Books and Nooks at the Kalex Library

You could say Kendal at Lexington is full of worms—book worms, that is.  And thanks to the library committee, these avid readers can typically find a favorite title any time they want right in their own home.

With approximately 7,500 books tucked into the Tutwiler Library and various “satellite” mini libraries, Kendal at Lexington community residents have 24/7 access to everything from biographies to history to mysteries.

According to Ruth Tafel, outgoing chair of the library committee, this large collection of books, music, DVDs and periodicals is one of the most popular aspects of living at Kendal.

“It clinched it for me, when I walked in the main entrance and saw this beautiful library,” said Ruth.  She’s not alone—other residents have agreed that the Tutwiler Library was one of the most attractive extras of living at Kendal.  Built-in shelves that flank the reception desk in the main building hold the main part of the collection.  Other satellite libraries can be found in the Wellness Center, the Cox Building, the South Building, and Sunnyside House. 

The Kendal collection functions like a typical public library except residents check out and return books on an honor system.

Once a year the members of the committee produce an updated print catalog of the library’s holdings; housed in three binders in Tutwiler, this catalog is searchable by author, title, and genre.

The fifteen-member committee inventories books once a year.  Each member is responsible for tracking and inspecting books in their genre.  Books that are worn, damaged, or no longer popular are removed from the collection.  But that doesn’t mean the holding is dwindling.

library committee

A Constantly Evolving Collection

Most incoming titles are donated by the residents.  New residents who are downsizing often make significant donations.  The committee reviews all items to choose those that will appeal to the residents’ interests.  Even with the satellites, the library is limited by shelf space so not every title can be accepted.

There’s always a second chance for the books the library cannot use.  Those titles are first sold in book sales at Kendal, with the monies received from the sales going back to the Library fund.  The remaining books are donated to the local public library for their book sale, while others go to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.

Occasionally the library receives a donation of a historically valuable book that may be better suited to one of the local university libraries such as Washington and Lee.

Memorial Acquisition

The only titles that are purchased are those acquired as a memorial to a deceased Kendal resident.  When someone who moved into Kendal as an independent living resident has died, the committee consults with family and adds a book to the library in their memory. 

Unexpected Pleasures

One of the new nooks in the library is the Grandparents’ and Children’s collection.  Ruth said that it’s not unusual to see a resident thumbing through a colorful children’s book while sitting in a nearby easy chair.  The area is envisioned as a popular destination for residents and their visiting grandchildren to enjoy a book together or select a few to take back and enjoy at their residence.

Ruth noted that the most popular genres are fiction and mystery, with biography a close second.  However, many other genres such as history, music, art, religion, travel, social sciences, along with periodicals and newspapers, cover the varied interests of the residents.  While many other activities shut down during the pandemic, the library stayed open as a greatly appreciated service to the community.  The committee members implemented sanitizing practices and social distancing.  Keeping Kendal’s bookworms well supplied is just another way the Library Committee of the Kendal Residents Association works to make their community one of the best