Library spotlight: Art and special collections

Published 6:56 am Thursday, November 15, 2018


News release

The Boyle County Public Library will be celebrating its 125th Anniversary at the end of December this year. As a lead up to the big event, we’ll be highlighting different areas of the library the public might not know about. This week we’ll look at the artwork in the library.

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Part of the library’s mission is to contribute to local cultural life. Providing access to a collection of art and historical items directly supports that mission. Located on the main floor of the library is the Mahan Gallery, which features the artwork of local artists throughout the year. Most exhibits remain on display for 4-6 weeks.

Photos contributed
“Untitled IV” by Rudy Ayoroa is an oil painting, a gift from J.W. “Bill” Kemper to the library.

While the gallery exhibits often receive the most attention, the library also has 352 items in its art and special collections. Items include paintings, sculptures, drawings, quilts, rare books, objects and furniture. These items are typically on loan or donated to the library by patrons.

The library’s permanent collection is focused on area artists. The collection includes work from numerous artists active in the local arts scene, as well as pieces from those no longer with us, such as Irina Ilina, Jack Kellam and A. Jack May. “Art is considered a primary source of documentation, as it reflects the time period the artist was working in,” says Mary Girard, assistant reference librarian.

Much of the artwork has been acquired through the gracious donations of the local community. “We are really fortunate to be supported by the area and our community,” says Girard. “And they have given us all of these things throughout the span of the library’s existence.”

In 2009, a felt collage by Nancy Martindale, “Counting Pennies,” was donated by the Friends of the Library. Added to the collection this year is Dr. Mack Jackson’s ceramic sculpture Medusa, donated by Wilma Brown.

Perhaps the most recognizable piece in the library is “Time Zippy,” created by local glass artist Stephen Rolfe Powell. Housed in the library rotunda, this one-ton sculpture is made up of colorful blown glass balls. Located in the Children’s Library is the fanciful “Map of Adventures for Boys and Girls” by Paul M. Paine.

In addition to the displayed artwork, the library also has special collections. Items in this collection are donated objects considered to be too delicate or unique to be in regular collections. They include items like books from early 1800s, the cane of James R. Carrigan (architect of the Boyle County Courthouse), family bibles, photographs and the lap desk of Chief Justice John A. Boyle.

Anyone interested in looking at the special collections can ask the reference librarians. Most of the library’s permanent collection can be found on the levels three (main level), four and five. Patrons are encouraged to spend time exploring the library and discovering these gems that enrich this public space.