Ashe Library Staff Settling in to Renovated Facilities

Librarians shuffled about the Ashe County Library on Monday, June 22, placing books on shelves and

organizing the library's many systems. Artist Stephen Shoemaker put the finishing touches on a wall mural and everyone stayed focused on getting the recently renovated library ready for the public.

The library closed the doors to their temporary location at Jefferson Station on June 13 and, within days, all the books and computers were back at the library's permanent home at 148 Library Drive in West Jefferson.

Ashe County Librarian Jim McQueen said that the move took three days, as he expected.

"The movers finished moving on Friday, so all the books are here. Now we're working on unpacking and getting settled," he said. "It went pretty smoothly considering that it was such a big job."

Youth Services Librarian Peggy Bailey said that several area youth were vital to the moving process.

"We have a lot of youthful workers that helped us with the move," she said. "We had at least 12 young adults - some because they love the library, some to build character and some to earn community service - but without them we would not have been able to move as quickly as we did."

Bailey also thanked everyone that checked out large numbers of books before the move, saying that "there were lots of blank shelves that we did not have to move."

McQueen said that they are still waiting on some furniture to be delivered and are putting the final touches on the library, a process he calls "overwhelming because there's so much to be done.

"We're constantly thinking of different things to add to the to-do list, and for every one thing that gets crossed off it seems that several other things come up," he said. "It's definitely going to take some time." He noted that "the little things that have come together thus far help us see the light at the end of the tunnel and how eventually everything will come together."

McQueen also said that they should still be open by July 1.

"As far as I know, there's nothing right now that indicates that we won't be able to make that," he said. "I don't know if we'll be able to make it any sooner than that, because that's very soon."

The organization process is taking time, but also allowing library staff to understand the facility they are working in. Even normal items, like space on shelving, has to be examined thoroughly.

"We've got pretty tall shelves, and with so much capacity it has sort of swallowed our collection," said McQueen. "So what we're going to do is take the books off the top shelves so that, for now, there will be a whole empty row on top. It will mean that people won't have to reach up far or look to see, so that will make it better for people in the short-term. In the long run, it will leave us with the capacity to expand when we need that space."

Bailey noted that the move has been partially confusing because "it's hard to find things. I go to where it used to be and that's not where it is now."

For now, however, McQueen said they are "glad to be here and have the move behind us"and "we're excited about opening back up and to have people come in and see everything once it's in it's finished state."

Bailey added, "we hope everybody will enjoy it and we can't wait to see their faces when they walk through the doors."

In the time before the library reopens, McQueen has urged anyone who currently has books checked out to keep the books instead of returning them. He noted that the library is not currently ready to receive the books and that all checked out items will be automatically renewed.

To find out more about the Ashe County Public Library, or for updates on when they will officially re-open, click to or call (336) 846-2041.

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