THE LIBRARY LOOKOUT COLUMN: A love of reading through the years

Recently, while cleaning out a closet in the Albemarle library, I found tucked away on the top of a very dusty shelf a series of scrapbooks with content going back to 1930.

Ashley Wilson

The majority of the scrapbooks contained newspaper clippings, but there was one from the 1930-1950s that held a treasure trove of photographs as well.

The bulk of the photos were from the 1950s and show families lined up outside the bookmobile — of which the articles leading up to demonstrate how desired it was in the County — and the smiling faces of the librarians settled in dutifully at their desks waiting for their next patrons.

A few things have changed since then, but free books still has meaning.

Stanly County Public Library branches continue to serve their communities in ways that might not look quite the same as they did back then, but our fundamental mission still rings true.

Instead of six reference questions answered in a month, we handle more than that in an hour most days.

In May 1950, the library collection across the branches boasted 31,651 volumes of all types available to the public, and as of August 2022 we have roughly 212,000 items that include e-materials, dvds, books and magazines.

While we no longer write blurbs for each and every book that comes in, you can count on staff members knowing the hottest read in Stanly County — which right now is anything by Colleen Hoover — or to point you towards something that sparks an interest in reading that you may not have felt in awhile.

I loved looking at the old photographs of children’s storytimes, and while Sara Hahn has led a robust children’s program schedule for years, staff across the county are ramping up their own expanded contributions to the community as well.

In Albemarle each month Faith Davis holds a storytime for neurodiverse adults called Read To Me Too where the closing song “B-I-N-G-O” gets 100% participation.

Suruchi Sharma hosts a Talking Titles Book Club where there is never assigned reading. She will start up a local author tabling, with Janice Cole Hopkins being the first author on Tuesday.
Charity Burdge has a YA Book Club, and Jimmy Vang has a Graphic Novel & Manga Book Club — both of which are geared to the 13-17 age group.

Ashley Flair and Melissa Freeman find themselves at the Care Cafe once a month for Tales and Travel.

Everyone is finding themselves excited about and busy with the library’s new Sensory Lab.

Amanda Poole in Oakboro is hosting a growing journaling group. Lisa Davis in Norwood hosts The Needlebugs and will start up craft programming once again in the fall. Karen Hartsell in Locust divides up her needlework crew into two days, with crocheting and knitting one day and cross stitch and needlework on another, and over in Badin Treva Allmon will be starting a new journaling group and restarting her third Thursday craft program.

Things may look a bit different than they did in 1930, but just as it was back then — anyone is welcome to use the computer, read the paper, or to pop in to see what’s going on even if they don’t have a library card.

Have you had a card in the past and lost it? We’re doing free replacements in September.

Are there fines on your account? We are accepting food for fines throughout the month as well.

EBT cardholder? Show us your card and your fines will be waived in September.

There is a ton to explore at the library and we’d love to see you soon.

Ashley Wilson is the public services manager at the Stanly County Public Library.