New Yatesville Library Brings Increased Learning and Economic Opportunities to Community

Upson County residents now have access to cutting-edge technology and new literacy programs, due to the opening of a new library in the Yatesville community. The City of Yatesville dedicated its first public library on Sept. 14. Laura Meadows, director of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, was guest speaker. Area legislators, mayors, business and community leaders, and other local citizens attended.

Building a library in Yatesville was the vision of Dan White, an Atlanta contractor and former resident of Yatesville. White spearheaded efforts through The Rural Library Project and received help from Yatesville’s former Mayor Walter Boyt and city council.

“This project has been a great economic development tool,” White says. “Now residents in Yatesville have opportunities for lifelong learning through the library. The library provides Internet access, summer reading programs for youth, and other literacy programs. Because of the library, Yatesville is a strengthened community and a place of increased pride.”

The Yatesville Public Library is a member of the Pine Mountain Regional Library System. It opened in May and serves more than 1,500 households in the eastern part of the county. Since that time, more than 150 patrons have received library cards, and the summer reading program has graduated its first group of 11 children.

Construction began in December 2000 and was completed a year later. Construction costs were $135,000. Equipment and books totaled $45,000.

The Rural Library Project is a nonprofit organization committed to establishing new, small libraries in rural areas. The organization collaborates with citizens, public library systems, and government in rural areas to raise funds for and build libraries in their towns.

The group provides construction management services, including coordinating the design, and overseeing the construction, and equipping a library to meet a community’s needs and budgets. The organization seeks and provides challenge grants and assists in local fundraising campaigns to establish new library. It also seeks and provides grants to establish summer reading programs following the construction of new libraries.

White says he contributed the inital “seed money” to start the project in Yatesville and to create the nonprofit organization .

“In August of 1999, I read a magazine article describing the positive impact a small library had on a rural community in upstate New York,” White says. “In December of 1999, I decided to make a challenge gift to the City of Yatesville, a rural community of approximately 400 people, where my mother lives, my father is buried, and where I attended high school. The City Council accepted the gift and then raised a total of $186,000 through private donations, State grants and from the City of Yatesville.”

Current and former residents of Yatesville and Upson County, the local business community, and the Yatesville Lions  Club also made contributions.

The Upson County Commission provides operational funding for the library ($29,000 per year for 20 hours a week of operation). The City of Yatesville provides maintenance and utility funding in the amount of $6,000 per year.

The library is 2,600 square feet and includes space for nine computer terminals with Internet access, a small history museum area, community meeting space, and children and adult study areas. The library has space for 10,000 volumes, with access to 5 million volumes through the Georgia Library System’s PINES Catalog.

White says that the funding and development model used in Yatesville can be replicated in other small communities.

“The Rural Library Project encourages other communities to explore the feasibility of building a small library as a cost-effective economic development project,” White says. “It improves rural access to the information age and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all its citizens.”

The project currently is being replicated in Whitesburg Georgia. The City Council of Whitesburg voted last month to approve a public campaign to raise funds to build a public library that will serve Whitesburg and southern Carroll County. The Rural Library Project will serve as technical consultant.

For more information on the Rural Library Project, call (404) 228 3273.

 

 





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