Donated Books and the Old County Jail
The Greene County Library had its beginnings in the 1960's when a committee, spearheaded by members of the Home Demonstration and Lions Clubs, formed to explore the idea of a library and to generate support for its formation. Books were donated and permission granted to use the old County Jail for the first library in Greene County. Volunteers worked the hours that the library was open.
It became apparent that old textbooks and worn-out fiction were not enough to satisfy the community's need for library services. Former editor of the local newspaper, Mozelle Brown, president of the Home Demonstration Club, Hurford and Ethel Davison, and Brooks Silvette, a local writer and artist, campaigned to promote improved library service in Greene. As a member of the Friends of the Library in Charlottesville, Mrs. Silvette was influential in the decision for Greene County to become part of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system.
As part of the regional system, Greene County received bookmobile service in early 1974 at the Corner Store, Ruckersville, Quinque, Stanardsville, and Dyke. After negotiation between the County Board of Supervisors and the JMRL Board of Trustees, the Greene County Branch Library opened its doors in October 1974 in a small brick building on Main Street in Stanardsville, formerly known as the Gibson residence. Space was limited and parking a problem, but Greene patrons were happy to have a library that was open for 24 hours a week.
A One-Day Move!
In January 1982, the library moved to the Shank Building a former laundromat and plumbing business on Stanard Street. Thanks to volunteers and good organization, the move was made in one day. This new facility had one large room for the adult collection, two smaller rooms for juvenile books and a room for meetings and story hours.
In 1987, the installation of a system-wide automated catalog and record-keeping system had a huge impact on Greene's circulation, giving patrons greater access to the collections at all of the regional library branches.
Community support again played a vital role in the 1992 growth of the Greene County Library as it expanded into the renovated garage area adjacent to the library, enabled by a County Library fund-raising project which augmented Greene County's Board of Supervisor's funding and Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library funding. Dr. Janet Rowley, formerly of Greene County, donated $10,000 towards this project in memory of her parents, Ethel and Hurford Davison. The Ruckersville Ruritans acted as general contractor and provided the labor for most of the project. Staff and volunteers shifted the entire collection during a week in February. The new room, which housed the children's collection and provided space for children's programs, was dedicated on April 25, 1992.
Savoring the Present, Anticipating the Future
Since July 1996, the Library has had a professional librarian as branch manager. From July 1997 to June 1998, this Library circulated 86,515 items, almost doubling the circulation of 1992, had 5,879 registered patrons (an impressive showing for a county with an estimated population of 14,200), and a collection of 21,785 items.
As Greene County continued to grow the Library was busier than ever. It was clear that the building did not permit the Library to keep up with the need for space, nor was the building accessible for residents with disabilities. In the late 1990s a group of people in the community, led by Betty Gaylord, then the Greene County trustee on the JMRL board, began planning for a new library building.
As the County faced financial shortfalls, outside funding was essential. Fortuitously, Jefferson Area Board for Aging was also seeking a larger facility in Greene County to provide services, and a fundraising partnership was formed consisting of the Greene County Library and JABA. Many individuals contributed time and effort during this early phase to raise awareness and begin the fundraising activities that included a book sale, a children's poster contest, and donation boxes made by the County Technical Education Center for placement in local businesses. A gift of $10,000 from the Regional Friends of the Library enabled the commission of preliminary architectural drawings of the joint facility by Glenn Reynolds of Blacksburg, Virginia. The cooperative aspect of the project appealed to state legislators, the Perry Foundation, and the Greene County Board of Supervisors with all of these providing significant funding. Later fundraising efforts continued to show community involvement including a benefit concert by local high school musicians, a swim-a-thon put on by a local swim team, and a commemorative brick campaign. All the hard work made the goal a reality with the official ground breaking for the new library/senior center building on December 13, 2001.
The Future is Here!
Construction on the new building continued, with the only major setback being a windstorm in the spring of 2002, during which the metal superstructure of the second floor blew down. By the cold winter of 2003 most of the building work was interior, but there still was no parking lot and the severe weather caused delays. However, on May 20, 2003 the library in its old location closed its doors and the big move to the new building commenced. As with previous moves, there was community support. While the library had hired movers to pack and transport the books, once the unpacking began, all the books were back on the shelves in one day. Volunteers hung pictures and signage and shelf-read the entire collection. Getting the phone and computer lines working took a bit longer but finally, the long awaited day arrived. On June 3, 2003, the library opened its doors. Record crowds in the library heralded a very busy summer, as residents of Greene began to find the library in its new location, and the summer reading program got under way. Enthusiasm was overflowing on June 28 as the community celebrated with dedication ceremonies for the new building.
The New Space is a Leap Forward
Library space has been quintupled to 8,000 square feet - lots of room to expand the collection. Completely accessible now, the new branch includes staff workspace, a community meeting room, and a reading garden.
The Library continued to expand with new programming, technology, and lending of books and media. In 2004, a monthly book club for adults was started with sixteen enthusiastic members who enjoy talking about books. In 2005 the library inaugurated a monthly film series for adults combining documentary, indie and current feature films, followed with coffee, dessert, and occasional speakers. In the summer of 2007, the Sharks book club for tween and young teen guys, run by volunteer men from the community, began filling a need for reading role models for boys. The next summer, by popular demand, library staff started a similar reading club for girls, called Rapunzels. That group began to meet year-round in 2010, bringing girls the pleasures of discussing great books. In the summer of 2013, the Sharks book club, still run by volunteer men, began to meet year-round. In 2012 the staff increased with a part-time Young Adult Specialist and teen services took a leap forward with the establishment of a Teen Advisory Board (TAB) and bi-monthly teen programs on Friday evenings. Also in 2012 the library expanded opportunities for early literacy with a second story-time program for younger children geared for ages one and two. In 2013 the TAB started a co-ed teen book club, the Bibliophiles, so that teens could reap the benefits of group discussion over thought provoking novels.
During the first decade in the new building the Library continued to expand technology to benefit County residents. A computer reservation system for the public internet stations was installed, as well as wifi service and wireless printing, and self checkout. Self pickup of holds began in early 2010. Internet speed and wireless equipment was upgraded in 2012 and 2013. Color copying and scanning for the public, as well as digital signage came to the Library in 2013. By 2013 circulation of materials grew over 24% since the opening in 2003, and expanded to include new print collections such as popular Spanish fiction and adult graphic novels. Downloadable audio and ebooks became available in 2011. Because of increased use of the library, security cameras were installed to protect the building and increase safety.
The Greene County Library continues to be a community hub with an active Friends of the Library Group, which sponsors many initiatives in the branch including a huge Summer Reading Kick-off party each June, and a yearly Festival of the Book program. A large group of volunteers contributes in many ways to make this library a beautiful, engaged center of culture, entertainment and education in Greene County.