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Growth and Expansion

One library was never enough, and as KCPL outgrew each of its locations in Charleston, communities around the county rallied to have local branches built.

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Although KCPL started its life as the Charleston Public Library, services quickly expanded around the county, first with the Bookmobile in the 1930s, then with St. Albans, the first branch, in the 1960s. Since then, branch libraries have grown and expanded, with much more planned for the future. These fellows are breaking ground for the Cross Lanes Library in 1975.

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The St. Albans Library was opened in 1952 and run by volunteers. In December of 1963, it became the first official branch of the Kanawha County Library System outside of Charleston.

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First Lady Ladybird Johnson dedicates the new St. Albans Library building.

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A second floor was added in 1971.

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Like St. Albans, the Dunbar library started as a small city library but the needs of the community soon outgrew the small operation. In 1976, Dunbar was expanded and added to the KCPL system.

Instant Libraries

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In the 1970s, the WV Library Commission, led by Fred Glazer, made great strides in making library service accessible to all areas of the state with his Instant Library Program.

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These were inexpensive 1200 square foot buildings that, once assembled, just needed a few books on the shelves and voila - instant library!

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Instant Libraries were built in Cross Lanes in 1976…

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And in Sissonville in 1980.

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These have since been replaced with larger buildings. The new Cross Lanes Library opened in January of 1999. Now the Board of Education uses the instant library building for offices and meeting space.

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In April of 2000, ground was broken on the new Sissonville library site.

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Carney Tinney was instrumental in getting both the Sissonville instant library and the new library that opened in 2001. Here he is at the ribbon cutting with Board President Dr. Kenneth Bailey and Library Director Linda Wright.

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In January 2001, the Sissonville branch opened.

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As the population of Big Chimney grew in the 1960s and 70s, residents, led by businessman Jim Smith, worked to renovate the Big Chimney Baptist Church for a branch library.

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The Elk Valley branch opened on July 6, 1977.

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Before the 1970s, Clendenin residents were served by a private organization, the New American Heritage Library. Gradually, Clendenin entered the KCPL fold, becoming an official branch on July 25, 1988.

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In March of 1997, over two feet of water flooded the entire Clendenin Library. Almost a half inch of mud covered everything, and about one-third of the collection was lost.

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Repairs and clean-up took about six weeks…

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But with help from the Clendenin Board, KCPL staff, and the community…

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The Clendenin Library re-opened during National Library Week in April of that year.

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The City of Glasgow saved some room in its new town hall for a branch library, which opened on August 5, 1976. This was the first branch in the eastern part of the county.

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Small but mighty, the Marmet branch opened on April 3, 1980. This well-loved branch is looking for a major facelift in upcoming construction projects.

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When East Bank and DuPont High Schools were consolidated into Riverside High School, the Board of Education encouraged including a full-service branch library in the building. The Riverside Branch was open to all members of the community on December 5, 1995.

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Bookmobile service has been running since 1934. The great service hasn't changed, but the "bus" sure has...

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In 1953, the library acquired a new bookmobile - and patrons couldn't wait to get inside!

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You can't miss the third bookmobile, which was painted bright pink as the result of a design contest.

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In 1990, the newest bookmobile was put into service. This bookmobile is still in use today - although without quite so many balloons.

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As always, patrons of all ages love browsing the shelves.

Outside the Library

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The four walls of the library (or the four wheels of the bookmobile) can't contain all of our services, and there are a few events around town hosted by the library.

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The Book Sale started over 30 years ago. Used books were sold first at the library during Regatta, then in later years, in the parlors at the Civic Center. Future staff member Susan Murphy (who doesn't get enough books at work!) takes a look through some old mysteries in 1985.

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Now the Book Sale is part of the West Virginia Book Festival, and takes up a lot more space. Every October, people look forward to the bargains.

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The West Virginia Book Festival was started in 2001 as a partnership with the Library Foundation, KCPL, the West Virginia Humanities Council, and Charleston Newspapers. Each October, authors and book lovers converge on the Civic Center for two days of literary fun for the whole family.

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