The Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library serves as a community hub

Published 9:03 am Tuesday, March 3, 2020

It’s not all books and silence at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

In addition to services such as checking out books and providing computer access, the facility aids in community outreach.

“I think a lot of people just think of the public library as a place for books to be checked out, but especially in this day in age, libraries are so much more than that,” said Bernadette Weese, library director. “It can be, and should be a true hub of the community. That’s why it’s really great that the library is involved in many different things.”

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Two of the community outreaches the library is currently working on are “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” with the Senior Center and also a pet food drive with East Tennessee Spay and Neuter (ETSN) organization. These events are coordinated by Maryanne Owen, the adult librarian and outreach coordinator.

According to Owen, the goal for working with senior citizens is to give them a voice and a safe space.

“This is a critical group of people,” she said. “Seniors in Carter County are at risk. They are left at home. We worry about the drug epidemic and people stealing from the elderly. We also have grandparents and great-grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. They are really at risk, and have no support group that I’m aware of.”

Owen works with Kathy Dula from Elizabethton Senior Center and Vicki from UT Extension in this project.

Like her passion for programs regarding the elderly, she is passionate about the food drive for ETSN.

“I asked them if we could get some donations,” she said. “What it’s about is low income individuals that are on a fixed income. Instead of them surrendering their pets, the pet food pantry supplies them with food so they don’t have to surrender their pets.”

Owen said she is a pet lover herself, noting she has rescued strays and encourages people to donate, as she will as well.

“I hope people just take a moment to pause and if they can supply something to someone less fortunate, and see the board and just kind of learn something,” she said.

Donations for the ETSN food drive, which is asking for nutritional cat and dog food like Purina, can be made at the library.

For the importance of these two programs the library is participating in and others that they have, Owen believes we need to think of difficulties the community is facing and come up with ways to help.

For more information on the outreach services provided by the library, as well as the library itself, check out their Facebook page, or call 423-547-6360.

“To be a hub of the community, we have to be involved in our community,” said Owen.