Williford Library hosts open house
Although the Williford Library has been open for over a year, it finally hosted its grand opening reception Feb. 22 at the state of the art facility. It was a milestone that many who have followed the tumultuous history of the library say has been a long time coming.
Following years of Spring River flooding, a new location safely away from the river bank has provided a permanent home for the library.
Williford Librarian Tracey Ladd welcomed local dignitaries and the public to the new facility, as members of the White River Library Board and other employees hosted a reception and open house. Sharp County Judge Larry Brown and Justice of the Peace Everett McGuire were present to speak with those attending the reception. Brown said he is very proud of the rural library, and its contribution to the residents of Sharp County.
The library, originally opened in January, 2010 serves customers in the rural area near Williford, including Ozark Acres and Ravenden, as well as rural Randolph county communities.
Many who attended the reception spoke of the convenience of the library, not only in its location, but also its services. Overall, patrons said the library allows them a place to go to check out books, and obtain other media services, including DVD checkouts and high speed internet access that the facility provides free of charge to the public. However, some voiced concerns over the limited hours of operation.
The library is only open 18 hours a week. Many who attended the open house stated it should be open longer hours, due to the large amount of patronage it receives. The issue has gone before both the library board and the Sharp County Quorum Court. The board refused to allow the library the requested 21 hours of operation that is customary with other rural areas. After some urging by local resident Marilyn Bischoff on behalf of the library staff, the Quorum Court sent a letter to the board urging it to approve extended hours for the benefit of the community.
At the February meeting of the Quorum Court, Justice of the Peace Greg Prenger, who said he had visited with Jane Abele, president of the library board, expressed the opinion that the library should be open more hours. He was assured the topic would be revisited at the quarterly meeting of the library board in April.
Local resident Vickie Barnett said, "There is nothing in this area for the kids to do. I have a child who has developed a love of reading and it is going to be hard for me to get him in here this summer with the hours that they have. They need to be open more hours. The DVD's are a Godsend for me when I am not at work. We can't afford to drive all the way to Hardy a few times a week from out here."
Others said they utilized the library's internet service. Many rural households can either not afford internet access or high speed access is not available in their area. Students in both high school and college utilize the services of the Williford Library for this luxury, which is vital to their school work.
The library offers four computers with internet access, a huge selection audio books, magazines, periodicals and a children's reading area, as well as thousands of books available for check out.
Bischoff, who has been one of the library's most supportive advocates, worked tirelessly for nearly two years to help secure a Federal Stimulus Grant for rural economic development, after the library -- which was housed in downtown Williford -- flooded on two different occasions, and was closed for extended periods of time. Bischoff was close friends with the late Glenna Garner whose dying wish was to insure that a library continue to operate in the small community.
In addition to traditional library services, the Williford location also serves as an archive for items from the Williford School which was closed in 2009. Senior pictures are attractively displayed in a poster case, and various trophies are also showcased within the library, providing an archive for local history and local memories.
The library is located on Highway 62/412, near Paul Garner Real Estate, in Williford.