07/08/10 — Library project reaches $200,000 in fundraising

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Library project reaches $200,000 in fundraising

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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Troy Herring

Mount Olive College President Dr. Philip Kerstetter, center, presents a pledge of $10,000 on behalf of the college to Steele Memorial Library committee chairman Lynn Williams, right, and fellow committee member Greg Eloshway. Mount Olive College's pledge helped volunteers top the $200,000 mark in fundraising for the new library.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A $10,000 pledge by Mount Olive College has pushed a grassroots fundraising effort for a new Steele Memorial Library past the $200,000 mark.

Launched the first of the year by the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee, the campaign's goal is $350,000 -- about 10 percent of the anticipated project cost of between $3.5 million and $4 million.

At present, the county has frozen all major capital projects. However, the $350,000 would allow the county to secure an architect for the project, which will renovate the former Belk's building on West Main Street to house the library.

"We at Mount Olive College are excited about being able to be supportive of this, the new library downtown," MOC President Dr. Philip Kerstetter said. "We think it is going to have a significant impact on developing the downtown area, and at Mount Olive College we feel that we need to be a part of the overall development of the community as well.

"This is a way we work and help each other that provides more opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to do things downtown and also causes other reasons for other people to go downtown as well. So we are excited about this."

The library is a community institution and it will reflect the community including the college, said Lynn Williams, committee chairman.

"The college is certainly a huge part of the fabric of Mount Olive and this area," Mrs. Williams said.

Committee member Greg Eloshway said the library is just another way to open up the area.

"... And make it appealing to the students to come down and kind of give them a way to identify with the community and the downtown," Mrs. Williams added. "When you look at the library and what it will mean to downtown, it is going to be an anchor, a significant anchor to downtown in terms of a draw for people. We are talking about a facility that will be almost 10 times larger than what we have now."

The county is aware the $200,000 mark has been surpassed, she said. She said the committee is waiting on the county to put out the requests for qualifications before starting the process of hiring an architect.

Mrs. Williams said library supporters are hoping to see some movement on the county level now that the new fiscal year is under way and that the county has completed the process of turning the library system into a county department.

"This gift takes us over the $200,000 mark and it puts us at about $205,000," she said. "We also received a gift of about a $1,000. We are waiting to hear back from some more.

"We have been very fortunate and we have been very blessed in Mount Olive to have institutions that are willing to step up and support a community endeavor like this. We knew that the second half was going to be more difficult to rise than the first. This pushes us over the hump."

"It (support) just holds true to Mount Olive," Eloshway said. "It is just the Mount Olive area being the Mount Olive area. We are going to get there. It is just going to take some time."

Mrs. Williams said that while the large gifts are "wonderful," that the committee also wants to develop gifts on an individual basis.

"The grassroots are important in this effort," Eloshway said. "That is me. That is you. That is anyone who wants to give on a continuing basis. Grassroots support is what is going to sustain it, keep it viable, keep it going and shows the support the community really has."

Brochures about the project and fundraising efforts have been printed and will be available at the library as well as other locations around town.

Mrs. Williams said the committee is willing to work with folks in any way that they want to contribute.

Checks should be made payable to Wayne County Public Library, and the Steele Memorial Building Project should be indicated on the checks. Checks may be mailed to the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 East Ash St., Goldsboro, NC 27530.

Giving levels are $0 to $99, Bookworm; $100 to $499, Reader; $500 to $999, Author; $1,000 to $2,499, Illustrator; $2,500 to $4,999, Publisher; $5,000 to $9,999 Marion Hargrove Circle; and $10,000 and more, W.C. Steele Society.

Hargrove was a Mount Olive native who became a successful author and screenwriter for TV and movies. A collection of his papers and works is housed at the library.

Dr. Steele started the first fundraiser to build a library in the 1930s, but died before it was completed. The Belk building that will house the new library sits on the site once-occupied by Steele's house.

"We are hoping to put together a public event sometime in November, maybe a two-thirds (of the goal) party," Mrs. Williams said. "It may have to be a three-fourths party to kind of push us over the edge. The idea is to recognize our donors at that time and certainly to help encourage others to help us get over the edge. The idea is for it to be a fun event, maybe a silent auction. We don't really have a lot of details worked out."

The 23,000-square-foot Belk building was purchased by the county for $400,000 from Mount Olive College.

Approximately 15,581 square feet would be used for library services. It is expected to have shelving capacity for more than 67,000 items including 20,000 children's books and audiovisual items, 40,000 adult and teen books, and 7,000 audiovisual items.