Brought to you by Jerusalem Farm
Written by Grace Kertz & Erin William
In many communities, the library is a place for locals to check out and return books, and while this stands true for the the North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, it does much more for the Historic Northeast community. Located at 6000 Wilson Ave, this library offers various programs to enhance the community beyond books. They hope to expand their programming to include fitness and financial literacy by Fall 2023. They’re open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
At the library, patrons are also able to check out items that make modern learning accessible, including internet hotspots and chromebooks.
The North-East Library is working to ensure all members of the community understand that, “You deserve to have free education,” Karla Soto, Bilingual Service Associate, said. “You deserve to have access to tools where you can better yourself and better your life.”
The library staff makes this possible. This week, the Northeast News profiled the recent additions to welcome them to the library and hear their interests, background and what they’re contributing.
The North-East Library welcomes feedback on their events and programs, or to suggest new ones. To do so, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sher Mirador is the Assistant Branch Manager who supports the work of the Branch Manager in addition to working with the staff in executing library programs. Ultimately, Mirador aims to “bring programming to the community that eradicate poverty and [focus on] social injustices that the community experiences”. In line with this mission, Mirador has worked in Public Health to provide for underserved communities. Specifically, Mirador worked under Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move city, town, and country program to eradicate obesity in a four state region including Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
When she is not working in the library, Mirador is a “creative” who works with the African American Artists Collective. As a part of the collective, Miradore was a featured artist at the Testimony exhibit at the Nelson in June of last year. Mirador believes “as a creative there’s a part of you that has a way to improvise”, a skill she intends to use when planning programs at the library. In her free time, Mirador enjoys waking up at 4:30 am to workout for both physical and mental health. As a reader Mirador enjoys books covering self growth, her all time favorite being “The Alchemist” a book about “a young man who goes down different roads and ends up where he’s supposed to be”.
For future programs at the library Mirador hopes to add more programs on financial literacy for all members of the community including lessons on how to turn passions into “a side hustle that can also provide income”. As Mirador states, “you’re either going to have an investment or an expense…I would love to educate people about the importance of the investment upfront versus being in an expense”.
Karla Soto is the Bilingual Service Associate who works primarily with the Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community. She believes they deserve to have access to tools to “better yourself and better your life.” Some of these tools include Bluebird, which is a language-learning tool, free resources to access entertainment like movies, and creating a library account to pinpoint the type of books the Latino community is interested in. Community members can check out books and other surfaces at the library, and can even check out a device to access the internet at home. As the oldest daughter, Karla grew up with the role of translating for her mother, which continues to drive her passion toward making these resources available.
Recently, Karla has focused on “enjoying [her] life and enjoying family time.” This includes going to the movies each Tuesday, bonding with nieces and nephews, and of course, reading. Her long-time favorite book is “The Giver,” although she is keen on romantic books with sappy love triangles. Like Sher, Karla encourages the community to take advantage of resources such as fitness classes, and give feedback on what they want to see more of. Beyond these interests, Karla reminds those growing up to “do it for yourself,” whether it’s how hard you push yourself in school, or the career you choose.
Dev Persaud is a Teen Associate at the library. Having been a young person who spent much time in libraries using their resources, Dev gets what his role at the North-East Branch Library is about.
“Libraries are a safe haven, a beacon, and a refuge,” he said. Dev has spent years in the Northeast community and believes “it is what Kansas City should be: rich in culture that has open arms for others.”
Dev made the switch to the nonprofit world seeking a role that works directly with people in building relationships and trust.
“It’s easy for young people to get left behind,” he said. “Often without the right guidance to see something positive can become a recipe for disaster.”
He may be a graphic designer by training, but he really does have an innate ability to build enthusiasm. His plans for library teen programming have kicked off with activities for relationship building and understanding teens’ interests and challenges. His goals are to provide opportunities for youth to gain job skills, explore entrepreneurship and center their voice through civic engagement.