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Ann Richardson (left) Carol Ann Engakov, and Julie Hall (far right) along with family and friends receive a check for $10,000.

Friends of the Berryville Library recently announced an annual pledge of $10,000 to be given in support of building a brand new library. The contribution will continue until enough money is raised to begin construction of a new facility. Ann Richardson, President of the Friends of the Library issued a challenge to all civic, community and church groups to follow their lead by making an annual pledge to support the new library effort.

The City of Berryville took the first step to support the effort when Mayor Tim McKinney announced at a formal press conference the City would be donating land across from the City Pool for use as a location for the new and expanded library. He gave credit to Burt George, who while serving as an alderman encouraged the City to purchase this land. Burt George believed strongly in the importance of public libraries, was a long time advocate and supporter of the Berryville Library, and helped to found the library system's non-profit arm, The Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation. The Library currently resides in a 3,000 sq. ft. County owned building. Given the growth of the community over the past 30 years coupled with changes in technology and increased demands for free library programs and services, the library is in desperate need of space.

The Friends of the Library pledge is being made in honor of Carol Ann Stubbs Engskov, who served as library director for over 28 years. Engskov’s family has deep roots in the community. Her parents were Luther and Lennis Stubbs. Plans are to honor Engskov by naming a part of the new building after her once the needed funds are raised and the building project begins.

In a recent interview with Engskov, she recalled her father Luther Stubbs and Herbert West, being very involved in the IOOF, Independent Order of Odd Fellows together. It was West who was instrumental in loaning Stubbs the money in the early 1950’s to open Stubbs Grocery, now a community icon famous for their ‘Luther Burgers’, made with bread so fresh that it sticks to the roof of your mouth when eating it. Herbert West was the president of the Library Board. Luther Stubbs was on the school board. As avid supporters of education and reading, both worked together as well on voicing the value a library brings to the community.

In 1983, Carol Ann Stubbs Engskov became the Berryville Library director. Once hired, she realized very quickly how underutilized the library was and began following in her dad and West’s footsteps to increase awareness and utilization of the library. In the early 1990’s, Engskov worked with other library directors who researched available grants since the county funding wasn’t adequate to meet the ongoing operational expenses of running the library. Eventually, Engskov was instrumental in helping pass a millage increase. Carol Ann Engskov Stubbs retired in 2011, but remains active in supporting the library as a leader in the Friends of the Library organization.

“Technology has been by far, the biggest change to the services provided by a library compared to early years” stated Engskov. Books on a shelf are now just a small part of the many services offered by a library. Engskov recalled when the first computer was brought into the library through a Bill Gates grant program which placed computers in libraries all over the U.S. “Once we got the first one, we couldn’t keep up with the demand after patrons began learning everything they could do”, Engskov added. Computers opened up access to endless knowledge and possibilities. Today, most companies don’t accept resumes on paper. It is all done online and electronically through the computer and libraries assist patrons on how to navigate their way through the technology maze needed not only to apply for jobs, but to pay bills, conduct business, make purchases, online courses, licenses, etc. Many parts of Carroll County do not yet have access to the internet and many aren’t able to afford the technology. Libraries help bridge the digital divide by offering internet access and computers free of charge.

Berryville Library is in the process of launching a capital campaign to fund the building of an 8,000-10,000 square foot facility. No tax money can be used for construction of this building as the current library millage is restricted to funding for library operations only. This means all of the money for a new building must be privately raised.

Libraries are more than just books on a shelf. Libraries provide free access to the computers and technology needed to conduct business, apply for jobs, make purchases, learn, read, conduct science projects, and just interact with others. The library also offers needed tools such as computers, copiers, fax machines, etc. all necessary to function in today's high tech society. Many can't afford this technology at home or they live in an area that doesn't offer high speed internet. So for many, the library is the only access they have to conduct necessary business. Libraries provide equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through book, programs, and other resources while promoting creativity and connecting people while enriching lives.

“Accept our challenge to consider supporting the Berryville Library Building Fund as you begin planning your calendar for 2020. A new library won’t be possible without a combined effort from the community and that is why we have issued this challenge”, Richardson concluded.

For more information on how to support the Berryville Library building project, contact the library located at 104 Spring Street in Berryville or by calling (870) 423-2323.

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