Watauga public library celebrates 25th anniversary, plans for more community outreach

Mary+Sue+Morgan+and+Pat+Morgan%2C+patrons+of+Watauga+County+Public+Library%2C+April+6%2C+2022.+

Aldo Sarabia

Mary Sue Morgan and Pat Morgan, patrons of Watauga County Public Library, April 6, 2022.

Jenna Guzman, Reporter

The Watauga County Public Library celebrated the 25th anniversary of the building located at 140 Queen St, Boone, Wednesday and shared plans to expand community outreach.

The librarians and volunteers and community members celebrated both the anniversary and National Library Week, which is April 3 – 9, for about three hours by presenting a slideshow of pictures of the building and staff throughout the years, serving cupcakes, hosting live music and a balloon twister. 

Joan Hearn, a volunteer at the library for about 20 years, said the Watauga County Public Library means everything to her.

“It’s the one thing in the community that’s here for everybody,” Hearn said. “If you’re ever feeling bad, come in here, and you’ll walk out feeling great.”

Hearn said the staff does so much for the children and library patrons, and the service they do is “amazing.”

“I’ve lived in other areas, and there’s never been a library like this,” Hearn said. “It’s welcoming to everybody, and there is something for everybody in this library.”

Tables in the building displayed pictures and newspaper archives featuring the library throughout the years, and binders and pamphlets described the strategic plan to expand awareness of the building and what services they offer in the community .

“I hope that they’ll learn a little bit about the history of the library and why we need to expand,” said Monica Caruso, a Watauga County Public Library librarian.

There are four goals in the plan to expand the awareness of the building in the community. The goals are as follows:

  • Goal one: Gain organizational excellence by getting more funding for the library and the staff and by identifying sustainable ways to value staff and increase sustainable development.
  • Goal two: Bring more library services to the community by creating resources and services for those whose second language is English and for non-English speakers and by delivering resources and services to those unable to visit the building.
  • Goal three: Increase access and innovative programming by maintaining and partnering with schools and other agencies, increasing digital presence and engaging in programs that meet the needs of various community members. 
  • Goal four: Expand print and digital collections in the library.

Many of the librarians said they were excited for expansion in the community and for the opportunity to provide more services in the future.

Jackie Cornette, branch manager at the Western Watauga Library Branch, said she’s been involved with the Queen Street location since they relocated from the county office basement at 133 Water St, Boone, in 1997. She said expanding will enable the library and staff to “serve the community better.”

Vision boards were also placed around the building, inviting guests to write down what they want the library to incorporate in the future.

“We try to listen to people, what their needs, their concerns are and go forth,” said Judith Winecoff, youth services manager and Watauga County Public Library librarian.

Mary Sue Morgan, a retired librarian, said when she first moved to Boone, the library was a place she could meet people and it still is.

Many of the librarians said it is a friendly and welcoming environment for both the staff and people who visit.

“It’s a lifeline for the community,” Cornette said. “It’s community centered.”

Charlotte Swanson, a Boone resident, said she comes to the library every week to take her son to storytime while grabbing books for him and her other kids. She said she’s excited about it turning 25 years old, and she enjoys how it has things to do for everyone.

“I think it’s kind of cool that there’s a legacy of literacy and this kind of public service in this town for 25 years,” Swanson said. “That’s a long time these days.”

Winecoff said seeing the library rise from what it used to be to how it is today has been an “amazing process” and said the staff has become a “library family.”

The librarians said they hope more people will visit the library as they continue to work toward expanding public awareness.