Project Engages Fort Riley Community with Kansas State University
by Jenny Barnes
Located a mere 20 miles outside of Manhattan and Kansas State University is the home of the 1st Infantry Division, or the Big Red One. Although relations between the campus and military cultures have sometimes been strained or nonexistent, two K-State faculty members sought out to engage each of those groups of citizens and bring them together.
Daryl Youngman and Donna Schenck-Hamlin, both Assistants to the Dean of K-State Libraries, became increasingly interested in this issue after the influx of soldiers several years ago. They saw many opportunities for educational and cultural programs for soldiers and their families that were offered through K-State and weren't being utilized.
"Just a few miles apart from each other were two very different cultures, the campus culture and the military culture," Youngman said.
After receiving a grant from CECD, Youngman and Schenck-Hamlin started mapping out their plan. As they began working on the project, they realized that many programs already existed. The problems were awareness, permission and transportation.
First, people at K-State and Fort Riley were not aware of programs and opportunities. Youngman commented how in one study soldiers stated they "didn't know there was anything to do at K-State besides go to Aggieville." Parties on both sides were also unaware they had permission to participate in activities at the other community, and although there is currently a shuttle system from Fort Riley to Manhattan, transportation lacks because of the limited hours of operation.
In an attempt to address these issues, the project produced several outcomes. Through distribution of soldieroriented library information brochures and news materials, the Fort Riley population was made more aware of KState Libraries and their services. There was also a joint partnership in developing campus and military appreciation days, a monthly book club, two 30-second public service announcements and a new Web site:www.ksu.edu/takepart in order to inform and generate awareness.
Although Youngman said he felt the project was a success, he recognized there is still more work to be done. He would like to see the shuttle service enhanced to accommodate soldiers and their families wanting to attend events earlier in the evenings.
Youngman said he felt that the library was the perfect and best organization to facilitate this project.
"Individual departments cannot do what the library can," Youngman said. "The library is the cultural crossroads of campus."