How We Became Friends With Our Library

 In 1970, Jackson County built a new library in Sylva. A small group of interested and dedicated citizens saw a need to help. The group began their work by volunteering at the library and selling the library’s discarded books at infrequently held book sales. By 1980 the Friends organization was more formally organized and was providing funds to purchase much-needed items for the library.

Jackson County purchased the Hooper House, a historic Victorian house on Main Street in Sylva, in 1986. The intent was to tear it down and expand the library. For several years, the Hooper House was used as extra storage space for the library. Individuals from the Friends saw this as an opportunity to build shelving in order to have space for book sales. While this was a big step toward providing additional funds for the library, the site was only open for a few hours a week.

The Friends applied for and received
501c3 tax status. In 2008, they became the designated fiscal agent for the New Jackson County Public Library Complex Fundraising Campaign. Volunteers undertook the monumental task of raising funds through contributions from the membership, profits from five book fairs, grants from foundations, gifts from individuals throughout our community, a children’s reading challenge, and by collecting money in donation jars at the book store and the library.

Our new library is a beautiful building located adjacent to the historic courthouse at the far end of Main Street in downtown Sylva. The Friends’ volunteers keep our used bookstore open seven days a week.  The profits have allowed the library to purchase an outdoor book drop, public access Internet computers, new computers and educational software for the children’s area, children’s books, shelving, DVD’s, reference materials, seating, and sponsorship of programming
to name a few.

Our first efforts at fund raising.
 Jackson County had a change of plans and in December of 1999 the Jackson County Commissioners put the library expansion on hold and deeded the Hooper House to the Hooper House Preservation Foundation, Inc. for renovation and preservation. This left the Friends without a place to sell books and raise money for the library.

During the years of 2000 and 2001, the Friends decided to lease a store front in downtown Sylva. They opened a retail business in what had formerly been a lingerie store. This move allowed for expansion  and the Friends began to accept donations of books and other media from the community as well as the discards from the library.

We have been, are, and will continue to be good Friends whose purpose is to promote literacy and reading through support for the
Jackson County Public Library.