SCALA’s 2016 fall semester library tour took five students to Hutchinson, Kansas on December 2nd to explore three very different library settings. Our first location was the Hutchinson Public Library where we got to see how this well-kept library combines technological advances and new construction with the building features of the past (such as the refurbished “Reading Room” located on the main floor). We learned about several upcoming programs meant to inspire family activity and spent time exploring their impressive children’s area. Additionally, we were given the opportunity to tour their local archives which they are in the process of preserving and digitizing.
Our second stop was the John F. Kennedy Library located on the Hutchinson Community College campus. The JFK Library inhabits the lower floor of their Rimmer Learning Resource Center and, while small, does what it can to create a positive learning space and provide periodicals and materials as their students need them. Our tour guide had no limit to the knowledge he was able to impart about the inner workings of an academic library.
The final location was the Strataca Underground Salt Mines & Museum. The Hutchinson Salt Mine is one of the largest in the world, the extent of this bedded salt deposit is 27,000 square miles in central and south-central Kansas. The purest portion of the salt vein at this location is 650 feet underground and is still mined here today. Strataca has access to about 300,000 square feet of mined out area which is utilized for mass storage by companies and individuals from around the world because the dry environment is ideal for maintaining a variety of archival materials. We were given a personal tour of part of this massive mine and got to see how items are stored for various clients and companies. There was a unanimous consensus amongst the students that went that The Hutchinson Salt Mines should be a staple library tour location each year, if possible.