The Union County Carnegie Library recently won the National Library Journal’s Best Small Library in America Award, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That led to state lawmakers passing a concurrent resolution honoring the library. Nancy Rosenwald was hired by the county library board three and a half years ago.
She says, “She was longing to return to South Carolina from her home in Connecticut, and was attracted by a photograph of the historic building.” Officials credit her with completely transforming the library, crafting it into an operation that really serves local communities, and does so on a minimal budget.Rosewald says, “When residents from the many areas around the large, mostly rural county can’t come to the libary, the bookmobile goes to them, and takes specific requests, it’s like the library is coming to you. Rab Peak, our bookmobile driver may read to children, go out to day cares, take books to senior citizens, and stay on the road around the county more than 37 hours a week.”
To bolster service, fines and fees were eliminated, but Rosenwald says the library didn’t loose revenue due to donations and money from other sources.
Rosenwald says the library’s circulation desk greets people as they enter the facility, and immediately offers help in finding what the visitor needs. She says many patrons visit the library every day like a second home, and feel like the staff there are their friends. “And we try to provide for the people in Union County anything that any large library would provide. And the next thing we’ll be doing is teaching people how who to use music and video downloads and teaching people how to use mp3 players and all of that.’
Union County Library staff are also creating a data base carrying information and photos from the many local cemeteries in the area. The “Tombstone 2.0” project is funded by a federal Library Services Act grant. Rosenwald says many cemeteries are entrusted to the care of individuals, who may or may not have the means to take care of them. Volunteers with the project photograph grave markers and they will soon be put on line. Rosenwald says Union County Library’s genealogy and cemetery guest book has been signed by people from all over the world.