CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Carl Junction’s Next Chapter, a grassroots committee working to establish the town’s first library, is celebrating a milestone on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with the grand opening of the new library in the community center’s media room.

The event for the startup library will kick off at 4 p.m. at 303 N. Main St. with a ribbon cutting followed by a reading of the children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” The story centers on a 4-year-old who creates a world of his own by drawing with a purple crayon.

The book reading will be conducted by Vicky Mieseler, chief administrative officer of Ozark Center, the agency sponsoring the event. Additional book readings will be offered every hour until 7 p.m. Ozark Center will supply a free copy of the book, as well as purple crayons, to the first 100 children at the door of the grand opening.

The children will then have the opportunity to draw their own interpretations and dreams for Carl Junction, which will be displayed around the community library. Ozark Center will also be providing snacks and refreshments.

LaDonna Allen, a City Council member and a committee volunteer with Carl Junction’s Next Chapter, said there are also plans to unveil the drawings to the Carl Junction City Council at an upcoming meeting.

“The drawings will show them the vision that the kids have for the community of Carl Junction and the generations that are coming up,” she said.

Kenny Wickstrom, who serves as the chapter’s social media director, helped spread awareness of the startup library. He has spent at least 40 hours scanning books, hauling shelves and constructing the shelving.

Wickstrom said it’s been amazing to be part of the movement, which was also spearheaded by two other city employees — Alaina Wright, court clerk, and Crystal Winkfield, deputy city clerk — who pursued the endeavor as private individuals. Wright now serves as the president of the committee and Winkfield is the vice president.

“This has been a surreal feeling,” Wickstrom said. “It’s not every day that you get to be a part of Carl Junction’s history and be involved in a project as monumental as this. As of now, we were the largest municipality in the Jasper County region that didn’t have a library. Not only does this mean a lot for me, but I also can’t wait to see how this affects the community. This will be another place for everyone to come together.”

Carl Junction voters rejected the a library tax proposal, but the Next Chapter committee didn’t lose sight of the goal. The group continued to rally behind the idea of forming a small, volunteer-run library and began collecting books, as well as monetary donations to purchase shelving.

Allen said the library had originally started out with only six bookshelves and has grown tremendously over the past several months. Carl Junction’s Next Chapter now has over 7,000 books, including paperbacks, hard copies, bestsellers and children’s books. It’s already beginning to outgrow its space in the media room.

“We thought the six shelves would be a good measuring stick to see what the community really wants,” Allen said. “Before those six shelves were even delivered, they had already collected more books than what would fit on those shelves.”

The next goal of the committee is to obtain 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit to begin looking at possibilities of a new location and potential grants. Carl Junction’s Next Chapter is currently accepting monetary donations to fund the application fees and any other fees associated with the startup library.

All financial donations must be made out to Carl Junction’s Next Chapter, P.O. Box 75, Carl Junction, MO 64834. Monetary donations can also be deposited in the group’s bank account at Community Bank and Trust in town.

The startup library doesn’t currently have any designated hours, but there are proposals that volunteers will have the library open to the public about three days a week. Library cards will be distributed free to any resident living within the Carl Junction School District. Any replacement or personalized cards can be purchased from volunteers for $2.

News reporter

Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.

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