Thirty Years and Counting

By Carol Van Why

The February 1986 issue of the 1666 Coffman News described 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.

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, Gretchen Kreuter, BJ Zander and Carol Van Why have each chaired the Library Committee.  During its early years the Library also benefited from the wise counsel of other residents with archives and library backgrounds, namely Clarke Chambers, Ralph Hopp and Maverette Stanford. 

Perhaps no one resident contributed more than Ned Stanford, 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 weeding of worn, dated and/or little-used books makes for a healthy and useful library.  Wisely, Ned obtained 1666 Board approval for a program of ongoing Library weeding.   Weeded books today are offered to residents at nominal prices on our third-floor Book Cart.  Unsold items are donated to various organizations’ book sales in support of worthy causes.

Thirty plus years ago who would have imagined the entertainment choices now competing for our leisure time?  Today many of us are reading, viewing and listening with iPads, Kindles and smart phones.  Nevertheless, based on the number of books borrowed from our library, print remains an enduring and popular format.  Today’s Library Committee believes 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 the opportunity to share the pleasure of reading with each other.

Update of an article originally published in the 25thAnniversary issue of the 1666 Coffman News.