This is the 20th in a series of guest posts by Abigail Van Gelder, who with her husband, Josh, is journeying across the country on the Library’s “Gateway to Knowledge” traveling exhibition:
See y’all later!
This was my affectionate farewell to Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. The Gateway to Knowledge tour was able to visit six communities in these fine states of the Southeast. As we departed for North Carolina, the deep south laid forth a wonderful welcome and goodbye.
In Georgia, the cities of Rome, Thomasville and Warner Robins gave a true representation to southern hospitality. At the Floyd County Library in Rome, we had an amazing view of the river and surrounding parks. It felt like we were nestled into a little piece of heaven. I’ve really started to notice how many local libraries are so fortunate to be located on some of the prettiest pieces of real estate in the community. To be sure part of the aesthetic appeal comes from the architecture itself, the Floyd County Library is styled after a riverboat wheelhouse that beckons to the bygone days when rivers served as roads do today. This is at least the fourth library we have visited that was tucked up next to a waterway. You’d have a hard time finding a better view even from the seven hills of Rome, Georgia.
South Carolina showed us some true variety, seeing not only Florence in the south but Greenville located just at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. An area that I’ve raved about before to everyone, Greenville is also split by a waterway, dividing the thriving downtown. Our comrades in the Detroit area offices of MRA were pretty jealous to see all the pictures of us in short sleeves. While they dug out of another snow fall, we were trying to keep cool. All of the recent rains and tornadoes hadn’t threatened us, and the trailer and its contents had enjoyed sunny skies and open doors.
While we were in Gadsden, Ala., a library patron shared a touching story with me. His love and dedication to the Gadsden Library started at a very young age. On weekly visits to the library with his mother, he would always ask to check out “Angus and the Ducks,” by Marjorie Flack, keeping it for the allowed two weeks and ultimately checking it out again and again. One day the librarian handed his mother a brown paper package and told her to open it at home. Inside was “Angus and the Ducks,” along with a note explaining that he was the only child to check that book out in three years and that it would be better used on his shelves than in the library. It was so touching to see a librarian’s love for her patrons and her efforts to inspire reading.