By Joy Sharp Maxwell

Mountains Branch librarian

For many of us, the New Year doesn’t begin in January, it begins in September. Some of us never outgrow the feeling that September means another year, a fresh start with sharpened pencils and new notebooks. And maybe a cool new lunch box.

I freely admit to being one of those people. I truly feel a difference in the air after Labor Day. And as a librarian, the start of a new school year signals lots of new possibilities and opportunities for providing services to our community.

The Great Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 is history now, and hopefully many of you were able to experience it in its totality, or close to it. At Mountains Branch, we offered two programs prior to the eclipse and partnered with Lake Lure Classical Academy to provide our patrons a great viewing spot to track it. We were fortunate enough to receive a grant of one thousand NASA-approved eclipse viewing glasses from StarNet to distribute during our events. We also want to thank two amazing volunteers who went way above and beyond to help create our special Eclipse Programming. Penny Watkins designed and installed our lobby display, and more importantly, loaned us her dog, Punky, as a mascot! Jim Kokoruda not only presented information to kids and grownups at our two library programs, he facilitated our partnership with LLCA. Jim will also be working with Mountains Branch and LLCA in the fall to offer student tutoring and study sessions at the library on Saturday afternoons. Please stay tuned for times and dates.

Mountains Branch Library benefits immeasurably from partnerships with many local agencies. For years now, the Lake Lure Lions Club has generously provided us with funds with which to purchase Large Print books and Audio books. In 2012, Lions Clubs International initiated the Reading Action Program, a program designed to promote childhood literacy worldwide. Since that time, the club has helped to make our Children’s Library a more welcoming space by building and installing window seats with cushions, and encouraged early reading with initiatives like the Lions’ Reading Challenge. They also provided funds for picture books, Easy Readers, juvenile fiction and non-fiction.

Lions – (l-r) Lion Wayne Hyatt, Incoming Club President; Lion Leon Pryor, District 2nd Vice District Governor, and Outgoing President Lion Mary Ellen Jones.

The Lions and the Library have also worked together to provide vision and diabetes screenings. Mountains Branch has served as a collection site for used eyeglasses, hearing aids, cell phones and ink cartridges.

Because of our long friendship with the Lions, we were especially pleased to help them celebrate their 100th anniversary last June! The local celebration was held at the library and included a visit by special guest, District Governor, Lion Leon Pryor.

The partnership between the Historic Lake Lure Inn and the Mountains Branch Friends of the Library has also been a fruitful one. For several years now, the Friends have been holding their Books & Bites author events and fundraisers at the Inn. Their July author, Patti Callahan Henry, is the author of thirteen books, the latest of which is The Bookshop at Water’s End. She was charismatic, funny, inspirational, and just plain delightful.

Patti spoke about the importance and value of libraries. Growing up, she found sanctuary in libraries, discovering the power of storytelling to navigate life’s confusing times.

On Thursday, September 14th at 11:00 a.m., we welcome back one of our favorite “Carolina Girls”, Tryon writer, Mary Ann Claud. Mary Ann last visited us to share her first novel, “The Dancing Man”. We were so delighted with her sweet Southern drawl and wonderful storytelling that we invited her back to talk about her second, a follow-up to “The Dancing Man”, “The Whirligig”.

Tickets to Books & Bites are $25 and include a fantastic lunch provided by Patrick and the Inn’s culinary staff. Last time we had peach cobbler and ice cream! Stop by or call Mountains Branch at 287-6392 to reserve your space.

Happy Fall, everyone!