Right now, it’s a small country library with bigger ideas. Maybe in the future, it could grow in size and scope to help county residents find jobs, provide more tourism income for the county and be a gathering place for young people as well as senior citizens.
Supporters of the Craig County Library have a vision that a Community Center could grow out of the library.
At the Feb. 1 meeting of the Craig County Board of Supervisors, volunteer Jennifer Lovejoy explained the Library Expansion Committee wants to hold a joint meeting with county representatives and the New Castle Town Council to go over the Hill Studio final report for the Community Center Planning Grant Study.
The county was awarded a $30,000 federal Community Development Block Grant for library needs assessment Hill Studio is preparing, which will be completed by March of this year. After that, the county and library might apply for a $700,000 construction grant.
Currently, the library is in a county-owned building on Main Street. Friends of the Library purchased two adjacent lots with community donations, and members of the Expansion Committee have visited other libraries which have joint functions to get ideas and business models.
“We’re the front door, the welcome into the community.”
-Jennifer Lovejoy, Friend of the Library, volunteer architect
Lovejoy, who is volunteer architect for the library expansion project, gave the Board of Supervisors an update on the existing library, and the Expansion Committee’s ideas.
“The biggest proof of need is who shows up at the library,” she said. “We’re the front door, the welcome into the community,” Lovejoy said. “When school lets out, you cannot get into that library.”
“More than 100 tourists stopped in the library last year,” said Lovejoy, who is also a member of the county’s Tourism Commission.
The county does not currently have a Visitor’s Center, other than “a tiny wall right now,” she pointed out.
Other needs the Community Center could fill could be:
- Additional access to the internet for job searches, and students finishing school projects;
- A teen center, which could be after hours;
- Meeting spaces for teleconferences, especially for home-based businesses in Craig County;
- Regional meetings, with locker space for agencies such as Total Action for Progress and other agencies which do not have a home in the county but provide services;
- A community gathering space.
“We look at this as an amazing opportunity for Craig County,” Lovejoy said. What the Expansion Team and the county government need to decide is “what is it we want to do for the next 20 years,” she said.
After the meeting, Marge Lewter, president of the Craig County Board of Trustees, said the Expansion Team wants to present the final report and have the floor open for public comments. She noted the deadline for a $500,000 grant through the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission deadline is September. “That would have to have a local match,” she added, “which we are addressing in the financial plans.”