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Shelf Talk 22: Thank you, Volunteers!

Have you visited the Blytheville library lately? The last two years have been a time of transformation: we now have a new roof, new skylight (and happily growing plants!), new HVAC system, new LED lights, new computer stations, newly revealed slate flooring, new fish aquarium, a reorganized Children’s and Youth area, and a cheerful snow village (complete with a Frozen train)! We are organizing and updating our back offices, storage areas, and meeting rooms, and planning for improvements over the next year. Stop in to see our progress!

A lot of our changes would not have been possible without volunteers. The Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) is especially grateful to the team of Blytheville Leadership Institute (BLI) volunteers provided through the Greater Blytheville Chamber of Commerce. This group of eight volunteers has so far dedicated over sixty-five hours of work on our main floor, Children’s and Youth area, and virtual programs.

The Blytheville Public Library’s current building, opened in 1976, was made to last. Many features have remained unchanged over the last four-and-a-half decades: carpeting has weathered thousands of footsteps, shelving has steadfastly held an array of books, sturdy tables and chairs have supported a variety of uses.

Our first task for the BLI volunteers was to pull up a large red area rug that covered our main floor, directly beneath the skylight. This proved to be no easy task: the carpet was anchored under the service desk, an ungainly structure that is solid wood and topped with marble. It took six men nearly an hour to shift the desk enough to remove the carpet and padding under it. The rest of the rug had to be cut into sections, rolled, and carried from the building. Imagine our delight to find pristine slate tile underneath! We can’t wait to strip the decades-old wax from the surrounding flooring and have a main floor that shines!

Next, BLI volunteers turned to our Children’s area. The Library is working to create a new Youth Lounge, complete with comfortable seating and games. To provide space, volunteers disassembled, rotated, and moved shelving units. Free-standing shelves capable of holding hundreds of pounds of books are sturdy creatures and difficult to move, but the BLI volunteers were up to the task! In addition to moving shelving units, they shifted our juvenile nonfiction and Young Adult fiction collections, consolidated our graphic novel collections into a more prominent spot, and removed inaccurate reference stickers from walls and bookends.

BLI volunteers have also helped plan and prepare programs. They designed and assembled 100 Take-and-Make crafts, which we distributed to families who ordered book sets through our Santa Stories program. Volunteers also spent several hours setting up our snow village, which is currently on display on our main floor. Come by to admire it and watch the train make its rounds! Ask to visit with MCLS Director Lowell Walters to see the additional model trains chugging through his office.

MCLS wishes you all happy holidays and a very happy new year. We are so excited to see what 2021 brings, through new volunteerism and community involvement. If you have an idea for a service or resource the Mississippi County Library System could provide, or would like to volunteer at one of our library branches, let us know! As always, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or suggestions.

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