Charles W. Gibson’s head librarian on why the library’s five-year levy — slated to be on the ballot in May — matters

BUCKHANNON – With the largest candidate field in decades, the town is abuzz about who is running for what office and who should folks support during the upcoming City of Buckhannon election, set for May 12, 2020 – the same day as the West Virginia Primary Election.

But there is another issue involved in that important election – renewal of the five-year levy for the Charles W. Gibson Library will also be determined that day.

Cathy Norko became the librarian of the Charles W. Gibson Library, located at 105 E. Main St., on Jan. 1, 2020.

“We are a neighborhood library,” Norko said. “Currently, we are working on our space usage. The Charles W. Gibson Library has so many books, and I am looking for room for the collections to grow.”

Funds from the levy are used for employee salaries, utilities and to add to the programing and materials and supplies available at the Charles W. Gibson Library. Norko said that’s why it’s important for residents to support the levy.

“It is important for folks to support the levy and support the Charles W. Gibson Library because it is the heart of Buckhannon,” Norko said. “I actually had somebody come in yesterday and call this library ‘the hidden gem of Buckhannon.’ I feel like that really shows how important this building and these collections are to our community.”

Norko said there are about 48,000 items in the Charles W. Gibson Library, including regular books and audiobooks. She said currently, there are three employees at the library.

“We have so many books and so many authors, and we tend to have complete sets of authors’ books,” Norko shared. “We have 90 percent of the authors’ works, which is unique. You will find people come in and want to read the works of an author like Margaret Truman or Richard Laymon, and I am able to go over to the shelves and show people their books, which is not just one or two of their works, but six or seven. It gives folks the opportunity to read multiple pieces of their work.”

She said the Charles W. Gibson Library has young adult, fiction, nonfiction books and one computer for use by their patrons.

“We are looking at some new shelving because many of our shelves are not adjustable,” she said.

The library is the community nexus for learning and essential services.

“Sometimes, people need help accessing information and that is another thing that libraries are here for,” she said. “That is another thing your tax dollars in a levy will go to help support. I hope folks will come out and support the levy.”

Norko said she feels what makes the Charles W. Gibson Library so popular is that it is charming and small.

The Charles W. Gibson Library was founded in 1925 by the Buckhannon Lions Club and was housed on East Main Street before it moved to the basement of the Upshur County Courthouse. It remained in operation there until 1942.
In 1940, Mrs. Charles W. Gibson left funds in her will to the city of Buckhannon for a new library building on Main Street to be created and named in honor of her husband, Charles W. Gibson, who passed away in December 1939.

Additional funds for the construction of the library were provided by the Works Progress Administration. The library’s website says the library was opened at its current location of 105 E. Main St. on Oct. 20, 1942.

The Charles W. Gibson Library is maintained by funds provided through the Gibson Trust, West Virginia Library Commission Funding, the Lillian Gould and Lowell Armstrong Trusts, individual contributions and the City of Buckhannon’s Charles W. Gibson Library Levy.

The levy, if renewed by a majority vote, would go into effect July 1, 2021 and will run through June 30, 2026. The current levy expires June 30, 2021. The proposed levy rate is one-and-a half cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation on Class I property, three cents per hundred dollars on Class II property and six cents per dollar hundred dollars on Class III property.

The levy call to benefit the Charles W. Gibson Library was approved during the Buckhannon City Council meeting Dec. 19, 2019.

Information about the Charles W. Gibson Library is available on Facebook, online at www.charlesgibson.lib.wv.us or by calling 304-472-2339.

The library is open Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and aside from books and a public access computer with Wi-Fi, the library houses genealogy materials, early education and learning programs, fax and copy services for a fee, notary services and a ‘fine-free’ Wednesday program.

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