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Waccamaw Library: Readers find new facility stacks up

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The Waccamaw Neck Branch Library will continue to come up to speed with the opening of the Friends Center on Friday and the first programs in the auditorium Saturday.

County library director Dwight McInvaill said he was most pleased with the number of families with children visiting the new library at 41 St. Paul’s Place during its first day of operation on Saturday. “They flocked to the children’s room and the teen center,” he said, “and they enjoyed the library in a way that only children can, sitting on the floor, leaning up against the wall to look at books.” The library’s computer systems were not in operation on Saturday, and the library staff checked out books the old-fashioned way, by hand. That made the demand for books even greater. “It was exciting; it was thrilling,” McInvaill said. “It was a library day where people were happy.”

Assistant director Trudy Bazemore said she started watching for jaws to drop when people came inside the $3.4 million building for the first time during Saturday’s soft opening. “Kids looked over-the-moon excited,” she said.

Barbara and Tim Campbell of Willbrook Plantation were the first through the door on Saturday. “It’s beautiful, fabulous,” Barbara said. She liked the exterior color and the metal roof, and was excited that they will be able come to the library on a golf cart. Their son Nathan, a fourth-grader at Waccamaw Intermediate School, will get even more use from the library’s facilities, they said.

Roxanne and Shay Williams didn’t know Saturday was opening day at the library. They just wanted to return some books they had checked out from the Pawleys Island branch. They are full-time residents of Greenville with a house at the Bays of Litchfield. Their sons Cole and Benjamin are voracious readers and will be in the library on a regular basis when they spend the summer at the beach.

Caroline Hoppe of Litchfield Country Club said she had missed the Pawleys Island branch and had been driving to the main library in Georgetown. Her daughter, Norah, 7, a student at Waccamaw Elementary School, was sitting in one of the new padded chairs overlooking the pond in back while reading a book from the children’s room. “We are so lucky to have this in such a small community,” Hoppe said.

Bill Luptowski said he loved the library’s cypress walls, noting that since the wood was unfinished it would darken over time. “Cypress is hard to get,” he said. “I have worked with it and made some frames. I can only get little pieces.” He and his wife, Jan, are residents of Michigan and Litchfield by the Sea. “We are fixing to be here 12 months a year,” Luptowski said.

The library’s display cases were filled with Native American artifacts on opening day to stir interest in the first programs to be offered, “The Walk of the Waccmaaw.” Susan Hayes Hatcher will present a program on Native American families and children Saturday at 2 p.m. in the auditorium; and Chief Harold “Buster” Hatcher will speak on the “True Walk of a Native American from the Waccamaw Neck” at 7 p.m. They will also give programs at the library on March 7. The programs are free.

The Friends of the Waccamaw Library will open the Friends Center on Friday. President Kathy Gramet said the store will help support library services. “We have been so excited and so looking forward to this day,” she said. “We just can’t wait.”

The Friends Center will be operated six days a week by volunteers. The light-filled room lined with cypress will be a place for patrons to browse among high-quality used books and book-related items of interest such as reading glasses, bookends, bookmarks, cards and gifts for children and teens. The Friends Center will operate with a seasonal focus, starting with gardening. For March and April, the best used gardening books will be gathered on the shelves, along with an assortment of garden-related gifts and items.

Former branch goes up for sale

Now that the new Waccamaw Neck Branch Library is open in Litchfield, Georgetown County is clearing the way for the sale of the former branch at Pawleys Island.

Georgetown County Council will consider third reading of an ordinance Feb. 24 to declare the building and 1.4 acres of land at 24 Commerce Dr. as surplus. Upon passage, the property will be appraised to determine its fair market value. County attorney Wesley Bryant told council members last week a few parties have expressed interest, and they would be contacted after the ordinance is approved.

Bryant described the value of the building as “pretty high” and suitable for multiple purposes. Council Member Steve Goggans suggested the county reach out to the medical community for a bid. The building would lend itself to an office or retail store, Goggans said this week. A restaurant would be unlikely, given that it’s off Highway 17.

Bryant said there has been some interest in the building, but should the early leads not pan out the county would solicit an agent to sell the property at a reasonable commission.

Council Member Ron Charlton asked if there was any chance the county would need the property in the future. “There’s not a lot of property available there,” he said. County Administrator Sel Hemingway said he considered putting magistrates and a sheriff’s substation at the old library, but space at the Litchfield Exchange was more suitable. “Plans to sell this property became an integral piece of the Litchfield Exchange project,” Hemingway said.

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