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Village Friends Organization Donates $50K to MRL’s Village Renovation

For Dale Kipps, a founding member of the Village Library and a former president of the Friends of the Village Library, the organization recently realized a longtime dream to expand its current facility. To celebrate, the Friends organization kicked off Massanutten Regional Library's fundraising campaign for the Village Library Renovation with a $50,000 donation.

The Village Library in the Broadway/Timberville area was started by volunteers in 1975. The Friends organization, which has members who were among the original founders, formed in 2000.

A Main Street building that formerly housed the Ace Hardware store will soon become the new home for Village Library, while the existing library facility on Central Street will house the Broadway Police Department. The new library will offer patrons some 5,000 square feet, a substantial expansion over the library's current 1,600 square foot building.

The expansion idea moved forward when the Broadway Town Council approached Massanutten Regional Library about moving its Village Library facility. The Town subsequently purchased the old hardware store, and concrete plans for the project were soon underway. Under an agreement between the two entities, MRL will lease the Main Street library for one dollar per year for a minimum of forty years.

"Patrons' use of Village Library has grown to the point that sufficient space for normal library activities is lacking. Five public computer workstations crowd the check-out and information desk, causing a bottleneck when the branch is busy. The reading seating area is limited to only ten seats. The children's story hour is oftentimes too crowded. Village Library has no space for after school activities or meetings," states Massanutten Regional Library Director of Development Kim Haines.

"We are thrilled to donate this money," says current Village Library Friends President Karen Morris. "We have needed more room. Every time we have an event, we are crammed for space. We plan to be involved with the move and with more events and programming, not only for the library, but for the community."

"The library started out in the old Broadway school building. We painted the shelves. Ruby Hoover, a retired school teacher, spoke to various organizations and citizens asking for a budget commitment. We were open three days a week and on Monday nights. We had a board of about 25 members, divided into committees. We had a committee pick out books; we had a committee pick out magazines. We had a lady make curtains. We were a mostly volunteer library for some 15-20 years," says Kipps with pride.

It was in 2000, according to Kipps, that Massanutten Regional Library took over the administrative portion of the Village Library. She states that "the computer age had a lot to do with the welcomed takeover. The Friends did not have the background in computer technology, and, all along MRL had supported us during our volunteer years. We have always been extremely grateful for this support."

According to Haines, the Village expansion is more than justified with the current business and economic climate. "While libraries remain an essential tool for education, exploration, and preservation of local history, today's patrons demand additional services. During the past three years, public use computers at all branches have become a portal to job opportunities, job searches, job applications, and job training. Almost all employment openings today require online applications and subsequent email accounts for applicants. Forty percent of local low income households do not have Internet access at home, compared to 19 percent of the population in general. Every year thousands of local job seekers come to Massanutten Regional Library branches for help applying for jobs and setting up email accounts. Our librarians and other staff provide this personal service and the Internet access for free. Last year, Village Library patrons logged 6,199 hours of free computer use.

"We are thrilled that the Village Library project is under way. This is a busy and beloved branch, and it is long overdue for expansion," Haines says.

Village Branch Manager Barbara Andes adds, "With our upcoming move to Main Street, it is an exciting time for our library. The Main Street location will offer more visibility, and most importantly, much needed space for materials and programming."

According to Kipps, Broadway/Timberville citizens over the years gave parts of their estates, interest from their CDs, and memorial funding to the Friends organization in hopes that one day the library would expand.

The $50,000 gift, along with previously donated funds, leaves $125,000 for Massanutten Regional Library to raise for the Village Library project. The total cost of the Village renovation will amount to approximately $300,000.

"Broadway/Timberville citizens certainly have been forward thinking and have aided this project with their endowments and memorials," states Haines.

Village Library, which serves the entire northern portion of Rockingham County, is the third busiest branch out of Massanutten Regional Library's seven locations. Since 1990, the Broadway/Timberville population has grown 82 percent. Village Library's circulation of borrowed items has increased 41 percent over 10 years.

In the past year Village held 126 programs attended by 2,434 people, and 698 area children participated in this branch's Summer Reading Games, and the staff answered 3,497 reference questions.

Renovation is slated to be finished with an opening scheduled for early 2013.


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