ANKENY, Iowa -- The quiet of the Kirkendall Library in Ankeny is shattered every weekday afternoon, and two librarians couldn't be happier to welcome a hoard of young students.
The doors to the library are always open to the public, but at the Kirkendall Library, those doors are thrown wide open during the school year thanks to its next door neighbor. The library is attached to Prairie Ridge Middle School, and that proximity turns the library into a favorite after school hangout for kids waiting to be picked up by parents.
Librarians Kelly Munter and Sherry Schlundt view it as an opportunity to change lives, and it all starts with a simple 'hello.'
"We want people to know that when they come in, we recognize them. We try to often know their names because we do want them to know that the library is a special place, it is a unique place. It's a place for them to come and we will recognize them and help them with things. Even as our town grows, we want the library to have a smaller town feeling that people know them when they come," said Schlundt.
Once the kids have been welcomed and reminded that they are in a library, they are invited to take part in writing activities or play Minecraft on the computer.
Schlundt and Munter hope that by making the library welcoming, it will turn the kids into lifelong library patrons. Kids love the approach.
"She's a very joyful and bright person and she's very loyal to everybody. She does really good here," said one of the students.
Most kids are gone within 90 minutes of the last bell, but some stay until almost 7 p.m. nightly.