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Women's History Month- Ginnie Cooper: KPL's Fifth Library Director and the Look of KPL

March 22, 2021 at 4:27 PM by Stephanie Lewin-Lane

March is Women's History Month! Every Monday we will be posting information about the women who made Kenosha Public Library the important community resource it continues to be today.

Ginnie Cooper, Library Director 1977-1981

Born and raised in Worthington, Minnesota, Ginnie Cooper is the daughter of Lawrence “Coop” and Ione Cooper. Ginnie graduated from Worthington High School in 1963 and attended a local Junior College, later earning her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Minnesota. Cooper worked in many different places throughout her career, starting out at the Washington County Library just outside the Twin Cities.

In 1977, Ginnie Cooper became the 5th Library Director of the Gilbert M. Simmons Library. It was also in this year that the library system officially adopted the name Kenosha Public Library. With a strong interest in library architecture and renovation, Ginnie oversaw the building of the Southwest Branch, which opened to the public on January 16th, 1981. She facilitated remodeling of the Gilbert M. Simmons Library in 1981, which was also her last year at KPL.

Ms. Cooper went on to work for the Alameda County Library in Fremont, California, the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, and the Brooklyn, NY Public Library. Ginnie ultimately accepted a position as the Chief Librarian and Executive Director of the District of Columbia Public Library (2006-2013). As Director of the D.C. Public library, she built on her experience with library facility work and oversaw the renovations of 17 out of 25 libraries within her seven years of assuming leadership.

Ginnie Cooper has received multiple awards from the American Institute of Architects, including the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Although she retired in 2013, her legacy in the library profession continues to be felt throughout the United States. As her LinkedIn profile states, Ginnie is a “Librarian for Life.”


Photographs courtesy of Kenosha Public Library Historical Archive

Cooper, Ginnie (n.d.). LinkedIn. Ginnie-Cooper-876b0472. Accessed 22 Mar. 2021.

Hesse, Monica. “D.C. Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper Announces Retirement.” The Washington Post, 29 May 2013. Accessed 22 Mar. 2021. 

Rivers, Beth. “Worthington Native Recognized for DC Library Work.” The Globe, May 5th, 2013. Accessed March 22nd, 2021.