Gold-painted shovels pitched away divots of heaped ceremonial clay in the climactic moment of the Crozet library groundbreaking June 26. The 20,000-square-foot, $5.8 million urban-feeling building is happening. A genial crowd of about 250 library wellwishers came out in the comfortable weather to witness the tape fall at the finish line.
But the real news flash was the announcement that the Friends of the Library, the group that organizes the used books sales at the Gordon Avenue Branch and which every year gives the library system $100,000, had for the last three years squirreled away money and now could present $100,000 to the Build Crozet Library fundraising cause. Friends president Fran Feigert passed a ceremonial check to fundraising committee chair Bill Schrader.
“We raised this dollar by dollar,” she told him emphatically.
The Crozet committee started with $135,000 in the bank and has set out to raise $1.6 million for furnishings, computers, books, DVDs and other content, basically everything indoors that makes the library useable. That leaves $1.36 million to go.
After Boy Scout Troop 79’s color guard smartly presented the flags, White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek told the crowd, “This is about partnerships working for years and years. I’m thrilled to close that chapter. Next year, we’ll have a new library for all of western Albemarle.” She challenged the kids around Crozet to set a new library summer reading record.
County Executive Tom Foley thanked the county staff and praised them for their success. Foley said the library is “about redevelopment through master planning.” He mentioned projects the county has undertaken for Crozet, such as the storm water ponds and the planned street improvements.
Tim Tolson, departing now as president of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Board, his 10 years on the board over, thanked the supervisors for awarding the money and complimented his fellow Crozetians for their determination, since 1995, in getting the library to happen. Crozet citizens organized the town’s first library 100 years ago, Tolson noted.
“The critical importance of libraries in a community is in providing free access to knowledge,” he said. He offered a quote from the era when community libraries formed in America: a library is “a lighthouse on the great sea of time.”
Noting the impending sale of the J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company next door, Tolson said, “Our presence here declares that a new chapter in downtown Crozet starts today.”
Schrader asked the crowd to think about what happens inside the library. The 10-member committee he chairs, he said, is not composed of professional fundraisers, but ordinary good citizens. “It’s an outreach,” he said. “We are doing the hard work behind the scenes.”
J-MRL Director John Halliday predicted that our posterity will be grateful for our foresight in building the new building. “As the years go by, people will be impressed by what the building says about the values of this community,” he said. “This is an investment in the future. We are providing a resource for those who come after us.”
Alluding to a Crozet Christmas parade sign, he said, “Today we move the library from the fiction shelf to the nonfiction shelf.”
Nancy Virginia Bain, who has seen everything that happened in Crozet for several decades, came to the microphone to emcee the shovel-wielding phase. “What a blessed day,” she said. “The Lord is shining on us. It’s such a happy, happy day. It’s so exciting.” She was all vitality and cheer.
Dignitaries gathered in a semicircle, scooped and scattered.
Heavy equipment was operating at the scene in two days. The new library is expected to open next summer.