Bits and pieces fill our life: quilts displayed at Kutztown Library

Photo by Janet Yost Bruce Burrows climbs the ladder to adjust the placement of the quilt at the Kutztown Community Library.

Quilts fill our life with color, supply us with warmth, cover our lap while we read a book and bring back bits and pieces of memories. Heritage patterns and fabrics link us to our pass and lead us to our future with new styles.

The first thing that catches your eye as you enter the Kutztown Community Library, is a quilt on display. The colorful quilts fill and brighten an otherwise empty space, but even more, they provide a chance to appreciate. There is always a flurry of discussion when a new quilt is hung.

The main entry of the library was originally a barn and the quilt display, besides being large and beautiful, compliments the history of the building. It adds color and beauty plus help control the noise level.

“I just think it’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work of some of the talented fabric artists in our community” comments Charlotte Hoare, assistant Librarian, “They are especially fitting displays for this original section of our building.”

Patt McCloskey, former Library Director, says that the project began with the opening of the new library in 1999. A board member recruited Ann Burrows, local quilt artist and teacher from Bowers an organizer of the annual quilting contest of the Kutztown Folk Festival, and to select the quilts that were traditionally changed monthly.

Her husband Bruce Burrows had the job of installing the quilts but first he had to create the ingenious hanging system.

Quilts need a hanging pocket pinned or sewn on the back side and a painted galvanized pipe is slipped through it. There are two J hooks mounted on the wall. Pool poles with another J hook attached are used to reach up, grab the current quilt on the pole and lower it to the floor. The quilt is switched out and the new one is raised up.

Bruce recruited a volunteer to help switch out the quilt. It was an unforgettable sight to see them climb the ladder while raising the new quilt up on the reaching poles until it rested on the hooks thirty feet up in the air.

Ann often selected quilts from the quilting club that she is affiliated with, Kutztown Area Historical Society and library patrons. Karen Howard, retired Library Director, said that “some of the more interesting quilts have been the antique ones that the owners shared with us. I also remember one that was made up of squares, mostly patriotic, that the woman made from pictures that we copied for her from books in the library.”

From time to time, a raffle quilt is on display. Over the years it has benefited St. Mary’s, Kutztown Day, the Library and local organizations.

Ann and Bruce Burrows have retired from organizing and hanging the quilts and the Library thanks them for the many years that they have generously provided and hung beautiful quilts.

In order to continue this tradition, the Friends of the Kutztown Community Library have purchased a pulley system. Someone will have to climb up one last time and install the system, but from then on, quilts can be raised and lowered from the floor. Once that is completed, the Library will be seeking works to display.

Currently on display is a colorful pieced quilt by Linda Leathersich who is an award winning quilter who exhibits and teaches internationally. This quilt was a wedding gift to her step-kids Sarah Edmonds and Dan Leathersich. More of Linda’s work can be seen on Facebook at “stitched together studios”.

Quilts have woven their way into the library with a four-square design as part of the stained glass windows in the library and the logo (see the masthead on this newsletter) that was created by Kutztown University Designathon students. The Library is located at 70 Bieber Alley in Kutztown.

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