Between the stacks: A day in the life of a library

Del Prenger enters the main branch of the Missouri River Regional Library seeking a solution.

Weeks earlier, a 9-year-old relative had mailed her a brightly colored self-portrait. The artwork came with a request: Take the paper cutout version of him on adventures and report back. It’s a popular elementary school ritual inspired by the children’s book “Flat Stanley,” whose eponymous character embarks on thrilling experiences after being pancaked by a bulletin board.

Ms. Prenger accepted her mission. She photographed the boy’s self-portrait joining her as she played dominoes with friends, visited a relative in a nursing home, and met an Elvis impersonator in Branson. Next, she typed a letter detailing his travels and then – much to her dismay – hit a snag. It wouldn’t print.

Why We Wrote This

Despite legislators’ threats to defund libraries, this busy one looks toward the future, with plans to expand its embrace of the community.

“I was so frustrated,” she says. “I said, ‘Where in the world can I go?’ And I thought, I’m going to run up to the library.”

So here she is, laptop and photos in hand, shortly after 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. The reference librarian listens to her story and dives into problem-solving mode. Soon, her letter emerges from the printer. 

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