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July 14, 2015

Waynesboro Celebrates 100 Years of Progress

-BY MICHELLE MITCHELL

Cake, photo booths, and music showed evidence of a birthday party Tuesday in Waynesboro. However, this was not an ordinary birthday party—the Waynesboro Public Library celebrated turning 100 years old on Tuesday. 

The library stepped back into the past with open house tours of the old Carnegie building on 11th Street and Walnut Avenue.

For children, the centennial offered a birthday party with WVPT’s Cubby the Bear. Photo booths captured the day, and Farm Fresh Fixins’ Food Truck fed the attendees.  

For live entertainment, Impressions Theater presented Red Robin Hood and His Merry Band. Heiftez Music played, as well as The Rockin’ Daddies blues group.

In tribute to the library, the centennial held a ceremony. People of all ages gathered to talk and listen about what the library has offered over the years. In addition, how the library will prosper in the future was also a topic.

“Of course its an exciting and happy occasion,” Zahir Mahmoud, the library’s executive director, said. “It’s about growth and change. It’s about change and meeting the demands of the community; it’s all about making accommodations.”

Mahmoud said change has been an important part of the library’s 100-year legacy.  From moving buildings, to changing media platform, the library must evolve with the community and technology.

Dr. Lowell Lemons, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, presided over the ceremony. Rev. Ruth Graham held prayer, and Boy Scout Troop 25 posted the colors.

Distinguished guests, Michael Hamp, City Manager of Waynesboro, and Joseph B. Yount III, spoke highly of the Waynesboro Public Library. They shared what the library has meant personally and for the community.  

“So many of you here today realize what a treasure we enjoy in our public library,” Hamp said. “Its collection expands our knowledge, grows our spiritually, assists us in becoming more self reliant, informs us of current events, connects us to our pass, presses our emotions, fuels our imagination. In this place, we feed our minds, emotions, and spirits.”

Yount told stories of how generations of librarians impacted his life and his family.

Drama tells the story

The event also had a special dramatic presentation of the River City Radio Hour. The group performed their serial entitled “Ladies of the Library,” providing details about the group of women who founded it.     

Sandra Treadway, Virginia’s State Librarian, took the stage and laughed fondly about how closely her address intertwined with Hamp and Yount. It seemed that everyone in the room agreed on one thing: the library has been and will always be relevant to all generations.

Treadway noted how back in 1915, when the Waynesboro library was founded, information was very hard to come by. It was only in books and one must have a conversation with a librarian.

With technology at people’s fingertips, Treadway said that some people do not understand the importance.

“What I find occasionally, though it still boggles my mind, people who are very tech savvy and using these devices, say ‘do we really need public libraries going forward? Aren’t the library’s days numbered? Won’t books be obsolete?’ I think if you believe a library is just about books and information, that may be a fair question, but I think you’ve heard some today that’s not only what libraries have been about,” Treadway said.

She explained how there is much more to the libraries than just books and papers. She spoke of the importance of educating children, being a part of the community, offering help with technology, offering free Internet, and etcetera.

Treadway and Mahmoud both said that the libraries see an abundant amount of people who come to use technology.

“I think as we see look at the trend of the last 10 years of digital media and devices, I think its going to be the trend for the future,” Mahmoud said. “I think people will depend more on local libraries for devices and free Internet access.”

He said the attendance was great, and it reflects how the community supports the library.

“I think it was great, great turnout. We had a lot of people coming in to different parts of the program,” Mahmoud said. “It speaks about the community taking pride in the library. It talks about the fact that yes they are aware what we are all about. “

As it has before, Mahmoud said the library will keep revolving to make adaptations for the community. The library hopes to still be accommodating the community in another 100 years.