PILOT MOUNTAIN — On Saturday morning Charles H. Stone Memorial Library was presented with several substantial donations.
During the town’s last budget season, the library reduced its request for funds on specific line items including technology, supplies and special programming. “We were confident that the community would step up to help in these areas,” said Head Librarian Anna Nichols, explaining that the library wanted to help with the town’s financial position.
Recognizing that the library provides far more than books, two business owners came together to help the library expand the computer services available. Carolyn Mills, of The Hair Cottage, and Stephanie Johnson, of Serenity Counseling and Consulting Services, donated a network connecting device which splits internet access between 16 computers.
Johnson, who is a new member of the library’s advisory board, noticed the computer hardware on a list of needs created by library staff and decided to do something about it. “This equipment is crucial for families that have no other access to internet,” she explained.
Mills, a regular library patron, wanted to help. “I would not be able to function without this library and its staff,” Mills said, explaining that they have become like family over the years. “When your family is in need, you help them.”
The library has eight computers connected to internet service. The donated piece, valued at more than $600, according to Johnson, will double the library’s capacity to accommodate internet ready computers.
Nichols explained, “the switch will allow our public computers to perform more swiftly and effectively.” However no new computers will be added until an assessment is completed to determine the number needed and how to acquire them financially.
“Our country’s founding fathers supported public libraries because they wanted people to be educated,” said Johnson, noting that libraries still provide the opportunity for education, but now must also work to not become antiquated.
According to Librarian Sandy Phillips, the library’s computers are used extensively for a wide range of purposes including homework, job searches, genealogy, tax preparation, printing documents, and other research.
Phillips shared, “we have a lot of kids that come here to do their homework because they have no where else they can get it done.” She explained that the schools have moved toward using more technology in education, assigning homework that requires an internet connection which some families don’t have at home.
Robin Huels, teacher at Pilot Mountain Middle School, added, “this library is invaluable to our students.”
A second need is being addressed by another group. Commissioner Gary Bell and an anonymous party spearheaded a project to replace the front and side doors of the library. “The old wooden doors have been compromised from excessive use and water damage,” said Bell.
A commercial grade aluminum door has been donated for the front entrance by contractor Pat Luebbert. All other supplies for the project, including a fiberglass door for the side entrance, are being donated by Taylor Baker of Foothills Hardware. Installation will be provided by carpenters, Jonathan and David Edwards.
Bell noted that Mayor Dwight Atkins, Commissioner Linda Needham, and town staff have been instrumental in pulling this project together. “The board has established a capital improvements fund from the stock so the library can be more proactive with repairs,” Atkins explained.
According to Phillips, the library relies heavily on donations and volunteers, due to a bare bones budget. “This is like Christmas to us. We are delighted and grateful,” said Phillips.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.