Jacob Biby of Ponca City, Oklahoma, doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. That’s what he does as a trial lawyer, and that’s what it took to help restore his hometown library’s former glory.
Last spring, the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division called on its members to hold a day of community service. The division decided to do a statewide project benefiting 16 libraries. The plan was for local lawyers to contact their libraries, find out what they needed done, and plan one-day projects to help repair, rebuild, and beautify them.
Biby put together a team of seven lawyers to visit their library in Ponca City and ask what help they needed.
“Ponca City is a small place,” Biby said, “so there are not too many young lawyers here. In fact I think they are all at my firm.” The town has a population of about 25,800.
The Ponca City Public Library was built in 1935. Since then, several additions have been built around the original structure. Considered a historic landmark, it houses an art collection and an extensive collection of books on the area’s history. But the library need a facelift and some repairs.
“We saw that there was some vandalism,” Biby said. “For instance, people had been slamming books on the glass tabletops and breaking them. There was also an archive room with no electricity running to it.”
Biby arranged for a local glass shop to replace the broken tabletops and hired an electrician. Biby’s team pitched in to help with much of the repair work.
“We did it all, lots of hands-on work,” he said. “And it was springtime, so the library decided that I should also dig up the flower beds and plant some new flowers.”
The library also needed books about the law aimed at nonlawyers, so Biby arranged to have those donated.
“The project was really well received, by both the library and the community,” he said. “But to be honest, I think we’re the ones who enjoyed it most of all.”