Community Library Gets Boost of Books & Bucks - TribPapers

Community Library Gets Boost of Books & Bucks

Delivering over 20 crates of books to the Big Ivy Center. Pictured here from left to right or Dianne Lurie, Marilyn Brown, and Gina Elrod. Photo submitted by Marilyn Brown

Barnardsville –  “Reading is fundamental” is a well-known public service announcement that emphasizes the importance of books as essential tools for reading. While the logical place to find books is typically a library, residents of the Barnardsville area faced a challenge due to the fact that the closest public library is located in Weaverville, which is 16 miles or 20 minutes away.

Fortunately, the Big Ivy Center in the community has been maintaining a small library for years, and recently, it received a new influx of books thanks to a group’s efforts. The Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club generously donated nearly 600 books to the library, along with materials for constructing new shelves to accommodate the growing collection.

During the pandemic, the library had to close its doors temporarily. However, it has now reopened, offering a much more comprehensive selection of reading material than before. Marilyn Brown, a member of the Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club Literacy Committee and the club’s current president, explained the collaboration with the Big Ivy Community Center, stating, “The purpose of the project was to increase literacy and encourage reading in the community by donating over 500 books at the outset of the project as the core of the donation.”

According to Brown, the donated books form a fantastic collection covering diverse subject matters, including faith, conservatism, family, children’s books, US history, human interest topics, and even some rare and valuable books. Brown inherited this collection from her mother, May Warren.

After Brown’s children selected the books they wanted from her mother’s library, she still had a significant number of books left. When she learned about the literacy program the Republican club was involved with, Brown visited the Big Ivy Center and offered the remaining books, which greatly thrilled the staff.

Brown explained that her club has been concerned about the decline of literacy in the country, which was further exacerbated by the pandemic lockdown. Many children lost two years of academic progress due to limited access to books, school closures, and the suspension of community reading programs. The collaboration between the Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club and the Big Ivy Center in Barnardsville was born out of a shared commitment to combat this decline and promote literacy in the community.

However, upon receiving the generous donation of books, the library faced a new challenge: the lack of shelves to organize and display them properly. Brown received an estimate of $4,000 for the shelving project, which seemed unaffordable. 

Nevertheless, the Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club raised $2,000 through their Christmas luncheon, providing sufficient funds to cover the costs. With a more reasonable quote and the necessary materials obtained, the shelves were promptly constructed, allowing the books to find their place. Brown even mentioned that surplus funds were available, which could be utilized to install carpeting on the library floor, further enhancing the reading environment.

Gina Elrod, the manager of the Big Ivy Center, expressed gratitude to Lowe’s in Weaverville for their partnership and the favorable deal they provided on the materials needed for the shelves. Elrod extended appreciation to all individuals and organizations that collaborated to provide these resources for the community, recognizing their valuable contributions.

Kalyn Cogdill, associated with the library, informed the Tribune that the late George Stuart played a vital role in constructing the original shelves for the library. Stuart, a retired National Geographic Magazine employee who settled in Barnardsville, dedicated his efforts to helping start the library. Although he passed away in 2014, his contributions are remembered with gratitude.

Chloe, the adolescent daughter of Kalyn Cogdill, shared her experience in the library, mentioning that she and her cousin would often come in to read books when they grew tired of making dream-catchers. Chloe particularly enjoys the library’s collection of Star Wars books.