Most people know that if one cannot read, it is almost impossible to get a job or even communicate in today’s world of technology.
The Craig County Library is currently pursuing a ‘dream’ of a new Resource Center, which will open up new worlds for the community.
Jennifer Lovejoy, a community representative, and library staff recently presented a case to the School Board regarding the Resource Center. During the March meeting, handouts and project pictures were given to Board members.
The primary purpose of the Resource Center “is to construct a combined Craig County Public Library, Virginia Certified Tourist Information Center, Teen Center, Community Center and learning facility that will improve the quality and economic opportunities in Craig.”
Added Lovejoy: “It all started as our library was exploding with all the users and the community asking for more things than we can accommodate in that little tiny library. Like in migration, what is happening here is also happening at our Library. As soon as your doors close at the school, many children come to our library in town, for computer access and other reasons.”
Lovejoy recently shared that they obtained a grant which will provide many of the things they were hoping for. She added, “This is tax-dollar free and from that we brought in an architect, a planner, a grant writer and had interviews with stakeholders in the community to try to map out, if we were to build a bigger library, what needed services we could provide. That was our beginning basis to even look at the possibilities of the project.”
The ideas that are under consideration came from community members who have asked for services when they visit the current tiny library. “We pulled back and invited Craig residents to be more engaged in helping us to understand how we could shape this project to really address the needs of with minimum costs and overlapping resources,” Lovejoy mentioned before adding, “We feel we needed to look at where could we grow in a way that stimulates the economy within our own community.”
The plan is for the Resource Center to be run by an economic director, and a paid staff person in the county who would also serve as a development person, allowing stronger funding options.
This would also open the door to serve the community by including a Visitors Center to help with tourism.
Lovejoy noted that a better web presence and marketing of Craig’s resources would bring more people into the community.
Still, she highlighted that the main reason for the Resource Center is for local students and citizens.
“The key to all of this is computer access and computer literacy, as we all share that we want the dreams of our youth to come true,” noted Lovejoy. “We are partners with you, so when the school doors close, we are the extension of what is happening here. By being able to have the computer resources, we are already having kids come do their homework, sitting side by side in work stations. And, during spring break they land there too.”
Lovejoy also shared that they believe the Center would give them stronger resources to help support some of the partnerships that already exist such as, Work Force Development, extension of summer programs, robotics, Total Action for Progress (TAP), Western Virginia Workforce Board, Farm Bureau and The Health Center. Allowing such agencies to rent spaces in Craig for larger meetings is also being discussed. Noted Lovejoy, “There are people and businesses who have already committed to rentals.”
“Many paid resources pass Craig County because we do not have certain resources,” Lovejoy said. “Once you create that facility with computer accessibility, good internet access and that one-on-one we have with the library staff, it opens up so many potentials that we can do to build their dreams.”
Susan Stimeling, a member of The Friends of the Library, explained that she joined the library so she and her granddaughter would have a place to go to check out books. She added that she remembers growing up in Craig County when there was no library, only the occasional bookmobile. “The last time I went to the library, I saw four students working on computers,” she said.
Where do students go after school if they are not involved in a sports program?
“Many of these kids do not have technology at home,” said Stimeling who received her hospice training at the Floyd County Library in a meeting room. “The library is the only place they can complete some of their homework assignments.”
The Resource Center will be paid for with grant money, not by the dollars of the county. “If someone was to come to your property and say, ‘I’m going to build you a big barn, would you pay for the electricity?’ I’m pretty sure you would do it and I would too. Think about what a Resource Center could do for Craig County.”