Stories of Success: Library expands outreach program with the Waters of Roan Highlands

Published 8:46 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What started off as a small bookshelf and dream recently turned into a key milestone for two community entities.
Representatives from the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library visited the Waters of Roan Highlands in Roan Mountain Tuesday afternoon and distributed 50 additional books and five videos to bulk up the facility’s onsite library.
Located inside the Roan Highlands’ activity room, the library gives residents the opportunity to check out books and videos. Tuesday’s initiative is just one of the key partnerships the library is looking to add on to reach more individuals in the community, according to Library Director Renita Barksdale.
“This has been such a great experience,” Barksdale said following the delivery of books. “We want to give back to the community and this is the perfect opportunity to give back to the residents who couldn’t make their way to the library. We want to be about outreach and want to keep building these partnerships in the county and in the city.”
Tuesday was a sight to see for Sandra Birchfield, Roan Highlands activities director, and Maryann Owen, outreach coordinator at the library. The duo worked together to get the initial pilot location bulked up with reading and viewing material.
“Our residents never had this before, so this gives them another activity,” Birchfield said. “As activities director, I want to give them as many activities as I can. This partnership has been great and we are excited about what this means for our residents.”
Owen said she was happy to see some of the Roan Highlands faithful come into the room and start checking out the books Tuesday.
“One lady came in and started naming off the authors. It made me feel good because I was the one that ordered them. Sunday, I picked out the collection, and I was nervous because there I was picking out 50 books for people I’ve never met,” she added with a chuckle.
Months ago, the library at the facility was just a small bookshelf in the corner of the activities room. With the new additions, the library expanded to multiple shelves. Residents can go through a checkout system with the facility. Books on the site range from mystery novels, biographies, history, nonfiction and light reads.
As far as being the test site for an outreach library, Roan Highlands Administrator Cody Clark said there wasn’t any apprehension at all.
“This is one of those things where it is OK to be the guinea pig,” Clark said with a smile. “It helps us but it also helps the library as well. They’re learning with us. Across the board, everyone benefits from this and that’s the best part of this partnership. We survey residents to get their likes, dislikes and things they’d like to have with the library. We also survey them on things we’re doing that they may not like. It’s all about resident-centered care and that’s what this partnership is all about.”
Owen added the outreach program would expand to two nursing centers within the city in the coming weeks – Hillview Health Center and Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton Rehab and Wellness Center
“We were coming up here and we just started talking about how huge of a milestone this is,” Owen said. “Bringing the library to the residents here, seeing them have an advantage they wouldn’t have, really makes this all worthwhile.”
And the future’s looking bright, according to Owen, with the library looking down the line to have an outreach library open to residents all across the county.
“That’s the dream,” she said with a grin.

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