Former Stillwater teacher inspires donations that benefit Payne county readers

Julia Koerner reading with Reid Wohnhas

Story and photo provided by the Stillwater Public Library

Stillwater Public Library has received a donation of 24 book club kits through a memorial from friends and family of Julia Koerner, who died July 22, 2018.

Koerner was an inaugural member of the library’s first book club, Second Friday, which started in the summer of 2006.  According to her daughters, Karen Dean and Pat Alexander, Koerner was an avid reader both in and outside of the club.

“My mother kept a list of all of the books she read after retiring,” said Dean. “I was amazed at the variety of titles and authors listed. She read fiction and non-fiction and enjoyed most every genre, except science fiction.”

Because of her devotion to reading and to her book club, Koerner’s daughters decided the kits would be the perfect way to honor their mother. Donations from Dean and Alexander, as well as many of her friends, enabled the library to purchase enough kits to provide a book club with two years of material. Each kit includes 10 copies of the books and will be available to borrow by book clubs throughout Payne County.

The titles purchased on her behalf reflect Koerner’s diverse taste and include nonfiction and historical, literary and young adult fiction with topics meant to encourage lively discussions.

“I know Julia would have loved this memorial,” said Stacy Delano, librarian and Second Friday book club member. “She was a strong woman who used her life experience to provide insight into the books we read and never hesitated to share her opinion. She was an integral part of our book club and was one of the reasons our club has been so great.”

The second Friday book club, in which Koerner was a member, is a diverse group in age, gender and backgrounds illustrative of how the library serves all members of the community. The club has been meeting monthly for over 12 years and has read 149 books.

Founding member Les Imboden, remembered Koerner as an asset to the club.

“She had a kind of up-front approach that lends itself to lively discussion of a book,” Imboden said.

Other members of Koerner’s club echoed this sentiment and agreed Koerner is deeply missed, not just for her discussion skills, but also for her friendliness.

“Julia was a very caring, wonderful woman who helped others,” said Hazel Griffin, longtime book club member and friend. “She was also a great travel companion.”

Koerner enjoyed travelling and often visited the library before a trip to select books on her destination. Because of that interest, National Geographic’s “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips” was also purchased in her honor.

Koerner’s love of reading was apparent throughout her career as a reading specialist with the Stillwater Public School system, where she helped hundreds of students with their reading skills. She also instilled a love of reading in her daughters by regularly visiting the library.

According to her daughters, Koerner professed to have never paid a late fee in all her years of using the library.

“She taught us to care for the books properly and to return them on time,” said Dean. “She also taught us that one of the greatest uses of our tax dollars is to build libraries. Every person is welcome and the same wonderful opportunities exist to all.”

Book clubs are one of those many opportunities.

“Book clubs help introduce readers to books they might not otherwise read,” said Melody Kellogg, library director. “Through reflection and discussion, book clubs give readers a deeper meaning to what they read. Most of all, book clubs bring people together to celebrate reading.”

Book clubs interested in checking out a kit may contact the library Help Desk to register as a borrowing club. The library’s book club collection contains nearly 300 titles, which can be viewed online at The new kit titles can be seen on the library’s news page at

For more information about library book club services or to reserve a kit, email or call 405-372-3633 x 8106.