By Carol Van Why
Originally published in the 25th Anniversary issue of the 1666 Coffman News
The February 1986 issue of the Coffman News describes our library as the “jewel in the crown of 1666 Coffman.” Today it’s still one of the places where we take visitors to elicit that “ooh-aah” response.
Even before the first residents moved to Coffman in August 1986, the library was taking shape. Each resident had been encouraged to donate up to 40 books to the collection. Library Committee chair, David Thompson, unpacked hundreds of books, sorted, evaluated and categorized them. By 1988, 20 residents contributed time to the library, with each person responsible for monitoring an area of shelves.
Thompson resigned as chair soon after the library was up and running. Subsequently, Christine Fraulin, Barbara Miller, Corinne Brasted, E.W. McDairmid, Ned Stanford, Thor Kommedahl, Joanne Kendall, Bill Madden, Hubert Walczak and Gretchen Kreuter have each chaired the Library Committee. Over the years the library also benefited from the wise counsel of residents with archives and library backgrounds, namely Clarke Chambers, Christine Fraulin, Ralph Hopp and Maverette Stanford.
Perhaps no chair contributed more than Ned Stanford, resident and retired director of the University of Minnesota Libraries. On becoming chair in 1993, Ned and the committee had to grapple with a library bursting at its seams. Just as weeding makes for a healthy garden, judicious removal of books makes for a healthy and useful library. Wisely, Ned obtained 1666 Board approval for a program of ongoing library weeding. As they were then, weeded books today are donated to the AAUW book sale, which supports a scholarship program for young women.
Twenty-five years ago who would have imagined the entertainment choices now competing for our leisure time? Today some of us are reading, viewing and listening with Kindles and iPads. Nevertheless, based on the number of books borrowed from our library, print remains a popular format.
Gretchen Kreuter and Carol Van Why co-chair the Library Committee today and believe that the original committee’s goal “to provide a collection in which most residents can always be sure to find something interesting and enjoyable to read whatever their tastes may be” continues to serve our community well.
Current residents still share their treasured books with others through their generous donations. Our gem of a library offers us all a retreat for reading and quiet reflection and a chance to share the pleasure of reading with each other.
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