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Local organization merges its small lending library into Willmar Public Library collection

Jamin Johnson, director of The Resource Center Program, looks over the collection in the program's lending library. The program will move its library to the Willmar Public Library to make it more widely available. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Public Library will soon add to its collection of materials for families living with special needs children or in need of information about disabilities.

The lending library from The Resource Center Program at West Central Industries will be merging into the library's collection.

The move will expand the reach of the lending library and give the library added resources.

"Both the library and The Resource Center Program think it makes sense to try to get information to people where they are and when they need it," said Jamin Johnson, the director of The Resource Center Program.

Johnson obtained grants to start The Resource Center Program about 2½ years ago. The program offers information and support for families who have loved ones with special needs, including learning disabilities, autism, ADHD/ADD, traumatic brain injury, mental health and Down syndrome. The lending library has been there from the start and has grown over time. It fills a large bookshelf in the conference room at West Central Industries' offices in Willmar.

The lending library includes books, DVDs and educational materials, Johnson said. The project has purchased some of the materials, and many have been donated. There's a set of "Hooked on Phonics" and information on learning sign language.

Chris Beyerl, head librarian at Willmar Public Library, said the library has similar partnerships with the Willmar Early Childhood Coalition and the Kandiyohi County Law Library.

The program's collection will be sorted and catalogued at the library and will become a part of the library's collection over the next few weeks. The materials will be available to all library patrons in the region through the interlibrary loan program.

The Willmar library hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The library staff will be able to turn to Johnson and her organization for advice on adding other materials to the collection.

"They're experts in their field," she said. "It's really good to have them partner with us."

The Resource Center Program helps families find information about their loved one's challenges. It can also offer scholarships to help families with the cost of adaptive equipment or specialized summer camps. It facilitates support groups and conducts periodic workshops.

Where there's an initial diagnosis, a lot of the discussion centers around medical needs, Johnson said. "Years later, you're not always sure where to go for help."

Someone looking for information alone can spend a lot of time, and money, on materials that may not be relevant, she said. Her program can help someone find good resources right away.

Susan Lange, a Resource Center board member, said she is pleased to see the program's resources become more widely available.

"We had great stuff, and it was just not convenient for people to get," she said. The partnership with the library lets the program use an existing system to distribute its resources.

Families seeking help or groups interested in becoming a partner in the program may reach The Resource Center Program by calling Johnson at WCI, 320-235-5310 or email her at

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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