Gepner still face of library 22 years later
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Walk into the Mount Ayr Public Library and you are destined to meet longtime librarian Mary Kathryn Gepner.
Mary Kathryn grew up in Benton and graduated from Mount Ayr Community High School. After graduation, Mary Kathryn went on to teach history and government at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs where she retired after 36 years.
Inheriting the family property in Benton, Gepner, along with her husband and son, moved back to Benton.
She filled her time substitute teaching at Mount Ayr Community Schools before seeing a help wanted sign posted at the public library.
“I should have read it a little better because it was for head librarian,” said Gepner. “The board took a chance on me and I am so glad they did.”
Gepner took over for librarian Nancy Roe on July 1, 2001.
The Mount Ayr Public Library is over 100 years old, built in 1917 and houses over 18,000 volumes.
The library is a Carnegie Library and includes books for all ages.
“One thing I am proud of is our collection of large print books,” said Gepner. “It isn’t just for people with poor eyesight, but those who stare at computer screens all day or just want something easier for their eyes.”
For the past 22 years, Gepner has seen many changes in how libraries operate as technology has improved.
The largest change Gepner believes she has seen has been the introduction of e-books.
“The biggest change is readers wanting e-books,” said Gepner. “We belong to a program where they can checkout e-books for free as patrons of the Mount Ayr library.”
The program, however, costs $500-$600 dollars a year, which recently, has been paid for by memorial money given to the library.
“We’ve had at least two memorial donations for the e-books,” said Gepner. “It helps offset the costs.”
The library offers more than just books, though, providing magazines, the Mount Ayr Record-News, DVDs and CDs.
Those with Wi-Fi needs can also head to the library for free access to the internet and computers.
Gepner oversees programs through the library, the largest being the Summer Reading program that helps students get interested in reading.
The Science Center of Iowa also comes to Mount Ayr where students can learn about science, along with the Insect Zoo out of Iowa State University and the Blank Park Zoo has also held programs at the Mount Ayr Public Library.
Gepner has also gone to Maple Ridge and Clearview Estates for over 15 years, providing reading opportunities for those in our care facilities.
Even after more than 20 years, Gepner continues to enjoy working at the library and meeting everyone that walks through the door and doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.