New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | June 19, 2019

Charles City Library comes to fruition after doors open to public

By Andre Jones | June 9, 2019 5:21 pm
Charles City County's library opened to the public during a June 9 dedication ceremony.Andre' Jones photos

Charles City County's library opened to the public during a June 9 dedication ceremony.

Andre' Jones photos

More than a decade in the making, Charles City County closed the loop of being the only locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia without a stand-alone public library Sunday afternoon as doors opened to guests.

Charles City welcomed dignitaries, contributors, and the public during June 9 dedication ceremony of the Charles City County Public Library. More than 300 people made their way into the 8,200-square foot facility that includes the Richard M. Bowman Center of Local History, dedicated in honor of the late historian whose actions to desegregate schools in Virginia opened doors for students of all ethnicity.

“We can now say that every municipal in the Commonwealth of Virginia has a fully-functional public library,” said Jimmy Tyler, president of Charles City’s Library Campaign Committee. “We had several sources of help from many locations that include foundations, churches, civic groups, memorial groups, individuals, and so much more.

“This is much more than a library,” he added. “This building is more than a place where you can check out books.”

Courtyards on the outside of the building provide reading space during nice weather. On the inside, several spaces have been dedicated for a variety of reasons. A digital display lies just to the right of the main entry way prior to arriving at the counter. To the left lies one of the first computer areas along with books. A children’s area and reading center is posted directly behind the wall of the digital display, while the Richard M. Bowman Center of Local History is stationed toward the back of the facility. Several areas for reading and computer connectivity are positioned throughout the building, with at least two meeting rooms for organizations to host events.

While the fight to bring a library to Charles City spans for several years, steam for the project picked up in 2015 when a referendum was placed on the November ballot as part of the general election. The referendum asked if county leaders should borrow upwards of $2.5 million to help fund the construction of the library. The referendum passed with a favorable vote, 1,418-941.

Discussion on the library’s location became a topic in 2016 before the current location just south of the Charles City Courthouse was decided. An increase of size from 7,500-square feet to 8,200 square feet was approved in March 2017, and groundbreaking took place on Apr. 29, 2018.

In all, the facility’s cost is close to $4 million. According to Tyler, after taking into account the $2.5 million borrowed for construction, funding for the difference is almost complete.

“Through fundraisers and donations, we have paid for everything inside of this building,” he said. “We are about 90-95 percent of reaching our goal and that means we have about $100,000 to raise.”

Among dignitaries attending the event included Congressmen Robert “Bobby” Scott and A. Donald McEachin, State Senator Jennifer L. McClellan, Delegate Delores L. McQuinn, and all three members of the Board of Supervisors.

Charles City Board of Supervisors chairman Floyd Miles Sr. said he thanked his fellow members on the board, but most importantly the citizens and library campaign committee.

“I thank each of you for playing your part in the Charles City Library and the Richard M. Bowman Center of Local History,” he said. “It’s because of you that we have reached this day.”

The facility is expected to be open six days a week in the near future, with times of the opening yet to be determined. Staff of the library have completed roughly 95 percent of the transition from its old location in the Charles City Courthouse into the new facility.

Patrons signed up and updated information during the registration process at the library's dedication.

Patrons signed up and updated information during the registration process at the library’s dedication.

The foyer of the library is flooded as guests take a tour of the new building.

The foyer of the library is flooded as guests take a tour of the new building.