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The Library Center - Waccamaw: New coordinator ready to kick fundraising into high gear

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The Friends of the Waccamaw Library have spent more than a year planning fundraising efforts for construction of a new library in Litchfield.

Now, with a coordinator for those efforts in place and a 2012 groundbreaking drawing nearer, it’s time to put those plans into action.

“We’re ready to start accepting donations,” said Rosemary Whitehead, 55, who joined the fundraising team as local coordinator in January. She is a resident of Willbrook Plantation and also works part-time as a medical librarian.

A fundraising committee, working with a professional fundraising firm out of North Carolina, has only until the end of the year to get commitments for funds. The amount of money raised will determine the size of the new library and the extent of features it will house, so that information has to be in place before plans for the building can be created.

The county has committed about $3.2 million to the facility and tasked the Friends group with raising $315,000. That would pay for an 18,000-square-foot building, Whitehead said, but hopes are to raise enough money to add another 3,000 square feet. That would allow the library to include features such as a heritage center and Friends store.

Fundraisers want to raise at least $1 million, said Jean Cross, a library board member and head of the fundraising committee. The Friends were originally asked to raise more than $3 million, but the consulting firm it hired to help with fundraising determined that wasn’t a realistic goal.

“We have lowered our fundraising expectations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to raise as much as possible,” Cross said.

And as soon as possible.

While the committee is still working to identify major donors and a fundraising website is in the works, Whitehead said she hopes she’ll start to see checks coming in very soon from library supporters.

Working out of space at the Cultural Council of Georgetown County’s office in Litchfield Exchange, Whitehead’s role as coordinator will have her looking and applying for grant funding, as well as keeping track of donations as they come in and relaying that information back to the community.

“I coordinate everybody and keep people talking and enthusiastic and interested,” she said.

She’ll collaborate on some of that with Linda Ketron, who is in charge of publicity for the fundraising campaign.

Part of what they’ll be working on is communicating the new name for the library. Plans are to transition from the Waccamaw Library to the Library Center — Waccamaw.

The transition is reflective of the changing role of libraries and the services they offer. In addition to lending books and other media, libraries have increasingly become a place where people go to learn about and utilize technology, search for jobs and access job training materials. Visitors to Georgetown County libraries logged nearly 84,000 computer use sessions in the last fiscal year, according to Dwight McInvaill, library director.

It’s because of the important role libraries have in communities that Whitehead said she decided to get involved with the fundraising campaign. She originally contacted Cross about volunteering and was asked to apply for the coordinator’s job.

“Especially in today’s economic climate, libraries are important,” Whitehead said.

To help showcase the services the library offers and build interest in a new library center, Whitehead is planning a series of community outreach programs at the existing library.

Details are still in the works, but she wants to have classes on topics such as finding medical information on the Internet and using DISCUS, a collection of online resources made available for free to all state residents by the South Carolina State Library.

With a larger building, the library will be able to offer more services as well as more space for meetings and events. A small community room at the library is nearly always occupied and bookings have to be made weeks, or longer, in advance.

Meeting space at the new library center should be able to accommodate three times as many people.

Funds raised will also help purchase books. Whitehead said 40,000 new books are needed for the library to reach 1998 state standards.

The community will also benefit from having a children’s library and a young adult room at the new facility, Whitehead said. She believes just being in a library is beneficial for children and teens.

“You attract them in there with fun activities and learning will come on the side,” she said.

To more about the fundraising campaign or become a volunteer, contact Whitehead at tlcwaccamaw@gmail.com or call 979-0561.

The fundraising headquarters at Litchfield Exchange is open Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m.

Donations may be mailed to The Library Center-Waccamaw, P.O. Box 4087, Pawleys Island, SC 29585. Make checks payable to the Friends of the Waccamaw Library and specify that they are for the new library.

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