Laurel Fork Library: Check It Out

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Library's organizer holds it up as a repository of community cohesiveness.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter


LAUREL FORK — The community's binding felt a tear when the old school that stood there got knocked down, but the place has returned to life as the home of the Laurel Fork Fire Department, the Laurel Fork Community Center, a playground, a picnic shelter, a walking track and lately the library.
The Carroll School Board contributed to the latest community service at the site of the old school when it made a modular unit available to serve as the home of the library last spring, says community member Annetta Stanley.
"It's a wonderful give and take for the school board to be able to do something like this for the community," she said. "It was kind of a blow to lose the school."
Laurel Fork has maintained a good portion of its cohesiveness with many of its community institutions available to the citizens at one place, she said. Organizers have seen use of the community center increase steadily over the years.
Now, a person at the community center only has to walk across a parking lot/basketball court to check out a book.
The library had set up temporary quarters at a business when it was founded.
"We were actively searching for a more accessible space with more room," Stanley recalled.
At about the same time, Carroll officials decided to move the Cooperative Extension Office from the governmental center to the Carroll County Education Center, also known as the old Hillsville Elementary.
The school board needed to get rid of stuff taking up space at its facility on Oak Street. "There were two modular classrooms in the parking lot and they needed that room for parking, basically, for the Extension service," she recalled.
Stanley credits school board member Robert Utz as instrumental in helping Laurel Fork to acquire one of those 24-by-40-foot modular classrooms. He proposed to the school board, which agreed to give the community an affordable long-term lease.
Laurel Fork Community Inc. paid to get the building moved to the community center site and to set it up. Stanley's grateful for that, as it cost quite a bit to tow the building in, attach an accessibility ramp and get it ready to go.
The library got the modular classroom transported, moved into it in April and held an open house in May.
Everything has been donated to the library — its original collection of books that came from a closed store in Wytheville, its children's section complete with board games and puzzles, a lot of VHS videos, a pretty good selection of religious fiction and non-fiction and the shelving.
To check out, people just need to leave their name and phone number, Stanley said. Patrons have borrowed 15 or 20 items at a time.
The library still accepts donations, but getting people reading is the main goal.
"Since we've moved and got more exposure up here, our patronage has increased quite a bit," she said. "We're looking for more people to check out books."
The library hosts the 4-H Clover Buds, while other 4-Hers meet in the community building, and it opens the first Wednesday of the month so the seniors club has access on its meeting day.
Volunteers also still take reading material out to the nursing home on Thursday mornings.
The library has attracted four regular volunteers to keep the place open on Thursday 3 to 5 p.m., Friday 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Volunteers include Betty Jean Hayes, Janice McDonald, Jenna Read and Penny Sowers.
"I've always loved books and I think it's very important for children to read," Hayes said about her motivation to volunteer. "You've got to start them early if you want them to read."
The children who come in go away with many books, usually more than their parents want them to take.
"I just wish more people would try it — maybe they will this winter when they can't get out," Hayes said.

For more information about the Laurel Fork Library, call (276) 398-3560