By: Kim Madlom, Times Editor
The Yatesville Library story is compelling: Town of about 400 people pulls together to raise more than $100,000 toward the creation of its own library.
It’s a story so compelling that librarians from Georgia – the Republic of Georgia – visited Yatesville as they participated in the U.S. Department of State’s international Community Connections Program.
In an event Feb. 15, the group of Georgians were in Upson County to tour the library, learn about its history and meet with library officials, supporters and political leaders. Yatesville’s success is of specific interest because of the local government involvement and the fundraising activities.
The 10 visitors included an interpreter, and the program included a tour of the Yatesville Library and a program at the town’s senior center, followed by lunch and a visit to an area ranch.
The leader of the group, Irakli Garibashvili, the president of the Republic of Georgia’s Library Association, said the group was impressed with how Yatesville’s leadership and citizens worked together to build the library.
“We want to take that experience to our country,” he said.
On the visit to Yatesville, Garibashvili said, “We have come to the conclusion that despite the geographic distances that we have and the technological differences, people in the Georgia are as hospitable as the people in our Georgia.”
The Republic of Georgia is slightly smaller than the State of Georgia and 3000 libraries across the country. However, communications infrastructure is still lacking, making internet access unavailable in some of the facilities. The group was impressed with the computer stations available in Yatesville’s small library – and therefore available to the citizens of such a small community.
The Yatesville Library project began with a $20,000 challenge donation from former Yatesville resident Dan White. White was on hand Feb. 15 to greet the European delegation and join former Mayor Walter Boyt in discussing the history of the Yatesville Library.
Some of those who attended included former State Senator Susan Cable, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Yatesville Library; Rep. Mack Crawford, who also supported the project; County Commissioner Joel Pitts, who represents the community; and Scott Ryals of Governor Sonny Perdue’s office.
Cable, who proved charming in any language, is a former school teacher who believes libraries are key as the economy changes in the American Georgia. “As our rural jobs, such as in farming, decrease, our people need to transition into other jobs. The library, with the access it provides to learning and the internet, is going to help people make that transition.”
Cable presented the group with a gift from the Georgia Farm Bureau – a box in the shape of the State of Georgia, filled with pecans, preserves and other edibles native to the Peach State. Cable mentioned that she and her husband would be in Turkey, which borders the Republic of Georgia, for a church mission trip later this year. She suggested that she might visit Georgia as a side trip.
The librarians of the Republic of Georgia pledged to create displays in their individual libraries highlighting their trip to America – including Yatesville.
“This is a good start for a very important cultural exchange between our people.” Garibashvili said.
© The Thomaston Times 2003