Festival puts spotlight on ongoing need to read.

The state's first lady recently pitched literary works with ties to western Kansas and other locales throughout the Sunflower State.

As part of the recent Kansas Book Festival, Mary Brownback wife of Gov. Sam Brownback recognized 25 books and their authors.

Among those in the mix were former Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Larry Welch and his book, "Beyond Cold Blood: The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK," while other works examined during the book festival in Topeka addressed other topics well known in this region: the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s and family farms, among other subjects.

The many literary offerings at the book festival touched on an impressive variety of topics in a program designed to promote literacy and a life-long love of reading among all Kansans.

Beyond showcasing the sheer enjoyment of reading, such efforts also demand more attention at a time too many Americans struggle with even the most basic reading skills.

Nationwide, an estimated one in five adults has low literacy skills that hurt their ability to land decent jobs and participate in their children's education both compelling reasons to make literacy efforts a priority year-round.

Local libraries serve as difference-makers in that regard. As children and their parents take part in library activities, they're exposed to a world of opportunities libraries offer in the many shelves stacked with good books and more.

And, the price is right. More families struggling to make ends meet also should take advantage of such free library services as public computers, newspapers and magazines, movies and wireless Internet.

A library's ability to educate through reading and other services remains its most important endeavor. Unfortunately, libraries too often are taken for granted.

Book fairs and other events designed to promote the importance of reading always are welcome. At the same time, we shouldn't overlook what's available year-round in our own back yard.

Libraries deliver an amazing array of choices, and in an affordable and interesting way. If you haven't been to a library lately, make a point to check out just how much they have to offer.