Preparation and planning for a $6 million renovation and expansion of the Waynesville library have been playing out behind the scenes for more than a year, laying critical groundwork in advance of a community fundraising campaign that’s about to go public.
Howard David Glawson was tucked in to his usual spot at the public computer bank at the Waynesville library last Monday.
The community support behind getting a new public library in Swain County has been impressive, but the fundraising efforts have been slow-moving in the last couple of years.
Macon County commissioners weren’t exactly sure what to expect when they saw Thing 1 and Thing 2 sitting in the front row at the proposed budget public hearing.
Those who frequent downtown Franklin may have noticed an odd-looking birdhouse taking up residence outside town hall in recent months, but the white structure isn’t a habitation for birds — it’s for books.
“They’re sort of large birdhouse-style kiosks where books can be available to people wherever they are,” explained Karen Wallace, librarian at Macon County Public Library. “Our library is not in our downtown, and we thought it would be nice to make some reading available on Main Street in downtown Franklin.”
The new Swain County library isn’t a reality yet — except in the minds of the true believers.
Last week, a group of Swain residents who are certain the journey to a new library is well underway gathered on a sprawling parcel resting off of Fontana Road.
A day earlier the room was full. Wall-to-wall children and snakes.
“That was in this room,” said Swain County Librarian Jeff Delfield.
Jackson County Librarian Tracy Fitzmaurice recently pitched her first proposal for library funding before county commissioners. She asked for a bit of a jump in the their financial commitment.
Karen Wallace knows the importance of a library. “In a rural area, the library is the single greatest man-made resource offered to residents and tourists,” she said.
For most people, the word “jail” stirs up mental images of vertical bars and stark concrete walls, not of rows of books or orange-clad inmates studiously reading them. But bars have, for the most part, turned to Plexiglas and metal doors, and thanks to the collaborative research of librarians and criminal justice faculty at Western Carolina University, an initiative to expand book collections in Western North Carolina jails is gathering steam.