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Libraries are ‘linchpins’ of community

With the library right across the street from the grocery store in Owensboro, Jo Lynn Baker recalls a convenient situation for her family.

“The A&P was just across the street and my mom would pull up to the corner and drop me off,” Baker said. While her mom was shopping, Baker was steadfastly deciding which five books she wanted to take home.

Five was the limit, Baker said, and she had to make the most of it. Her mom would meet her there once the groceries were purchased and ensure the books were checked out.

“There was a wonderful librarian there — she was so kind,” Baker recalls, as was the bookmobile driver. “She would pull up at the end of the driveway and I would have all the time I needed.”

Those relationships foster lifelong library users, like Baker, who makes full use of her Louisville Free Public Library card and is a passionate advocate encouraging others to take advantage of this community resource.

Baker utilizes the LFPL’s book request system to ensure a steady stream of reading material. “I’m usually reading eight or nine books at one time,” she said. “One might be fiction, another work-related, one about gardening, one so I can learn something new …”

She loads some books onto her tablet for portability, but still loves the tactile feel of a printed book. Baker also utilizes downloadable audio books for traveling and while on the treadmill.

Baker also enjoys the Craig Buthod Author Series, and recalls a favorite time several years ago when neuroscientist David Eagleman spoke about his book “Incognito.”

“We were gathered in the lobby area, with chairs packed in and still another 150 people standing around,” she said. “And the crowd had people in their 80s all the way to kids who were 11.”

It was a perfect example of what the library should be, Baker said.

“The library is the linchpin of an engaged, thriving community,” she said. “It should be a happening place where people want to go.”

For Baker — who served on the Friends of the Louisville Free Public Library Council for six years — the library has been a consistent presence in her life.

“When I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, I could find a carrel back in the stacks and be undisturbed for hours,” she said.

A Speech-Language Pathologist in private practice, Baker knew by the time she finished graduate school that the library would always be part of her life.

So, she put it in her will.

More than half of Americans admit to not having estate plans in place — leading to confusion and conflict during an already stressful time for the family.

Baker said it’s impossible to know what might happen, and with no heirs, she wanted to ensure her estate was handled the way she desired. When she met with her professional advisors, she ensured the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation was a beneficiary.

“My heart is, and always has been, with the Library, so there was a never a question for me that the Foundation would factor critically in my estate planning,” Baker said. And, she chose to make her gift with no restrictions, allowing LFPL to use the money for an area of need that may well be different that current needs.

As a Library Foundation Legacy Partner, Baker ensures the Foundation will be able to support LFPL in the future. Her gift will have a lasting impact on the Louisville Free Public Library and will allow the library to have the impact on future generations that it had on her.

For her birthday this year, Baker’s mother gave her a plaque inscribed with a quote she said sums up her feelings perfectly:

“If one has a library and a garden, then one has everything one needs.”

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