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Highland County Public Library

Mission: The Highland County Public Library (HCPL) is a library and community center devoted to life-long learning, access to information, and entertainment for Highland County and surrounding areas.

Community Need: Since the library only goes back a few decades, there are entire generations in Highland County who never had a library, who were not raised with the library habit. This has been a challenge for them; therefore, their first priority has been reaching out to young families to establish that library habit, to make children and their families comfortable in the library, and to put interesting books in their hands. To further that goal they collaborate with the Highland Elementary School to provide Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Highland children. That program sends a book in the mail each month to Highland children from birth to their fifth birthday. They hope these children will be brought to the library where they can further support early literacy through a wider selection of books and children’s programs.

Constituents Served: Everyone is eligible for services at the HCPL. Their specific service area is Highland County which covers 416 square miles and is populated by approximately 2,284 people.  Due to the large size of the county, they provide deposit collections in each quadrant where books can be picked up and exchanged. At this time the library has no way of counting how many individuals they serve in a year.  They count computer user sessions (3,155), program attendees (1,612), items checked out at the front desk (29,124) and items downloaded online (3,191). They have 2,240 registered patrons.

Primary Activities: They are a library in the traditional sense that they loan books. They have over 22,000 items in their collection. Additionally, they belong to the Blue Ridge Download Consortium which allows access to over 8,000 eBooks. The Library of Virginia offers patrons access to thousands more eBooks as well.  Modern libraries exist as technology centers as well as lending libraries. Part of their core mission is to help bridge the digital divide, allowing digital access to everyone, no matter their income or ability to have their own computer. In the library they have five public internet access computers, a children’s computer, two Microsoft Surface tablets set out on tables, and free public Wi-Fi access. They loan Kindle readers, Kindle Tablets, and have an iPad for loan. They also provide one-on-one technical support for all of these devices.

Providing programming has been a part of their mission that has grown tremendously over the last ten years. They offer a popular Summer Reading Program where the average enrollment is 80-100 children with around 50-60 returning completed reading logs. They usually offer 8-10 additional activity programs over the summer. They have monthly Family Movie Nights and Literary Movie Matinees. They offer twice monthly Story Time for Babies and Toddlers. They also offer after school programming such as STEM Club, Maker Monday, LEGO Builders, and a themed craft days. Last year they started a Seed Saver Library to support the local foods movement and local gardeners.  They have a meeting room that is a popular hub for many other local non-profit organizations. This room and its amenities are always provided for free.  Their goals are to sustain their many library services and programs while looking for new opportunities to provide services to the community.

Amount Requested: $5,000

Operating Budget: $132,334

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