Literacy is the word of the day at Kansas City’s Heartland Book Bank. Serving more than 500 agencies in three states, the bank provides books free of charge to established agencies – everyone from teachers to detention centers. “We’re geared around children’s literacy,” says Joann Harper, chairman of the board, but books for all ages are available. The bank opened in July of 1996 and is completely staffed by volunteers.
Harper said that the bank primarily serves the Kansas City metro area, but has had agencies from as far away as Iowa and Hays, Kan. come for books. To receive books agencies must be established. “If it is someplace serving an area and teaching literacy,” Harper says, then they are welcome to take books. The agencies can keep the books, donate them to another agency, or bring them back to the bank. Teachers seeking early learning books are frequent visitors to the bank. Harper said that teachers and representatives from detention centers come in about once a month to take books. Larger agencies such as the Don Bosco Center and Sheppard Center make about one trip per year, taking 400 to 600 books each visit.
In addition to literacy, Heartland Book Bank also supports recycling efforts. The bank recycles any paper-based donations that they cannot use, such as encyclopedias. These materials are donated to the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City where disabled individuals are employed in their recycling effort. Harper says the circle of agencies helping other agencies is “really neat.”
Technology has not proved to be much of a friend to the bank. Harper said that the popularity of eBooks has cut down on donations, but she isn’t complaining. “As long as people read,” she says, “that’s what’s important.”
The Heartland Book Bank takes all donations of books, magazines, games, puzzles, CDs, and DVDs.” To set up an appointment to donate, you can contact the bank at 816-472-5600.