ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls Public Library closed the book on its old building and opened the doors to a newly renovated space fit for lovers of literature.
Robeson County Public Library Director Katie Fountain cut the ribbon Tuesday during the grand reopening of the library on Broad Street that had been closed for four months. Patrons and the curious took tours of the new building. And some visitors even checked out books.
“I’m so excited to be able to return this library to the community,” Fountain said.
Patrons said they liked the changes made to the library.
Margaret Reynolds, a 77-year-old St. Pauls native and avid reader, said she had been going to the library since she was 12 years old.
“The library was in walking distance from my house,” she said. “It’s come a long ways since I’ve been a little girl.”
Robeson County Commissioner Lance Herndon spoke of how he and his sister use to come to the library when they were children while their mother shopped at the nearby women’s clothing store.
“What a difference,” Herndon said.
“I’m super proud and glad that this has happened,” Herndon said. “The town has an anchor in the library.”
Updates in the 2,000-square-foot building include a new roof, carpet and flooring, paint, bathrooms, shelving, heating and air conditioning system, and a new floor layout. Some books were added but the existing collection is still there.
“We already had a pretty solid collection,” Fountain said.
The library also includes a children’s program section, computer station and a reading room.
Patsy Conoley, Beverly Hinds and Adelaide Shoemaker, who said they are big supporters of Robeson County’s public libraries, drove from Red Springs to see the library for the first time.
“It’s very bright and clean, and has a good traffic layout,” Hinds said.
Library staff members participated in the renovation process by removing books, shelving and old furniture.
“This was my first renovation, so there were a lot of learning curves along the way,” Fountain said. “I have learned a lot through the process and even when things may have been difficult or stressful we knew that the project was going to succeed, and it has been a very rewarding experience.”
The library had been closed since Feb. 26, but planning for the updates began about a year ago, Fountain said.
The St. Pauls Library board retired in June 2017 and left money to the town to help pay for the renovations. Sen. Danny Britt Jr. and Rep. Brenden Jones worked in the state Legislature to secure $13,000 for the new HVAC. Additional money in the upcoming state budget will go toward paying off the library’s new roof.
The Robeson County Public Library board of trustees and the Friends of the Library helped secure the rest of the funding, Fountain said.
“It’s just so exciting that so many parts of the community, and the county and the state came together to be a part of funding and supporting and giving work to make this happen,” said Joy Andrews, the library’s manager.
The library will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I’m just thrilled to be a part of the upgrades for the library and for the significance that’s going to mean for people in this community,” Andrews said.
“The heart of the community is the library,” Fountain said.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.