By Joel Spears
Features Editor | The Rogersville Review
SURGOINSVILLE — The staff at Surgoinsville Public Library (SPL) works hard to make sure patrons who visit leave happy. However as the library continues to grow so does its need for additional volunteers. That, according to SPL Branch Manager Melissa Montgomery, is one of a couple things the library needs most right now.
“You can't get a lot done by yourself,” she said from behind the circulation desk, busily preparing to wait on a line of patrons.
She along with Rebecca Trent and Suzanne Leuck are the library's only employees, with only one additional volunteer who works several hours each week.
On a good day there are two staff members in the building whose responsibilities include every detail of life behind the stacks, from helping visitors to shelving books, cleaning, planning, and managing paperwork. But that’s on a good day. An average day at Surgoinsville Library includes one individual to get that job done because funding just won’t allow for more.
“It's can be very frustrating to work by yourself and get things done," Montgomery added. “But we just don’t have the money in our budget to add a paid position.”
However, at the end of the day Montgomery said she loves her job and offered high praise to visitors who frequent the library.
“We have great patrons. They are always so patient and always enjoy being here. We just want to have the ability to do more for them."
In addition to volunteers, Montgomery said with the library’s $3,500 annual books and materials budget they also need donations of everything from copy paper to cleaning supplies in order to help continue making the library a better place. All utilities at SPL are paid by Surgoinsville Medical Board, a non-profit organization that also owns the building, constructed in 1993 for the library.
"We have several needs, but the biggest things other than volunteers that we need right now are six computer chairs and some shelving for extra books," she said.
While the library offers six public access computers, Montgomery also said none are equipped with Microsoft Office software. So, when a patron visits Surgoinsville Library to create a resume or edit a document they often have no way to open it.
"I can't afford to buy the software we need to put on the computers," she said, "And there are many people who don't think about that.”
Montgomery said she believes strongly in the importance of emphasizing the library as a public place for residents to come learn and be part of the community. She also encouraged teachers to use the library for after-school tutoring, and parents to bring their young children to storytime each Monday at 2 p.m.
“Surgoinsville Library is growing and we have a lot to offer,” she said. “We have volumes and volumes of books, audio books, DVDs, magazines, and educational material. Patrons also have the opportunity to participate in Hawkins County Library System’s inter-library loan program.” For example, if Surgoinsville doesn’t have a book available in-house, Montgomery or Trent can get the item on loan from libraries in Church Hill or Rogersville.
In addition to the usual library fare, Surgoinsville has a unique collection of historical artifacts from former Surgoinsville resident, the late Captain Levi Williams whose travels took him around the world and allowed him to return home with a number of one-of-a-kind pieces. Many of those are on permanent display at SPL.
“People should come by and see what we have to offer the community,” Montgomery said. “Whether they would like to volunteer their time, or simply check out some of our materials, we welcome them. We are working on eventually providing more services, but until then we are doing the best we can to make sure everybody who visits leaves happy.”
Surgoinsville Public Library is located at 120 Old Stage Road in Downtown Surgoinsville. Staff may be reached by calling (423) 345-4805, by fax at 345-4825, or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operating hours are Monday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The library is closed on Saturday and Sunday.