Work Underway for Sharps Chapel Book Station Grand Re-opening

Sharps Chapel Book Station attendant Sherry Medina meets with Maynardville Public Library director Chantay Collins for a workshop on new library technology.

In just a little more than a month, years of volunteer work and planning will bear fruit as the Sharps Chapel Book Station opens in its new location, the restored Historic Oak Grove School at 412 Oak Grove Road, Sharps Chapel. The school has been painstakingly restored by Preservation Union County volunteers. The book station will move into half the space, with the remaining space available for event rental through the Union County Mayor's Office.

Sharps Chapel Book Station has been open in its former location, next door to Sharps Chapel Senior Center, since 2007, with Sharps Chapel native Sherry Medina as the station's attendant. In just two rooms of a portable building, Medina has provided reading material and gotten to know the community. Now, she'll have more space for more books and, hopefully, reliable Internet access to better meet book station patrons' needs. The former location is now closed during the move.

Chantay Collins, director of Maynardville Public Library, said that the Sharps Chapel Book Station will begin operating under the umbrella of the Maynardville library when the station reopens in March. She said the change will make things easier on Medina, allowing the book station to use MPL's barcode system and online card catalog. Patrons may use the same library card at the the book station and MPL, and the card will give them access to other benefits of being an MPL patron, like TN READS ebooks and more.

Collins is also negotiating a contract with Century Link for Internet access at the new book station. If approved by Union County Commission, it will ensure two to three public computers with reliable Internet access, plus the book station's own landline telephone, a first for the station.

"Chantay's really been working on it," said Medina. "That will be good for the community. A lot of people in the community don't have access to the Internet. There's a lot of children,and now they do a lot of homework on the Internet, and a lot of the children in Sharps Chapel don't have access to the Internet."

"An accessibility ramp has already been added for the book station, and a gravel parking lot and gutters should go in soon", Collins said.

While the new location is not on Sharps Chapel Road, Collins said it's not exactly "off the beaten path" because of its proximity to the Sharps Chapel Convenience Center and the post office.

"It's actually more of a center point for the community," she said.

Exact hours have yet to be determined, but Collins said the book station will be open 20 hours each week.

But the big benefit to moving is the extra space. Using just half of the restored schoolhouse, Medina estimates that the book station will be six times its former size.

"I love it," Medina said. "I've got space! Chantay helped me with my shelf layout, and it's so neat. I have a little cove where my little ones can read. I'm so excited about that. There wasn't room for people to sit and read before."

While they don't have any big announcements right now, both Collins and Medina hope the added space will allow the book station to host programs, too.

"I would like to be able to do little programs like reading programs for the kids and sewing programs for teens and older people, and just do some things that we can do now that we've got space," Medina said.

Collins praised the restoration and the beauty of the building.

"It's a big, open space and very bright with lots of windows," she said. "It's a beautiful building, and I'm glad that it got saved. It had a lot of tender, loving care put into it, and we're hoping to get in the building and not take anything away from the schoolhouse itself. We're just excited about getting it up and running."

Collins and Medina thanked everyone who has helped so far, including Preservation Union County and Union County maintenance staff and inmates who have helped with moving. Additional wooden shelves are still needed, as are a few tables, and they are also looking for a refrigerator, too.

"Anybody that wants to donate, we take all donations just like here at Maynardville," said Collins. "People can bring things (to MPL), and I'll make sure they get to the book station."

The Sharps Chapel Book Station grand re-opening will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Historic Oak Grove School, 412 Oak Grove Road, Sharps Chapel. For more information, call Maynardville Public Library, 865-992-7106.

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