It began as a dream in 2007 and through all the ups and downs that come with new projects, the Durbin Community Library opened its doors Saturday with a celebration of the past, present and future.
Pocahontas County Free Libraries director Vicky Terry welcomed visitors and shared gratitude to all the volunteers who made the library possible.
“Welcome to the new Durbin Community Library,” she said. “It’s so much fun to say that. As you look around today, you might notice, we’re not quite finished with the building, but that’s okay. I think it’s important to point out that all of this was done as we raised the funds. If we didn’t have the money, we didn’t do anything. When we got donations in, we did another part of the project. The library didn’t go into debt.”
While the building is still awaiting completion of its kitchen, the library is stocked with books, computers and information a-plenty for visitors.
The word of the day was volunteer. As Terry said, without volunteers, there would not be a new building.
“I’ve been completely amazed by the dedication of the volunteer work that has gone into this and the dedication of the volunteers,” Terry said. “I’ve been amazed by the quality of volunteer help we’ve had on this project and the generosity of donors, both people who live here in Durbin, in the county and people who have moved away but obviously left a little piece of their heart here in Durbin.”
Terry recognized library board member Sue Ann Heatherly who was a driving force in getting the new library built.
Heatherly beamed as she spoke about the many possibilities for which the library can be used.
“I can’t wait to see it full of people checking books out, having youth programs and I may even teach a little Zumba in this room,” she said. “I have been on the library board for a really long time and when I started, the Durbin Public Library was in the old fire building – the cinderblock building across the street here.”
While the building was useful to house the library, it was not ideal. When the Durbin community decided to build a new library, the current library moved from the cinderblock building into a storefront on Main Street provided by the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative.
Heatherly recognized the UPCC for its dedication and assistance to the library.
“They helped us raise money since the very beginning,” she said. “They gave us library space on Main Street so we wouldn’t have to close our doors as we realized this dream.”
In the end, the purpose for the building is to be used, and Heatherly said it is important for everyone to make use of the new facility and keep the library a part of the community.
“It’s up to us who live in this part of the county to use this library,” she said. “The best thing you can do for the continued vitality of this library is to use it, use it often, and use it well, for a variety of purposes. I hope to see everybody in here making great use of this space.”
Executive Secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission Karen Goff addressed the crowd and congratulated the community on its new facility.
“I really appreciate having gotten the invitation to be here,” she said. “You don’t know how rare library openings are. I get the opportunity to go to maybe one a year. My job mainly is to help West Virginia’s libraries be the best they can be and you are doing a fantastic job.”
Goff said some people may only see it as a small library in a small state, but it is important to remember the importance of small things.
Drawing inspiration from the children’s book “The King of Little Things,” by West Virginia author Bill Lepp, Goff said the little things are more important than you may think.
“When you’re tempted to think your library is small, please remember ‘The King of Little Things,’” she said. “You notice that all those little things work together just like you all have worked together to make this library a reality.”
Goff added that it is important to keep the library at the center of the community.
“The reality is that libraries are essential to their communities and they cannot be lost,” she said. “Public libraries support business and economic growth. Public libraries help us understand ourselves, our place in the world and the heritage of communities like this one. Public libraries build healthy communities by providing free access to reliable information and that helps us form our opinions and make decisions.”
In West Virginia, there are 97 library systems housed in 172 outlets and buildings. A total of 5.5 million people visit public libraries each year and 1.2 million of those visitors are Internet users, and when 6.2 million items are checked out each year it pretty much debunks the myth that books are on the endangered specie list, Goff said.
“Libraries don’t just passively wait for people to walk in,” Goff said. “They lure them in with an amazing range of programs. I recently read an article in which the author said, ‘great opportunities to help other seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.’ This library is a home for those small opportunities to do good every day.”
Goff presented the library with a signed copy of “The King of Little Things,” and $5,000 to be used to purchase books.
Former PCFL director Allen Johnson recognized the former librarians who served the Durbin Community, including Ella Greathouse, Mary Gillispie, Maria Tenney, Pam Ford, Tara Bauserman, Mindy Bond and current librarian, Nancy Egan.
Building Committee member Judy Fuller and librarian Nancy Egan also spoke at the event, with Fuller giving a timeline of the library – from inception of plan to completion.
Three historians were also at the grand opening to provide information on the history of Durbin and surrounding areas. Bill McNeel discussed the history of the use of trains in Durbin, Terry Hackney spoke about the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and Jason Bauserman provided information on the businesses and government in Durbin.