The North-East Public Library’s temporary location at 5930 Wilson Rd. is open for contact-free pick up service on holds

While Kansas City Public Library’s 10 physical locations remain closed, it is partnering with Parks & Recreation to host Pop in at the Park beginning June 8.

The collaborative effort will have library staff rotating to different parks from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays through Fridays to help Kansas City families sign up for the Summer Reading Program.

“We have amazing parks throughout the City, with great open space,” Parks & Recreation Director Terry Rynard said. “We are excited for this partnership, to bring books and fun into the parks.”

The Summer Reading Program invites readers of all ages to experience the power of storytelling and challenges everyone to read any five books, according to a joint press release. 

Pop in at the Park will offer no-contact assistance to comply with health department recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re excited to connect with the community and encourage reading for fun and continued learning this summer thanks to this partnership,” said Crystal Faris, director of Youth and Family Engagement.

The Summer Reading Program uses an app called Beanstack to keep track of books read, which librarians will be available to help with setup at the events.

“If they don’t have the capability to log the books within the app on their own, they can come back to the park and our staff will log those titles that they’ve read under their account,” library Media Relations Specialist Talia Evans said.

For signing up, each child will get a book, although with the current modifications to service they might not be available right away.

If participants meet the challenge of reading five titles during the summer, there are various prizes for different age groups.

Later this month, the program will have Take-and-Make kits available, which include supplies needed for the Summer Reading Program’s virtual activities and crafts.

“In case a family doesn’t have the means to go out and just get supplies or they don’t have the supplies available at any time, those kits will be available to do specific projects that are going along with summer reading,” Evans said.

Every Tuesday library staff will be at Swope Park, followed by Concourse Park every Wednesday. Thursdays will rotate between different parks in the area: June 11 at Gillham Park, June 18 at Spring Valley Park, June 25 at Budd Park, July 2 at Lykins Park, July 9 at Theis Park, July 16 at Seven Oaks Park, July 23 at Sanford Brown Plaza, July 30 at Roanoke Park and August 6 at McCoy Park.

Kansas City Public Libraries are also offering Pop In / Pick Up contact-free holds service and a Digital branch for eBooks, digital audiobooks, music, video and online learning resources.

On Tuesday, May 19, the library initiated a phased-in reopening of its physical locations after being closed for 8 weeks.

“There was no how-to handbook for this experience,” said Debbie Siragusa, interim chief executive of the Kansas City Public Library. “Not for you. Not for the Library. But we’ve held fast to one guiding principle: The health and protection of our patrons and staff are our top priority, and remain so as we weigh a careful return to serving our community in a wider capacity.”

Contactless, limited access to the Central Library and the Bluford, Plaza, Trails West and Waldo branches is available to pick up holds placed prior to March 15. Returns can be made at drop boxes outside any library location.

The North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library reopened on June 5, for holds to be picked up.

Recognizing that many patrons rely on computers, broadband access, technology assistance and other library services, Siragusa said the Kansas City’s libraries will remain cautious and deliberate.

The library is working with Connecting for Good and Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) on distributing computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, headphones and Turn the Page KC activity packets for those lacking internet access.

The library website has a calendar of virtual programs at There is also wireless internet available to the public outside library buildings.

Virtual programming is a “healthy mix” for both children and adults, Evans said.

“I know that our Youth and Family Engagement Team has so many virtual events planned for kids for summer reading,” Evans said. 

For adults, the library is constantly working on signature events, sharing resources and inviting authors to do virtual events, which happen once or twice per week.

There is a constant conversation on when libraries will be able to resume regular services, Evans said, but there is no specific date in mind yet.

Kids Café, a Harvesters’ program that provides nutritious after-school and summer meals for youth, resumed June 1 at the Southeast, Trails West, Waldo and Bluford branches.

“Kids Café is a federal program, and in the past there have been some federal regulations that made it really difficult to continue without being able to get inside of our buildings,” Faris said.

The regulations she referenced required children to eat the meals where they pick them up and did not allow meals to be given to an adult on behalf of a child.

Those rules are now relaxed, allowing the program to return, helping to bridge the nutrition gap made worse with a lack of access to school lunches now that summer vacation has begun.

“I consider us an organization on the education continuum,” Faris said. “Children learn best when they are not hungry. So if we are going to truly be about learning for the youth in our communities, we need to provide services like this.”