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Facility opened in 1986; building replaced in 2005



GAZETTE PHOTO: RAY PITZ - LaVerne (Will) Kossler stands among the stacks in the new Sherwood Public Library. Kossler was instrumental in securing the library's first dedicated library, which opened in 1986.Although it’s been almost 30 years since its construction and first use, LaVerne (Will) Kossler will long be known as the person who brought the community together to ensure Sherwood had its first dedicated library building.

During a recent visit to the Sherwood Public Library, Kossler, now 87, reflected on her years helping ensure that Sherwood’s young people would become lifelong readers by reading to them and providing special library privileges.

Beginning her full-time career at the Sherwood Public Library in 1974, Kossler ended up contributing so much to the Sherwood library system over the years that the city declared April 23, 1982, “LaVerne Will Day.”

Kossler was a self-made librarian, teaching herself the job while working at Lakeside School in Lakeside. There, she read up on library science and learned through trial and error how to set up her first library, according to newspaper accounts at the time.

She would later work at Farmington View Elementary School in Beaverton before becoming a library aide at Sherwood High School. It was while working at the high school that then-Sherwood Mayor Bill Hartford asked her to help organize the city’s library as a library aide before working herself up into the role of head librarian.

At the time, the library was located in the basement of Sherwood City Hall, inside the historic Morback House, a building that now houses the Sherwood Historical Society.

The library had only 800 square feet of space to operate in at a time when the American Library Association had recommended that all libraries have at least 2,500 square feet of space, according to a 1981 story in the Valley Observer newspaper.

It was a cramped space with books scattered everywhere.

“And people brought me books,” recalled Kossler. “Pretty soon they campaigned to build a new library.”

The campaign couldn’t have come too soon since the basement of the Morback House was prone to frequent flooding.

In addition, Kossler’s challenge at the time proved even more daunting considering that her annual budget as an aide was a mere $250. The library in 1974 had only 5,000 books, an amount she would soon double.

While working in the basement of the Morback House, Kossler recalled she once helped nurture a plant that was growing just outside the building. She watched it thrive until the day the police chief at the time, Stan Stanislowski, admonished her.

“LaVerne, this is a marijuana plant! You can’t have marijuana plants growing on city property.”

Kossler chuckled at the story.

“I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

GAZETTE PHOTO: RAY PITZ - LaVerne (Will) Kossler thumbs through some of the newspapers highlighting her past as the Sherwood Public Library's head librarian.Meanwhile, during her tenure at the library, Kossler made sure that the Sherwood library was one of the first in the county to have a computer the public could use. She also created the library’s “listening center,” which provided a unique high-tech science fiction experience for children. The “Star Trek”-like center was relatively simple — a room made up of black curtains where children could “command an imaginary space capsule by switching on various lights and sounds,” according to a newspaper account.

Kossler said its creation was the result of work by her daughter Judith Ackaret who helped design the center, along with Norman Tollefson, who donated time and materials. IBM and Tektronix donated lights and switches, and NASA even pitched in by sending photos of the moon’s surface.

The center provided more than entertainment for young people, Kossler said.

“It made them readers...because they had to read 10 books to use the listening center,” she recalled. “It was all fun, and they enjoyed it.”

As the city prepared to build a new library, the location temporarily changed when all its resources were moved for a short time in 1982 from the Morback House to a building at Main and Railroad streets.

Finally, on Feb. 2, 1986, the new 3,500-square-foot building on Sherwood Boulevard (next to the Sherwood Senior Center) was opened.

Ackaret said her mother would never personally take credit for creating the library, preferring to say, “I didn’t build the library, I brought the community together.”

The Sherwood Boulevard location served city residents for almost two decades until the city opened its current 14,000-square-foot building in 2005.

While employed as the top librarian, Kossler also pursued the college degree that had evaded her up to that point because she was so busy with other activities.

“Mom went back to college when she was 55 and got a degree,” said Kossler’s other daughter, Deborah Menenberg. Kossler graduated from Marylhurst College where she received extensive credits for her life experience. Kossler said among the things she’s most proud of during her time as Sherwood’s librarian was gathering students together to entertain them, read to them and do her best to make readers out of them.

COURTESY OF SHERWOOD PUBLIC LIBRARY - LaVerne (Will) Kossler, who first began working at the Sherwood Public Library 40 years ago, poses with current library manager Adrienne Doman Calkins during a recent visit by Kossler. Kossler once worked in the library that was once housed in the old Murdock House.Menenberg said what has always impressed her about her mother is her incredible wit, a wit that’s still evident.

But it’s more than that as well.

Menenberg said her mother had to raise a profoundly handicapped daughter, Donna, who has Down Syndrome, and whom they all visit frequently.

“She knows me,” Kossler said. “She’s the love of my life.

Long since retired from the library, Kossler still paints landscapes with oil colors, a skill she taught herself.

She also reads extensively.

“I’m very independent,” she said. “I just like people.”

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