It is hard to see the difference between local libraries and community centers. If libraries were only for movies and books, then it is still a library.
If you add resources like available computers, comfortable hanging-out spaces and meeting rooms, it starts to look like a community center. The most critical concern is that it fits the needs and personality of the community it serves and it is an asset, not a burden. Yes, it has to be able to pay for itself from day one and into the future.
These are the primary concerns we are exploring when asked if the Craig County Library could grow into a thriving community center. The county has supported the first step, the use of a planning grant to access the needs of our community. This grant, at no cost to the county, will determine if there are needs within the community that a center can support and how it can be done without creating a financial burden.
The county used the grant to hire an architectural group out of Roanoke, The Hill Studio, who has successfully assisted other small towns such as Floyd, Rocky Mount, and White Top. On Tuesday, October 17, The Hill Studio came to the New Castle to conduct interviews at the Town Hall. Thirty-minute interviews were held on the phone and in-person. Questions were asked by Hunter Greene, from Hill Studio, whose focus is the design needs of a community center and Craig Wilson of Community Planning Partners, who put together the needs assessment and business plan. This information, which will be made available to the public, will help answer our questions. If our primary concerns are addressed, this information can be used in developing the next steps for planning and funding.
Substantive input was received from local business, daycare, the schools, social services, and many volunteer organizations that keep our community running. The conversations identified services and needs in our community that have no place to land. Our high teen suicide and pregnancy rates call out for better resources and solutions. It was clear that the need for a larger gathering place with more resources could directly address these concerns.
Developing a center that can positively support the needs of our community is a big challenge. We have to balance limited resources for the most effective gain. What can a community center provide to help our youth move forward? What local businesses, with additional resources, can develop further? What can a gathering place add to our sense of pride and satisfaction with our lives here? What can a collective space offer to our many non-profits to share and develop ideas? A healthy conversation is beginning.
The ideas which belong to all of us will spell success. A center for Craig County needs to be developed and shaped by the people of Craig County. Let us know your ideas and concerns by joining the conversation. You may email the library at [email protected], attend the next Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, November 13, or leave a note for director Carla Ritzler at the library. Thanks!
– Jennifer Lovejoy, library volunteer and architect
Board of Trustees meeting, Monday, November 13 at 6 p.m. at the library.
Thank you to all the book donors and buyers! We have two book barns filled with books for sale. Please come and shop! Just ask for the library desk volunteer to open the book barn for browsing. There is also a shelf in the library with books for sale to benefit Friends of the Library.
Give the gift of a Friends of the Library membership to someone you love for only $5. Add a couple of hardback books for their reading pleasure for just $2 each.
Thank you so much to all of our volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering at the desk or in another capacity, please send an email to [email protected] or drop by the library to fill out a volunteer form.