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    This originally appeared in the 2019 Best of Louisville issue of Louisville Magazine.

    By Keith Runyon

    In 1958, when I was in third grade at the old Greathouse School, my mother joined a committee of parents who wanted to raise money to build a library branch in St. Matthews, which was rapidly growing to become one of the largest suburbs in Jefferson County. The Eline Memorial Library opened the next year, behind St. Matthews United Methodist Church. The interior — an airy Mid-Century Modern structure with high ceilings, plenty of natural light and appealing maple furniture and shelves — had the sparkle of a new decade. It was also a tribute to the Greatest Generation, our parents, who wanted this kind of modern temple of learning for their baby boom kids. In time, the library outgrew itself.

    Greathouse School merged with Gideon Shyrock Elementary in 1976, and the city of St. Matthews turned my old school into St. Matthews City Hall, converting my third grade classroom and part of the cafeteria into a spacious new Eline branch. And so it remained until last year, when combined efforts of the cities of Louisville and St. Matthews resulted in the May opening of a handsome new wing for the library. (Right as Metro Louisville’s financial constraints threatened branch closings and shortened hours.) The developers made a parking lot of the field where my classmates and I played kickball and “steal the bacon” 60 years ago.

    The new library is just as modern for the 21st century as the 1960 model was for the 20th. Of course it has all sorts of technology we never imagined back then. But you can still find me settling in with a good book, maybe in a study carrel, allowing my mind to grow. I get the same thrill as I did back when my mother and grandfather, not book readers they, made sure that I would become one.

    This originally appeared in the 2019 Best of Louisville issue of Louisville Magazine. Read more.

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