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Waccamaw Library: Friends group expands in new space

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The Friends Center is front and center at the new Waccamaw Library.

The home of an ongoing book sale to benefit the library will be the first thing visitors see after entering the new facility at Willbrook Boulevard and St. Paul’s Place. Volunteers will staff the store, which will sell used books and hard-to-find-items of interest to library patrons. But it will not open with the library’s “soft opening” on Saturday. The Friends Center will open Feb. 20 and be operating fully by the time of the grand opening March 19, according to Deborah Thomas, the group’s publicity chairman. The Friends Center will be located outside the main library space so it can be open any time, even when the library is closed.

Thomas said the store will carry the best of the Friends’ used books. “We used to save the best for the July book sale,” she said, “but especially this first year we are expecting a tremendous influx of visitors. That’s how we continue to raise money and buy books for the library.”

Those big book sales in July and at Christmas will be a lot less work in the new library. The Friends have a workroom in back of the retail space to organize the used books and prepare for the sale. St. Paul’s Waccamaw United Methodist Church has hosted the book sales for the past 24 years, and using the church fellowship hall involved hauling some 7,000 books from a storage facility before they could be sorted as non-fiction by subject and fiction alphabetically by author. The big summer sale traditionally brings in $10,000 to $12,000 a year.

The Friends contributed $217,000 for technology and other upgrades to the new branch. The “5 B’s” fundraising effort reached 114 percent of its goal by selling 205 bricks. Two areas of the new library will be named for groups who made sizable contributions. The children’s room will be named for Pawleys Pediatrics and Adult Medicine and the 200-seat public meeting room will be called DeBordieu Auditorium.

The new branch is the culmination of 15 years of work by the Friends to get a new library for the community. “The organization has spent years to persuade, assist and facilitate the creation of this new library,” Thomas said.

“They recognized years ago that the old one was too small and didn’t have the space. The dream was to have a larger library, not only to serve as a book repository but also a media center and a learning center.”

Thomas said the Waccamaw branch will become a community center, a place for groups from Girl Scouts to cancer survivors to hold meetings along with teens to gather and play video games and older folks to learn how to use their electronic devices.

“A community meeting center is what we envisioned,” she said. “That’s what this new lovely space will be.”

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