‘Friends’ group helps local library make needed improvements

Published 9:44 am Monday, October 26, 2015

On Tuesday morning, City officials, Friends of the Library members and staff of the Elizabethton Fire Department visited the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library to see the progress made on improving the interior, seating and flooring in the library.
“I was very pleased with what they’ve done–especially all the voluntary effort of Friends of the Library,” said City Manager Jerome Kitchens. “I think they’ve taken a step up in making the facility more comfortable, but simultaneously, I think Renita (Barksdale) has also worked really hard at improving programs. I’m very enthusiastic about the direction we’re going.”
These recent additions were made possible through a donation from Linda and Beatrice Gouge, a donation from Whirlpool and funding from the City of Elizabethton and from several others who donated thousands.
The improvements include installing new drapes in the library and meeting room, new flooring in the meeting room and new leather chairs.
“Everything that we bought was made in this country and everything was purchased in Elizabethton,” said Duncan.
Beatrice Gouge helped to get the library, and when she died, she left $10,000 to her daughter Linda.
“Rather than keeping it for herself, she wanted to give it to the library, and very few people would do that,” said Duncan. “Her mother helped start the library, where we now have a plaque for her and her daughter Linda Gouge, honoring their family.”
Gouge also donated $1,000 to the library archives.
Linda later called Duncan asking if they would be willing to do a little bit of paperwork, and Duncan obliged. She wrote an essay and answered a questionnaire, and not long afterward, opened another $10,000 check from Whirlpool, Linda’s employer. They matched her contribution, and it went toward the flooring project.
Duncan said the improvements were much needed. The old drapes had holes and the new seating and easy-to clean flooring are more accommodating to children and visitors of all ages.
Duncan said it was Elizabethton Director of Planning and Development Jon Hartman’s idea to fix up the back of the library where the post office was previously located.
Funding for FOTL through donations and fundraisers also paid for a large portion of improvements to the library. It’s recent book sale generated $4,000, and Duncan said, “That’s a lot of books at only a $1 or 50 cents each.”

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