ERIE — Small, rural town libraries usually operate on pretty tight budgets, and Erie City Public Library is no different.

A few weeks ago, during the library’s summer reading program, the children had the opportunity to watch a movie on the little 24-inch television in the community room at the library. 

Following the movie, a woman in attendance asked head librarian Julie Coover Kent if the library had a bigger screen for movies, lecture materials and other things to be displayed.

Kent assured her that was the biggest screen the library had because of budget restraints.

“Well, you need a bigger screen,” the woman said.

“Well, we would get one if we had the money,” Kent assured her.

The event ended and a couple of weeks passed, and then to Kent’s surprise, a 50-inch, 4K smart TV was delivered anonymously to the library.

“It has all the bells and whistles,” Kent said, flicking it on with the remote. “It’s another sign Erie is really supportive of stuff in its community.”

For example, Kent said, when she shared with the community about the summer reading program, donations such as candy, swim passes and other items came in to reward children for committing to enhancing their reading skills during the summer.

Kent said the gift benefits the entire community, as anybody in the city can use the room for free. A variety of organizations use the room, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Neosho County Health Department. 

During the recent flood, she said the library housed the statewide pet relief agency that set up in the community room for three days to provide a safe place for pets, free of charge, for people who had to leave their homes because of flood waters.

“Those kinds of things are things we do to support the community,” Kent said. “Because we do, the community supports us.”

Mentioning one more little gift back to the community, Kent said the library has a whole bookcase full of free books as long as they last.

“Just bring a sack and come get them,” she said.

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