WHITMIRE — The Whitmire War Memorial Library officially turned the page on a new chapter Monday morning with an open house to show off its new facilities.
Linda Bullard, who has worked 23 years with the Whitmire Library, said the facility now averaging between 60 and 70 patrons per day, up from 25 to 30 in January. The stronger Wi-Fi, more open and modern ambiance, and added computer work stations are reasons she believes the foot traffic is up.
“We’re excited about all of it, especially the new computer lab and the potential it has to help our Whitmire community members search for jobs,” Bullard said.
Bullard said some grant funding also allowed them to expand the library’s young adult book section
Sen. Ronnie Cromer and Rep. Walt McLeod attended the open house. Cromer said he was especially proud of the computer area and the meeting room that holds 20 to 30 people.
An advocate of technology and the SC Works program, Cromer said he was encouraged by programming such as an upcoming resume workshop in partnership with SC Works and the Upper Savannah Workforce Development.
The new facilities include:
• A 20 station computer lab, with one a wheelchair accessible computer
• Larger monitors and more memory to go with those computers
• Conference room that can hold 20 to 30 people
• Expanded book stacks
• A stronger Wi-Fi signal for Internet capability
• More capacity to share an e-books lending system
• ADA compliant restrooms
• Modernized facilities that Union County patrons also can use in a cross-county partnership with the Newberry County Library per a reciprocal lending agreement.
Library director Sam Ziady said this is a place where the community comes together from the preschooler needing picture books to youth with summer reading projects.
Ziady also said e-books are available for up to three weeks to any Newberry library patron in good standing as part of a 13-county e-book consortium.
The expansion is a partnership between Newberry County, The Friends of the Newberry County Library, and The Newberry County Library. A large portion of the funding came from a Community Block Development Grant applied for under the leadership of former Whitmire Mayor Tim Carroll.
Library Board Member Shirley Suber, a recently retired school media specialist from Whitmire Community School said “this expansion is great because any time we can expand computers and technology it is wonderful for a small town like Whtimire.”
Betty Reeder, a retired special education teacher in Newberry County with a passion for learning and literacy, said the renovations were “like a breath of fresh air.”
Audrey Henry, who was president of the Friends of the Library Group when the CBDG grant went through, led the group to supply some funding for furniture in the computer lab as well as other sundries.
“There is a beauty, an airiness and lightness to the building and it looks like a modern 21st century library now,” Henry said. “It is so open and inviting, particularly the outstanding children’s area.”
Community groups are excited at the prospect of a new meeting area, something Councilwoman Crystal Harsha said Whitmire really needed.
Harsha attended the open house and said all the computer workspace was a wonderful, needed addition. Local Artist Peg Brickles, who is working with other community leaders to start an art affiliated group in the town, is thankful for the meeting space and the potential it holds for the Whitmire community.
The Whitmire War Memorial Library is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.