W.B. Konkle Memorial Library celebrates milestone

W.B. Konkle Memorial Library celebrates milestone

MONTOURSVILLE — This April, the W.B. Konkle Memorial Library will reach a major milestone — its 75th year as a place of learning and a community resource. The library’s celebration plans, supported by the Friends of the Library, include family movie nights, a book signing with local authors, a gala, and more.

Now an important part of the neighborhood, the library has undergone changes in its past as major as relocating buildings — more than once. Upon its initial opening in 1942, Joan S. Konkle willed the property at 300 Broad St. as a public library in memory of her husband, Dr. William B. Konkle. However, the library board was quickly met with increasing costs.

This led to the library selling their property and moving to 448 Jordan Ave. in 1953.

Continuing to search for the best home for their books, the library successfully fundraised $35,000 in 1964, allowing it to move yet again to an even better, more accessible location at 384 Broad St., formerly a local bank.

This is their current location. With large, regal columns out front, the library manages to both blend in with surrounding buildings and stand out as a classic piece of architecture.

The library’s overall success was a major factor in John and Margaret Whitehead’s decision to donate half a million dollars in 2014. The donation will continue to help the library make even more renovations in the future.

“Their gift has enabled us to invest in the library,” said Wendy Smith, Board of Trustees president. “We have perpetuity for running the library, and now we’re working on plans to keep renovating and adding.”

Throughout its 75 years, the library has been through many changes. Smith highlighted the importance of looking back at their accomplishments over time.

Head librarian Canda Fogarty also knows much of the library’s history. She has been working there since 1993 when she began as a volunteer. Due to her commitment to the library, she was offered a permanent job in 1995.

“I said, that’s not why I’m here!” said Fogarty, explaining how much she enjoyed helping. “But I was there so often, they put me on the payroll.”

“The Friends of the Library is a group of volunteers who help support us,” Smith said. “They provide funding, run book sales, and sponsor our programs.”

The library needs its volunteers, as well as its librarians, to continue to operate smoothly; but those who work with the library enjoy helping.

Smith has also been volunteering with the library for several years.

“I began as treasurer in 2011 and became president in 2017,” Smith said.

Their dedication is undeniable, but humble — they continually shifted the focus of their interview back onto the community. Fogarty was proud to say that the library is a space many people utilize.

“You get to know the people in the community, and they become good friends. We’re always interested in seeing how they’re doing, what they’re doing,” Fogarty said.

The library itself also offers many programs.

“We have lots of tutoring sessions and different outside programs going on during the week. People come in and use the library for things like speech and development,” she said.

There are toddler, children and teen programs that “run into one another,” in hopes that “toddlers will eventually go into the children’s program,” Fogarty said.

The programs have been growing each year, with more and more people coming out to support the library.

“We have seen a large increase in the number of families moving into the area. Some have said this was the first place in town that they went to,” said Smith.

One of the things that makes the library so attractive to families is their children’s room, which was added in 2005. Bright colors and a large collection of children’s books makes the area great for youth who are just learning to read or looking to start reading chapter books.

“We’re looking to the past to see the way forward,” she said. “That’s why the 75th anniversary will celebrate our helpers at the library but also have events for the whole community.”