Polk County’s new library building draws more visitors

Published 2:09 pm Monday, December 8, 2008

The new library building next to Isothermal Community College Polk Campus on Hwy. 108 replaced a much smaller and outdated building on Walker Street in Columbus. The Polk library had outgrown the 1967 building, now used for the Polk County Schools Virtual Early College, many years before it moved out of the space.

Polk County commissioner Warren Watson, who is also a liaison on the library board, recently shared the increased usage figures and other recent achievements for the library with fellow county commissioners. The following is Watson&squo;s report on Polk County library distinctions and achievements since the grand opening of the new library building in June of 2006.

The library&squo;s program of library services for county residents has grown remarkably since the new building opened in 2006, according to statistics comparing Polk County to the North Carolina library average.

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The larger space at the library affords many more opportunities for library programs. With regard to children&squo;s programming, for instance, the most recent Summer Reading Club program attracted 2,320 attendees over 32 sessions, an exceptional increase over those conducted before the library opened in 2006. And the Bookmobile continues to represent around 15 percent of the library&39;s circulation.

Library staff members have also received several distinctions and new responsibilities since the new library opened its doors in 2006:

&ull; Children&squo;s Librarian Joy Sharp won statewide recognition for her project &dquo;A Country Fair.&dquo; This was the second year in a row that one of her programs was designated &dquo;Best Children&squo;s Library Program in a Small Library.&dquo;

&ull; Community Relations Specialist Tracey Daniels created a program, the &dquo;Literary Summit,&dquo; that garnered the award of &dquo;Best Publicity Program in a Small Library.&dquo; The library has won two such awards since the new library opened in 2006.

&ull; Reference and Adult Services Librarian Cindy Nanney has been selected by the State Library of North Carolina to become a certified Master Trainer, which will add a staff training element to the library&squo;s program of operation.

The library&39;s director, Mark Pumphrey, has just completed a seven-year tenure as Polk County&squo;s e-Champion. A steering committee Mark formed in 2001 evolved into what is now e-Polk, Inc., and Mark has continued to serve as an officer of the group. e-Polk&squo;s main accomplishment has been the PANGAEA fiber network that now extends throughout much of Polk and Rutherford counties. Mark was recently recognized by the e-Polk board with a plaque, &dquo;For Meritorious Service To Our Community as Polk County&39;s First and Only e-Champion.&dquo;

In addition to this honor, Pumphrey has recently received some new responsibilities and distinctions:

&ull; On the national level, he was recently appointed to a two-year term on the president&squo;s leadership initiative work group of the American Library Association, because of his expertise in literacy.

&ull; Pumphrey is also a member of the American Library Association&squo;s committee on literacy, which he will chair from July, 2009 through June, 2011. He also serves on two national committees on the Public Library Association.

&ull; Here in North Carolina, Pumphrey will soon begin a one-year term as the president of the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association. The public library directors chose Pumphrey in 2006 as North Carolina&squo;s &dquo;Public Library Director of the Year,&dquo; as well as naming Polk County&39;s new library building as the &dquo;Best New Facility in the Small Library Category.&uot;

&ull; And closer to home, Pumphrey has just completed a year as chairperson of the Board of &dquo;Together We Read,&dquo; a Southern Appalachian book discussion program held each year in the 21 westernmost North Carolina counties.