Stillwater Public Library Trust grows with former community member’s gift

Adult Services librarians (from left) Amanda Bell, Emily States, Paula Long and Lisa O’Donnell send a thank you photo to McCollom for her gift. The adult services reference desk was named in honor of McCollom.

Story and images provided by the Stillwater Public Library

Longtime resident Katherine McCollom made a significant contribution to the Stillwater Public Library which will help in purchasing books and funding programs and services.

Former Stillwater resident, Katherine McCollom has donated $10,000 to the Stillwater Public Library Trust.

“I have always given to worthy causes. OSU, First United Methodist Church, Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History,” said McCollom. “I have never given a large sum to the Stillwater Library, hence the decision to give to my very favorite place.”

The Adult Service Reference Desk has been named in the former Library Board Member’s honor. McCollom’s donation will help the library purchase books, materials and services that cannot be financed through the Library’s normal operating budget.

Many of McCollom’s favorite library services are those partially funded by the Trust.

“The books, of course, were what I enjoyed most,” said McCollom. “Books breed like rabbits, so I hate buying new books of my own. The computer learning series of lessons was most helpful to me, and I liked the special programs, with interesting speakers.”  

McCollom, who graduated from OSU, shared her love for the library with her children.

“Making sure my children were aware of the services available is one of the best gifts a parent can give a child,” said McCollom. “Like teaching a child to go to a policeman for help, children should be taught to seek a library for information, for fun and for learning to have an open mind.”

Practical reasons also guided her decision to donate. According to McCollom, the donation lessens the amount of her estate which results in tax savings. Gifts to the Stillwater Public Library Trust are tax deductible up to the limits set by federal law. Community members may make donations in many forms, including through bequests, trust proceeds, annuities and securities.

“Community support is needed,” said McCollom. “That wise old gentleman, Benjamin Franklin, knew that many years ago when he created the first library in the United States. He is my favorite historical figure for many reasons, not the least of which is the library and the hundred dollar bill!”

McCollom was a very active community member while living in Stillwater from 1964-2013, volunteering in the surgery waiting room of the Stillwater Medical Center, serving as youth superintendent and teaching Sunday school in the First United Methodist Church and manning polls during elections.

McCollom also served as program developer for the first Continuing Education classes and helped establish the first pre-school for children with developmental disabilities.

But much of her time was spent in the Stillwater Public Library, both as an avid reader and as a Library Board member. During McCollom’s tenure, the Library Board hired a new library director, began planning for a new library and advocated throughout the community for a new building.

“One activity that sticks out for me was having to speak before large groups of people to express the need for a new library, which I was passionate about,” said McCollom. “But that was not my forte.”

Her work resulted in the new library currently located at 12th and Duck, which opened its doors in 1994.

Libraries have changed quite a bit through McCollom’s life.

She remembers living on her own in New Jersey, while her husband was overseas.

“I remember being all alone and miserable in Red Bank, NJ,” said McCollom. “Since a library had always been a source of comfort, I sought out the local library and found some books. I was told that I could get a card by having two local residents sign a form. Since I knew no one there, I put down the books and fled in tears. I’m sure I left that poor librarian all shook up.”

Nowadays, it just takes a photo ID to get a card, but libraries have also changed in other ways, particularly regarding formality.

“We moved back to Stillwater the end of August and lived in a rental house on Ramsey and Sixth Street,” McCollom remembers. “On a sunny fall Sunday about a month or two later, my ninth grade son, Alan, asked if he might walk to the college library to find information he needed to finish a research paper. Mentally swelling with pride, I said yes.  In too short a time, he was back home. Seems the young man on the library door had run Alan down in the stacks to tell him he could not be in the library in shorts! Coming from Iowa State University, I had to wonder what we had moved to.”

Today, the Stillwater Public Library is much less formal and is filled with children and families reading to one another, teens chatting together as they use computers and students working together on group projects. The changes to make the library friendlier and open to all members of the community were made by its current director, Lynda Reynolds, of whom McCollom is a fan.

“I like what Lynda Reynold has done with the Stillwater Public Library,” said McCollom. “She has made the library truly ‘public’ with the services offered and does a good job of presenting services to the general population. She has made the library a pleasure to visit. I felt comfortable giving money to the Stillwater Public Library with Lynda in charge, so it will be money well spent.”

For more information about donating to the library trust, visit http://library.stillwater.org/library_trust_board.php or contact Reynolds at lreynolds@stillwater.org or (405) 372-3633 x8101.

Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.