Senoia library opens; 'I think it's awesome'
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Totsie McKnight dreamed of a library for Senoia and worked for one.
She helped gather books and raise funds for a small library in a storefront downtown years ago. On Thursday afternoon, she helped cut the ribbon for the new, permanent library facility.
McKnight talked about what people want when they move to a community. “They check out the churches. They check out the schools. The third thing is the library. That’s the cultural center,” she said.
About 325 people gathered in front of the tan-colored library building – part of its facade is stone – on Wednesday afternoon. Barbara Osborne-Harris, director of the Coweta Public Library System, welcomed them “to a day that has been long awaited.”
Osborne-Harris announced the library system has received a $10,000 grant from the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book. The grant resulted from a letter written by a Coweta youngster, Amber-Nicole Watty, as part of a Letters About Literature writing competition.
Osborne-Harris spoke of “the power that libraries have to change our lives, to improve our lives, to put us in a better place than we were before.”
A litany, Libraries: An American Value, was part of the program. Marie Vielot, who is director of the libraries in Senoia and Grantville, led part of the litany as did Karen Cope, a member of the CPLS board who is a librarian by profession.
Also leading part of the litany was rising fourth grader Shannon Ferry.
State Senator Mike Crane was unable to be present. He sent greetings – which were read by CPLS board member Tom Dombrowski – which referred to “the Senoia Library’s picturesque location on the lake.”
There were brief remarks from Coweta County Commissioner Paul Poole, Senoia Mayor Robert Belisle and Jay Moore, board chair for the CPLS trustees.
Poole acknowledged there were “a few bumps” as the library project moved along. “But look at the great facility here,” he said. “It took a lot of effort, but it will be here for years to come.”
Belisle expressed thanks to Councilman Jeff Fisher, who worked toward the project on the city’s behalf – much of the time serving on the library board, as well. “He put a lot of hard work into this,” Belisle stated.
Moore began his remarks by expressing thanks to God. “With the help of the Lord, we couldn’t have done this,” he said.
He also praised the CPLS staff as “a great group of people” with much energy and a focused determination to see the project to completion. Moore deemed the library “such a wonderful edifice, such a wonderful building to help our children achieve academic success.”
Moore was born in Baltimore and related the story of Enoch Pratt’s gift there in 1882 that created one of the nation’s first free public libraries. “What we’ve done here in Coweta County, particularly in Senoia, is continuing an American tradition,” he said.
Moore said he hopes there will be “more libraries to come” to meet the needs of local citizens.
Osborne-Harris, Poole and Moore talked about the collective energy that was required to get the library built. Poole spoke of “all the work, all the meetings that everyone put into this.”
“All of you have pulled together,” Moore said. He said that without the involvement of “citizens of Senoia, citizens of Coweta County... this could not have been the great achievement it is.”
Osborne-Harris recognized Nathan Rall from the Georgia Public Library Service who – working with members of Coweta’s state legislative delegation – was able to get $1.225 million for construction of the Senoia facility. She also recognized representatives of KA Oldham Designs, who designed the library.
Meg Clark, a bivocational Presbyterian pastor who is a member of the CPLS staff, referred to “this beautiful building” before giving a prayer of dedication just before the ribbon-cutting.
A color guard from Coweta Charter Academy – Addie Ellison, Andrew Fasano, Matthew Fasano, Andreas Naquin, Zoe Rubenstein and Versailles Weigel – presented the colors. Students from the school, which is located in Senoia, joined other children, library board members and staff, city council members, Belisle, Poole, Wells and McKnight for the ribbon cutting.
Attendees then surged inside. They were immediately met with fish-themed art created by Coweta Charter students working with Kimmy Cantrell, an Atlanta artist with roots in Coweta County.
Once the building was open, youngsters immediately rushed to the computer area. The airy facility has the expected shelves of books – as well a videos and other materials. There also is a porch with metal furniture overlooking the nearby lake.
Refreshments were served on the porch and under a large white tent erected on the parking lot.