BLANCHARD — In 1972, the world was a different place.
A gallon of gasoline cost 36 cents. A dozen eggs cost 45 cents; a loaf of bread was a quarter; and it had been just three years since the first moon landing. The Internet and common use of computers of any sort were still years away.
Library service was different, but free, as it is today.
And in November of that year, the Pioneer Multi-County Library System hired Blanchard resident Jane Kimbrough to be the manager of its small library.
More than 40 years and multiple moves of the library building later, Kimbrough has seen Blanchard through the town’s growth from 1,580 people (1970 census) and a library of about 3,600 books to a state-of-the-art facility serving the town’s nearly 8,000 residents and beyond with about 25,000 items and all the features of a new age of library service.
“Back then, we used to know everyone in town,” Kimbrough remembers. “We used to close down for funerals because everyone was going to be there.”
The library will honor Kimbrough, 72, for her years of service at a retirement reception from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Jane Kimbrough Community Room of the library, 205 NE 10 St.
Kimbrough said a school librarian talked her into applying all those years ago.
“I got lucky. It was between me and another lady, and she was gonna have to have surgery and wasn’t going to be able to do all the lifting, so they chose me. I was young and strong back then,” Kimbrough said.
“So I guess I was second choice. Guess it worked out for me.”
Lori Maederer has been with the Blanchard staff 12 years. She remembers going to the library as a child after a move to Newcastle from Phoenix and being welcomed by Kimbrough.
“You got the feeling from those first visits then that you were being welcomed as a family member, and that never changed,” Maederer said.
Although that attitude didn’t change, the scope of the library, and even its location, did. In its first 10 years, the library was housed in the Rich Appliance Store. In 1971, it moved to the old city hall building, where Kimbrough first worked.
Future moves took it to two storefront locations on Main Street, south of U.S. 62, then to the former United Methodist Church just north of the highway leading into town from the east.
For more than a decade, Kimbrough worked with city council members and town leaders, pushing the need for a new library as demand increased in the growing community.
That ultimately led to reality, with the council approving the site at 205 NE 10 St. The new library opened in May 2010.
Kay Lowry, who has worked with Kimbrough since 1982, describes her as “one of the most genuine people you could ever meet.”
Christian Potts is the public information officer for the Pioneer Library System.