Whether you have just moved to Randolph County or are using one of the seven public
libraries for the first time, we welcome you to your library. We are here to provide the very
best library service possible. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed by any
Citizen Advocates Back Libraries
It’s an oft-told story in these pages, how a game of bridge in 1935 led to the
creation of the Asheboro Public Library
The group of young women who got together that September evening in short
order had formed the Randolph Library Club. Their immediate goal was
establishment of an Asheboro library, but their vision was countywide library service.
The same sort of thing happened in Ramseur, Franklinville, Randleman, Liberty,
Archdale and Seagrove: members of the community came together and said, “We
want a library!” and worked tirelessly to create their own.
Fundraisers and red wagon book drives served well to establish the libraries, but
could not sustain them over the long term. So advocates worked with local governments
to provide steady funding.
The same thing happened at the state level. Last month I wrote about the General
Assembly’s century-plus commitment to libraries. That commitment came about as
citizens, both as individuals and in organized groups, petitioned for support of libraries.
The General Assembly created the North Carolina Library Commission in 1909
to promote library development across the state, but as early as 1906, the North
Carolina Library Association (NCLA) was advocating for a such commission, joined
by the N.C. Federation of Women’s Clubs. Flyers and brochures went to legislators
as the 1909 session got underway: “The work now being done in a small way by private
parties can be done better, done for all sections of the State, done with more system,
done with more honor to the state, by a Commission….”
As rural library development lagged in the 1920s, another push began with the
Citizens Library Movement. Organized by NCLA with 200 leading citizens from across
the state, groups rallied statewide, declaring “The citizens of this movement have an
axe to grind for the children, for the people both in town and on the farms, and for the
future of North Carolina.”
When the effort began in 1925, 35 percent of North Carolinians had access to a
public library; by 1942, the number had risen to 85 percent. The Citizens Library
Movement also spearheaded the effort to realize state aid for public libraries, funded
for the first time in 1941.
The tradition of advocacy continues today as library supporters from around the
state call on their legislators to keep the Aid to Public Libraries fund strong. On
Library Legislative Day, March 26, ten Randolph County library advocates made
the trek to Raleigh: Patricia and Harold Clapp, Linda Covington, Sue Farlow, Steve
Grove, Ralph Hardison, Louise Hudson, Ray Isley, Janet Jones, and Rita Minick
(along with Matt Shaw and me as drivers).
We are deeply grateful to this stalwart group, and all our other backers, for
continuing the tradition of citizen advocacy for public libraries.