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Can value be placed on a library? Not for many Pickens countians

library1    In 2013, 83,000 patrons visited the library checking out 96,000 items. The library boasts just over 41,000 books, 16 adult computers and eight children’s computers.   

   David Kiser considers the Pickens County Library his second home. Kiser is in his 70s and, like many local residents, takes advantage of the vast number of services the library offers on a daily basis. The first of which is knowledge.

    The library had its beginning in 1932 and today it may be vastly different from its humble beginnings but the services it provides to people is the same.
    The library as we know it today has been in operation for 17 years and Mr. Kiser visits almost daily.
    “I don’t know what I’d do without the library,” the retired Pickens resident said. “I use everything at the library - from checking out books to looking up things on the internet. I’m surprised a lot of times that I’ll be thinking about a book and they’ll have it on the shelf. If they don’t they are always good about ordering it from another library.”
    In its infancy, Home Demonstration Agent Henrietta White Darnell borrowed 50 books at a time from the Georgia State Library Commission and checked them out to her club members. As the books were read, they were returned and 50 more obtained.
    Then in 1934, a librarian was hired through a federal program and this assistance made it possible to officially say that Pickens County had a public library.
    The library was housed in the courthouse until it burned in 1947. While the then new courthouse was under construction, the library was housed at Pickens County High School (now Jasper Elementary). When the courthouse was finished in 1949 the library was given a small room in the basement.
    Years later in 1957 local officials joined hands with Cherokee and Gilmer counties to make possible the establishment of a regional library headquartered in Canton. The following year, the Pickens library became affiliated with the Sequoyah Regional Library. This union upgraded the local library, putting it under the guidance of a regional director and making many services available to our county, including a bookmobile.
    The library was housed in the courthouse until 1970 when the Jasper Lions club donated the Woman’s Club building (Tom Quinton Memorial Arts Center) to the library. The library remained here for a decade, moving across the street in 1980  in what is now the board of education conference center.
    Thanks to the diligent work of many local residents in 1996, a state-of-the-art 11,000 square foot library was opened at 100 Library Lane. Over the years the volume of books has increased along with the technology available.
    The tremendous growth in Pickens has made this current building inadequate in space, and land is available for an addition. Plans to increase the size of the current building are in the works and officials hope to  fund the work through the upcoming SPLOST set to be voted on later this month.
    Library services intersect with things like retention and graduation rates, teaching, learning, research, accreditation, and other pieces of our community’s overall mission of cultural and academic literacy.
    According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study published late last year, Americans strongly value the role of public libraries in our communities, both for providing access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life.
    “The library gives me a chance to ask questions and find out anything I need to know about,” Kiser said.
    In 1932 a torch was lit and it has been kept burning for over 80 years by dedicated public officials and concerned citizens. May it ever be so.

    The vast majority of Americans, according to the Pew study, say that public libraries play an important role in their communities:

    *95% of Americans agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;
    *95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;
    *94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;
    *81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.

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