Kompanik selected as ‘Citizen of the Year’

Chris Cooper Managing Editor

January 3, 2014

It goes without saying that reading has been proven to supply many benefits for all ages. Reading provides information and information provides knowledge.

Logan County has been very fortunate over the years to have a place where books are plentiful and learning in ongoing, a place that is soon to increase in size and opportunity, providing a road that will branch out way beyond the borders of this community.

Although efforts to bring about the dream of a new library in Logan County were plentiful, from the members of its board, to its employees, supporters and those who believed in the project supplying much needed financial support, all will agree the dream itself was driven by one hard working and determined individual, who despite many obstacles, never let anything get in the way of making it a reality.

Because of this individual’s unyielding resolution to assure that every child in Logan County has access to reading in the best possible environment, and because they paved the way for a future of change, the News-Democrat & Leader selects former Logan County Librarian Linda Kompanik as its “Citizen of the Year.”

Although Linda is no longer with us in body, she will be with us in spirit every time the doors swing open at the Logan County Public Library.

Linda passed away Aug. 28, 2013, at 58 years old from a lengthy battle with cancer, but before leaving she created a legacy that will reach way beyond this generation or the many to come. Her impact on not only her community but the communities where young people will find themselves someday, is never ending, simply because she never gave up until her last breath to see that a new library was built.

I have used the words stubborn and abrasive to describe Linda over the years as she literally fought the establishment and public opinion on the need for a new library. I must admit I was always excited to see her stand up in favor of the library at meetings or events. She had a passion that came across every word she spoke. I have also used the words brave and leader to describe her, which are just a few in a long list. Coming from a family who is never afraid to say what they think, I had a applauding respect for Linda and her direct nature.

Most people, the general public, didn’t know Linda. She was the person behind the curtain, the one behind the backdrop, or rather hidden in the pages of the books she loved so much. After she died, there were some who said, “who was she?” Not knowing that she in fact was the driving force behind that beautiful building that now sits on Armory Drive in Russellville that is scheduled to open Feb. 3.

Perhaps it is best said by some of those who worked side by side with Linda and not only called her boss, but called her friend.

“Linda Kompanik was genuinely committed to doing what she could to help provide the very best library service possible for the people of Logan County,” said Evelyn Richardson, former regional librarian and long serving library volunteer. “She respected and appreciated our community’s heritage and had a vision of the library’s place in the county’s continuing progress. We are fortunate to have experienced her leadership and will ever be grateful for her efforts.”

Linda not only cared about her community, she cared about the people who worked with her at the library. In the words of her protege and successor King Simpson, “Linda saw things in people they didn’t see in themselves.”

Carol Ann Faulkner, the Children’s Service Coordinator for the Logan County Library says her first encounter with Linda was her interview for a position at the library. “I can remember thinking, this is not any ordinary interview, and perhaps, not any ordinary job. I was right on both counts,” said Faulkner.

Faulkner went on to say that Linda valued the opinions of her colleagues and her staff. She felt that it was important to provide the staff with time to discuss the problems that arose and to suggest solutions. Linda’s finest gift, said Faulkner, was seeing in others, what they could not see in themselves, and empowering them to achieve.

“Linda was a wonderful leader and encouraged all those around her to do the same. She managed the library with such care, always taking into account how changes would affect our patrons and the community as a whole,” Faulkner said. “Linda knew it would be an uphill battle to make the new facility a reality, but she never backed down from the challenge. She work diligently for many years for the new library we will all benefit from.”

Linda’s daughter Tam Dillard says her mother wanted a new library for the people of Logan County and not herself. Before she got sick, it was her plan to retire after the library was complete.

“My mom taught me the importance of reading. It seems I always had a book in my hand growing up and even now. Mom had a love for reading and words that she wanted to share with everyone. Her desire for a new library for Logan County had been ongoing for years. She wanted so much for everyone to have an opportunity to have the best library possible,” said Dillard.

When Kompanik’s illness landed her in the hospital, she worked from her bedside conveying to her staff and friends what needed to be done on the new facility to get it finished. Her daughter said even when she got worse and went to Hospice, while she could, she still worked.

“When it became to hard for her to work, she would continue to talk about the new library,” said Dillard, adding that her mom was fierce in life and in death and that the people of Logan County meant the world to her, and that is why she fought till the end to help build a new library for them.

Dillard said she admits she was angry at first when her mom died and didn’t get to see what she fought so hard to accomplish. She knew it was happening, but wasn’t able to see the doors open. However, Dillard now knows that her mother’s dream did not pass with her, but in fact became part of her still here on earth for all to share, and that the enjoyment the new library will bring is beyond the words Linda loved so much, or could have ever expressed.