COAL CITY – Throughout the last eight years, Coal City resident Mary Jo Breneman has developed a passion for photography, snapping photos of landscapes any chance she gets.
“I just love nature, and I love seeing what I can capture,” she said.
But before the Coal City Public Library District Annual Photography Exhibit, Breneman never displayed her photos anywhere outside of her own home.
“I love this, because I don’t take photos professionally,” she said. “So it’s a way for me to show what I love to do.”
The library’s annual exhibit was started last year as a way for library patrons and employees to share and display their photos. This year, the exhibit includes 57 photos taken by 27 Coal City-based photographers.
Any library patron of any age was encouraged to submit photos for the event and no entry was turned away. This year’s collection ranged from professional to amateur quality.
“We thought it would be nice to include everyone,” adult services librarian Dana Abraham said. “Everyone takes pictures and they take pictures of everything – animals, people, landscapes, their life experiences. Just about everything is documented with a photo.”
Abraham’s teenage daughters were among some of the photographers on display along with several other local high school students.
About six library employees – including Breneman – also exhibited their photos at this year’s event. Many were inspired to submit after seeing their coworkers display photos last year.
“When they see the name of somebody they know on display, it encourages them to do the same thing,” library communications coordinator Dixie Wiley said. “They say, ‘I know that person. If they can do pictures like this, maybe I can, too’.”
Abraham said they decided to model the exhibit after the library’s annual quilt expo, which has been a staple event at the library for nearly 20 years.
The library hopes to grow the annual photography exhibit in years to come. Beginning next year, they will include photographers from throughout the area, not just those in Coal City.
Wiley said as the library obtains more digital books and eliminates the need for some of its shelving, it plans to have more open space to display the photos, which currently are hung along a narrow hallway.
“We want a place that has better light,” Wiley said. “It may even expand, so we have a display case for different photo collections. I really think it’s fun and important for our residents to see what other people’s hobbies are.”
In the future, Wiley said the photography exhibit could absorb other arts and crafts, as well.
A photography club may also be on the way as many residents have expressed interest, Abraham said.
“We feed off of our patrons, so they bring us ideas for programs and we just go for it,” she said. “We try everything and try our hardest to give them what they want.”
If you go
What: The Coal City Public Library Second Annual Photography Exhibit
Where: Coal City Public Library, 85 N. Garfield St., Coal City
When: Every day until May 15, during normal operating hours