A short story about helping UNK’s storm-struck library

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After the April storm, UNK staff member John Falconer stood in shock as he looked at the Calvin T. Ryan library on campus.

“The northeast corner of the building was peeled open like a soup can,” he recalled.

But he was even more shocked when he saw how the water and wind had damaged thousands of the books inside.

Books mean so much to Dr. Falconer, a UNK graduate who has spent a lot of his life in that library. Books mean so much to his wife and two daughters, “a pretty devoted group of readers.” (One vacation, he and his wife drove the girls around Nova Scotia, a place with beautiful trees and cliffs and the ocean. “But they didn’t see anything,” he said, “because they were reading ‘Harry Potter.'”)

And books mean so much to his smart students.

Falconer is head of the Honors Program, whose home is in a building right next to the library. He was one of the first people to contact Janet Wilke, Dean of the Library, to ask how he could help.

“To see those books spread out on the floor drying, I know that a lot of us thought, ‘Oh, no. We’ve lost something precious to us.'”

Now there’s a way to help.

A fund has been created at UNK – the Buy A Book program – to raise money to help rebuild the book collection and to enhance the overall quality of the library’s collections.

The Buy A Book program is simple: With a minimum gift of $100, a personalized bookplate with your message will be placed in a newly purchased book selected by the UNK librarians.

You can memorialize a relative, friend, professor or colleague or thank a supportive professor or academic department. It can also be used to celebrate milestones – graduations, weddings, births and retirements.

There are three levels of giving: $100 for one book, $500 for six books and $1,000 for 12 books.

Falconer says he and his family are eager to support the program, and he thinks many other book lovers will be, too.

“Libraries – they’re a community thing, right?” he says. “They’re there for the community. So when something happens to your library, the community needs to help rebuild it.”

To help UNK’s Calvin T. Ryan Library and the Buy A Book program, please give online or contact Anne McConkey at 800-432-3216.

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