Reserve a seat in West Branch Library’s history

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 7, 2018

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

Buildings are so much more than collections of carefully assembled brick, mortar and wood. They’re products of inspiration, results of expressed needs, archives of memories and historical artifacts.

Some structures, over time, become little more than picturesque rubble reminiscent of Wordsworth’s poetic imaginings — their histories recalled in imagination and historical record.

Other structures shift and adapt, remaining vital, organic parts of their communities. The building that will house Rowan Public Library’s West Branch Library is one such example.

The 91-year-old structure has been grounded in education since its inception, adapting its student body and curricula to best suit its community’s needs. The Cleveland School officially opened on Oct. 27, 1927. The school had 16 classrooms and the ability to house 660 students. Andie Foley’s article, “If These Walls Could Talk,” in the August 2018 issue of Salisbury the Magazine, features a reunion of the school’s graduating class of 1958.

The former students toured the site of the current Cleveland Elementary School, noting the changes since their years of learning among its hallowed halls. West Rowan High School opened in 1959, and consolidated the high school students who had formerly attended Cleveland, Woodleaf and Mt. Ulla. Cleveland School then became Cleveland Elementary School.

When the new West Rowan Elementary School opens, and the classes of Cleveland Elementary move in, the structure left behind will morph once again, carrying its legacy and roots in education even as it enters a new phase of being.

The current media center and auditorium spaces will be renovated to house the West Branch Library, a full-service branch of RPL. This transformation will fill the months between Cleveland Elementary vacating the premises and West Branch opening. RPL is carefully designing West Branch to ensure that it meets the needs of West Rowan communities and functions as a center for learning and community.

To fulfill these goals, the auditorium will experience the greatest degree of renovation, with the space being converted into three separate but flexible meeting spaces: two small rooms and one large. This will require that the current auditorium seats – original to the building – be removed.

For many, these seats serve as artifacts of history and mementos of Cleveland School in its various forms. To that end, as part of fundraising for the West Branch Capital Campaign, RPL is selling the approximately 400 vintage auditorium seats. Because of the seats’ vintage design, they will be sold in pairs, with two seats selling for $125 or four seats for $200; cash, check and card accepted. Interested parties can reserve their seats now by calling 704-216-8240.

For those who want to contribute directly to the growing history of the structure as it becomes the West Branch Library, there are other means of giving. RPL clings or magnets are available with donations of any amount; these donations can be made at any RPL branch. Additional giving opportunities, including designated gifts, are also available.

To learn more about the West Branch project, visit

Big Library Read: Through Oct. 15. Headquarters, East and South branches. Facilitated by OverDrive, this is a reading program that connects readers around the world with the same eBook at the same time without any wait lists or holds. It’s a worldwide digital version of a local bookclub; participation is free — all you need is your library card. Ask RPL staff for assistance. Simultaneous access to a digital title will run through Oct. 15. Visit for more information.

West Fest: Cleveland Town Hall, Oct. 13, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Join Rowan Public Library in celebrating the West Branch Library. This free fall festival features a production of “Alice in Wonderland” by Brightstar Theatre, a performance by musicians Matthew Weaver and Clay Lunsford, and more. Enjoy games, activities and learn about RPL resources and services and the West Rowan community. Take part in a midday community forum about services the West Branch will offer. Cleveland Town Hall is at 302 E. Main St. in Cleveland. Open to the public; all ages welcome. For more details, call 704-216-8240.

N.C. Department of Natural & cultural Resources traveling exhibit: Learn about the science of kite flying from this interactive, STEM-focused exhibit. View Kites!, located in Headquarters’ lobby, during business hours, through Oct. 19.

China Grove Roller Mill Display: South, through Oct. 30. Like many roller mills built during the late 1800s through early 1900s, the China Grove Roller Mill was central to its community. This display, in South Rowan Regional’s foyer, presented by Rowan Museum and China Grove Roller Mill, shares insights about this period of history.

• Rowan Museum Executive Director Aaron Kepley will talk about agriculture in Rowan County in the late 1800s through early 1900s Monday, 7 p.m., South. The production of wheat during this time led to the building of many roller mills that were central to their communities. Questions? Call 704-216-7730.

Mystery Machine: East, through Nov. 30. Scoooooby Dooby Doo! A monster scared away Scooby’s best friends. Find them all and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. This Scavenger Hunt will run through Nov. 30. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Cards for a Cause: All branches. Oct. 8-Dec. 18. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to active service members in the U.S. Armed Forces and to veterans at the Hefner VAMC in Salisbury. Patrons can specify their card(s) is delivered to a certain branch of the armed forces or to the VA. Cards submitted for a branch do have specific deadlines: Nov. 7 for cards distributed internationally, Dec. 10 for cards distributed stateside. Cards submitted Dec. 11-18 will only be delivered to the VA. Questions? Call Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Bookmark contest: All branches. Oct. 8-Nov. 3. This annual contest is sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library, and will award first-, second- and third-place prizes in three categories: 4 to 6, 7 to 9, and 10 to 11. Rules and entry forms available online or at any RPL locations. For more information, call 704-216-8234.

Random Fandom: Sci-fi, fantasy, Oct. 9, 4-6 p.m., headquarters, and Oct.11, 4-5 p.m., East. In honor of Teen Read Week 2018, play games, make crafts and eat snacks dedicated to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. For more information, contact Hope at 704-216-8258 or

Chapter Chats: Oct. 9, 5:15-6 p.m. Weekly book club for teens 14-17, intended primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. For more details, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Cupcake Wars Halloween Edition: South, Oct. 10, 4-5:30 p.m. Can you make the best cupcakes, cookies and spooky dessert displays in this version of the popular TV show? Space is limited, so register in advance. To reserve your spot or to learn more, contact Stephanie at 704-216-7729 or

Cleaning and Home Organization Hacks: East, Oct. 9, 6-7:30 p.m. Get tips on decluttering, inexpensive cleaning products, and how to upcycle and repurpose items for home storage and organization. Find out where to take unwanted household items for recycling and learn what the library has to offer to spruce up your home. You may even win a prize. Stop in between 6 and 7:30 p.m. This program is part of RPL’s Learn.Act.Grow. series. Questions? Call Emma at 704-216-7841.

Lunch at the library: East, Oct. 12, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy a clean, air-conditioned, Wi-Fi-accessible and peaceful place to enjoy your lunch. Every Friday this fall, the East Branch meeting room will be open to all between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Lunch not provided, but tables, chairs and ambiance supplied. While in the library, check out upcoming programs and free resources. For more details, call 704-216-7841.

Classic Cinema Series: “Hold That Ghost,” East, Oct. 12, 2 p.m. Join us for a showing of the  1941 film “Hold That Ghost” (not rated, 76 min.). While the series is part of Adult Outreach Services and designed for retired individuals, this free event is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Displays: Headquarters, the Purple Shoe Display presented by Rowan Crisis Council and Lee St. theatre (2018-2019 season); East, artwork by Miranda Foster; South, China Grove Roller Mill by Rowan Museum.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.