Dinner celebrates 25 years as the Bertha Bartlett Public Library

Kolleen Taylor BBPL Director

The performers are prepping, the decorations and food are planned and publicity is out for the Story Festival next weekend. Many events can be attended at the last minute, but Nov. 1 is the deadline for purchasing tickets for the Story Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 9.

We don’t expect everyone to attend all the events during the Story Festival weekend, but we hope our two big events: our Friday night Showcase and Saturday night Dinner, will bring out many in our community. The Showcase on Friday night will spotlight our non-professional talent in Story City, and demonstrates how stories are told in a variety of ways. Our professional storyteller, Will Stuck, will demonstrate that stories are a part of everyone’s lives; we all enjoy them in different ways.

The Saturday night dinner will also celebrate 25 years as the Bertha Bartlett Public Library in addition to being a fundraiser. This is more than just a dinner. We will be entertained by Roland-Story High School graduate Eric Hanson, and morning Anchor of KCCI-TV, who proudly embraces his Midwest Iowa roots with the TV feature “This is Iowa.” Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne will be sharing her personal stories that span nearly a century, and Skype in for a short visit. Stuck, who is a former librarian will be the glue to keep the evening light-hearted and fun for all.

This is the first year for the Bertha Bartlett Public Library Foundation to attempt a fundraiser of this scale. It has raised some questions, as many know we rarely charge for library activities. The Foundation is charged with raising money on behalf of the library, and this event is designed so the whole community can participate in some way and support this event. The dinner, held at the Community Center, allows attendees to supplement their beverages by bringing their own wine or beer. Water and coffee will be available with the dinner.

Most know the Bertha Bartlett Public Library is a department of the City of Story City, the library is somehow viewed independently. Most city departments are not dependent on providing public space, but when library expansions are ahead, they have to find a way to fund it. Grants will be applied for when plans are finalized, in the meanwhile we have to begin the work of raising funds for matching grants.

We have known this project was looming out there for a number of years, we just didn’t know when. And as we have sold books, accepted donations, and received memorial gifts, the Foundation has been helping the library with the expenses of special programs and projects, in addition to carefully managing the finances knowing an expansion would be in the future. We have delayed some projects until the time to expand is clearly upon us. That time is now here.

We are one of 20 libraries in Iowa whose community has a population between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Of those 20 libraries we are the only library that manages a branch location. The daily operation of our library is funded by tax dollars collected from the City of Story City, and the Gilbert branch is funded by tax dollars from the City of Gilbert. We are supplemented with a little money from Story County and the State Library. Story City residents pay $38.84 per year to support the public library. So do Gilbert residents. There are only 5 libraries of those same 20 libraries whose residents pay less in taxes for library service. Because we have the branch in Gilbert, we are able enrich our library services to both communities. We have been able to provide services and programs through a creative staff and resources provided by the generosity of residents who have donated to our Foundation and Trust supplementing the library budget.

We try hard to provide the best possible service. We hope you will support our efforts to do even more for the community by supporting the Story Festival in any way you can, and attending the events to make this an event viable for many years to come!