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Rowan Public Library West Branch will open Tuesday in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — Rowan Public Library’s long-anticipated West Branch will open on Tuesday.

The opening of the branch, located at 201 School St., has been delayed by the pandemic. It was originally slated to open in 2020.

Tuesday will be a soft opening, with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend. After the ceremony, attendees are encouraged to tour the library, meet the librarians and enjoy light refreshments. A special slide show will be shown that documents the West Branch Library project. West Branch magnets and limited-edition West Branch library cards will also be available while supplies last.

Rowan Public Library Board of Trustees Chair Gary Freeze, serving his fourth term on the board, said the effort to bring a branch to West Rowan goes back more than a decade.

“It has been one of the longest held dreams of the board and the librarians for as long as I can remember,” he said.

Many individuals, groups, and entities helped realize the dream of the West Branch, including the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, the Town of Cleveland (donated $100,000 to the project), the RPL Foundation (donated $200,000 through the Glenn and Ozell Freeman Endowment) and The Friends of RPL (donated $20,000) among others. The branch was also made possible by repurposing parts of the former Cleveland Elementary School, including its library and auditorium.

“The future of the library lies in the multi-purposing of facilities like this. It is small and compact yet varied and appealing. In today’s world, communication in written, spoken, and digital forms must be part of what we provide for everyone,” Freeze said.

West Rowan residents starting Tuesday will have access to the circulating collection, Wi-Fi, laptop and desktop computer use, staff assistance, summer reading initiatives, programming and more. Other amenities will become available later this summer, including meeting room use by the public and a 24/7 outdoor book return.

West librarian Lyndsey Maloney is looking forward to helping West Rowan patrons discover their favorite author and enjoy new learning experiences.

“Nothing makes me happier than when one of our customers gets excited because they were able to find out a new piece of information or learn something new,” Maloney said. 

Librarian Lyndsey Maloney

Maloney graduated with a master’s in library science in 2019 from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She was born and raised in the Carolinas and says she’s excited to be back in North Carolina. Maloney became a librarian because she wanted to combine her love of reading and desire to learn. 

The West Branch’s shelving and furnishings, including meeting room chairs and tables, will be installed later this year. Many of these items are experiencing longer than normal lead times due to the pandemic. In the meantime, the branch is outfitted with extra shelving and furniture from other branches. When the new shelving arrives, it will allow the physical collection to almost double in size.

“All the branches have pitched in to make this soft opening possible,” said Brooke Taylor, branch operations manager. “At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, we’ll have a display showing what RPL West will look like after all its specialty items are installed. In the meantime, we hope patrons will enjoy the cozy atmosphere of this unique branch.”

Longtime patrons will continue to have access to the Cleveland Little Library, Rowan Public Library’s honor-system library, which is housed in a historic building on the Cleveland Town Hall property. This little library makes materials weeded from library collections available for borrowing.

The branch’s initial hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be closed Friday and Sunday.

A news release said West Branch customers will have the opportunity to give feedback over the summer about the hours that will be most beneficial to the Western Rowan community. Any changes to library hours as a result of this feedback will be announced in fall 2021. 

For more information, call the library’s central line at 980-432-8670 or visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

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