Abbeville County Library Board chairman Shirley Emden shed a few tears Sunday afternoon at the ribbon cutting of the new Abbeville County Library; these were not tears of sadness, but of joy.
Years ago, Emden and her husband were sitting on the front porch of their home and talking about a need for a bigger space for the library and a building that had become vacant. That building was the former Winn Dixie grocery store in town.
“My dad and she said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to purchase the Winn Dixie building (for the library),’” stated their daughter, Rebecca Farmer.
That vision became a reality when the library system purchased the building. The county provided money to renovate it, which started near the end of last year. The results of those efforts brought the tears to Emden’s eyes while she was touring the new facility on Sunday.
“Words cannot describe how I feel about this building,” Emden stated as she looked around at all the books lining the shelves, and the people enjoying the fruits of her dream.
During the dedication ceremony, Mary Elizabeth Land, the director of the Abbeville County Library System, reflected on how libraries, and the images of librarians, have changed over the last 20 years.
“Today, libraries are community centers, where students get help after school, job seekers research employment opportunities, visitors check their email, and DVDs and books-on-cd get checked right along with traditional books,” said Land. “And as libraries change, so does the image of librarians, thank goodness! These days, you are much more likely to find a librarian who is conversant in database searching than you are to find one with hair in a bun, telling you to shush.”
Land also commented on the importance of a library to a rural community.
“Studies consistently show that the public library is often the only place outside of school that a low-income child can find a book,” the director stated. “Now, public libraries are often the only place outside of school where low-income children and adults can use a computer and learn to navigate the Internet.”
Lifelong resident Brad Evans, who attended the ceremony with his wife and children, thinks this is a “great addition to Abbeville County. I think all the people involved have done a great job.”
Adrian Wells said the new location will provide an additional benefit to her and her daughter, Jasmine,as they will be getting more exercise since they will be able to walk to the library now. The younger Wells stated that she likes to read and sees many walks in her future.
The new library is located at 1407 North Main Street, Abbeville. The hours of operation are: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday-9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday-9 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Saturday-9 a.m.-3 p.m.