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Library Gets Grant to Help Digitize Civil War Soldiers' Letters and Other Records



In 2018 terms, an Indiana Civil War soldier writes to his wife, “I know it’s a warzone between Kokomo, Indiana, and central Georgia, but I’m lonely, so please come visit.”


In 1863 terms, his letter read, “Dear Wife … If we stop about the 1st of October, it will be in Central Georgia and at that time it will suit you much to come south.”


That’s an excerpt from one of 90 written pages from the Civil War diary of John Underwood, 39th Indiana Infantry/8th Indiana Cavalry under the command of T.J. Harrison. Those letters and many more Howard County, Indiana, Civil War documents will soon be digitized, online, and searchable, thanks to an $11,000 grant the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library received.


“Not only is this great news for genealogists trying to find their ancestors who served during the Civil War, but it also allows people to learn more about our history,” said Amy Russell, head of KHCPL’s Genealogy & Local History Department. “Howard County is known for its patriotism and has a strong history of supporting the military. Records show that in the 16 to 35 age range, Howard County led the state in percentage of Civil War recruits.”


The Howard County Historical Society owns the Civil War records. The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library is partnering with it to digitize them. The grant covers the library’s personnel cost for the process and is made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Indiana State Library.


Some of the other items to be digitized include:

• record book of minutes from the Headquarters of the Thomas J. Harrison Post No. 30 Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), dated 24 March 1905 through October 1912, and Nov. 8, 1912, through Jan. 1, 1916;

• G.A R. Hugh H. Willits Post No. 424 ledger, financial report 1899-1928 (Greentown, Indiana);

• Civil War chest and contents used by Captain William H. Sumption, Company E, 11th Indiana Volunteer Cavalry;

• miscellaneous muster in, muster out, appointments, discharge, pension certificates, and inventory of effects of deceased soldiers; and

• letters to Serena Brannen from several soldiers.


Once the project is complete, the digitized records will be found on KHCPL’s Howard County Memory Project website,, and the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Memory website,


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. 



Registration Open for 5th Annual KHCPL Rudolph Family Fun 5K Run/Walk



There are some exciting changes in store for the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s 5th Annual Rudolph Family Fun 5k Run/Walk.


“The Rudolph Run has grown so much that we’ve enlisted Fun-Races to help us,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing. 


“With Fun-Races, we’ll be able to finally offer timing chips on the bib numbers, thereby electronically timing participants and giving them the most accurate results possible. In the past, we’ve had a bit of a problem with accuracy when people, in their excitement to cheer on others behind them, walked back through the chute and re-triggered the timer. Fun-Races will also print each participant’s results. You’ll be able to see where you placed overall and in your age group.”


Fun-Races will have a large timer and video camera at the finish line, capturing people as they cross as a backup in case there is any problem with the electronic timing.


“After each Rudolph Run, we re-evaluate to try to make it better,” Fipps said. “When we topped over 400 participants last year, we knew we needed added help. Fun-Races works with other runs across the state, including ones where thousands participate. We were excited to find Chet Klene and his crew.”


To make the process more seamless, people must register online. There will be no paper registration. Go to to find the link to register. If you don’t have access to the internet or need help with online registration, just stop by the Reference Desk of any KHCPL location for assistance. Go to to find the link to register or go to REGISTER HERE.


“Other online vendors’ sites are not built specifically for race registrations like Fun-Races,” Fipps said. “So the forms are more complicated and, therefore, sometimes caused registration errors.”


This year, KHCPL strongly encourages participants to register by Nov. 16. 


“We won’t be taking T-shirt orders past Nov. 16,” Fipps said. “You can register past that date, but you will not be guaranteed a shirt. For those who sign up between Nov. 17 and the day of the race, we will order a limited number of extras in the most common sizes and make them available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In the past, we’ve placed a second T-shirt order after the event and then spent a lot of time tracking down those who ordered them. Often, even though they paid for them, participants didn’t pick them up. So to save on KHCPL staff time, we’re making this change and hope that participants understand.”


Thanks to Fun-Races, KHCPL will be able to let people pick up their bib numbers and shirts from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, if they want to, which means participants can sleep in a little later on Saturday. “Each year we ask for feedback, and for several years we’ve had participants wanting early packet pickup. We’re happy to offer it this year,” Fipps said. “Of course, you can also just pick up the bib numbers and shirts the morning of the race.”


While some things are changing to make the process more efficient, KHCPL wanted to keep all of the fun and special elements. 


“As we did in 2017, we’ll have reindeer games for people to play before the race begins and you can win prizes,” Fipps said. “A lot of people enjoy wearing festive attire. So we’ll have prizes for best dressed again as well. To enter, you’ll just stop by the costume contest table to have your photo taken before the race. During the race, we’ll judge the contest. When participants return to the library to pick up the printouts of their results, trophies, and snacks, we’ll award the prizes for festive attire.”


Trophies for the 5k Run for 2018 will be awarded to the overall male and female winners and the first-place male and female finishers in each of the following age groups: 0-12; 13-19; 20-26; 27-33; 34-40; 41-47; 48-54; 55-61; 62-69; and 70+. Trophies for the 5k Walk will go to the overall male and female winners and the first-place male and female finishers in each of the following age groups: 0-18; 19-35; 36-47; 48-59; 60-69; and 70+.


Register early to save money. The fee through Nov. 16 is $20 per adult, $10 for children ages 6 to 18, and children 5 and under participate free. Families of up to six can register as a group for $60. The fee Nov. 17 through Dec. 1 will be $25 per adult and $15 for children ages 6 to 18. The family rate for six will be $75.


“Most 5ks charge $35 to $50 or more per person,” Fipps said. “KHCPL is able to keep the Rudolph Run affordable thanks to our sponsors, which include Salin Bank, Friends of the Library, Solidarity Federal Credit Union, Gold Medal Awards, Shearer Printing, and Expressions Design Co. “The Rudolph Run is all about the community, and we’re so grateful to have wonderful community sponsors. Stay tuned because we think we’ll have more sponsors joining us soon.”


The registration fee provides a long-sleeved T-shirt, reindeer antlers, a red Rudolph nose, a medal for the first 400 finishers, and snacks after the event. T-shirts come in youth, adult, and plus sizes to 5XL. There is an additional $2 fee for sizes 2XL-5XL. 


You have a chance to win door prizes, too, by providing feedback, thanks to sponsor Community Howard Regional Health.  


You start and end at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library; on the Walk of Excellence, you journey through Foster Park and then the turn-around is in UCT Park.


People of all ages and abilities welcome. Dogs on leashes that are well-controlled and up-to-date on their vaccines are welcome. We’ll have a dog toy and treats for each canine while supplies last. No rain/weather date. No refunds. 


The doors open at 7:30 a.m., and you are welcome to play reindeer games as you wait for the race to begin sharply at 9 a.m. After you’re finished, head to the first floor to pick up your race results and snack.


“People come from all over Indiana for the Rudolph Run,” Fipps said. “It's THAT fun!”

Monarch Magic at the Library; KHCPL South to form Butterfly Garden


The monarch is a magical creature, undergoing a complete metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. 


But the dwindling monarch population makes it clear that if we don’t intervene, we could lose them. 


Over the past two decades, the monarch butterfly population in North America has sharply declined and faces a risk of quasi-extinction of 11 to 57 percent in the next 20 years, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently considering placing them on the endangered species list. 

Tagging butterflies helps us track their migratory patterns.


“With the yearlong Grow the Solution Together project in 2016, KHCPL began educating the community about the dire need to increase the number of native plants in order to replenish the dwindling food sources for butterflies and other pollinators, which are, in turn, crucial to our food supply,” said Lisa Fipps, KHCPL Director of Marketing. “So when local monarch expert Valerie Gordon and the Howard County Master Gardener Association approached us about a partnership to help save monarchs, we immediately said, ‘Yes!’ ”


The first step is to get butterfly enthusiasts in Kokomo and the surrounding communities to unite. To do that, the library is hosting the Monarch Magic program at for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, at KHPCL South.


Gordon, one of a growing number of people raising butterflies to help increase the population, will teach people how to raise butterflies.


“Not only is it important to raise them, but also to inspect them for the ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) parasite,” Fipps said. “You press clear tape against the butterfly's abdomen to collect parasite spores and then examine them under a microscope. If a butterfly has the OE parasite, it must humanely be destroyed in order to save the species. Valerie will demonstrate how to do that during Monarch Magic. She will also show how to tag butterflies.”


The Monarch Watch Tagging Program is a large-scale citizen science project that was initiated in 1992 to help understand the dynamics of the monarch's fall migration through mark and recapture. Tagging helps answer questions about the origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, the timing and pace of the migration for winter, mortality during the migration, and changes in geographic distribution.


“We’ll also have a butterfly release at the end of the program,” Fipps said. “Others who have raised, screened for the OE parasite, and tagged butterflies are encouraged to join us to release them at KHCPL South.”


Gordon, the Howard County Master Gardener Association, and KHCPL hope to find enough monarch enthusiasts to tend to a butterfly garden that’s in the works at KHCPL South.


“ManUp will be helping us clear 10 flatbed gardens at the end of the month so we can create a habitat,” Fipps said. “Then Valerie and members of the Howard County Master Gardener Association will be planting milkweed and nectar plants to attract butterflies and to provide a food source for caterpillars. We’re going to need volunteers to help weed the KHCPL Butterfly Garden and add plants.”


Caterpillars feed on milkweed


Gordon started the “Kokomo IN Butterfly Gardeners” Facebook page, and KHCPL will be sharing those posts in addition to other educational information about butterflies. “If you are a butterfly enthusiast or care about the environment, this is a timely, crucial project to get involved in.”



Thanks to a grant from Aptiv, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library will launch Digital Divers, an afterschool program to help improve students’ science, technology, engineering, and math skills, on Aug. 3 during First Friday.


With an ocean theme, third- through seventh-graders dive deeper into the sea with each completed, self-led STEM challenge in a race to the bottom of the ocean. Along the way, kids will earn points to redeem for prizes and time to use the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 


“Digital Divers wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Aptiv,” said Lisa Fipps, KHCPL Director of Marketing. “Aptiv was a key partner in helping us make the Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference exhibit a success in 2017. It provided funding and volunteers. When we approached the grant committee about an opportunity to partner with us again for Digital Divers, it immediately said yes. Our community is fortunate to have a company with employees who understand the importance of STEM and are eager to help ensure our students succeed.”


Companies such as Aptiv understand that America’s global leadership is threatened because too few U.S. high school students do well with STEM, let alone pursue STEM degrees or careers — especially lower-income women and minorities, Fipps said. “Those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and minorities are deeply underrepresented in STEM fields — just 2.2% of Latinos, 2.7% of African Americans, and 3.3% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have earned a university degree in STEM fields. This underrepresentation means that the poor and minorities lack qualifications to access STEM-related jobs, which, in addition to being more plentiful, are also better paid than many other jobs.” 


KHCPL’s Digital Divers is based on Muncie Public Library’s Digital Climbers. “We heard great things about their after-school, self-led STEM challenge, so we took a tour,” said Brennan Reed, Head of KHCPL Children’s Services. Muncie Public Library agreed to let us duplicate the program for Kokomo.”


KHCPL would love to see teachers attend the launch.


“KHCPL will be encouraging schools to tour Digital Divers and to compete with other classes and schools,” Reed said. “We would love to see, for example, Western’s third-graders compete with Northwestern’s. Teachers who direct students to KHCPL for Digital Divers will then have kids who come to class with more excitement about and understanding of STEM. That’s a big plus. In addition, for teachers who take advantage of our Teacher Delivery Service, we can provide a variety of STEM-focused materials to the classrooms. To provide the most benefit for our community’s students, we truly want and need partnership with teachers, classrooms, and school districts.”


KHCPL seeks college students, retirees, and others with STEM skills or a passion for STEM to volunteer to be Digital Mentors. “The students select and complete the STEM challenges independently. Digital Mentors answer questions or help with technological glitches,” Reed said. “This would be a great opportunity for retired engineers and current college students who want to go into teaching STEM, for example.”


(Staff received training on the various STEM challenges students will have to complete)


While Digital Divers is for students in third through seventh grades, all ages are welcome to join us in the Multipurpose Room on the second floor of KHCPL Main for the grand unveiling between 5:30 and 8 p.m. There will be refreshments and giveaways for kids while supplies last. 


Teens and adults will be making shark tooth necklaces during First Friday.


Starting Aug. 6, Digital Divers will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at KHCPL Main, as well as from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. “The hours can be adjusted if we find patron demand for more Saturdays or longer weekday hours because of work schedules. This is our starting schedule.”


KHCPL South will also offer Digital Divers on a smaller scale from 1 to 3 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. Third- through seventh-graders, will complete STEM challenges. Any points earned at KHCPL South can be used at KHCPL Main to redeem prizes or and time to use the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 


In addition to Aptiv, Digital Divers is sponsored by The SIA Foundation, Friends of the Library, and a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Indiana State Library.

“We are so grateful for all of the funding so that we could bring Digital Divers to Kokomo,” Fipps said.


Call 626.0830 for more information or to become a Digital Mentor. 



Asking a roomful of librarians “What’s your favorite book?” can cause a riot. And it’s not an easy task to narrow a long list down to the top 15. But it’s done.

Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley is the 2018 Howard County Reads book. Written in 1818 as part of a challenge with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, Shelley’s book shows unflinching wit and a strong female voice in this cautionary tale of a scientist creating a living, thinking being. And 2018 marks Frankenstein’s 200th birthday.

We’ll be releasing our list of Howard County Reads programs at a later date, and you won’t want to miss it – especially the monstrous mystery dinner and a zombie prom.


Top 15 2018 Howard County Reads Books

Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Told in reverse, over the course of 15 days, this psychological suspense novel will keep you turning the pages to discover the truth of the missing girls.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Alternating between the present and the past, Thi Bui’s debut graphic novel is a beautifully illustrated memoir about her family’s immigration from Vietnam in the 1970s.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, has written an engaging and humorous memoir recounting his years growing up as a mixed race child in Apartheid South Africa. His story is a tribute to his mother, who raised him to be independent and courageous.

Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Janie can’t understand why her 4-year-old son, Noah, keeps asking to go home and see his other mother. Things really get weird when she seeks help from a psychologist who has become a laughingstock in his profession.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr’s life is already complex, living in the hood but attending a fancy suburban high school. Then, on the way home from a party, she watches as her best friend is shot by a white police officer and her life really starts spiraling out of control.

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

This first of a two-book series, chronicles the life of Marta Schneider who left her native Switzerland to travel to England, Canada, then to the California vineyards, to give her family a better life. Marta’s tough love for her oldest daughter, Hildie, is misunderstood, but along with faith, she holds hope for all of her family.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Gran

In the 1920s, a shocking series of crimes against the Osage people caused the newly formed FBI to investigate. Grann’s years of research uncovered startling new evidence revealed in this riveting non-fiction narrative.

Make Your Bed by William McRaven

Based on a commencement speech given in 2014 that went viral, Admiral McRaven shares ten principles he learned while training as a Navy seal that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training but throughout his life.

My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Young Elsa shares a special closeness with her creative, story-telling Granny. When Granny passes, she leaves Elsa a treasure hunt to complete which will lead her to understand the support system that exists for her among the “fairytale” characters that inhabit her building.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

True to the ancient Nordic myths, Gaiman tells the stories of wise Odin, strong Thor and wily Loki, from the creation of the world to Ragnarok, the final destiny of the gods.

Nine Women One Dress by Jane Rosen

Aging designer Morris Siegel finally accomplishes his dream of creating “the” dress of the season. This creation takes on a life of its own, furthering the dreams of nine diverse New York women.

Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult

With a title relating to a Martin Luther King Jr. quote on fighting racism, Picoult deftly describes the trials of an African-American neonatal nurse who is charged with causing the death of the child of white supremacists.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Aza tries to be a good student, a good daughter and a good friend, all while struggling with debilitating thought spirals.

What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro

Culinary historian Shapiro turns her focus to the relationship of food in the lives of six women, whose lives span over two centuries. This diverse group includes Dorothy Wordsworth, maiden sister of poet William, and feminist Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl.

About Howard County Reads

Inspired by the Washington Center for the Book’s “One Book” concept, the Howard County Reads (HCR) program was founded in 2004 to foster a sense of community through page-turning togetherness. It is an annual community-wide reading program sponsored by the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, the Greentown Public Library, and Indiana University Kokomo Library. Every year a committee of staff members from the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, the Greentown Public Library, and the Indiana University Kokomo Library as well as community members collaborate to select books and plan programs.






Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference. Banksy Booked @ KHCPL. Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Sew Much. If you enjoyed any of these, it’s because Trina Evans, KHCPL Branch Assistant, is an Innovator. She had the idea for the two exhibits, the outdoor classroom, and teaching sewing in the library.

And now all of North America will realize what the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library has known all along: She’s “Tenacious T” aka #persistentlibrarian. Library Journal selected her as one of 2018’s Movers & Shakers. She won in the Innovator category.

When nominating Evans, KHCPL Director Faith Brautigam wrote, “Trina Evans believes that public libraries have unlimited potential to have a positive impact on their communities. … [W]e have come to depend on her trademark style: think big, do your homework, then shoot for the moon.”

Evans began working part-time at KHCPL in 2014. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but she had applied several times over the years,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing. “She kept telling her family, ‘I love the library, but the library doesn’t love me.’ Boy are we glad we did eventually hire her! She heard about Discover Tech and pursued it. While being trained for Discover Tech, she learned about outdoor classrooms and worked to make it happen. As a native of Los Angeles, she grew up around street art and loved it. After watching the Saving Banksy documentary, she sought out the owner of Banksy’s Haight Street Rat to get the exhibit to KHCPL – making Kokomo home to the first library in the world to host a Banksy. She worked to find funding so that KHCPL could offer sewing programs, called Sew Much. All of this happened in 16 months. Oh, and did we mention she’s taking classes to finish her Master of Library Science degree at the same time. And has a very active family life?”

“We love it when Trina says, ‘I have an idea,’ ” Brautigam said. “She has so much energy and a true passion for libraries. She has played a key role in helping KHCPL create new opportunities for our community.” Brautigam noted that the library’s Galentine’s event is a brainchild of Trina’s, and she also came up with the idea of trying to lure former Colts player Pat McAfee to Kokomo for Guys on Tap. His schedule didn’t allow it, but she and KHCPL definitely ended up on his radar.

“I love working at KHCPL, where my boss, Lori Hugley, Head of the Branches, says, ‘Go for it!’ ” Evans said. “I love being empowered like that. It’s a sign of a great library. But I also like that staff members came along side me to make it all happen. Yes, I have the ideas and get the ball rolling, but those were all huge projects that took teamwork.” In fact, when staff found out about Evans’s award, she told them, “I really couldn’t have accomplished any of my ideas without the analytical thinking of those working at the library. I feel the work WE are doing really impacts our community! So congratulations to US! Our library is doing amazing things!”

Trina Evans, left, receives a certificate of appreciation from KHCPL Board of Trustees President Cathy Stover.

Library Journal (C) 2018, Media Source Inc.


Library Now Offering Experience Kits


Books, movies, magazines, and music are the typical checkouts at libraries. The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library is anything but typical.


You can now borrow Experience Kits. Here are three examples:

• Cake Decorating Experience Kit: letters and numbers non-stick bakeware set; cake decorating tips set with couplers and disposable icing bags; rotating cake stand; cake cutter/leveler; stainless steel icing spatulas; The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating by Autumn Carpenter; and Cake Decorating for Beginners Guide by Wilton

• Glasses for the Colorblind Experience Kit: pair of Enchroma sunglasses; Schylling Classic Tin Kaleidoscope; and Life in Color: National Geographic Photographs by National Geographic

• Cat Lover’s Dementia Experience Kit: Joy for All Companion Pet Creamy White Cat; Adora PlayTime Baby Little Princess; 11-piece wooden jigsaw puzzle; set of 60 multicolored baby bear counting figurines with sorting cups; The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins; and Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease by Joanne Koenig Coste



Photos of the Hiking Experience Kit in use courtesy Marinna Graham


“There are a lot of times when you want to try something new, but you don’t want to invest your money until you know if it’s something you’ll actually enjoy or need,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing. “An Experience Kit lets you check out an item – we also have several STEM-related kits for kids and families since the community enjoyed Discover Tech so much – for two weeks. You can decide if the items in the kit are something you’d like to own. If so, you know you’ll be happy with your purchase. If not, you have at least had a new experience. Because we expect a positive, popular response, you can only keep a kit for two weeks and not renew it immediately. After you return it, you can put a hold on it and check it out again, though. We’ve created 17 kits, providing two of most of them that we expect to be popular, such as cake decorating and hiking.”


To find out more about the kits, CLICK HERE for the online catalog.


A generous gift from the Friends of the Library allowed KHCPL to start the project. “We plan to add more Experience Kits after we test the system we’ve set up,” Fipps said. “We’d love some input on reusable items patrons would like to see in kits. If there are individuals, organizations, or businesses that would like to sponsor kits, we’d love to find more donors so we can provide even more kits.”


The Experience Kits are another tool KHCPL is using to change the community’s perception of libraries. “Libraries in general have had to fight their outdated image of being a warehouse for books. Today’s libraries are so different. For example, KHCPL was the first library in the world to host a Banksy. It brought it in patrons from 59 different Indiana towns, 17 states, and Ireland and England to see graffiti from the most famous street artist in the world. Talk about an experience! KHCPL loves providing new experiences to patrons.”


“2017 really has been a big year for KHCPL,” Fipps added. “We have offered a variety of events, programs, and exhibits that are making people take notice of our new vision and mission: The library is a vital component in an engaged and thriving community, and we create opportunities for our community to become its best. In doing so, we’ve received international attention and recognition from our library peers. The Experience Kits project is one more element to help us achieve our goals.”


For more information about Experience Kits or to donate, call Fipps at 765.626.0807 or email her at


Photos (C) Tim Bath and the Kokomo Tribune





Registration Open for 4th Annual KHCPL Rudolph Family Fun 5k Run/Walk




The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s 4th Annual Rudolph Family Fun 5k Run/Walk promises to be bigger and better than ever.


“Each year we try to add more and do more,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing. “This year, we’ll have reindeer games for people to play before the race begins and you can win prizes, thanks to a new sponsor: Paradise Trading Post. A lot of people enjoy wearing festive attire. So we decided to give an award for best dressed this year. That prize is made possible by new sponsor Elle Esprit. And because we have more and more walkers joining the fun, we’re increasing the number of trophies we give out to walkers, thanks to sponsors Salin Bank and Gold Medal Awards.” 


Trophies for the 5k Run this year will be awarded to the overall male and female winners and the first-place male and female finishers in each of the following age groups: 0-12; 13-19; 20-26; 27-33; 34-40; 41-47; 48-54; 55-61; 62+. Trophies for the 5k Walk will go to the overall male and female winners and the first-place male and female finishers in each of the following age groups: 0-18; 19-35; 36-47; 48-59; and 60+.


Register now to save money. You can fill out the form and pay in person at any KHCPL location or you can go online to and sign up. Registration for an individual is $20 until Nov. 20 and goes up to $25 from Nov. 21 through Dec. 2. (Groups of three to six can save with the group rate of $50 until Nov. 20; the rate increases to $60 on Nov. 21 through Dec. 2.) Thanks to sponsors Friends of the Library and Expressions Design Co., that fee provides a long-sleeved T-shirt, reindeer antlers, a blinking Rudolph nose, a medal for the first 350 finishers, and snacks after the event. You have a chance to win door prizes, too, thanks to sponsor Community Howard Regional Health. One of the prizes will be a Garmin forerunner. 


T-shirts come in youth, adult, and plus sizes to 5XL. There is an additional $2 fee for sizes 2XL-5XL. In order to be guaranteed a T-shirt on the day of the run, you must register by Nov. 20. If you register after that date, you might have to pick up your shirt after the race.


Thanks to the Club Kokomo Roadrunners, it’s a timed run. You start and end at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library and on the Walk of Excellence, you journey through Foster Park and then the turn-around is in UCT Park.


People of all ages and abilities welcome. Dogs on leashes that are well-controlled and up-to-date on their vaccines are welcome. No rain/weather date. No refunds. 


The doors open at 7:30 a.m., and you are welcome to play reindeer games as you wait for the race to begin sharply at 9 a.m. After you’re finished, head to the lower level to nosh on snacks, enter the door-prize drawing, and do some holiday shopping with Elle Esprit and Paradise Trading Post.


“People come from all over Indiana for the Rudolph Run,” Fipps said. “It's THAT fun!”






Have you ever checked out a book that made you change the way you look at the world? Well, on Friday, October 6, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library hopes you do just that when it hosts the Human Library.


The Human Library is much like a regular library ꟷexcept the books are volunteers from all walks of life who have experienced discrimination based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, sex, age, lifestyle choices, disability, and other aspects of their life. 






During the October First Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m. at KHCPL Main, you’ll find a board listing all the books available for checkout. Titles include “Catholic Convert to Judaism,” “Trans Male College Student,” “Foster Child to Homeless Woman,” “From Child Mexican Immigrant to Small Business Owner,” and “Mother of Two Autistic Children.” You select the book you want to read. Then you sit down and talk.


“Just as we have rules about materials that we loan out, we’ll have rules for these books,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing. “The reader should return the book in the same mental and physical condition in which it was borrowed is a primary rule. In other words, you don’t check out a book to try to change it, judge it, or berate it. We’ll have staff stationed around the books to ensure that doesn’t happen, and the books will be trained to walk away if that happens. In essence, borrowing is based on mutual respect. This is a time to read the book to grow in understanding of what it’s like, for example, to leave the religion you were born into, raised in, for another religion. It’s not the time to proselytize.” 


The Human Library started in Denmark, where it’s called “Menneskebiblioteket,” in 2000 at the Roskilde Festival. The organizer started it in response to a person being attacked for being different. It was open eight hours a day for four days straight and featured more than 50 books. The selection provided readers the ability ample to challenge their stereotypes. To date, the Human Library has been presented in more than 70 countries around the world.





Learn How to Get Started with Street Art


If seeing Banksy at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library made you want to try  your hand at street art but you don’t know where to begin, then call 626.0807 today to sign up for Beginning Street Art. It’s free, but registration is required.


Even Banksy had to start somewhere, right? Young adult author Shannon Lee Alexander will explain the basic terminology and techniques for getting started with street art. You’ll make some portable street art to display at the library and to take home. She’ll also have her two novels, Love and Other Unknown Variables and Life After Juliet, for sale and to autograph after the program.


The focus is for teens, but adults are welcome. 


Beginning Street Art will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at KHCPL Main, 220 N. Union St.


Alexander is a former middle school language arts teacher and mother of two who lives in Indianapolis. She was inspired to write her first novel based on the death of a dear friend. Oh, and she’s a book addict and a Harry Potter fangirl. Her work-in-progress features a street artist.








Love and Other Unknown Variables

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover the solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswerable problems. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck. The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy pawing at her until she learns he’s a student at Brighton, where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. And in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy. By the time he learns Charlotte is ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull on Charlie is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on, or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second).



Life After Juliet

Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people ... until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can. As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed. The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.


KHCPL First Library in Indiana to Create a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom

Community has its first Outdoor Classroom thanks to

memorial gifts, grants, donations, and volunteers



The Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom’s grand opening was on May 23, 2017, at KHCPL Russiaville, 315 Mesa Drive.

It’s made possible because of our generous donors:


Gene and Wilma Parks Endowment

In memory of Roberta Lineback

Howard County Commissioners

Duke Energy

Friends of the Kokomo-Howard County Library

Integrity EDM

Howard County Master Gardeners

Lowe’s Heroes

Kohl’s Cares

GM Cares

In 2016, after receiving a gift of nearly $13,000 from the Gene and Wilma Parks Endowment, with a stipulation the money be used for a project at KHCPL Russiaville, the library turned to crowd sourcing to get not only additional funding, but also support for the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom.

What's an Outdoor Classroom?

So what is an outdoor classroom? Just what its name suggests: an outdoor place where children can learn. Outdoor is the key word.

Child development research shows that children need and benefit from more time outdoors.

“The retention rate for learning by doing is 75 percent compared with just 5 percent for lecture-based learning,” according to a Bethel Learning Institute study. “When students are learning outdoors, they are using all of their senses and their abilities to absorb and take in information. They are also learning an appreciation for nature and developing active stewardship for the natural areas in their communities.”

“We want every child to succeed in school and at life,” said Faith Brautigam, Director of KHCPL. “In children, play creates the foundation for future learning. Our Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom encourages exploration and imaginative play in a natural environment that helps to develop physical abilities and cognitive skills. As a destination for families, school groups, early childhood students, and the conservation-minded, it’s an added attraction for Russiaville and Howard County.”


More and more parents are realizing that kids today don’t play enough, get enough exercise, or spend time outdoors.

“Play isn’t a waste of time,” said Susan Bednarz, a KHCPL employee with more than 16 years of experience in early childhood education who helped get the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom up and running.

Just a few of the various benefits of play, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, include the following:

• cognitive skills – like math and problem-solving in a pretend grocery store

• physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground

• new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs

• social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash

• literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant

Think about all the skills you learned with outdoor play: problem-solving when building a fort, understanding the importance of preserving natural habitats when studying shells at the beach, and social skills when interacting with other kids in the neighborhood.

“Kids have to have calendars these days to keep track of all they’re involved in — all in an effort to learn more, do more,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement at KHCPL. “We’ve forgotten how much they learn and grow through play. Plus play helps reduce stress and anxiety.”

“We were grateful for the Gene and Wilma Parks Endowment donation, and the patrons’ vision for the gift ties in with our long-term strategy of making each of our locations a destination spot and providing more outdoor programming,” Brautigam said.

Duke Energy Foundation Grant




As soon as the Howard County Master Gardener Association heard about the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom, the organization made a $500 donate and its members volunteered labor.

And then KHCPL received a nearly $10,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.

“Duke Energy is committed to sustainability in all its operations,” said Kevin Johnston, government and community relations manager for Howard County. “Young children who learn important lessons about environmental responsibility and stewardship are more likely to carry those positive messages into adulthood to help maintain and improve the quality of life for the entire community.”

“Because of KHCPL Russiaville’s location being so close to Clinton, Tipton, and Carroll counties, we foresee it drawing in and benefitting not only those from Kokomo and Howard County, but also those communities,” Brautigam said. “With its focus on outdoor education, we believe it will offer new opportunities to partner with others and will be enjoyed by groups from schools and early childhood centers as well as families. It will also allow us to host more library events on-site at KHCPL Russiaville rather than using other Russiaville locations, as we’ve done in the past.”

“We know that the Duke Energy Foundation receives an overwhelming number of funding requests each year and are thrilled that they recognized this project’s potential.”

The momentum kept building.

KHCPL received another major gift for the project: a $15,000 anonymous gift in memory of Roberta Lineback.


In Memory of a Teaching Legend


Roberta passed away on Nov. 17, 2016, after an extended illness. She was a long-time resident of Russiaville. She graduated from Northwestern High School in 1949 and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1970 and 1975 from Indiana University Kokomo. She began teaching kindergarten privately in 1962 and continued until kindergarten classes were added at Western School Corp. She taught at Western Primary School from 1971 to 2000. Roberta was also a member of Bible Baptist Church for over 60 years.

 “I was contacted by a person who wanted Roberta’s legacy to live on, and what a legacy it was, teaching kindergarten for 38 years,” said Fipps. “The donor wanted to help KHCPL Russiaville, but wasn’t quite sure how. The more I listened to the donor talk about Roberta, the more I knew just what to suggest. I told the donor about the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom at KHCPL Russiaville. The donor loved the idea.”

Roberta touched the lives of people from the library long before the donation. She was KHCPL Board of Trustees President Mary Baker’s kindergarten teacher. “I have fond memories of her,” Baker said. “She was always smiling! Mrs. Lineback was kind, patient, and expected the most from her students.”

“My son had her as a teacher,” Kim Johnson, a clerk in KHCPL’s Outreach Department said. “We loved her. She was a very caring and loving person.”



Karen Foster, a first-grade teacher at Western Primary School, has Roberta to thank for her 22-year teaching career. “She had both of my girls for kindergarten. She let me volunteer in her room every Friday. I did crafts and helped with lessons. I loved how she talked to the children. She didn’t talk down to them. She met them at their level. They knew what she expected of them. They behaved. They learned. I hadn’t gone back to school yet, but before volunteering I thought I’d be a nurse. After watching her with the children, I decided to be a teacher. She was amazing.”

One of Karen’s daughters, Tricia Harlow, also went on to be a teacher at Western. “I remember Mrs. Lineback teaching with a little doll name Astro. We had the best toys. She had a rice table in her room that was amazing. I either played with that or the stilts that she had made out of large cans and ropes. I always liked the assignment we had each week: to go through magazines and find words that started with the same letter of the week. That was always my favorite because I loved to cut and paste. She made learning fun. Sadly, she retired before I got to teach with her. The funny thing is when I smell white rice, I always think of kindergarten. That smell takes me back to that memory every time.”

“What I love about this donation is that the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom is an early childhood educational installation,” said Brautigam. “Just as she made school and learning fun, this whole project is about allowing young kids to learn in exciting ways. Outdoor classroom learning isn’t about standardized tests and the all the anxiety associated with it. It’s about curiosity, discovering things for yourself, and making learning fun. It sounds as if that’s exactly what kind of teacher Roberta was. There could be no better match in making this possible than with money that is linked to someone whose whole life was dedicated to teaching and helping children learn.”

Howard County Commissioners Give



During the grand opening celebration for the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom at KHCPL Russiaville, the Howard County Commissioners presented the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library with a $10,000 check.

 “We are excited about this opportunity for our community,” said Paul Wyman, Howard County commissioner. “These projects add to our quality of life and educational opportunities for our children. This type of grant shows how government working in conjunction with other groups and organizations can make great things happen.”

“We are impressed with how the library continually works to be a leader in our community with these types of innovative programs,” said Howard County Commissioner Tyler Moore. “The library is an incredible resource, and this classroom will strengthen their positive impact on our children.” 

“With this project, once again we show how strong partnerships continue to keep Howard County at the forefront,” said Brad Bray, Howard County commissioner. “Howard County continues to be a great place to live and raise your family.”   

 For more information about Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms, click here.