The community of Locust got a fantastic Christmas present this year: a new public library.
Well, to be more accurate, the collection and the staff at the library remain the same, but they are now located in a brand-new building on Town Centre Drive, right in the heart of the community.
I talked with Melanie Holles, library director for Stanly County, and Karen Hartsell, Locust Library branch manager, about the new facilities, which were built by the city of Locust.
Holles said the new library has about 1,000 more square feet of space than the old one. That includes office space, something they did not have before. There's new and upgraded shelving, better lighting and more space. Holles said the books are no longer tightly packed, and the bottom shelves are empty, making it easier for patrons to browse.
Holles called the new library "warm and inviting;" she said people like how pretty it is. But location is the best feature of the new building. Beside the Government Center, with which it shares meeting facilities, the library is now a central part of the Locust Town Center.
The Locust Town Center is like an old-fashioned, small-town Main Street. It includes restaurants, stores, medical offices and now the library. Soon it will also have homes and apartments, and it's an easy golf-cart drive from a nearby residential community for seniors. Holles and Hartsell said they expect more and more residents will stroll into the library as they conduct business, go visiting or shopping nearby.
Hartsell said the new location is appropriate because a library is really the heart of a community. This location is the third one she's managed for the library system, each one a little easier to manage than the last. This time they were able to complete the move in about three weeks, reopening just before Christmas.
Kay Baucom, who is on the board of directors for the Stanly County Library and is a lifelong Locust resident, is very excited about the new library. She pointed out that the Locust branch serves a lot of people from Stanly, Union and Cabarrus counties, and that the library is needed for a lot more than books: Computer facilities, special programs, DVDs and CDs and book clubs are all among the library's offerings. Baucom thinks even more people will use the library in its new location.
According to Baucom, once people visit the library and get to know the great staff there, they'll want to come back often.
Locust is determined to maintain its small-town charm. A welcoming library at the center of town, where everyone wants to stop by and where you will surely see someone you know, is definitely part of that charm.