Library leader leaves legacy in Logan
by Chris Cooper Managing Editor
For those who knew Linda Kompanik, director of the Logan County Public Library, you knew the person behind the tough “go getter” exterior she so proudly displayed. You knew the soft, caring and extremely dedicated spirit that worked hard to make things better in her community, and the world around it.
For those of you who only had the opportunity to meet her once or twice, you probably saw a strong, self-motivated, sometimes even pushy persona that wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in, which was education, the importance of reading, and most notably enhancing the future of our youth through both of those beliefs.
Linda passed away Wednesday, Aug. 28th at 58 years old, and with her went a fighter in the backdrop for Logan County. She battled breast cancer for over a year.
“I don’t think any of us realize at this time the effects Linda’s absence will bring to the library and the community as a whole,” said Kind Simpson, acting library director. “I’ve never seen anyone so committed and passionate about their job as Linda was. She not only understood how important our library was, but all libraries.”
After Linda died, I noticed there were some people who didn’t even know she was the director of the library. “Linda who?” they said. I couldn’t believe that, considering the new structure that has been rising out of a field on Armory Drive in Russellville for months now. The new Logan County Library is almost complete. There are expectations the doors will be open before the end of this year. Only the one who fought the hardest for it to be here, won’t be here now to enter through the doorways she so fervently pushed for. I feel quite comfortable in saying that this new state-of-the-art learning center, smack dab in the middle of our community, would not have happened if it were not for the vision of Linda Kompanik.
“I don’t think it can be expressed in words how much the new library meant to her,” said Simpson. “I think you could see it in her hard work. It’s was kind of like asking people how much their kids mean to them. You don’t really know how much until you see how they treat them. That’s how Linda treated this library and plans for a new facility.”
Over the last decade, Linda, in her boisterous way, trudged through funding issues, political pressure and negative attitudes to keep her dream alive of erecting a new library for Logan County. It wasn’t easy, as she was seen by many as being an assertive outsider when she would go to bat with politicians and citizens who saw the new library as a possible drain on the taxpayers. But she never swayed in her beliefs that our community deserved a new library, regardless of opposition, that I’m sure wore her down in private.
Linda set her sights soon after starting at the Logan County Library to build a new library. She felt it was overdue, and with the continued growth of library patrons, it was needed. However, it was not always easy, and funds were hard to come by. She and the board held many fundraising events, applied for grants, and hit the community up for what will be an investment in the future of their children’s children.
“The new building on Armory drive can rightfully be viewed as a memorial to her untiring efforts,” said retired regional librarian and now Logan Library volunteer, Evelyn Richardson. “Those of us who worked with her and knew her closely will forever miss her leadership, her work ethic, and her sincere regard for every person. All of us will benefit from her giving of herself for the betterment of library service in Logan County.”
Linda came to Logan County in 1995. She had worked at Hopkinsville-Christian County Library before, and left there to earn her Masters Degree in Library Science from Western Kentucky University. When the directors position at Logan County’s Library was open, she applied and was hired. With her experience and fresh knowledge she was able to recognize and appreciate the good library that Logan County already had, and to see its potential for being even better, said Richardson.
“Kompanik excepted the opportunity with enthusiasm,” said Richardson.
Richardson said when Linda was hired, the era of automation was at hand and she immediately set things in motion to automate the library. She sought and secured grants for buying additional computers for public and administrative use, and she instituted numerous management practices that brought about a dramatic increase in use of services. One year after her employment, said Richardson, minutes of a library board of trustees meeting included this following statement, “The board commends the inspiring work of Ms. Kompanik in leading the library forward in many areas.”
In the first year Linda was here, she weeded over 10,000 items from the collection. In that same amount of time, total item circulation rose from 132,440 to 146,000, an increase of over 10 percent. The circulation at the end of the current fiscal year was 269,691, nearly double what it was in 1996. Linda and her well-trained staff proved that the library is not on the way out, and that the library will remain a growing organism, with both a web presence featuring online resources and the typical brick-and-mortar facility for programs, gatherings, and item checkout.
Kompanik was not only active locally, but also at the state level. She was active in the Kentucky Library Association serving in numerous leadership roles including, Chair of the Public Library Section and President of the state organization in 2004-2005. She received the Outstanding Public Library Service Award in 1999, and has recently been selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from KLA at its fall conference in Louisville Sept. 12. She learned of this honor before she passed away.
“Linda was one of those people that never wanted accolades for herself. She strived to build the new library for the citizens of Logan County, believing they deserved it. She was never afraid of a challenge, and the library was a huge part of who she was. She treated her employees with respect and from that built relationships that enhanced service. She will be missed a great deal,” said Simpson.
Linda leaves behind one daughter, Tam Dillard of Bowling Green and one grandson Aidan.
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