Union County Library in Blairsville, Georgia

Union County Library in Blairsville, Georgia

Library plans finalized
Pictured right to left:  Jack Bailey Project Architect, Donna Howell Library System Director, Nathan Rall State Library Director of Facilities & Construction, Susie Brendle Union County Librarian, Lamar Paris Union County Commissioner, Joe Forsee Library Consultant, Jounida Bradley Regional Library Board Chair, and Jim Conley Mayor of Blairsville.

August 20, 2009 - Library plans finalized - temporary location in Blairsville, Georgia announced

Changes are coming to a library near you! The Union County Library is preparing for a move to a temporary location while the familiar building undergoes major renovation and expansion.

Mountain Regional Library System Director Donna Howell says, "The Mountain Regional Library System Board of Trustees recently approved the final floor plan and building program for the Union County Public Library Renovation and Addition Project.  The project is slated to get underway this fall." 

"In addition to approving the building plans, the board also approved rental space to house the library while construction is underway.  The temporary library will be located at 400 Brackett's Way, Suite 6 , in Blairsville, Georgia.  The library plans to move out of its current Hospital Street  location around the middle of September and will be in its temporary location from 1 year to 18 months."

"The temporary location is only 3,000 square feet compared to 6,000 square feet at the current Blairsville, Georgia location.  Only about ½ of the library collection will fit in the temporary space; the rest will have to be stored and will be unavailable for use." 

Library staff members have boxed up archived magazines, paperbacks (including westerns), the book sale room collection, and puzzles.  Many of those items will not be available until the library returns to the current location after the expansion/renovation project.  While the library staff is packing and organizing for the move, the multi-purpose room is being used for storage and a staff work area.  The library staff stopped taking reservations for the multi-purpose room at the end of May 2009 and there will not be a meeting room at the temporary location. 

While preparing for the move, the library will not be accepting donations of books, magazines, or other items (although they will continue to accept cash donations). Once the library is settled into the temporary location, staff will once again begin to take limited donations of books and paperbacks.  Because of limited storage, shelving, and sorting areas, only small quantities of books, DVDs or CDs will be accepted. No magazine donations will be accepted during this time. Library staff members are available to offer suggestions of other worthwhile organizations in the area that are able to accept donated items.

Any inconvenience caused by the move will be well worth the trouble when the new and improved library is complete.  In the meantime, staff members would like to thank everyone for their patience during this hectic time.

Union County Library Celebration
Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris, State Representative Stephen Allison, Senator Chip Pearson, Mountain Regional Library System Director Donna Howell, Friends President Jeanie Bullock, NW Georgia Regional Library System Director Joe Forsee, Union County Librarian Susie Brendle, State Librarian Lamar Veatch, and Architect Jack Bailey

April 15, 2009 - Plans unveiled at library celebration in Blairsville, Georgia

Dignitaries, library staff, Friends of the Library, members of the Blairsville business community, and library patrons recently celebrated the unveiling of the plans for the "new" and imporved Union County Library.

Regional Library Director Donna Howell welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to the celebration. She also thanked everyone for their hard work and determination to get the job done. Howell acknowledged Senator Chip Pearson, Representative Stephen Allison and his wife Regina, Commissioner Lamar Paris, State Librarian Dr. Lamar Veatch, members of the building committee, Joe Forsee, Building Program Consultant and Director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System, Project Architect Jack Bailey with Bailey & Associates of Gainesville, Union County and Regional Library Trustees, Library Staff, Union County Librarian Susie Brendle, Friends of Union County Library and Friends President Jeannie Bullock, and former Union County Librarian Wilma Ash. She also remembered Pat Scott, Patti Hamilton, and Judy Shaner, Friends members who had worked hard to see the library project and did not live to see it happen. She added, "Pat, Patti, and Judy are surely looking down on us today with great big smiles."

Representative Stephen Allison spoke briefly, thanking the community for their support and the letters and e-mails they wrote on behalf of the project and Commissioner Paris for communicating the need for the library.

Senator Chip Pearson congratulated the community on the spirit of cooperation and the building committee and library staff for having all the pieces in place for the project and Commissioner Paris for planning ahead with the SPLOST. These elements made it easy to recommend and defend adding the project to the budget.

Union County Commissioner Paris thanked Senator Pearson and Representative Allison for championing our project. He thanked the Friends of the LIbrary for their tireless work in fund-raising and advocacy. And he thanked Regional Library Director, Donna Howell, the building committee, and the library staff for their leadership and coordination of the project.

Georgia State Librarian, Dr. Lamar Veatch read a congratulatory letter from Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, "Congratulations and greetings on this special occasion! I extend a warm welcome to each of you as you celebrate your successful efforts and unveil the proposed floor plan and exterior design rendering for the union County Library Project. Understanding the need to upgrade the library, its facilities, technology and amenities and expand the staff, this project was undertaken with the collaborative commitment of numerous individuals and private and public corporations and agencies, the citizens of Union County and many others, once again demonstrating how the public and private sectors can work together for the betterment of a community. Libraries are the heart of our communities, and you should take great pride in this outstanding accomplishment. Great job! Mary joins me in wishing you an enjoyable event and continued success as you begin the next phase of the project. Sincerely, Sonny Perdue."

It's not a party without cake. United Community Bank representatives Sharon Arnold and Anna Gladdin were on hand to serve cake, punch and other party treats to the crowd. Welcome to Blairsville, Georgia!


Library Building Committee scouts out ideas

Union County Library Building Committee scouts out ideas

Members of the Union County Library Building Committee recently traveled to Habersham County Library in Clarkesville, Georgia, and Rabun County Library in Clayton, Georgia. The purpose of this trip was to tour recent library expansion projects designed by architect Jack Bailey.

Other trips are planned in upcoming weeks to get ideas for the future expansion and renovation of Union County Public Library. Committee members hope to get a feel for individual architects and their style of work. Several architects are being considered for the Union County Library project and a choice will be made in the near future.

Display at library

June 17, 2008 - Traveling art and poetry exhibit at Union County Library

Don't miss the Georgia River of Words - an International Environmental Poetry and Art Project for grades K-12. The exhibit is now on display at the Union County Public Library in Blairsville, Georgia and features state winners and national finalists from Georgia.

Coordinated in Georgia by Georgia Project WET, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, and Georgia Center for the Book, the exhibit will be in Union County for only a few weeks.

According to Union County Librarian Susie Brendle, "Union County Public Library is the first stop on the 25 library tour for this display.  It started out on display in Decatur and then came here.  On or around the 28th of June I will be taking it over to Clarkesville for them to display it for 2 weeks and then it continues on through the state."

The River of Words is designed to nurture respect and understanding of the natural world. All of the artwork and poetry features something to do with water, one of our most important natural resources. From paintings of birds and fish, to simple yet meaningful poetry, the subject of water takes center stage. First grader M. Branch Austinson says a lot when he (or she) writes, "I like to swim in it, I like to splash in it, I like to drink it, Sip by sip."

The "River of Words Poetry and Art Project" is just one of many interesting things going on at Union County Public Library. Regular activities include the summer reading program, teen movie nights, and other family activities such as story time.

Union County Library Building Committee

June 5, 2008 - Library Building Committee holds first meeting in Blairsville, Georgia

Northwest Georgia Regional Library System Director Joe Forsee recently met with the Union County Public Library Building Committee to discuss new additions and renovations to the existing library building. Forsee listened to committee members as they gave input concerning priorities, roles, and the mission of the local library. All of these things will influence design and function of the building.

One goal of the meeting was to help produce a written building planning document. This document will not only be submitted to the State of Georgia , but will be instrumental in directing architects and designers in the development of working blueprints. Everything basically depends on funding. Hopefully Union County will receive an additional $1.665 million in state grant money to go with the $900,000 earmarked for the library from SPLOST funds.

Forsee stressed the importance of having a library that works for Union County citizens. Requirements need to be documented so that costly mistakes can be prevented. Forsee said, "Libraries have different goals and requirements. We must deal with specific questions concerning layout and community expectations. We want the building to meet immediate needs and be flexible enough for future growth."

In upcoming months, committee members will be looking at demographics, state standards, current volumes, and expected population growth. They will also travel to other libraries to look at building design and functionality. Several architects are under consideration for designing the new addition and renovation to the Union County Library. Field trips will give committee members a chance to see actual examples of these architects' work.

Board Chairman John Nichols said, "The library is a mirror of the community. Opportunities offered by the new library are endless." Nichols went on to praise Commissioner Lamar Paris for his support. " Paris has been supportive of the library even when it wasn't politically beneficial for him to do so." Director Donna Howell added, "I want to thank the Friends of the Union County Library. They have been instrumental in helping to get SPLOST funding."

The Union County Public Library Building Committee was given the opportunity to rank various elements considered important to "our" local library. First on the Committee's list was the library's role as an independent learning center. This includes having a strong non-fiction collection and materials in a variety of formats. Next on the list was the importance of reference materials. Reference materials include timely, accurate, and useful information for community residents. Other things on the list included popular materials (such as best sellers and works of fiction), a preschoolers' door to learning (such as story time and parenting programs), a community information center, and a community activities center. Technology was not included on the list as an independent element since it is a requirement in every role.

Catch the Reading Bug

Catch a Bug - Summer Reading Program at Union County Public Library in Blairsville, Georgia

The Summer Reading Program is just around the corner at Union County Public Library. This year's theme will be "Catch the Reading Bug". We are in the process of turning the Children's Area into a forest covered with bugs, bug catcher nets and bug holders.

Although registration for the Summer Reading Program will not begin until June, we have already scheduled some fun activities for the children and are in the process of scheduling more. Instead of incentives at the end of summer, we are going to be putting small prizes in the children's bags that they pick up when they come to the library to register. Most of those prizes have already been purchased. We want to exceed our enrollment from last year and are asking for monetary donations to help pay for materials.

We are very excited to have two Teen Movie Nights planned for June and July. We serve pizza and popcorn and have tons of fun.

Our year-round story time will go back to 11 A.M. during the Summer Reading Program. Ms. Linda Foster, Mountain Regional Library System's storyteller, is working very hard planning some exciting story times for this summer.

If you wish to donate to the Union County Public Library Summer Reading Program, please stop by the library or mail your donation to: Union County Public Library, P.O. Box 1029 , Blairsville , GA 30514 . We look forward to a fun Summer Reading Program and welcome any and all donations.

Union County Library Staff

January 11, 2006 - Union County Library in Blairsville, Georgia receives $7,500

It is great news that the Union County Library will receive $7,500 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to purchase new computers and wireless public access equipment! These are exciting additions to the library. Of course, there will be restrictions. Users will need to come to the circulation desk to gain access for their laptops.

Susie Brendle, Union County Branch Librarian, says, "If not for the Gates Foundation we would not have as many computers for the public to use." Brendle adds, "I want to thank our Friends of the Library. The State budget for book money has been cut and funds are usually depleted after six months. Friends of the Library take up the slack. Their membership fees and fund-raising efforts help purchase a lot of material for the library. Friends of the Library are a wonderful group of people."

The Friends of the Library help purchase new books, books on CD and tape, and DVD movies. They also help with transportation costs for staff to travel to mandatory training sessions. Friends help with the summer reading program by providing funds for entertainment and materials like pencils, bags, and certificates. Their next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 18 at 2:00 P.M. in the library's multi-purpose room. Everyone is invited to attend.

More exciting news for the Library System in 2006 is that the Pines System is changing. The new system will be called "Evergreen". Brendle says, "The initial preview looks great! Evergreen will be very user friendly. We'll be updating the public when more information becomes available."

On January 24th, employees of the Mountain Regional Library System, along with some members of the "Friends of the Library", will travel to Atlanta for Georgia Library Legislative Day. "There are many important issues concerning libraries and funding issues that we hope to present to our legislators on that day," says, Brendle.

"We have applied for two Major Renovation and Repair Grants during the past year and have been turned down both times. We will continue to apply for the grant, as it is needed to fix our lighting situation."

Indeed, the library could use better lighting. Hopefully, 2006 will be the year that the MRR Grant is approved.

Even with less than perfect lighting, Union County has a great library. The Mountain Regional Library System does a wonderful job in meeting area residents' needs and demands. During slow periods, up to 300 people visit the Union County Library every day. During the summer months, numbers rise to 500 visitors per day.

Brendle adds, "I also want to thank all of our loyal volunteers. Some of these kind people have worked here for many years. They do the hard work like shelving and make a great contribution by giving their time."

Union County Library Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading Program underway at Union County Public Library in Blairsville, Georgia

The Vacation Reading Program Kick Off was recently held at Union County Library with a crowd of over 50 kids and their parents showing up for story time, a visit by Smokey Bear, and other activities. The theme for this year is "Reading Takes You Everywhere."

A highlight of the event was a surprise visit by Smokey Bear. Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forest Ranger Mike Davis and Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris accompanied Smokey into the library. Smokey didn't do much talking, after all he is a bear, but he did wave and shake hands. Commissioner Paris and Ranger Davis joined the kids for story time.

Professional full-time storyteller Linda Foster asked the audience, "Where does reading take you?" The answer is easy. Reading takes you everywhere, including the Appalachian Trail , far away continents, and even outer space.

Foster entertained the children and adults with puppets, stuffed animals, and her stories. She read a couple of short books and helped the kids make folders for their summer reading lists and paperwork.

The Appalachian Trail is featured in this year's Summer Reading Program. Many books are available on hiking trails, animals, and the local area. There are books at Union County Library on most all subjects and places. All you need is a Pine's library card and you can go anywhere.

Story time at Union County Library is every Monday at 11:00 a.m. Other special events are offered throughout the summer and include Magic Man Bill Packard, Top Secret Tommy Johns, Chad Crews Magic Show, and Teen Movie Nights.