GLENVAR – The Glenvar Branch Library isn’t quiet any more. There were smiles and excited chatter everywhere as more than 300 happy library supporters swarmed to the official opening of the new Glenvar Branch Library on July 1.
“We were expecting about 150,” said a pleased Roanoke County Library Director Diana Rosapepe before the ribbon-cutting ceremony started, “And they’re still arriving.”
The old Glenvar Branch Library, torn down in September 2011, would have just about fit into the foyer of this new library built on the same piece of land. It’s three times as large as the previous 1979 library and has windows that bring in massive natural “paintings” of sky, mountains and sunlight.
It also has all the technology and amenities that today’s library patrons want. Those range from the county library system’s first self-check-in terminals – patrons can also check out books and DVDs by themselves, too, but that’s already available at the Salem and other Roanoke County libraries – to separate, colorful computers for little children, a bank of public access computers, an entire computer lab, and a teen room with interactive Mindcraft videogames.
There are also quiet study rooms, a rentable meeting room that can seat 77 and which is wired for all the electronic presentation gadgets any presenter could ask for; a two-sided, cozy gas log fireplace with comfortable seating between the Southwest Virginia history section and the current magazines. Outside, there is a drive-up window to check out and return books, book lockers for reserved requested material, and a patio with seven sturdy umbrellas.
The collection has thousands of DVDs and other electronic offerings, and shelves and shelves of hardback and paperback books. And perhaps best of all, room for more.
“They even have the old classics,” said Glenvar resident Norce Lowe, lovingly picking up a copy of “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. “It’s one of my all-time favorite books.”
When the first 50 people squeezed through the doors after the official ribbon cutting, there were ooohs and aahs – but mainly, there were wide eyes and open mouths as little library users, teens and adults of all ages took in the high, beamed ceilings, massive windows with views of the surrounding mountains on both sides of the West Main-Daugherty Road corner location, and the all-new furnishings.
Emma Grace Fitzgerald, 3-1/2, skipped straight to the children’s room in what she calls “my library” and sat down happily in a chair just her size with a copy of her favorite book, “Happy Dog Sad Dog.”
“Every time we drive past the construction she points out ‘my library,’ ” said grandmother Janet Fitzgerald. Emma Grace, who is too young to remember the library before its temporary location in a storefront down the road this last 18 months, was there with her Nana and Poppy Barry Fitzgerald.
Just as excited was 69-year-old retired college professor Jim Maddex – who lives next door to the library at Richfield Retirement Community. “I patronized the old library and this one has such a beautiful setting, with so many nooks and crannies where you can be quiet,” said Maddex. “You can’t beat the natural beauty of Roanoke County.” And, he added, “This is one of the most fantastic library staffs I’ve ever encountered.”
Longtime Glenvar Library patrons Dick and Lonnie Kaulbeck were thrilled to see Cyd Ransone Walters, who did story hour for their children years ago in the old library. Those children are now Laura, 38; Michele, 37, and Brian, 35 years old.
“It’s amazing. It’s about time,” said Walters, who added, “My favorite part of the library is the panoramic views.” She is the only one still working who opened the old Glenvar library, said Walters, who now works in the South County Library in the Reference Department.
Eight-year-old Lisa Fiona Aquilo, who was at the library with her mother, Carina, left the library with one of the souvenir book bags filled to the brim with her favorite books and movies she had checked out.
“I got Susan B. Anthony, Nancy Drew and all the ‘Spy Kids’ movies,” Fiona said, smiling broadly.
Jamie Forster, 7, and her big sister, Jordan, who is 14, were investigating the children’s room. “There a lot of books,” said Jamie. “And it’s bigger than the old library,” her sister added.
Some library patrons described the new building as “magic.” Others, like Susan Woodie-Williams, were happy about the opportunities for older people.
“I’m just excited about the opportunities for our residents on the Richfield campus next door,” she said. “This gives them a destination place that’s so rich,” added Williams, who is vice president of marketing and community relations at Richfield.
Mike Beamer of Glenvar and Chad Parries of Salem were in the adult area, noticing how the architects had incorporated touches of nature reflecting the Glenvar views in the design of the building, as community members had asked.
“They embraced the mountain area,” said Dianna Beamer,” pointing out a design of wheat at the end of one set of shelves. “They came in and they did it.”
Roanoke County Board of Supervisors member Joe “Butch” Church, who represents Glenvar, Catawba and Northside, pushed for the new library just about from the first day he was elected more than 13 years ago.
His talk at the dedication was titled “Gateway to Glenvar.” “It’s an entrance, a gateway to the community, coming into West County,” Church explained. “We hope it will open the corridor up to what a lot of people would like to see happen.”
Before the ceremony started, Church was like a kid in a candy store. “Look at all these people up here. It’s like they are coming to a ballgame. It lifts my heart.”
Supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer called the Glenvar Library, who represents Vinton that is next on the county’s list to get a new library in about 18 months, called the Glenvar facility “A neighborhood library. These are all the people who are going to be using it.” Four of the county’s five supervisors were present, with the exception of Hollins Supervisor Richard Flora, who was vacationing in Alaska.
So were School Board Chairman Jerry Canada and Catawba District Member David Wymer, and Salem City Councilmember Jane Johnson.
Roanoke County Schools Superintendent Lorraine Lange called the new library “A wonderful place. It really is an extension of the schools…when you look at the ages of the people, from little babies to older people, this is a community library.”
Roanoke County Library Board of Trustees member Dianna Beamer, who represents Glenvar, told the gathering the building of the library and the opening were due to efforts of county staff “from the ladies who were in here cleaning to the people who were on their knees wiring it.”
Before the ribbon cutting, the crowd grew reverent as the original flag taken down from the old library on Sept. 29, 2011, was handed from Church through the generations: to Boy Scout Nicholas Deaton, then Sarah Boyd, Deborah Pippin, and finally, Jim Maddex, who turned it over to Roanoke County Police Honor Guard members Jason McNamara and Michael Weiss who raised the flag up the pole in front of the main entrance.
Trumpeter Steve Hedrick played the National Anthem as the officers saluted.
Then County Administrator Clay Goodman, project coordinator and Assistant County Administrator Dan O’Donnell joined with Supervisors Church, Altizer, Charlotte Moore and Ed Elswick, Salem-Roanoke County Delegate Greg Habeeb, Glenvar Library Branch Librarian John Vest and Library Assistant Becky Walters to hold and cut the bright blue ribbon before the automatic doors opened to allow people to stream inside.