The Shepherdstown Public Library has occupied the iconic market house building at the center of downtown Shepherdstown for 100 years. That’s a lot of time to accumulate books — and memories.
But come July 22, library director Hali Taylor and the library staff will cheer on the ribbon-cutting for a brand new library building just outside of downtown Shepherdstown. The new facility will provide plenty of space to house the entire book and media collection, plus several meeting and special-purpose rooms. And plenty of convenient parking — always an issue at the downtown library.
Local Access to a Statewide Network
The Shepherdstown library is one of three public libraries in Jefferson County operating as part of the Statewide Library Network overseen by the West Virginia Library Commission (the library in Charles Town is also a public library, but is an independent non-profit corporation that operates independently of the commission). Along with Bolivar-Harpers Ferry and South Jefferson, the Shepherdstown library has a mission to serve residents county-wide.
The Jefferson County libraries also work closely with the Martinsburg-Berkeley County public library (which has a main building in downtown Martinsburg and three branch buildings) and the Morgan County and Paw Paw public libraries to provide a network of resources for residents across the Eastern Panhandle. If you have a library card from any library in the statewide network, you have a library card that works at all of the libraries in the network — and you can have books and other media from any of the other libraries delivered to your preferred location.
Public Support, Private Donations
The public libraries are supported by a mix of state and local funding augmented by private donations. For the Shepherdstown library, Taylor estimates that the state funding for next year will cover one third of operating costs, while local funding (from the County Commission, the Board of Education, and the Town of Shepherdstown) will cover forty percent of operating costs. The remaining balance will be supported by fundraising, spearheaded by the Friends of the Shepherdstown Library, which also led the campaign to raise funds for the construction of the new library facility.
A Bigger Building, A Bolder Vision
Taylor was animated as she gave a tour of the new building. “This is the fun part. It’s been a twenty year project of discussing, planning and raising funds. Getting to see it all come together now is exciting.” The first thing you notice when you enter the building is the light. High ceilings and lots of windows make it a bright and inviting space.
Talking about space, Taylor compared the old with the new: “the children’s library upstairs at the market house is roughly 900 square feet. We have 3,500 square feet just for the children in the new building. The expansion allows for separate areas for children, tweens, and young adults, but it all flows seamlessly in one large room.”
The adult section is separated from the childrens room and both spaces are surrounded by smaller rooms that can accommodate a variety of activities, both noisy and quiet, without interrupting patrons in the main rooms. There is a large conference room that Taylor says will be available for community use. This conference space comes equipped with multiple televisions, a separate kitchen, and access to the outdoor patio, so it can be used for both meetings and receptions.
The Shepherdstown Public Library will be located at 145 Higbee Lane, Shepherdstown WV. Phone 304-876-2783, web: ShepLibrary.org. Ribbon cutting ceremonies (with kid-friendly activities) will be held on July 22, 3-5 pm. The library will open for patrons on July 23. Volunteers are still needed to help pack and move books (signup at the Friends’ website, FOSLWV.org).
What’s Next for the Old Library
The market house building is owned by the Town of Shepherdstown. Once the library moves out, the Town will have a professional assessment of the building’s condition to determine what repairs are needed. After that, the Town Council will have a public discussion about how to use the space as well as how to fund renovations and future maintenance needs.