Twenty-five years ago, the Library in Cashiers opened its doors on a new era. Prior to that, Cashiers had a small lending library based out of the Community Center. The Johannsen Memorial Library started as a Village Lending Library with books donated mainly by the Johannsen family. Upon her death, the collection was given to the Community Center and the Memorial Library was born. It was staffed entirely by volunteers and relied on donations from the community. Open three days a week in the summer and one day a week in the winter, it was definitely a labor of love!
As the area grew and the population surged with both full year and part time residents, the community realized that a larger library was needed. The year was 1992 and it was the year the seed for the Albert Carlton – Cashiers Community Library was planted. Albert was a long time member of the Cashiers community and voracious reader had recently passed away. Carlton family friend and Library Steering Committee Co-Chair, Ervin Baumrucker reached out to Dr. Barbara Carlton about purchasing a site for the new library as a tribute to Albert.
Dr. Barbara, being a smart and careful woman, wanted a site plan and rendering to take to the family before making a decision. Upon seeing the plans, the Carlton family agreed that the library project would be a fitting tribute to Albert. In appreciation for the gift of the beautiful land we sit on now, the new library was named after Albert.
With land purchased and an agreement from Jackson County, fundraising for the project could begin in earnest. It was now June 1992. The community support for the library was soon to be shown in technicolor. Fundraising was completed in October 1992, just 4 short months after it began. Construction began the following year in June.
One year later, in July 1994, the Albert Carlton – Cashiers Community Library opened its brand new doors to the public. Included in that opening day collection were the items from the Johannsen Memorial Library, donations from the community, and items from Fontana Regional Library, our new mother Library. We still have items in circulation from that opening day collection, including items from Johannsen Memorial. (We also have one of the Johannsen Memorial’s accenssion logs from the 1970’s. Back in the days of hand entry and card catalogs!)
I’d like to call out the members of the Steering Committee, that made this all possible. Some were board members of the Johannsen Memorial Library, some, community leaders and business people, some, volunteers extraordinaire. Co-Chairs Ervin Baumrucker and J.B. McMechan. Nancy Bannerman, Janice Berglund, Rita Bond, Barbara Carlton, Mark Cheever, Will McKee, Vanna Cameron (Montgomery), Daniel Moors, Michael Osowski (architect), V.C. Smith, Judy Zachary.
That day in July, we opened with 6,000 sq feet, room for 20,000 books and periodicals, a meeting room, a children’s area, and no public computers. Today we have had 2 major expansions that have added a dedicated children’s room, a book store for the Friends of the Library, a conference room, a reading room, and a stage and dressing rooms. We currently have 7 public computers, 4 children’s tablets, laptops, high speed internet, public wi-fi, a state of the art audio visual system in the meeting room, programming for all ages, and we’re open slightly more than 1 day a week in the winter. (It’s five days a week we’re open, all year.) We also have DVDs and CDs and audiobooks, and magazines, and large print books, and foreign language materials. Oh, and just your standard book. Literally tons of those.
And even more than that, we have e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, streaming video, online newspapers, online databases and journals. We offer one-on-one technology help, Notary services, and proctoring services. We have a 3D printer the public can use. We also have projectors, screens, sewing machines, telescopes, Dremels, Arduino kits, Raspberry Pi kits, and robotics kits that can be CHECKED OUT! Yes, you can take those home with you for a week, no charge! (If you return them on time.)
We’ve had 4 Librarians, about 15 staff members, and countless volunteers in the last 25 years. Our Friends of the Library has been with us every step of the way. (Check out their website and join! Their support is crucial to our operations! Without the Friends, the Library would be much diminished.) We joined Fontana Regional Library to make us even better, and Fontana joined NC Cardinal, the statewide Library Lending service that gives us access to 6.4 MILLION items. All this in just 25 short years. Can you imagine what we’ll be doing in the next 25?
I, for one, am thrilled to be with this particular Library in this transformative time in the world in general and in libraries, particularly. It’s always an adventure and I invite you to join us on our journey. Help us meet the future head on and help us steer our stellar, no longer quite so small, Library to the horizon.
Of course, this is the part where I humbly ask for your support. There are many ways to support us. You can contact us about volunteer opportunities, you can donate gently used books to the Library AND the Friends of the Library book store. You can join the Friends of the Library here. You can stop by for a chat and toss 50 cents into the donation jar (or more, if you like). I am always happy to discuss ways in which you can donate time and/or money.
You can also contribute to the Albert Carlton – Cashiers Community Library Foundation. This Foundation is a non-profit organization administered by the Carlton family to financially support bricks and mortar needs of the Library. In just the past few years they have supplied funding for the new audiovisual system in the meeting room, shelves for the book store, and new chairs for the meeting room. None of these are particularly glamorous, but they are fundamental needs for a Library!
And last, but most certainly not least, share us with your friends and family and acquaintances and random strangers on the street. We are here for our community, to serve and support.
“The Heart of the Community, Enriching Lives and Inspiring the Future.”