It’s December, and that means Santa Claus is coming to our library.
At Mid-Continent Public Library , Kimberly Howard has collected more than a half dozen Santas over the past 16 years. “Finding Santas isn’t always easy,” said Howard, assistant manager in MCPL’s Community Programming Department.
Over the years, Howard and the Community Programming Department staff have tapped storytellers, visited malls, Googled, and inquired with fraternal Santa organizations, such as International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas , to find the St. Nicks the library needs.
This year, 20 of our 31 branches are hosting four separate programs featuring the jolly old elf and/or his better half. That means we’ve recruited three Santas and two Mrs. Clauses to keep up with demand.
- Storytime with Santa features Santa Kevin Boydston , who makes a special trip from the North Pole to the library to read a holiday story. After the story, kids can sit on Santa’s knee to tell him what they want for Christmas.
- Jim “Two Crows” Wallen Presents: A Visit with Santa Claus features the nationally known storyteller  and re-enactor reading a story and making a craft with the kids as Santa.
- In past years, Wallen has presented Civil War Santa. A Santa program geared for historically minded adults, Civil War Santa reveals how illustrator Thomas Nast forever changed Christmas with his 1863 depiction of Santa visiting the federal troops at Fredericksburg. Wallen dresses as Nast's Santa and shares the history of Santa, holiday tales from North and South, and how the Civil War reshaped Christmas in America.
- Storytime with Santa and Mrs. Claus features Santa Charles Wolber and his wife as the jolly couple. The Wolbers read stories and hear what children want for Christmas. This year they will make 12 appearances throughout our system.
- An Old-Fashioned Christmas with Mrs. Claus features storyteller Joyce Slater  sharing traditional holiday stories and songs from as far back as 200 Christmases past.
Here’s hoping Santa brings your library some extra cheer this Christmas and that you have a happy and prosperous New Year.