The Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield recently won three grants and a contest prize totaling just over $100,000.
Library Director Margaret Marshall shared the news with the Smithfield Town Council at its July meeting, which was an unofficial session because only three of seven councilmen were in attendance.
Most of the money came in the form of two grants from the State Library of North Carolina.
The first, a $43,200 EZ Literacy & Lifelong Learning Grant, will allow the library to set up adult literacy centers throughout Johnston, Harnett and Sampson counties. Tutors from the Harnett County Literary Council and Triangle Literacy Council will staff the centers; the grant will pay for books and computers.
Johnston does not have a literacy council, Marshall said, so she is excited to begin giving adults in the area access to reading tutors.
“It has been my dream since I came in 2003 to see some form of literacy council here,” Marshall said. “Adult literacy seems to get under the table quite often, and now we want to give these people an opportunity to learn in a comfortable setting.”
The library hopes to have the literacy centers open by March 2016.
$43,200 EZ Literacy and Lifelong Learning grant
$54,762 N.C. Cardinal Migration grant
$2,000 Cara Lee Powell Priest Endowment for Johnston County grant
$250 Love Your Library Contest prize
The second grant, worth $54,762, will pay for the library to migrate its catalog to the N.C. Cardinal Integrated Library System. The N.C. Cardinal system is a growing consortium of more than 32 library systems that use a single online catalog and allow each other to borrow books across the state. Together, they have more than 5 million books.
“If there’s a book in Buncombe County that one of our patrons wants, we’ll be able to borrow that book,” Marshall said. “And if we have one that they want, they can borrow it.”
The Plibrary plans to move to the N.C. Cardinal system by the end of May 2016.
The money for the two state grants originated at the federal level, Marshall said. The grants were made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, she said.
The libraryalso got a $2,000 grant from the Cara Lee Powell Priest Endowment for Johnston County. The library will use the money to buy audiobooks, which will be available through the library’s electronic borrowing platform.
The library also won $250 as one of 10 runners-up in the Love Your Library Contest held by SirsiDynix, a library software company.
Sarah Edwards, head of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corp., nominated the local library for the contest.
“While my usage of the library has changed over the years, I can honestly say that they provide as much, if not more, service today as they did when I was little,” Edwards wrote in her contest entry. “As they continue to change with the times, I can’t wait to see what’s next!”