Member Ann Cassar, who was a classmate of John Updike’s, informs us that she’s wanting to honor him by acquiring copies of his books for the local library—the Rachel Kohl Community Library, 687 Smithbridge Rd., Glenn Mills, PA 19342. To that end, she’s hoping that Society members who have extra copies will donate them. “He would appreciate this institution, which was founded by a local lady, Rachel Kohl, who was not library-trained nor had experience in obtaining grants, but had a zeal for libraries,” Cassar writes. “She managed to sweet-talk state legislatures, local businesses, and citizens into whatever she needed. You couldn’t say no to Rachel. The library started in a spare closet of the elementary school, moved to a classroom (at which point I became involved), then moved to three trailers donated by the electric company (you had to keep buckets handy for rainy days). Presently, the library is a modern, bright facility, part of the township building, and serves more than 6000 patrons.”
The library’s current collection contains only three Updike books, Ann says, “and they are on a bottom shelf so that you have to lie on your stomach to see what’s there. We have a nice glass-enclosed display case available for featuring various subjects, such as books on tea (teacup collection), mushroom recipes (mushroom figure collection), quilts. I visualize John’s picture and perhaps some mementos, along with some of the books, in a future display.”
So, John Updike Society members, here’s your first outreach opportunity. Please send new or used books in fine condition to Ann Cassar, whose address is listed in the comments section of this post. If members use the comments feature of this website to let others know what book(s) they’re sending, perhaps we can avoid duplication. Non-members are also welcome to participate.
UPDATE: Ann reports that the library has more books than were displayed on the shelf. They currently have (in alphabetical order, with edition year in parentheses): A Child’s Calender (1999), Couples (1968), The Early Stories, 1953-1975 (2003), Gertrude and Claudius (2000), Odd Jobs (1991), Rabbit, Run (1996), Seek My Face (2002), The John Updike Audio Collection (2003), Still Looking: Essays on American Art (2005), Terrorist (2006), Villages (2004), and The Witches of Eastwick (1984).