Kingwood Public Library celebrates 50th anniversary

KINGWOOD — For 50 years, the Kingwood Public Library has been serving Preston County in its present location.

According to the West Virginia Library Commission, Kingwood’s first public library was formed in 1941 by local women’s organizations. Originally, the library was housed in two former county jail sites. It moved in 1968 to the current library building.

Head librarian Joel Beane said prior to 1968, the library was moved several times. In 1872, a jail and sheriff’s residence were built where the library now stands. In 1925, the jail was moved to its current location and the library opened in 1941, in the old jail building. It was only there for seven years before it was moved to the top floor of the present jail building. The old jail was torn down so the current library could be built. The Kingwood Public Library opened its doors to the public Sept. 3, 1968.

Five years after the library was constructed, Beane and Senior Library Assistant Maxine Stalnaker were hired.

Beane said he was living in Kentucky when he heard there was a job opening at a library in Kingwood.

“I don’t drive, so when I moved here, it was by truck, bus and taxi,” he said. “My friend took me and my belongings by truck to the bus station, the bus took me and my belongings to Morgantown and a taxi brought me to Kingwood.”

Stalnaker previously said she enjoys working at the library. She said she likes the interaction she has with the staff and the public. “I especially enjoy working with the children,” she said.

Author Thomas H. Williams was one of the authors who was on hand to help with the celebration. Williams is the author of four novels that take place in West Virginia and is working on his fifth.

Melissa Forshey, of Kingwood, said she read all of Williams’ novels.

“I like to read, especially books set in the Civil War and West Virginia,” she said. “I have books that I read more than once. I have all four of his books, and I am going to reread them.”

Williams recently shared his knowledge and writing at the Preston County Music and Arts Show in Kingwood. He read from one of his novels and provided information about creative writing. He said as a writer, he composes his novels in his head while driving.

Beane said he has watched the library change from books, magazines and microfilm to computers, internet and free wireless. He said as of July 1, the library has 30,000 books on its shelves, 300 audio discs and 1,500 videos available to the public.

  • Kingwood Public Library hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday, noon-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

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