09/25/07 — Fremont saves its library, for now

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Fremont saves its library, for now

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on September 25, 2007 1:48 PM

FREMONT -- The Town of Fremont wants to keep its library -- and more than $80,000 in donations and stocks was enough to do it, at least temporarily.

Wayne County Library Executive Director Jane Rustin said the library's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to keep the library open on Friday.

The library will also get more space in the meantime, as town aldermen gave the Friends of the Library permission to use the entire building, Rustin said.

The trustee vote came after Fremont Friends of the Library Chairman Steve Knotts announced $53,000 in cash donations.

Rustin had challenged Knotts to come up with $50,000, he said.

Other "in-kind" donations -- things like architectural work, new doors and windows -- make the total over $86,000, Knotts said.

The board of trustees told commissioners this week they plan on consolidating branches in the northern and southern ends of the county.

That would mean closure of branches in Seven Springs, Mount Olive, Pikeville and Fremont to make way for the larger, regional facilities, Board of Trustees Chairperson Cathy Moran said.

But because of the donations, Fremont will have its library until plans to build those facilities move forward, Rustin said.

When construction is completed, the Fremont branch will still probably close, because operating the Fremont branch and a regional branch would be too expensive, Rustin said.

"I doubt we could afford to do that (keep both branches open)," the executive director said.

But since the county commission still must find a way to fund the $9.4 million plan to expand the library's usable space, collections and staff, Rustin doesn't know when the Fremont branch will close.

"We left that open ended," Rustin said. "We didn't think it was fair to put a time on it, because they don't know when the new projects will start."

Knotts said success was owed to Fremont residents, the town of Fremont, several church organizations, and the town's Rotary Club.

The library will also get bigger, with a place to put on special programming, because town aldermen agreed to let the library use the entire building.

For those programs to start, Rustin said a wall must be knocked out first, among other construction projects.

Knotts said although libraries are important to him, Fremont's willingness to raise money is symbolic of a larger cause.

"We have witnessed the decline of small North Carolina towns over the years," Knotts said.

"County governments begin to ignore the needs of a community because of a declining tax base, services are abbreviated or ended, libraries are closed, people become complacent or discouraged. We in Fremont are making a stand."

Staff writer Anessa Myers contributed to this report.