Thursday, August 1, 2013

Celebrate@ your library

Celebrate@your library

Some Goochlanders stood in the snow on January 18,2003 to pass books hand to hand from the old library to the new. 

The Goochland Branch Library, located at 3075 River Road West in Courthouse Village is celebrating its 10th Anniversary on Friday, August 2 from noon to 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of the Goochland Library (FOGL), the event will feature live local music and artist displays; Parrots of Paradise; fun activities; door prizes; and, of course, birthday cake.

Many thought it would be a cold day in hell before Goochland County got a new library to replace the 2,800 square foot former bank building it had called home since 1974. The old building was so cramped that books were shelved on window sills and was barely handicapped accessible.

Although the county’s first capital improvement plan—in 1989 essentially an unfunded wish list—included an expanded central library and smaller branch, entreaties to build it fell on deaf ears for many years.

FOGL president Pat Atherholt of Manakin, who took up the drumbeat for an expanded library from the late Erma Britt, refused to give up. She worked with Democrat Earl Dickinson of Louisa, who represented Goochland in the General Assembly, to secure three $100,000 state appropriations for the project. The Friends and the county joined forces and funds that resulted conceptual plans to enlarge the old building to 6,000 square feet that gathered dust for a few years.

In 2000, the county purchased the site of the “new” library and finally appropriated additional funds for its construction.

On January 18, 2003, a frigid, snowy Saturday, the impossible came to pass when 259 volunteers moved 37,000 books from the old building to the new library, 368 days after breaking ground.

A cross section of the community—including offenders from the Virginia Correctional Center for Women and a myriad of local civic organizations and just plain folks—pitched in.

Initially the move was to be completed using a human chain stretching from the old building, opposite the Courthouse, to the new. Given the glacial weather, the move was streamlined to keep most of the movers indoors and pickup trucks ferried the tomes along River Road West.

Books were taken off the shelves in predetermined order and passed hand to hand to a fleet of volunteer trucks manned by our dear Rotarians. When the trucks arrived at the new library, they were unloaded and passed person to person to their new home. A little after 1 p.m. library manager Janet Melton placed the last book, a biography The Pigman and Me by Paul Zindel on a shelf.

Shuttling between libraries with a big grin on her face, Atherholt profusely thanked all participants. Book movers chatted about their favorite reads as volumes passed through their fingers, greeted old friend and made new ones before day ended.

Before the doors were closed and the heat turned on, the new library had lived up to one facet of its mission statement: to be a place for community engagement.

The official dedication occurred a bit later in the year on a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Once open, the library seemed as though it had been there forever. Every day our amazing staff tirelessly serves patrons. Books, DVDs, audio books, magazines and other materials stream in and out. The online Pamcat catalog lets patrons order materials for pick up in Goochland. Go to to view all services.

The meeting room soon became a favorite location for meetings and events of all sorts and almost constantly in use.

The Pamunkey Regional Library is a consortium of several counties who pool their resources to provide a wide range of library materials and services to patrons. Interlibrary loan of other materials can also be arranged.

From the start, the library computers have provided the only high speed internet access available to some citizens. A modest expansion currently underway will add additional computers. The structure is funded by cash proffer money collected from new homes. The computers and furniture will be funded by FOGL.

Pamunkey Library cards are free to all Goochland residents. Neighboring jurisdictions like Henrico have reciprocity agreements with the Pamunkey system which enable you to use their materials at no charge.

Please visit and get to know your library. Take a look around and don’t miss the story well and wildlife mural in the children’s section. Painted by local artist Patti Rosner, the mural was funded by FOGL, including a bequest by the late Eva Foster a former District 5 supervisor, and depicts animals that do and did live in Goochland.

FOGL also helps fund programs throughout the year as well as some capital expenses including things like furniture and signage.

The Goochland Branch Library is a local treasure. Come see why and have some cake!


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