Kent Library has Successful Anniversary and Big Plans for the Future

Kent Library recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In honor of this important establishment’s birthday a party was held, and a series of stain glass windows that had for almost a decade been kept in storage, were brought to life and installed on the third floor for everyone to see.

Mary Christy and Roxanne DunnWhat started out as a school assignment became the key feature of the library’s anniversary. Mary Christy, a student and library employee, wrote a mock-up grant for her Advanced Publishing class, asking for money to reinstall the windows. Mary said she remembered when the windows were still on display when she first started working for the library. In 2005-2006 when they made additions to the computer lab, the windows were removed and put into storage.  Christy felt they should be out for everyone to see, and decided to use her skills from class to make that happen. She said that Susan Swartwout, her professor, was her inspiration, and helped get the proposal up to par. Roxanne Dunn, who runs the Rare and Collectible Book Room at the library, came in on the project as well.

The Missouri Humanities Council fulfilled the request. It cost $15,000 to have the windows installed. They are mounted between protective glass walls, and organized by the category they represent. Commissioned in 1939 by Sadi Kent, the windows have important historical value for the community. Built by G. Owen Bonawit, the art on the windows reflect a brief history of Missouri, printers marks, and a Mark Twain theme, featuring characters and symbols from his novels.

Dunn and Christy cleaned the windows themselves, and hope that someday a new grant will help them give the windows a proper refurbishing. Christy said, “Physical change is good, it gives a sense that things are actually happening.”

The women held a well-earned celebration for the stained glass, putting on an anniversary gala that they hope will become an annual event. Appropriately, 75 people were in attendance, with live music from student violinists, and informative speeches provided by Dr. Bierk, Dr. Hamlin, and Dr. Nickell. A unique cake was created for the party: Fancy That Cake of Jackson, MO built a 3D pastry of the library, complete with actual lights for the windows.

Kent Library welcomes everyone to come in to use the facilities and look at the windows. The Library isn’t just for students; the public is always welcome. They provide government documents for the whole state, and host the Athenaeum Series which includes speakers and musicians. Christy and Dunn agreed, “The bigger and better the library, the bigger and better the community.” They hope to provide even more public outreach in the coming years, with speakers and annual events.

Stained glass windows at Kent Library.

Christy and Dunn are starting a campaign to provide sponsorship for the windows, in which representatives can have their names and a plaque installed on their favorite window. They encourage any interested parties to inquire. They also wish to thank The Missouri Humanities Council, and all those that attended the Gala. They hope to continue to do more to bring the library to its full potential.

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