands of libraries worldwide.

Once our library is on the new system, Koha will:

  • allow patrons to renew materials, place requests and view checkouts, holds, and fines online with a secure username and password
  • enable requests for materials delivered to the patron’s home library from the shared collection of almost 500,000 items—movies, books and audiobooks
  • allow patrons to place multiple titles in a Cart for easy, one-step request processing, and create personalized lists
  • permit patrons to view their complete reading and checkout history
  • notify patrons via e-mail when holds are available for pickup and when materials are due

Library patrons will need a new NExpress library card to access the system. Talk to a librarian today if you don’t have your new card.

Library Receives Recognition

Seneca Free Library has received recognition again as a library with overall exceptional library performance. The Library Journal, a well-known and well respected magazine in the Library World, came out with an index rating that shows libraries across the country that are headed in the right direction for high quality service. Based on a 3, 4 and 5 star rating much like the Michelin star rating for restaurants, libraries are rated on real usage and outcomes like circulation, visits, programming and internet usage. A total of 16 Kansas libraries were rated, allowing Kansas to claim the third highest spot in the country. Only New York and Ohio received more stars.

Seneca Free Library and Johnson County Library in Overland Park were the only two libraries in Northeast Kansas to receive 4 stars. No other library in Northeast Kansas was rated in any 3, 4, 5 category. Seneca can be proud of this honor and it shows the care and concern its residents give to the local library.

The libraries were ranked using data collected by the State Library of Kansas for the National Center for Education Statistics and processed through a new assessment tool for public libraries called the “LJ Index”. The four categories used for analysis included: number of times an average individual visited the library, the average number of items checked out by an individual, the program attendance per person, and the number of times an average individual used a library computer terminal.

Kansas has 327 public libraries, about one library for every 8,500 people. Kansans use their libraries significantly and this rating shows that Kansas is headed in the right direction. The primary mission in each library in Kansas is to serve its residents through direct services with help from the State Libary of Kansas.

Winter Reading Program is Back!

The Winter Reading Program for Adults is here again. Last year was our first year to try an adult reading program and more than 50 people signed up to read for fun and prizes.

Sign up begins Jan 12, you can begin returning books Jan. 19. The last day to turn in books and get your name in for prizes is March 3. That gives you 7 weeks to read (or listen to) at least 3 books. After reading each book, you’ll be asked to fill out a short form about the books you’ve read. Those forms will then go into a container and we’ll be holding a drawing for prizes each week! This program is for patrons 18 years and older.

Now you know why the kids look forward to summer reading.  The more you read, the more chances to win a prize!

2009 Book Club List

The Seneca Free Library Book Club meets the third Tuesday of each month. This is the list of books the members will read in 2009:

January Virgin of Small Plains by N. Pickard KS Reads Selection

February  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by M. Angelou Black History

March The White Castle by G. Krist Classic

April To be Determined

May  Thousand Splendid Suns by K. Hosseini  Fiction

June Born on a Blue Day by D. Tamnet Non-fiction

July Family Tree by B. Delinsky Fiction

August  Air Ball: My Life in Brief  Young Adult

September For One More Day by M. Albom   Fiction

October Change of Heart by J. Piccoult  Fiction

The book club does not meet in November and December.

Seneca Free Library Wins Award!

For the fifth time in the last 10 years, the Seneca Free Library has received national recognition for excellence.

The recent release of the American Public Library Rating Index by Thomas Hennen ranks Seneca 5th out of all public libraries in the U.S. with populations between 1,000 and 2,400. In the past Seneca has placed 3rd in 2005, 2nd in 2004, 5th in 2001 and 8th in 2000. Thomas Hennen started this index in 1997 to attempt to rate all of America’s public libraries using an index that would highlight the best public libraries in the country. His index looks at 15 weighted factors that range from circulation to staffing levels, to materials, funding, programming, as well as visits in the lbrary.

Only four libraries in Kansas received a rating this year: Johnson County Library, Overland Park, in the 250,000 population, Hays Public Library in the 10,000 population and Hardtner, in the 1,000 and under population.

The data came from 9,076 libraries, collected by 50 state library agencies, and compiled at the national level by the Federal-State Cooperative System and then published by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The Seneca community and surrounding area have always been great supporters of the library. The Seneca Library board and staff appreciate that support and it shows in many ways, including this national recognition. The library is always trying to improve and add to the services it provides. The board encourages everyone in the community to come in and see what a great resource the community has and also, to let them know what improvements can be made or what service could be added.

Board members are: Stan Murphy, Nancy Imholte, Eldon Fleury, Loyola Engelken, Louis Sedlacek, Glenda Wilhelm, and Dee Lizzol. Staff members are: Edna Love, Arlene Gudenkauf,  Karen Todd, Joyce Kohake and Karen Holthaus, director.

                                                                             By Karen Holthaus

Winter Reading Program a Success!

Our first Winter Reading Program for adults was a great success. Over 50 people signed up for the 7 week program.  Those who signed up had tickets put into a drawing for a prize February 22.  Patrons were asked to fill out a short form about each book they checked out.  Those forms were stuffed into a container and each week we drew out a lucky person’s name.

The Winter Reading Club will definitely be back next year.  Surveys were taken at the end of the program this year so we hope next year will be even better!

Winners were Brandy Weber, Mary Lindeen, Kathleen Fischer, Vi Megill, Loyola Engelken, Barb Chilson, Irene Koelzer and Connie Taylor.

Thank you, Virgil!

Monday morning, January 14, we looked out the front window of the library and there was a man out picking up all those annoying little sticks left on the ground after the ice storm.  The big limbs and fallen branches had been gathered up and carried off by the City Crew a long time ago.  We just hadn’t decided who to get to do the dirty work of raking all those little sticks.

Our problem was solved when Virgil Engelken decided he needed something to do on a frigid winter morning, so he came to the library, not to pick up a book to read, or a movie to watch, but to clean up our yard!  Thank you, Virgil, we really appreciate your hard work.  Virgil’s wife Loyola sits on the library board of directors.


Book Club 2008 Reading List

Want to try something different than the books you ususally read? Here is the list of books our Book Club members will be reading this year:

January In Cold Blood – 2008 Kansas Reads book

February  Memory Keeper’s Daughter – F

March Year of Magical Thinking – Bio

April  Time-Traveler’s Wife – F

May  May Last Days as Roy Rogers – Black History

June  The Book Thief – Young Adult

July  Ladies No.1 Detective Agency – Mystery

August  Innocent Man – True Crime

September  Water for Elephants – F

October  Fahrenheit 451 – Classic

The Seneca Library Book Club meets the third Tuesday of each month. Contact the library if you are interested in joining the book discussion group.

Study Shows our Library rated Best in State

Library board president Sheryl Heinen, left, and director Karen Holthaus, center are congratulated by Seneca mayor Joe Mitchell on the number one ranking by the Seneca Free Library

By Karen Holthaus, Director

People from outside the area come into the Seneca Library everyday and comment on what a wonderful library Seneca has.  Local residents often come in and tell the staff how proud they are to have such a great library in our community.  The whole community has supported and helped make the library what it is today.

Now everyone in Seneca knows it too!  Seneca Free Library is number one in its size category based on a rating index for the entire state.  Out of 45 libraries across the entire state with a population of between 1500-2499, Seneca Free Library is at the top of the list.  Number One.

The Kansas Public Library Rankings for 2005 were made public in October 2006.  The rating is based on many factors, including resources and usage in the library.  These factors include components such as staff, number of collection materials, collection expenditures, and the number of hours open per week.  Also included are usage factors such as number of items checked out each year, number of materials borrowed from other libraries for patrons, information requests, attendance at children’s programs each year and number of electronic resources, including the internet and computers.

Each library receives a resource score, a usage score and a final composite score, upon which the library is ranked.  The resources make up 50% of the final score with usage data making up the remaining 50%.  This rating is based on the National Hemmen Index, which compares 9000 libraries across the nation.  Seneca has scored in the top ten in this index twice in the last 7 years.

The Kansas Puclic Library Ranking Index is an improvement over the national ranking because it does not include weighted scores.  The data in the Kansas Index is based on the same number of points for each data element.  Seneca and the surrounding area has always been there to help support and improve the Seneca Free Library.

This number one rating shows that everyone has done a wonderful job of being there for the library and has made it an important and vital part of the Seneca community.


A History Note

The old part of this building,on the left side of the picture on our home page, was originally known as “the Old Stone Church”.  This part of our building was built in 1868 and was the first Universalist Church in Kansas. The Methodist, Presbyterians and Universaliists all donated money to the new building but they were short the money needed to finish the building. The Universalists contributed an extra $1,600.00 and thus it bacame their church, which the other denominations could use.

In March of 1872, the court house burned and the church was rented to the county for a court room and office which payed off the debt remaining on the building.  The Memorial windows were added when the church was remodeled in 1905.

In 1928 a garage mechanic in town wanted to buy the building and turn it into a garage. An election was held to turn the old stone church into a public library.  The Seneca Women’s Club worked very hard to help get out the vote and get the building for the library.  The library moved into its new home in 1931 and was there until 1997.  In 1957 the library was remodeled with new wall paper and the ceilings were lowered about six feet.

Blanche Riffer, the woman who lived in the house that had originally been the parsonage, deeded the house to the library after her death.  The old house was torn down, a bond issue was passed and donations were collected to bring about the building you see today.  The old library was freshened up again and is now used as a community room for library activities and other civic events.