ROCKINGHAM — More than 50 library lovers gathered in the conference room at Leath Memorial Library Friday for a presentation on all of the digital and analog resources the Sandhill Regional Library System has to offer.
Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris and Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless joined state Sen. Tom McInnis and Reps. Ken Goodman and Garland Pierce as part of their “Day in the District” as they first toured the library’s rows of books, reading rooms, and the historic room modeled after a parlor from the Leath family home.
SLRS Director Jesse Gibson said Library Supervisor Adrienne Williams is a “great ambassador for the library” as she led the group, speaking of the building’s history and the importance of having a library card or exploring NC LIVE online.
“It doesn’t matter which kind you get, whether it’s an online borrower or a physical card,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, ancestry is only accessible here in the library, so people can’t research from home. But we do have other databases on NC LIVE where you can do research on your ancestors.”
After the library tour, the group made its way into the conference room where dozens of residents were seated as Lauren Lutz, chorus director for Rockingham Middle School, brought in 17 members of her choir for a special performance.
“This is part of my select choir,” Lutz said. “We’re just pleased to be invited and have a chance to sing for the community.”
Gibson opened by thanking the City of Rockingham for funding renovations to the room that now sports new flooring and other improvements before handing the mic to Morris, who thanked everyone for coming out.
“For those of you who don’t know, the region is 15 branches, five counties and two Bookmobiles,” Gibson said. “Three are here in Richmond. Libraries build communities. North Carolina residents value their libraries because they know a library is a learning center. Last year, nearly 3 million residents attended a program at their library…and library staff helped over 2 million people use technology last year.”
He said a library card grants people access to more than 483 million items including ebooks, audiobooks, articles, movies and music.
Following the presentation, the floor was opened to attendees for comments or questions for the representatives and for the delegates to speak to the audience. McInnis was the first to stand up.
“The arts are very important, as you can see on the walls here and the beautiful music we heard, the fabulous piano,” he said. “I had the pleasure to go and see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ the other night, and of course Lauren has one of the lead roles. I’ve been to Broadway and seen a lot of things up there, and the only difference between Richmond County and our community theater and Broadway that night was the geography.”
The attendees applauded the comment from Sen. McInnis.
“We all have phobias,” said Goodman. “Mine is having to follow Tom McInnis.”
This gained him some laughter and applause before he continued.
“I grew up on Randolph Street,” he said. “Just about across the street from First Baptist Church. And I remember I would walk down Randolph Street, all the way to the old library on Leak Street, right up above the Tull pool. Used to go down there to storytime every Saturday morning. Got my first library card over 60 years ago, checked a book out every week. I am so grateful that my parents demanded reading. The library is such a valuable resource for the community.”
Goodman said he felt comfortable speaking for Pierce and McInnis when he said they would support the local libraries with tax money whenever they could.
“We’re just delighted to be at this institution that provides so many opportunities, a lot of hidden information,” said Pierce when he addressed the gathering. “People used to say if you wanted to hide something from someone, put it in a book. I encourage all of you to read. Reading can take you places that you might not ever be able to go buying a ticket or flying there, but you can always get a book.”
To learn more, visit your local library online at http://srls.libguides.com/SRLSHome.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673.