BOOKS BEYOND BELIEF: Perquimans County Library

By: Claude Milot

The place was empty when I first entered. Of people, not of books. Some 39,000 of them—and those are just the barcoded ones— now fill the long rows of shelves neatly marked by category: adult fiction, adult non-fiction, large type, etc. Towards the back is a large section devoted exclusively to children and young adults. On one side of the airy central space are the library offices and help desks, while opposite are enormous windows letting in all that wonderful natural light for readers to sit and browse.

But it’s in the corners that it gets interesting. The first one you come to as you enter the library is the Computer Room, with 24 computers inviting inquisitive searchers of the Internet. The far-right corner has the History Room, entirely dedicated to the history of North Carolina. In it you can browse through back issues of the “North Carolina Genealogical Journal“ or “Our State” magazine going back to 1952 when it was called simply ”The State.” You can also look up names of North Carolina troops who fought in the Civil War or check out the large collection of fiction and non-fiction titles related to the state. Next to the History Room are two study rooms for individuals who do not want to be disturbed.

In a third corner is a room with round, colorful, mushroom-like seats that seem to grow out of the floor, a miniature stadium for little ones to sit and listen during “Story Time,” which happens to be the well-chosen name of this room. The fourth corner has not been named yet, but I’m told it will be dedicated to the needs of teenagers; for now, ithas tables and chairs and a small conference table.

One large room, off to the left of the library lobby, is called the Program Room. Furnished with tables and chairs, it can accommodate quite a few people who come for lectures, workshops, book club meetings, and the like. The use of the room is open to the public, with the only stipulation that it must be free of charge. Appropriately, it was used for the party after the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the Grand Opening of the library on March 22nd.

And that’s not all. Also on hand: a large-screen TV for movie viewing; 10 laptops for classes within the library; two computers for juveniles with pre-loaded educational games; plus copiers and printers for public use and a scanner available upon request. Still to come are an Aquos Board and a MAC computer.

But perhaps the favorite spot in the whole library is the U.S.S. Perquimans, a small sailboat with seating inside for youthful readers. On a later visit to the library I found a young woman in the boat reading to a little girl, while another nearby listened intently. That little vessel, to me, is the perfect symbol for our library, an inviting place to come and discover the life-long pleasures of reading.

Our new library is a beauty, a tribute to visionary planners and generous supporters who have provided us such a wonderful place to enjoy the written word. On the way out after that first visit, I passed an older man. I whispered, “It was worth waiting for.”