KILGORE — After claiming the book “Answers to Questions,” Kilgore College freshman Austin Raymond continued to look through the covered foldout tables at the college’s library.
It was among thousands of books being given away at the Randolph C. Watson Library after a donation from the family of two noted local musicians.
“There is no specific subject matter or theme among the books available; it’s just a variety of anything and everything,” Raymond said. “It’s a really cool thing that KC is able to just give out books.”
The library found itself with an abundance of extra books about a year ago when the children of the late Isidor and Ann Saslav contacted the library wanting to find new homes for the books in their parents’ collection, said Library Director Susan Black.
“He, Isidor, had been collecting the books throughout his life, I think,” Black said. “I am going to guess there were about 10,000 books to begin with, and this is the third section that we have received from them, and it contained about 3,000 to 5,000 books.”
Isidor Saslav was the former concertmaster of the Longview Symphony. Originally from Jerusalem, his musical accomplishments included holding titles such as concertmaster and soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Minnesota Philharmonic and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He died in January 2013.
Overton native Ann Saslav was a noted concert pianist who traveled the world as a performer and whose musical career spanned nearly seven decades. She appeared as a soloist with the Baltimore, Houston, Akron, San Antonio, Longview, Marshall, East Texas and Northwest Louisiana symphonies, as well as the Orchestra of the Pines, the Round Top Festival Orchestra, the Chamber Soloists of Philadelphia, the Orchestra of the American String Teachers in Gmunden, Austria and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. She died in September 2018.
In the past year, the library has set out a few hundred books at a time to be given away. However, the library expects to receive two more large donations from other donors, so the staff decided to put all of the Saslavs’ books out to make room for more.
The giveaway is only one avenue the library is exploring while trying to find new homes for the books.
“We go through various routes trying to find good homes for the books because the last thing we want is to see them go into the trash,” Black said. “We contact our patrons, our students and faculty to see if anybody wants them. We also contact nursing homes and even one of the local prisons that we have a contact for because as I understand it, the prison libraries don’t have much funding.”
The Randolph C. Watson Library is on the campus of Kilgore College at 1100 Broadway Blvd. in Kilgore. Although people must be affiliated with the college to check out materials, the book giveaway and general use of the library is open to the public.
The library’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The library is closed Saturday.