CHARLES TOWN — Don’t count libraries out yet, says Hali Taylor.
Taylor, the director of the Shepherdstown Library, took that message to the Jefferson County Board of Education Monday night.
“Libraries are the cornerstone of democracy,” she said. “You have the right to read anything you want to, and no one can stop you. You have privacy.”
Taylor said libraries can help patrons “steer through the oceans of media” by offering guidance on how to use some of the devices available to obtain the information they want.
“Libraries are the keepers of information that can help you through every stage of life,” Taylor said.
Next month, the Shepherdstown Library will host what Taylor calls a “technology petting zoo.”
“We’ll help you navigate through that media ocean,” said Taylor. She said patrons can bring their devices to the library and Megan Tarbett, the digital resource librarian for the West Virginia Library Commission, will be on hand to help.
The event will be held Sept. 15 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The library is at 100 W. German Street in downtown Shepherdstown.
Another event on the importance of libraries is set for this week, when the public will be invited to learn about the importance of libraries at a public forum Thursday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Shepherd University Byrd Center, at 213 North King St., Shepherdstown. The meeting is being sponsored by the Jefferson County League of Women Voters.
Taylor also took time to update board members on the planned new library for Jefferson County in Shepherdstown.
The site, which has been cleared, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up what used to be a municipal dump across behind 233 Lowe Drive, is now ready for construction of a new two-story building. The new library will cost $3.5 million. Grants and individual donations are being sought to pay for the project.
“We wanted it to be within walking distance of town,” Taylor said.
Other sources like grants and donations helped defray the cost of reclaiming the 4.5 acres of land, she said.
Taylor said the old library will still be used as a reading room and a resource for history and genealogy information.
Shepherdstown’s current library was built in 1922 and has served as both a hospital during the Civil War and a jail.