Story walk honors late library director’s passions

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Lincoln Heritage Public Library in Dale dedicated an outdoor story walk in honor of the former library director, Karen Moran, who died in 2017. Board members Ken Schaaf, left, Pam Thompson, Lisa Waninger, Joy Zook, Marsha Hicks and Library Director Rae Ann Kippenbrock cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the story walk Monday evening in Dale. The first story placed on the wooden plaques is "Heidi" which was one of Karen's favorite children's book.


DALE — Former Lincoln Heritage Public Library director Karen Moran loved children’s books, the Dale community and the outdoors. Now, the library Moran loved includes a tribute to her honoring her passions.

Staff and friends of the Lincoln Heritage Public Library held a ribbon-cutting for a story walk dedicated to Moran, who passed away in 2017, Monday night.

The project includes 18 panels, each filled with laminated pages from a children’s book. Patrons read the book by walking around the panels, which wrap around the outside perimeter of the library, located at 105 N, Wallace St.

“We thought what better way to honor Karen than with an outdoor story walk?” Library Director Rae Ann Kippenbrock said.

The first book featured in the story walk is “Heidi,” Moran’s favorite. Moran’s husband, Ken, remembers when Karen “dragged” him up Heidi’s Hill in Switzerland during a vacation in Europe several years ago. Karen found the spot on the map and insisted the couple make the stop. As they climbed the twisted trail through the Swiss Alps, Karen found nearly every character from the story.

“We just kept walking and walking and walking,” Ken recalled.

Board member Ken Schaaf appreciated the new story walk Monday evening in Dale.

Library staff will switch the books in the story walk about every three months, Kippenbrock said. This year, each of the stories will be one of Moran’s favorites.

Moran served as director of the library from 1997 to 2008, moving to Dale from Bloomington with Ken and their two daughters, Kristie and Kelly, to take the job.

During her tenure, the library doubled in size.

Moran is also remembered for her extensive work with Friends of the Library group, starting the summer reading program, creating an open mic event called Undergrounds and making the library a welcoming space for the Hispanic population.

Moran set up an entire section of the library filled with books in Spanish, and made sure Spanish-langue versions of best-sellers were on the shelves.

“She loved books, and she loved this community and the Spanish population,” said Marsha Hicks, a board member and former children’s librarian at Lincoln Heritage Public Library. Moran hired Hicks in 2000.

To honor Moran’s love for the community, the library involved several community groups in the creation of the story walk. The Heritage Hills High School construction class and Future Farmers of America helped out, as did the Dale Kiwanis Club, Friends of Lincoln State Park and Friends of the Library.

When asked what he thought Karen would think of the story walk, Ken said, “I know she’d love it.”

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