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Ligonier Library honors volunteers' work

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Peter Turcik | For the Ligonier Echo
Ligonier Library volunteer Ray Kinsey (right) receives the new award named in his honor at the library's volunteer recognition luncheon. From left are library volunteer and former board member Ralph Bennett, PA Room Archivist Shirley Iscrupe, PA Room Clerk Barbara Banales and Kinsey. This photo was taken by Peter Turcik on July 15, 2013 at the Ligonier Library

Last week, the Ligonier Library recognized the accomplishments of volunteers who donate their time to help the library run smoothly. Director Janet Hudson said the library has a group of volunteers numbering close to 80, some travel from as far away as Greensburg.

“We couldn't do all the things we do and offer all the services we do to the public if we didn't have this group,” Hudson stated. “We couldn't have the book sale every year without the volunteers. The Pennsylvania Room, we have so many rare items over there we can't open it up to the public if we don't have someone there. The library is open 64 hours a week, so we don't have staff to cover the PA Room every hour.”

Among the different sections of the library are Re-readables, book sales, novel art, the children's library and the Pennsylvania Room. Staff members said organizing and running each section would be a far taller chore without the help of these volunteers. Hudson noted that the book sale brings in $15,000-$18,000 a year to the library to purchase new books and keep other programs running.

Many also said that the Pennsylvania Room would not be what it is today without the volunteers who work there.

“A lot of the volunteers are very knowledgeable about history — they're not just babysitters,” Hudson explained. “They have learned genealogy, they have learned history and they can help people find things.”

“Volunteers, they're the bloodline of America. Anyone who can, should,” commented Peggy McDonald, president of the library's board of directors. “I was so happy to be able to retire so I could do things like this. You can't volunteer for a greater bunch of people. This is really a family.”

In a special presentation, volunteer and former board member Ralph Bennett announced a new award, the Ray Kinsey Award in Recognition of Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award is a large glass bowl and was named in honor of the longtime volunteer, who received a smaller bowl with a similar engraving.

Bennett described Kinsey as a horticulturalist, bicyclist, historian, artist, raconteur, flower arranger, sheep farmer, archivist, archeologist, scarecrow decorator, debater and devoted volunteer in the great task of preserving our heritage.

“The soul of a town resides in its people. But the history of a town resides in particular people. Individuals whose personalities and interests and memories make them natural archivists; natural conservatories for that history. We are doubly blessed that (Kinsey) is a highly educated man in the best and truest sense of that phrase,” Bennett said. “Awe has become an almost ruined word in our vocabulary because of overuse. And the host of things young people routinely describe as awesome is long and tiresome, and rarely lives up to the word. But I, who have dealt in words all my life, can say with absolute precision of meaning, that I have been in awe of this man since I came back to this valley I love. He is one of the cleverest, kindest and most knowledgeable men I know.”

Kinsey admitted he was very surprised to receive and have the award named after him.

“I don't know what to say,” Kinsey said. “I never expected anything like this. I thank you all very much and all I can say I wish we could get more people interested in local history. That's what we're all working for.”

According to PA Room archivist Shirley Iscrupe, Kinsey has volunteered at the library since 2002 and since then has contributed countless times to the library, especially in the form of artifacts for exhibits in the Pennsylvania Room.

“We could not do what we do in the Pennsylvania Room without Ray's assistance, without his creativity and his imagination to present Ligonier's history to whoever has the brains to come in and see it.”

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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