Harrisonburg, VA. — A little over a month ago, I wrote an article about the Massanutten Regional Library System’s closure of two of what they termed their two smallest branches in terms of both patrons and circulation – the Bergton, VA Library branch and the Stanley, VA Library branch.
In addition to the two branch closings, hours were reduced throughout the overall system. The closings and operational hour reductions were in response to a decrease in financial support from “local and state” governments, the latter having just boasted of a $400 million plus surplus. The two communities were stunned but vowed to reopen their library branches, despite having no experience in the nuances of this type of bureaucracy.
These closing of these two library branches stunned me as well, particularly as the shuttering of these buildings appeared to directly contradict what Rockingham County and Virginia state government pledged regarding education and support thereof. “Building people through Education,” the Rockingham Education Foundation proclaimed in 1994. Presumably, said educational construction would require some access, although perhaps this premise is so fundamental as to not necessitate emphasis.
Well, in amazing news like something out of Mayberry, RFD, the people of these small communities have organized to the extent that one library has already reopened and another is organizing under an active committee with plans to reopen by Spring of 2011.
According to Mellott’s Daily News Record articles on the subject, the Bergton, VA branch officially reopened on October 12 with a volunteer staff and is now part of the Rockingham County Recreation Department. The Country Recreation department owns the current building and some of the library equipment. A former 20-year veteran of the branch, Lois Moyers, will step into the role of a volunteer advisor.
The reopened library branch is open 3 days per week for a total of 18 ½ hours, as compared to the 13 hours per week it had served the community when part of Massanutten Regional Library system. Further, Massanutten Regional Library continues to use the Bergton site as an official book drop-off point for items borrowed under their now separate system.
The second branch that was closed back in September, the Stanley, VA branch, has not yet formally reopened but a 9-member board has been appointed to oversee the planned Spring 2011 opening.
The board will supervise the Stanley library reopening, library operations and the town council on library matters.
It remains to be seen how successful or smooth, or even permanent, these reopening will be. But it speaks a great deal about the communities who were able to come together in times of need and work together toward solutions. It speaks even more about the silence of the state officials and agencies on this matter – even as their $400 million surplus continues to collect interest.
Mellott, Jeff. “Community, County Reopen Bergton Library: Supervisors to Make Board Appointments.” Daily News Record. October 13, 2010.
Mellott, Jeff. “Stanley Council Appoints 9-Member Library Board: Reopening of Services Expected Next Spring.” Daily News Record. October 15, 2010.