By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
MOUNT STERLING, Ill. -- As marketing/events librarian, David Kurfman spends most of his time talking about the Brown County Public Library and what it offers to the community.
Now he's hoping a silent approach will do just as much to promote the library and raise money for its future.
The library is holding a silent auction fundraiser Wednesday through Saturday withpieces of its past up for sale. One highlight will be framed prints discovered in the library's storage closet.
"We went to clean it out this year for the annual book sale, and we found prints in the back against the wall where you couldn't even see them," Kurfman said. "It turned out to be 21 of them in old-fashioned oak frames."
The prints include well-known works by Monet, Rembrandt and Renoir.
"The library used to loan these out just like they did books. They all had cards on them, with dates back to the early 1970s," Kurfman said. "People would check them out, put them in their homes and have a dinner party, a cocktail party."
The auction also will feature several books focused on individual artists with 15-20 prints suitable for framing and collector's item books well over a century old.
"There's a lot of classics, Charles Dickens to Faust, and some early versions of Zane Grey novels," Kurfman said.
Most of the books belonged to the library and were checked out over the years; others, including a children's book from 1915, were donated to the library.
Nearly 50 record albums, including a special edition Elvis recording, and a record player also will be for sale.
The silent auction builds on the library's annual book sales, held each April and October, and other fundraisers including a joint effort this fall with the Quincy Public Library tied to the Big Read.
"A lot of these fundraisers we're doing will help out with the basic needs of the library, just to keep operating costs down," Kurfman said. "We want to improve some things, get new computers, new software and make it more modern."
They're also raising money with hopes of building a new library.
"We have been in this building since 1964. We're outgrowing the space. In that time frame, we went from a city library to a district library, tripling our population served," librarian Sharon Hillyer said. "We're looking at any and all grants possible that would help us with constructing a new library."
Most grants will require local matching funds, which leads to fundraising, but throughout its history, "our community has been very supportive of the library," Hillyer said.
The library, with a branch in Versailles, has a little more than 3,000 cardholders and a service population of 6,900.
Efforts to launch the library began in 1915 when the 20th Century Club organized for the study of literature and art. Club membership supported the library until the first city tax dollars were available in 1916. The library opened in the Fenn Store at 108 Capitol, then moved to the Cecilia Dessert Room on West Main, the back room of City Hall and to the Hagel Building, its current home next to City Hall.
"There's a lot of things we'd like to do and make it more appealing to the public. That all comes with being able to have a new library," Kurfman said. "The library is so beneficial to the community. It boggles my mind why more people don't come and just utilize it."
The Brown County Public Library will hold a silent auction this week. Hours are 9 a.m-5 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. The auction will feature books, framed prints, record players and record albums. Minimum bids will be set for each item. Refreshments will be served. More information is available by calling the library at 773-2013.