New library opens in Cave City

By Kayla Baugh Published September 17, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Cave City Library board member Jill Pettersen, from left, librarian Vera Anderson and Friends of the Library member Jessica Anderson stand inside the Cave City Library. The new library opened in May in the former Bank of Cave City building, and the library’s grand reopening took place Aug. 22.

— Books have the ability to take readers to places they never thought possible — all they have to do is open their minds and a library door.

The new Cave City Library opened in May in the former Bank of Cave City building, and the library’s grand reopening took place Aug. 22.

John Beller, president of the Bank of Cave City, said he decided to donate the space after some inspiration from his grandmother, Avondale Street.

“My grandmother was a big supporter of the library. She was leader of the Friends of the Library and was really instrumental in getting the branch established here,” he said. “When [the bank] moved out of its old building in August 2015, she was in my office the first week we were in this new building telling me the old bank needed to be the new library.

“We thought she was right about that. From that day forward, we started trying to make that happen.”

Beller said the old bank was originally an automobile and tractor dealership but was converted to a bank in the ’70s.

The building was remodeled, and the garage and mechanic areas were transformed into interior space, he said.

“The library occupies the original showroom and office space,” he said. “It’s almost half of the building.”

Librarian Vera Mae Anderson said the area that formerly housed the library at 120 E. Spring St. was 620 square feet.

The new space is 3,000 square feet, she said.

Beller said some renovations took place before the new library opened, including installing new floors and lighting, applying fresh paint and adding walls.

The new location gives the library a lot more room to operate, he said, and now includes a handicap-accessible restroom.

“It was pretty cramped in the old space they had,” he said. “They now have a room dedicated to computer use, a very nice children’s room with books and seating, and a conference room.”

Beller said the library has needed a space to expand for a long time, and the new library has stayed busy since it opened.

“My office looks out over the parking area, and I’m shocked by the number of people who go in there,” he said. “Folks are really, really using it. There are almost always cars in the parking lot.”

Beller said his grandmother’s inspiration helped move the project along, and members of the community pitched in and worked together to make the project happen.

Street died two years ago, but Beller said many people view the library as a tribute to her.

Heather Landers, president of the Cave City Friends of the Library organization, said she’s ecstatic about the new library.

“For many years, my family banked at the building that now serves as the library, so I am proud to see the building serve our community in other ways,” she said.

Landers said a Facebook account was set up so patrons could make donations in honor or memory of loved ones, and donations have helped buy new items and materials for the library.

Anderson and members of the Friends of the Library purchased furniture and decorations for the library, she said.

“Those of us who currently serve within the organization have focused the past few years on the move and setup of the new library,” Landers said. “Now our focus is on promoting the library.”

Landers said she hopes members of the community see the value in having a library, as many people were unaware of the old one.

“I have been a school librarian for 14 years now and in education for 20, so I believe that one way our community will benefit is for the public library and school libraries to work together,” she said. “Mrs. Vera Mae [Anderson] has already agreed to purchase books requested by my students. I hope my students will share their love of libraries by visiting the public library with their families.”

Anderson, who has been the librarian for five years, said the library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“It is wonderful,” she said. “We have plenty of space to shelve the books.”

Anderson said the library is important because it supplies information to the community locally so people don’t have to travel to Batesville or Hardy.

Library cards are free, she said, and replacement cards are only $2.

“I think books connect us both to the past and the world around us in a way that’s hard to get from anything else,” Beller said. “We live in a small town, but you open a book, and whether it’s a story you’re reading, history you’re learning, or science and exploration, you can see and get a sense for it and learn about things that are so far beyond this good little place.

“Books connect us to each other and the world, so we’re really proud that we can provide a good home for those here in Cave City.”

For more information, contact the Cave City branch of the Sharp County Library System at (870) 283-6947.

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

None Kayla Baugh can be reached at 501-244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

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